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'The Hangover' has a classic card counting scene. But is it accurate? Find out whether counting cards actually works.

‘The Hangover’ card counting scene – Does it really work?

The Hangover’s over-the-top exaggerations are hilarious; like waking up with a tattoo on the face, or finding a live tiger in the bathroom. One of the sub-plots involves coming up with ransom cash for Doug, who is being held hostage by a gangster demanding 80k by the end of day. 

Alan comes up with a plan to go counting cards in a casino because he has been reading about it. He goes on a winning spree that sets off alarm bells in the casino security. Luckily, they get the 80k before security can catch up and rescue Doug. 

The Hangover is one in many films that have card counting scenes. Perhaps the most popular movie in this art is 21. In the 21 movie, a professor puts together a team of genius MIT kids who perfect counting cards as a team. The team wins big in Vegas casinos until they raise suspicion. 21 was based on a true story. 

How Fast Can One Learn Card Counting?

Yes. Card counting is possible. Some people practice enough such that they have mastered different mathematical possibilities in a deck of cards. Card counters call this blackjack Basic Strategy. The strategy works perfectly when you have one deck of cards. But casinos will usually use more than one deck, which makes playing combinations more difficult to calculate.

There is a lot more to learn if you want to be a competent blackjack card counter. You must master playing indices that signal a need to switch strategies. You need to master risk reduction strategies and bankroll management so as not to blow your whole cash. 

You can practice all these in an online casino where you have a freer hand and more time. For all the best online casinos in the UK, take a look at and you could try this method yourself. 

In the movie, Alan learns card counting by reading a book in a few hours. This is not realistic because mastering card counting at that level requires hundreds of hours of practice. 

How Easy Is It to Count Cards in a Land Casino?

It looks easy to count cards in a movie, but it is much harder in real life. There are a lot of distractions happening in a land casino. The noise from people talking, loud music and bright lights will overwhelm your concentration. Card counting is a very precise art. Losing track by missing one card invalidates your count.

It is likely that you will hesitate from time to time as you update your count. The dealer’s impatience can push you into making the wrong count. Remember, you do not want to alert the dealer that you are doing card counting. 

Land casino security is very adept at picking up card counters. You will only play for sometime before you are turned away at the table. Card counting is not illegal but almost all casinos have a policy of discouraging known card counters. 

However, you can practice your card counting skills on an online casino. You have more time to make your decisions. There are no distractions like in a land casino, allowing you to concentrate and do your calculations faster. 

Alan counts cards in the middle of a noisy casino. Even if he had super-concentration powers, the casino security would have marked him out by the third big win. 

Is it Possible to Win Huge Money in a Short Time?

In The Hangover, Alan makes about 80k in under an hour. These wins are fantastical. You would have to bet heavily to make such huge wins. Most blackjack tables pay 3:2, which means for every dollar you bet, you get 1.5 in return. To win 80k in an hour, you would need at least $20k in betting money. 

You will suffer losses, no matter how good you become at card counting. Expert card counters say after practicing 500 hours of play, you can still expect to lose one hand in six. If you are playing big bets, these losses can accumulate quickly because blackjack is an all-or-nothing type of game. 

In The Hangover, Alan comes to the table empty-handed and leaves with a stack of chips. To win 80k from zero would require several days of playing. It is not realistic to win such huge amounts without a substantial starter bankroll.

The Hangover is a hilarious movie, but the card counting scene is not realistic. Card counting is much more difficult to learn and do in a real land casino. If you would like to try card counting, sharpen your skills at an online casino. 

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