Synopsis: Ben Campbell is a young, highly intelligent, student at M.I.T. in Boston who strives to succeed. Wanting a scholarship to transfer to Harvard School of Medicine with the desire to become a doctor, Ben learns that he cannot afford the $300,000 for the four to five years of schooling as he comes from a poor, working-class background. But one evening, Ben is introduced by his unorthodox math professor Micky Rosa into a small but secretive club of five. Students Jill, Choi, Kianna, and Fisher, who are being trained by Professor Rosa of the skill of card counting at blackjack. Intrigued by the desire to make money, Ben joins his new friends on secret weekend trips to Las Vegas where, using their skills of code talk and hand signals, they have Ben make hundreds of thousands of dollars in winning blackjack at casino after casino. Ben only wants to make enough money for the tuition to Harvard and then back out. But as fellow card counter, Jill Taylor, predicts, Ben becomes corrupted by greed a
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Director(s): Robert Luketic
Production: Sony/Columbia Pictures
  1 win & 5 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
123 min

"Winner, winner, chicken dinner."

Those words had been dancing

around my head all night.

I mean, it's Vegas lore, that phrase.

Just ask any of the old-time pit bosses,

they'll know.

It was a Chinese dealer at Binion's

who was first credited with the line.

He would shout it every time

he dealt blackjack.

That was over 40 years ago,

and the words still catch.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner. There it is!

"Winner, winner, chicken dinner."

Yeah, try it.

I had heard it at least 14 times that night.

I couldn't lose.

First of all, what I was doing wasn't illegal.

There were certain institutions and people

that frowned upon it,

but it's legal.

And not everyone can do it.

Just those with gifted minds.

I have a gifted mind.

That's what got me into all this mess.

I was counting cards

and I was up over $640,000.

All right!

I'm just gonna have to split those tens.

- Splitting tens.

- Splitting tens again.

Well, that's all right.

I've been winning and losing for years.

We used hand signals, too.

Folded arms, the table's hot.

A touch to the eye, we need to talk.

And a hand running through

perfect flowing hair meant only one thing.

Get out. Now.

"Winner, winner, chicken dinner."

Stroke. Stroke. Stroke. Stroke.


President, American Legion Math League.

TA to Professors Wilkins and Sanders.

Both of whom are friends of mine,

and who wrote glowing recommendations.

And you're accepted early into school here

at Harvard Med,

pending graduation from MIT.

It's very impressive.

Thank you.

The Robinson Scholarship

is comprehensive, as you know.

It's a free ride.

And free rides don't come easy.


We have 76 applicants this year,

only one of whom will get the scholarship

and most of whom have rsums

just as impressive as yours.


Professor Phillips?

Some kids grow up

wanting to play for the Red Sox.

You know, some grow up wanting to be,

I don't know, a fireman.

I grew up... Well, really,

I just wanted to come here to Harvard Med.

And now that I've gotten accepted,

it seems to only come down to the money.

Which I don't really have.

So, what I'm trying to say

is that I really, really need this scholarship.

Did you rehearse that?

Yeah. Like, 14 times in front of the mirror.


desire doesn't figure into this much.

The Robinson is going

to go to someone who


Somebody who just jumps off the page.

Oh, well, then, I'm also involved

in a science competition.

We're building a robotic wheel

that can navigate itself

using a proprietary GPS system.

Well, I'm designing the system. So...


Ben, last year,

the Robinson went to Hyum Jae Wook,

a Korean immigrant who has only one leg.

Well, I have both my legs.

Well, have you considered

cutting one of them off?

That was a joke.

Ben, it's all about the essay.

You need to really explain to us

what makes you special.

What life experience separates you

from all the rest.

Life experience.

What can you tell me, Ben,

that's going to dazzle me?

I'm so sorry I'm late.

- Where is your jacket?

- Oh, I got it. I got it. It's right here.

This is no way for the new

assistant manager to come to work.


How does $8 an hour sound?

Eight dollars?

Wow! Wow. That's great, Warren.

Thank you. Thank you.

You slept with him, didn't you?

- Yes, I did. Yes, I did.

- Yes, you did.

I'll sleep with him, too,

and I'll get $8 an hour.

So Palmer finishes up his lecture, right?

And I say to him,

"Well, Professor Palmer, you're gonna need

at least 14 capacitance probes

"to get the kind of results

that you're looking for," okay?

So then he says to me, "Miles,

don't you think that's a little excessive?"

And I get up, I swear to God, Ben, I get up

in front of the entire class and I say,

"You can never have

enough capacitance probes."

Oh, my God.

What the hell is wrong with you?

Oh, nothing.

I hope nothing. You just got promoted, man.

You should be happy.

I just gotta write this essay for the

Robinson Scholarship, and I have nothing.

And the reason that I have nothing

is'cause, well, I've done nothing.

- Oh, give me a break, Ben.

