The film focuses on a main character, a young adult Caucasian male, Ben is drawn to gambling by his professor and peers. Ben is a stereotypical high-achieving student who is very driven to succeed. Like many college students today, Ben is concerned about his ability to pay for medical school. His financial concerns motivate him to join an underground blackjack team at his school in order to use his winnings to pay for medical school. Ben’s monetary motive for gambling is not unique for people his age.
According to Neighbors, Lostutter, Cronce, and Larimer (2002), 40% of college-aged students who gambled wrote that money was the main reason why they gambled. He originally decides to gamble for those reasons. Ben is a character who is likely to get the audience to root for him as he is like many college students today who cannot afford to pay for school. He is stereotyped as a male when he gambles in that he is very impulsive. Ben discovers that his math skills enable him to become a great card counter. Interestingly, his female teammates play minor roles on the gambling team.
Ben is the one who wins the most money for his team. Relationship with gambling Ben initially takes up gambling for virtuous and even understandable reasons (to pay his tuition). When he realizes that he can excel and make more money than he ever could in school, he begins to neglect his schoolwork and takes trips with his peers to Vegas on weekends. Gambling starts to become his life because it allows him the kind of freedom he has never experienced before. According to MacLaurin and Hashimoto (2008), gambling desire comes from being able to take voluntary risks to control one’s destiny. Gamblers can also exercise a symbolic path of freedom that their environmental and social settings do not allow (MacLaurin & Hashimoto, 2008).
Despite winning all the money needed to pay for medical school, Ben does not stop. In one scene he gambles for too long and loses $200,000 after his teammates were constantly trying to signal him to leave the table. Micky becomes infuriated with him because Ben gambles with his emotions and impulsivity. Micky leaves the team and severs his relationship with Ben. Ben’s teammate Jill tries to persuade him that he has won all the money he needs to pay for medical school and that he should stop gambling. He tells her that medical school does not matter to him anymore because he enjoys the thrills of Vegas.
He then persuades his teammates to gamble without Micky by leading them through the casino. The consequences are that he gets captured and beaten by Cole and the rest of the security team. When Ben arrives back at school he goes into his room and notices that all his money has been taken from him. On his door, there is a notice that he cannot graduate because some of his classes are marked as incomplete.
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