The popular actor Matthew McConaughey is a blackjack player. Who knew?! In an interview with 1843 Magazine (The Economist) the actor dishes about his career and how gambling has been a part of his life.
The interview and story start out with a blackjack scenario many of us have experienced:
Matthew McConaughey slides $1,000 in chips onto the blue baize of the blackjack table. The dealer lays down a five and an eight. In blackjack the aim is to get as close as possible to 21 – with 13 there’s really no option but to “hit” and take another card. “I don’t need the eight,” McConaughey tells the dealer in his syrupy Texan drawl. “A seven will do just fine.”
She gives him a nine. “Gosh dang it!” he cries as she sweeps his money away. “McConaughey’s down a grand over here.”
The author, Simon Willis, later reveals that this isn’t a real blackjack game. It’s a not-for-real-money game they play online while chatting. No real money was at risk during this interview.
Do you believe in beginner’s luck? McConaughey sure does. Willis is not an experienced blackjack player.
The dealer hands me an ace followed by a jack. I have 21 and I haven’t even done anything.
“Boom, boom! You are cashin’ in,” McConaughey says.
“Beginner’s luck,” I reply.
“Well ride beginner’s luck, man. It’s a real thaaang.”
Beginner’s luck is one of the many gambling myths some recreational players believe in. To his credit, McConaughey admits he’s a novice blackjack player. When he gambles, he doesn’t make big money wagers like the thousand fake dollar wager for this interview.
Beginner’s luck doesn’t exist but whatever makes you happy. Understanding strategy and odds are what should matter when playing a blackjack game for money.
Matthew McConaughey Learns To Play Blackjack
Like many blackjack players, Matthew McConaughey was taught how to play by his brothers. His first blackjack game sounds similar to many players I know. He and his brother Pat played an 11-hour blackjack session. He walked away from the table $2,000 richer.
It took me years before learning how to correctly play blackjack. I didn’t even know there was something called basic strategy. A friend gave me a basic overview before we walked into Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.
We Both Love Planet Hollywood
I remember my first big blackjack session because the property was being renovated from Aladdin into Planet Hollywood. The place was a construction zone and slowly losing its old theme. Before leaving for the night we spotted a few different actors and actresses just milling about the property like normal people. This wasn’t that long ago but feels like a different time.
The blackjack session lasted forever. My buddy spent almost the entire day in the same seat at the blackjack game. I got bored after an hour or so and would walk around playing other games. I returned periodically and hopped in and out before we left the casino when the sun went down.
I don’t remember the exact results but we both either won or lost a little and drank a lot of booze. It was a perfect Vegas afternoon that would have been better if at least one of us walked away with two grand.
Coincidentally, McConaughey gambled often at the Aladdin before it was Planet Hollywood. According to the article, the casino once offered him a suite to live in at no charge. That was the modus operandi of Planet Hollywood so I’m guessing we were enjoying Planet Hollywood around the same time.
McConaughey Plays More Than Blackjack
While blackjack may be the first game discussed it’s not the only game McConaughey plays. The suite at Aladdin was offered in part because he loves playing craps. Alright, alright, alright…I’m starting to like this guy.
McConaughey also plays Caribbean Stud Poker and not necessarily in Las Vegas. Some time ago he was playing Caribbean Stud on a riverboat in Lousiana and hit a sweet jackpot.
After losing all night long, he was dealt a two, three, four, five and six of hearts. “A straight flush, didn’t even have to draw a card. All of a sudden the bells were going off – Dingdingdingding! – and I had $13,900 in my shirt pocket.”
That’s the kind of win that keeps people playing carny games like Caribbean Stud. I was unlucky enough to hit four of a kind playing Mississippi Stud Poker one of the first times I’ve played.
Winning a few purple chips is fun. Unfortunately, I’ve given those back and then some. Playing blackjack, craps, and pai gow poker are probably better alternatives. Staying away from new carny games with high volatility and large wins is also something I usually avoid nowadays.