We’re avid followers of Ben Affleck’s gambling adventures here at Pokersites.com, the latest of which has seen him banned from the blackjack tables of the Hard Rock Casino, Las Vegas, for apparently less-than-expert card counting.
A long-time competitor in the WSOP Main Event, Affleck has been a poker aficionado for some time – perhaps his interest was piqued when his friend and collaborator Matt Damon starred in the seminal poker movie Rounders back in 1998. By the early noughties, Affleck was having poker lessons from Annie Duke and fending off rumors that they were having a fling. He then caused a mini-sensation when he became Commerce Casino’s California State Poker Championship winner in 2004. He picked up $356,400 for that and it remains his only tournament cash, ever.
The Oscar-winning actor, who recently played an online casino mogul in Runner Runner, again caused a stir when details emerged of his participation in a Hollywood high-stakes involving the likes of Tobey Maguire, Leonardo Di Caprio, Matt Damon and Dan Bilzerian. Also playing at that game, unfortunately, was a renegade hedge-fund manager called Brad Ruderman, who was subsequently arrested for gambling away hundreds of thousands of his clients’ money. Ruderman’s bankrupt clients launched a lawsuit against Maguire, Bilzerian and several others, demanding that the money they had won from Ruderman should be paid back – Maguire eventually settled with the plaintiffs.
Also in 2011, Affleck hit the headlines after a winning blackjack session at the Hard Rock which saw him pocket $800,000 in one night – that’s after he tipped dealers and cocktail waitresses a total of $150,000.
This time he wasn’t so lucky. Security at the Hard Rock caught him card-counting, while staking as much as $20,000 per hand at the Hard Rock high rollers lounge.
“While playing at a table, Ben was asked repeatedly to stop card counting,” a source told Star Magazine. “However, he would not stop. The casino staff told Ben that he was being way too obvious.”
Card-counting is a system in which players assign point values to each card and this allows them to determine the increasing value of the deck as less valuable cards becoming discarded. When the deck becomes “hot”, they will increase their bets, thus tipping the house odds in their favor.
While card-counting, or “advantage play,” isn’t illegal in the strict sense of the law, it will get you thrown out of a casino and barred, which means that the real skill of a card-counter is to avoid detection. The MIT Black Team, immortalized in the film 21, for example, operated throughout the nineties and, using a successful system of signals and disguises, were able to take casinos across the world for millions. It’s seems to be the detection aspect that Affleck, for all his undoubted brilliance as an actor, still needs to work on.
“You’re too good at the game,” security managers apparently ironically told him, as they led him towards a waiting taxi.