- What?

You have everything.

You blow me out of the water,

and I'm a cerebral stud. Is that nothing?

Yeah, well, it doesn't dazzle.

Hey. It dazzles me, mister.

You know, ever since I was 16,

I crushed exams.

I took on extracurriculars.

I showed up early.

I even sat up at the front and I stayed late.

Man, I gave up everything.

You know, I gave up fun. I gave up sex.

I don't think you gave up sex.

- Okay. Maybe not sex.

- Yeah, you didn't give up sex.

All right, all right. Not sex, but...

It just annoys me that the one thing

that is stopping me

from going to Harvard Med is money.

You know, tuition fees and living expenses

alone cost over $300,000.


It's outrageous. It's astronomically high.

I get that.

You know, I just thought

there was more to life than just money.

Well, look at the bright side,

I just saved a bunch of money

on my car insurance.

Thank you.

- Happy birthday, honey.

- Thanks, Mom.

Thank you, love. Kisses.

Make a wish.

- Make a wish.

- Okay.


Congratulations, Benjamin.

Did you know Miles did the frosting on that?

You see that?

It took me five minutes

to figure out it was a Fibonacci series...

Where the next number is 21.

Now you're slipping, Cam.

Cam, you owe another six bucks.

No, no. I didn't eat any of the Buffalo wings.

Oh, really? That's great.

Well, we're not doing it that way.

We're just dividing equally.

So let's say you pay.

I got it, all right?

No, no. I got it. I got it. I got it. I got it.

It's your birthday.

You're as broke-ass as I am.

I just wish now

I had eaten some of those wings.

So, I nailed the specs on the 2.09 last night,

after 19 cups of coffee.

- Check it out.

- You are kidding. You're kidding!

This is good. Miles, this is good.

Yeah, well, it better be'cause this is what

we've been working for since we got here.

This is called destiny.

You know, there is the... Thank you.

There is the possibility that

we might not actually win this thing.

Oh, yeah?

Bite your tongue! Bite your damn tongue!

Look, guys,

we don't date, we don't travel,

we don't have any money.

The only thing that we do have

is the 2.09 Competition.

If we can't even win that, what's the point?

Hey, hey. Look at this!

No, no, no, no.

We suck.

Your father would be so proud of you, Ben.


Do you remember anything about him?

Not really. Maybe when he shaved?

Yeah, I think I watched him shave.

So, what are your plans

for the rest of the night?

I don't know. I'll probably just go back

and work on that essay.

Ben, you're working too hard.

Between the job and school and the 2.09,

you've had no time for just yourself.

You have to squeeze in

a little time for fun, Ben.

You only turn 21 once.

And it goes by very fast.

Okay. All right.

- Good night.

- All right, good night.

- Don't come home before 3:00.

Rate this script:0.0 / 0 votes

Peter Steinfeld

Peter L. Steinfeld is an American screenwriter and television producer. He is best known for writing mystery film Drowning Mona (released 2000), comedy film Be Cool (2005) and drama film 21 (2008). more…

All Peter Steinfeld scripts | Peter Steinfeld Scripts

0 fans

Submitted on August 05, 2018

Discuss this script with the community:



    Translate and read this script in other languages:

    Select another language:

    • - Select -
    • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
    • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
    • Español (Spanish)
    • Esperanto (Esperanto)
    • 日本語 (Japanese)
    • Português (Portuguese)
    • Deutsch (German)
    • العربية (Arabic)
    • Français (French)
    • Русский (Russian)
    • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
    • 한국어 (Korean)
    • עברית (Hebrew)
    • Gaeilge (Irish)
    • Українська (Ukrainian)
    • اردو (Urdu)
    • Magyar (Hungarian)
    • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
    • Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Italiano (Italian)
    • தமிழ் (Tamil)
    • Türkçe (Turkish)
    • తెలుగు (Telugu)
    • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
    • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
    • Čeština (Czech)
    • Polski (Polish)
    • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Românește (Romanian)
    • Nederlands (Dutch)
    • Ελληνικά (Greek)
    • Latinum (Latin)
    • Svenska (Swedish)
    • Dansk (Danish)
    • Suomi (Finnish)
    • فارسی (Persian)
    • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
    • հայերեն (Armenian)
    • Norsk (Norwegian)
    • English (English)


    Use the citation below to add this screenplay to your bibliography:


    "21" Scripts.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 13 Jul 2024. <https://www.scripts.com/script/21_1639>.

    We need you!

    Help us build the largest writers community and scripts collection on the web!

    Watch the movie trailer


    Browse Scripts.com

    The Studio:

    ScreenWriting Tool

    Write your screenplay and focus on the story with many helpful features.


    Are you a screenwriting master?

    Who played Jack Dawson in "Titanic"?
    A Brad Pitt
    B Johnny Depp
    C Matt Damon
    D Leonardo DiCaprio