- The Washington Times - Friday, March 28, 2008

The true-life story of “21” — a cadre of Massachusetts Institute of Technology geeks learn to count cards and take Las Vegas by storm — offers, at the very least, an intriguing idea for educators who want students to do better in math. No harm, however, if you’re there just for the sake of the cards.

Rounders — A late-‘90s gem with Edward Norton and Matt Damon in an underworld of high-stakes poker. Critical lesson: learning the importance of “spotting the sucker.”

The Cincinnati Kid — Lest anyone has forgotten that Steve McQueen was, as his character in this 1965 poker classic described himself, “The Man.”

The Gambler — In the interest of public spiritedness, let us here remind readers that gambling is often an addiction, as depicted in this obscure 1974 picture with James Caan as a literature professor who is a problem gambler on the side. Mr. Caan turned up as a considerably less bookish card shark in 1992’s “Honeymoon in Vegas.”

Rain Man All roads led to Vegas in this unique buddy-movie-slash-disease drama (1988): Dustin Hoffman’s idiot-savant-turned-card-counter Raymond bails out his financially strapped younger brother (Tom Cruise) by applying his number-crunching gift at the blackjack table.

The Color of Money — As any handicapper at the race track will attest, you don’t need cards to get your gamble on. Or horses, for that matter. Billiards will do just fine, as in this 1986 film, in which Oscar winner Paul Newman reprises his “Hustler” role as Fast Eddie Felson, who here takes a hotshot pool shooter (Mr. Cruise) under his wing.

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