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Rain Man And The Gambling Anomaly - by Marc Armstrong

Marc Armstrong EN

If you are not already familiar, Rain Man is an Oscar winning movie about a mentally handicapped individual, who, although behaviourally awkward, has a photographic memory, among other abilities. The central character, Raymond Babbitt, is portrayed masterfully by Dustin Hoffman, and is perhaps one of the most loved personalities in cinema history.

One of the most well remembered aspects of the movie is that Raymond’s incredible mind makes him a gambling genius, both because he can calculate enormous numbers on the fly, and because he can engage in card counting on a subhuman level. It’s an anomaly that many have latched onto over the years, and who can blame them?

There is something incredibly appealing about the idea that some people have what can be seen as, for lack of a better term, super powers. I would be lying if I said I didn’t wish I had some astonishing abilities to impress people with. Sadly, all I have is a fast typing speed, and that never gets the gasps of amazement you’re hoping for at the local pubs.

But this got me thinking about just how realistically the abilities were portrayed in Rain Man, and if such things are possible in the real world. I set about finding out if a person really can be given superhuman gambling abilities by having mental disorders.

Savant and Autistic

First and foremost, Raymond in the Rain Man movie in fact has two separate mental disorders, meshed together for the sake of the movie, making a more unique and interesting character. His behaviour, known for showing very little emotion, is autism. The photographic memory and incredible mathematics skills is trademark of a savant. Autism and savant are sometimes side-by-side in the real world, but it’s more often that one can manifest without the other.

And yes, a savant in the real world will blow your mind with their incredible memory and mental abilities. Raymond Babbitt in Rain man was in fact based on a real life person, named Kim Peek, who is absolutely capable of all the things demonstrated in the movie. It is reported that if you tell Kim your birthday, he will, without missing a beat, tell you on which day in the future, specifically, you will turn 65. Again, my fast typing speed just really seems to be lacking somewhat.

Savant and Card Counting

Card counting is the trick of mentally keeping track of which cards have been played during a casino game, blackjack being the game of choice in Rain Man. By knowing which cards have already been played, a savant will know which cards still remain in the deck, which gives them an enormous advantage. After all, when being asked to hit or stand, being aware of which card may be drawn can make you unbeatable. And yes, a real world savant is capable of doing this.

But then, being a savant is not necessarily required as far as card counting goes. A person with an exceptional and trained memory is capable of doing it. But, this is where it gets a little more interesting.

In Rain Man it is specifically pointed out, when him and Tom cruise are busted, that Raymond is card counting a six deck shoe of cards. That’s six decks of cards he was keeping track of, not one. And, you have probably already guessed, there is hardly a non-savant on earth that can card count sic decks of cards. It really is a sort of superpower.

If You Want To Get Bust

So yes, there is such a thing as being a savant gambling genius. And yes, it would very likely result in you getting thrown out of the casino long before you could amass any kind of fortune. Furthermore, if you thought it was perhaps easier to get away with at an online casino, playing a bit of online blackjack, you’d be mistaken.

If anyone shows signs of being miraculously successful at online casino games, a notification is sent to the online casino watchdogs, who would confiscate your winnings. Yes, of course I checked. I don’t know any savants, but I was just about to start finding one to be my online casino buddy, at least until I found out about the above mentioned security measures and they put paid to that idea!

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