I freely admit it. I’m a mark for casino movies. The thrill of gambling just jacks up those endorphins, and I relish the idea that at any minute, I’m walking away with a small fortune. The harsh reality, though, is that the casino always has the edge. They’re not in the business of giving money away, they want your money.
With the exception of poker, all casino games favor the…casino. Only in Blackjack can you shift the advantage to your favor, but that requires card counting. It’s not illegal, but it is forbidden. If you’re tagged as a counter, then you are put on a list and asked permanently to leave the premises. If you return, you can be arrested for trespassing.
Chris Buddy’s documentary Inside the Edge: A Professional Blackjack Adventure follows the “Advantage Player” known as KC, who is a marked card counter. He is one of the best, and what makes him the best is that he works alone. Today, KC has amassed a small fortune playing Blackjack, but after donning dozens of disguises, KC has been effectively booted out of every single casino in Las Vegas. Filmmaker Buddy decides to follow KC as he hops in an RV and travels across the United States playing Blackjack all along the way.
“…after donning dozens of disguises, KC has been effectively booted out of every single casino in Las Vegas.”
The idea is simple. Drive to a city with a casino. Stay in that city. Win loads of cash playing Blackjack and leave when the heat is on. What’s cool about this doc is we follow KC almost everywhere thanks to Chris Buddy’s system of hidden cameras. We see him winning at the table. We then witness the oncoming security as they make every attempt to intimidate the card counter.
There’s a great deal of stress in KC’s line of work. He not only has to be on his game counting every damn card and making split-second decisions affecting wins and losses, but he also has to make sure he’s never caught. The most significant stress is the act of entering a casino without being identified (from facial recognition systems), finding a table without being stopped by security, and winning as much money as he can, before drawing attention to himself.
Then there are the swings. Gambling is, after all, still gambling. There is always the luck factor, and one day Lady Luck is kind and the other it’s harsh. KC’s adventure across the country is exciting, thrilling, and fun to watch. His interactions with casino security are equally as thrilling. As the casino is on to his next move, KC has to adapt. Once he adapts, the casino must make new changes and the cycle starts all over again. At one point, the casino identifies his RV license plate and passing that info around to other casinos. KC is unable to get past the front doors.
“…offers a friendly visual guide to card counting and a few other secrets of the Advantage Players.”
Want to gain an advantage the next time you’re in Vegas? Inside the Edge: A Professional Blackjack Adventure offers a friendly visual guide to card counting and a few other secrets of the Advantage Players. Directory Buddy also brings in a few other members of this secret society, including John Chang, Max Rubin, James Grosjean, Arnold Snyder, Stanford Wong, and Richard Munchkin. Each offers their own insight into the life of the professional gambler, the trouble one can get into when messing with a casino, and inside the head of KC himself.
The documentary has one major shortcoming in that the quality of the video is far below average. Cheaper cameras were used for the interviews and RV footage. Of course, all of the casino footage is shot with hidden cameras, so the quality is grainy, and the clarity has much to be desired. Other than that, this is one of those real-life Ocean’s 11 adventures, I will watch over and over again.
Inside the Edge: A Professional Blackjack Adventure (2019) Directed by Chris Buddy. Featuring KC, John Chang, Max Rubin, James Grosjean, Arnold Snyder, Stanford Wong, and Richard Munchkin.
8.5 out of 10 stars