Ben Mezrich seperates fact from fiction in 21
The author of Bringing Down the House talks about the big-screen version of his blackjack bible.
Movie: The M.I.T. card-counting team uses fake IDs and disguises to avoid detection.
True: “Yes, they did both. As they started getting noticed, they used disguises more. They hired a Hollywood makeup artist. One guy had a fat suit. One tried dressing up as a woman. One would roll up in a wheelchair.”
Movie: One team member gets a beat-down from Vegas casino security thugs.
False: “In Vegas, security isn’t going to break the law and assault you. Instead, a bunch of big guys stand right behind you as you play. They invade your personal space, trying to get you to hit them. Because then you’ve done something illegal.”
Movie: Their main card counter is white.
False: “The main guy was Chinese. If a white kid walks into a casino with $1 million, it looks fishy because that’s not what high rollers look like. They’re mostly from Hong Kong.”
Movie: Team members go through airport security with cash strapped to their bodies.
True: “The team didn’t use bank accounts, because they didn’t want a paper trail, so they’d shove the money into their clothes. You can carry $300,000–$400,000 on you pretty easily.”
Movie: Does a 180 in the last few minutes.
False: “The film has a Hollywood ending. Reality is often less exciting.”