‘Inside the Edge’ is a documentary about some of the best blackjack players in the world and the way in which they manage to win millions at casinos. It is therefore an inside look into one of the most exciting and glamorous pursuits we have: gambling.
The documentary promotes itself in that manner as well, calling itself an inside look into the super-secret world of blackjack. The director, Chris Buddy, follows a high-profile player, KC, as he travels across the United States playing blackjack. There is enough hidden-camera footage to make sceptics believe that this is not a scripted movie, but rather an honest look into what goes on at casinos, through the eyes of a professional blackjack player. Unfortunately, this documentary does not include online casino blackjack, which is gaining popularity, but is still far behind the actual number of people who play cards at casinos rather than on their phones.
KC is a card-counter, and so he has been banned from multiple casinos across the country, and this forces him to disguise himself to get into certain establishments. It is not a one-way street either, as many casinos blatantly break the law when dealing with KC as well, and this documentary shows that the old adage that ‘the house always wins’ is definitely true, and the house can be really nasty while doing so as well. Another great aspect of ‘Inside the Edge’ is that it shows gambling for what it truly is – hours of boredom and exhaustion punctuated by minutes of exhilaration and excitement. It does not glamourize gambling like most movies do, and that, to the director’s credit, is one of the best parts of this documentary. It also shows the inevitable down phases as well, with KC admitting on the movie that there have been days where he has both won and then lost hundreds of thousands of dollars, putting him on an emotional rollercoaster which would be hard to find in normal life.
Card counting is not illegal, but it is forbidden at most casinos, as it is the one way to load the odds back in the player’s favour away from the house. Thus, KC is banned at almost every single casino in Las Vegas, and this is why he has to disguise himself to be able to get into any of those establishments. Buddy’s hidden cameras also catch the security at these locations, and their attempts to threaten and intimidate KC after he wins big. As stated earlier, the documentary does a fantastic job of showing the reality of gambling. KC is perpetually stressed out, as not only does he have to make split-second decisions which will make a huge difference to his wins or losses, but also evade facial recognition technology to get into casinos, and then find a table and win before drawing too much attention to himself. It is no surprise that he admits to having incredible mood swings and having bad days from a mental health standpoint. Gambling is inherently stressful and inside the edge a professional blackjack adventure risky, even more so when you do it for a living and are being harassed because of your methods, and this documentary brings all of this into stark focus.
There is one criticism of the movie, and it is that the camera quality is often quite poor, leading to grainy footage. This is understandable though, as most of the footage is obtained using hidden cameras, but even the interviews, and the footage in KC’s RV, are all shot using cheap cameras. Other than that, this is a great inside look into gambling, and highly recommended for anyone with an interest in this practice.