21 Movie Makes Card Counting Entertaining

21 Movie Card CountingThe new movie “21” has just hit stores on DVD and Blu-Ray disc from Sony Pictures. As a dealer for a casino, I was interested in seeing a Hollywood glamorized version of what I do for a living, and I was not disappointed. Granted the perspective of the movie is a loose retelling of M.I.T. Blackjack Team story of how they made and lost a fortune card counting at the blackjack tables of Las Vegas. And the story is about the card counters, not the dealers. In any case, while the plot takes tremendous liberties with the facts for the sake of making an entertaining story, the premise is simple, that students from M.I.T. who are good with numbers spend their weekends away from campus moonlighting as high rollers in Las Vegas. They work as a team and take Las Vegas for hundreds of thousands of dollars through card counting and team work to stay under the radar.

The group employs disguises and fake names and ID cards to become different people every time they go. Profits get split and everyone stays happy. Of course, cockiness sets in and trouble sparks as one member of the team gets jealous of the new guy because the new guy is outperforming the former star of the team. Then as the new guy starts to build up his confidence, he too is unable to escape the temptations of gambling and starts to ignore the rules of the team and continues to squander away on tables that have grown cold and past the time to stop playing on that table. It becomes a race against greed and being caught. The outcome of the story resolves itself through backroom deals, begging for forgiveness, and even more blackjack. To know how it resolves itself, you’ll have to check it out.

Now as a dealer, there was some amusing aspects about the film that really only people in the casino industry, specifically table games, and fans of Las Vegas would notice. One of the things I found amusing was that for all the scenes at real tables in Las Vegas, that all the cards used are canceled cards which you would never find being used on tables for real money. If you aren’t sure how cards are canceled, when you pay attention to the movie, look closely at the edges of the cards, where two of the four corners of the cards on diagonally opposite sides of the card are rounded while the other two are more square. This becomes especially apparent when the dealer places his face-up card over his face-down card and the corners don’t line up cleanly. Continue reading 21 Movie Makes Card Counting Entertaining

Mamma Mia! Movie Gets Top Billing At Local Theater

Mamma Mia! Gets Top BillingThe local theater to where I live posted Mamma Mia! The Movie as its top billed movie on the sign visible from the street for the opening week of the movie. Normally you’d expect Batman’s “The Dark Knight” to have top billing. Most likely they have put “The Dark Knight” on the bottom because it’ll carry over into the next week, but in any case for the opening week, ABBA fans can be happy to see “Mamma Mia!” billed as the top movie of the week for people to see as they drive by.

Big thanks to the Ultra Star Theater in Poway, California for putting “Mamma Mia!” as the most prominently featured title of the week so that everyone can see it when they drive by. Hopefully the movie will do well in the US, even though its doubtful it’ll hit the top spot in the box office charts.

Continue reading Mamma Mia! Movie Gets Top Billing At Local Theater

Mamma Mia! Sneak Preview at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

Mamma Mia! at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre

I was fortunate enough to attend a special screening of “Mamma Mia!” The Movie at the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, CA. While still a week away from a proper opening across the US, it was fun to see the movie again for what is now the third time. The first being a test screening in March, and the second a special BroadwayWorld.com advanced screening in San Diego. And I will also be seeing a second screening here in Los Angeles tomorrow night at the OutFest movie festival. So by the time the movie officially opens on July 18th, I will have seen it four times and who knows how many times I’ll see it once it officially opens.

Back to the Grauman’s event, I have never been to the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre before. What an incredible experience. Hard to believe I’ve lived here in Southern California over 20 years and have never taken the time to come see a movie at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Such a historic theatre and the opportunity to explore all the hand prints and footprints in the cement of the forecourt. I was excited to see the display of the hand prints of the original Star Trek cast. Leonard Nimoy had his prints in the traditional Vulcan hand sign.

While waiting to enter the theatre, I also saw where Meryl Streep had her hand and footprints, she has the tiniest of footprints. Wow. Continue reading Mamma Mia! Sneak Preview at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

All ABBA Channel On SIRIUS Satellite Radio

Sirius Satellite Radio Inc.SIRIUS Satellite Radio announced that Channel 3 for a two week period beginning July 7th, 2008 will be become the ABBA Channel. To tie in with “Mamma Mia! The Movie” being released this month, SIRIUS is getting in the act in making sure you have access to an all ABBA channel to get your fix of ABBA songs as well as songs from both the original cast recording and movie cast recordings of Mamma Mia.

The limited engagement channel will also feature stories and insights from ABBA members Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus about their many pop classics which have influenced recording artists for over three decades. ABBA Radio will also feature celebrity fans sharing their favorite ABBA music and personal stories, including stars from “Mamma Mia! The Movie” Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Christine Baranski, Amanda Seyfried, Dominic Cooper, Catherine Johnson, film director Phyllida Lloyd and producer Gary Goetzman, as well as Dionne Warwick, Alanis Morissette, songwriter Desmond Child, Joan Rivers, Brooke Shields, Andy Bell from Erasure, Randy Jones from the Village People, the cast of the Tony Award®-winning musical Spring Awakening, ambassador Ulf Hjertonsson, Per Gessle of Roxette, Nancy Sinatra and Martha Stewart.

Benny Andersson of ABBA in press release issued by SIRIUS said, “Thanks to ABBA Radio on SIRIUS, both new and longtime fans have a place to experience the original music of ABBA, together with the new songs produced for the soundtrack to Mamma Mia! The Movie, in a distinctively innovative way. ABBA Radio allows for our early songs to join the new ones in harmony on SIRIUS’ national platform, and engage all generations of listeners.” Continue reading All ABBA Channel On SIRIUS Satellite Radio