Vanity Fair recently enlisted a casino game protection expert named Sal Piacente to review a number of classic movie gambling scenes and discuss their level of accuracy. In the process, he revealed many fascinating tricks of the trade and lent expert insight into how well films like The Sting, Casino, Rounders, and Ocean’s Thirteen depict the various ways in which people try to get one over on casinos.
More importantly, though, he was shown that part in the first Austin Powers where Number 2 uses X-ray vision to cheat at blackjack.
Piacente watches Number 2 scan the cards at a blackjack table to ensure he gets 21 when hitting on 17 and tells us that people actually can cheat in this way without the benefit of a high-tech X-ray eyepatch. Though it’s not quite as exciting as the Austin Powers version, Piacente explains that certain eyeglass or contact lenses can be used to view marked cards, though the blackjack scam is usually done with marked cards that can be noticed with the naked eye.
He shows off a “juice deck,” which is a deck whose cards are “marked with an invisible fluid, or ‘juice,’ that requires training to see.” Piacente places a card that looks completely normal in front of him and points out that there’s a slightly darker spot that lets cheaters know it’s a king. Another card with a dot centered in the design indicates a four. Two diagonal dots mark a seven, and on and on.
He says that the process to spot these kind of markers takes a lot of practice, validating the kind of scam Number 2 pulls off while indirectly telling would-be blackjack cheaters that amassing evil funds is a bit tougher than just scanning cards with a cool eyepatch. (The scene’s lone flaw, by the way, is that Larry “Soup Nazi” Thomas doesn’t deal Austin’s cards properly.)
Now we just need a marine biologist and weapons engineer to come along and let us know if there’s any real-world version of sharks (or ill-tempered, mutated sea bass) with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads out there, too.
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