If you're not familiar with the rules of blackjack, it's probably not totally clear what they're doing. Well, the goal of blackjack is simple enough: you bet the dealer that, using the cards you're dealt one at a time, you can get a score as close to 21 as possible without going over. So the goal is to somehow guess which card you're going to get next. The movies imply that the second you use your brain to calculate the odds of getting the card you want, you are essentially committing the unlawful crime of illegalness known as card counting. And if the casino ever catches you doing that, they'll ban you and probably call your mother to tell her what a degenerate criminal she's raised.
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"He doubled-down on 6-6 when he clearly should have split them? I have no son."
However, card counting in American casinos is actually perfectly legal, because -- and this is important -- nothing that a card counter does can in any way alter the outcome of a deal. It's not like you're distracting the dealer and then reaching over to swap out his deck with one you had hidden in your sleeve. You're merely trying to calculate which cards are, for lack of a better word, destined to land on the table, and forbidding the players from doing that would be like asking them to bet on a horse race based just on the sound of the horses' names.
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"Five thousand on Bubbles von Turduckenator. I got a feeling."