Ben Affleck’s History With Blackjack


It may come as a surprise for many to hear that two-time Oscar winner and director, Ben Affleck, also leads a double life as a Las Vegas Blackjack card-shark.

As if starring and directing in a series of highly successful Hollywood movies wasn’t enough, the Good Will Hunting and Gone Girl star also has an apparent talent for counting cards that has earnt him a lifetime ban from one of Nevada’s top casinos.

For anyone who is unfamiliar with the concept of card-counting, it is a learnable skill that involves using memory and math to predict each hand dealt out in a game of Blackjack with near perfect accuracy. Though not technically illegal, card-counting is prohibited in most casinos, and any player caught attempting this technique is likely to find themselves quickly being thrown out of the front door for their effort.

According to the NY Post, card-counting, a skill widely associated with people in possession of near-genius mathematical intellect (as was the case with those involved in the story of the MIT Blackjack Club), has earnt Affleck winnings of more than $1 million over the course twenty years, once winning $800,000 in a single game.

Long associated with tales of rags-to-riches in Hollywood movies like Rain Man or 21, card-counting at the Blackjack table is portrayed as the ultimate heist thrill where the small-time hustler is able to get one over on the house and make a fortune in the process.

However, with a career in film that has given him a net worth of around $75 million, it’s clear that Affleck isn’t for the money. In fact, it is reported that he donates many of his winnings from the Blackjack table to staff at the casino with tips for bartenders, bellhops, and waitresses averaging out at $5,000 per head.

As admirable as this may seem to the average joe, Affleck’s card-counting antics at the Hard Rock Café in Las Vegas in 2014 earnt him a lifetime ban from their high-roller Blackjack table. In between sets filming one of his Batman movies, Affleck would spend time bleeding the casino dry with his incredible talent, only to be banned by the owners because he was winning too often.

Speaking to Vanity Fair, Affleck explains that the experience taught him a lot about the true nature of Las Vegas casinos, stating “they don’t even want you to have a sporting chance…there’s a lot of hospitality [and] backslapping when they think you’re gonna come in and dump money, and if they think you might leave with some money, it’s like, ‘You know what? Why don’t you try craps or roulette?’”

For Affleck, and many others, card-counting is merely a skill that enables the player to strategize and employ reason to help improve the odds of winning a game, and in no way is it to be considered cheating. For casinos, however, it is much more preferable to host players who rely on blind luck alone as the odds will almost always fall in favor of the house rather than the person placing the bet.

What’s perhaps most interesting for anyone who enjoys playing Blackjack and dreams of being able to take on the house as Affleck did, is that anyone can do it. Though we mentioned before how the skill is mostly associated with genius mathematicians or people with medical conditions like autism, Affleck is adamant that hard work, practice, and dedication are all that is needed to pull it off. This might not apply in every situation such as online blackjack where card counting is almost impossible because there’s no way to know if the deck has been reshuffled.

In Vanity Fair, he explained that he “knew with blackjack that there’s a way [to] improve your odds” and that after practicing hard he eventually “got good.” With this in mind, the Batman of Blackjack has become an inspiration for any aspiring card-counters who need only believe in themselves and practice hard to fulfill their dreams of wealth and fortune.

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