The Hot Shoe

The Hot Shoe is an accessible documentary on the history and legal aspects of card counting. The documentary maker, David Layton, interviews not only various blackjack authors and card counters on the subject, but he also talks to various casino executives, an expert lawyer, and a detective from Griffin Investigations, the detective agency that tracked down the members of the MIT Blackjack Team and ended their biggest winning streak. The interviews are edited so that they segue into one another frequently, allowing many different opinions to come by in the course of every discussion. Among the many interviewees are Max Rubin, Stanford Wong, Bill Zender, Edward Thorp, Peter Griffin and Tommy Hyland. Though they remain fairly on the surface of discussing their techniques, the footage of members of the MIT Team meeting in a hotel and discussing how to proceed in the casino they have come to visit is nice to see, as is the behind the scenes footage of casino pits and surveillance. An amusing feature is the part where Layton himself becomes a card counting “test case” as he plays blackjack with the documentary’s sound budget.

The footage is interesting and the history of card counting is presented in an engaging way. However, much of the documentary is directed at people who are not that familiar with card counting, so for those who are already into advantage play this documentary may disappoint slightly because Layton doesn’t dig deeper into the full potential of this subject. Still, as far as documentaries on card counting go, this one is pretty good.