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When all else fails and you need some money fast, sometimes it pays to hit up the blackjack tables.

Running a business is hard; going to university is hard; I suppose life itself is hard. Often, things turn out much better than you expect them to; usually along the way though, you’ll encounter some difficulty. Typically, these difficulties will involve money; and when there are no other options people frequently turn to the casinos.

Take for example, the recent revelation from a founding member of global express delivery company FedEx. During the company’s early days, fuel funds were short and the usual methods of attaining more money proved to be unfruitful. So, CEO Fred Smith took a plane to Las Vegas and played blackjack. He won $27,000, and saved the company for another week.

From the biggest delivery company in the world, to students sweating over tuition in dorm rooms, winning at blackjack has helped people get what they needed, fast. Here are four ways people have tried to use blackjack to save their sorry asses.

Unbelievable streak

Most level-headed people would tell you that taking your chances at the casino and trying to increase your money on some hands of blackjack, is crazy. Well it kind-of is. It’s more likely that the casino will take your money than you theirs; the house tends to win in the end, even if you do manage to win for a while.

However this was not the case with now-famous gambler Don Johnson. Just to clarify, Don was not in a desperate state of financial gain; he already had money, but he wanted more. Much more. Don knew about blackjack, and Don knew about playing blackjack in casinos; he’d done it before. The casinos, well they knew Don, too.

During a particularly bad time, in terms of money making, the struggling casinos invited him to play at their tables. They had hoped Don would generate some much needed revenue for their casinos, and to get him to play they gave him lucrative odds offers and even a 20% deduction from his losses. Don was smart, so Don played.

Don won over $15 million during a six month period in 2011, from various casinos; he’s the guy who broke the bank in Atlantic City, and they’re the ones who invited him to do so. Good work, Don.

Hollywood’s contribution

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably seen or at least heard of the film 21, starring the fantastic Kevin Spacey. The basic premise is some dude whose smart enough to count cards can’t afford to pay his tuition for medical school. So he goes to Las Vegas and attempts to use a card counting system whilst playing blackjack, to win the required money. Remember this guy is smart enough to count cards and this is a movie, so after some minor turbulence he wins the money, gets the girl and everything is cool.

There’s another film with a similar theme, called Runner Runner; in all actuality there’s a few more than these two, but whatever. In this one, our hero also can’t pay his tuition so he tries to win it, betting the little money he does have online, playing poker; it’s like c’mon man have you even seen 21, you’re supposed to play blackjack. Anyway, he loses his money, obviously. Actually, I think he was cheated out of it. Anyhow, next time play blackjack if you’re in a movie.

The film 21 was actually based on a real life team of card players; so that story actually happened, but maybe he never got the girl.

Down then up, then down again

Things you should never bet on a hand of blackjack

• Your home (happened)

• Your wife (Surprisingly, happened)

• Your dignity (definitely happened)

The story of the next guy is an emotional rollercoaster. The un-named protagonist of our story was a down-on-his-luck Las Vegas resident who was having a pretty rough time. After getting kicked out of his home by his wife, the man cashed his last social security check, for $400, and headed to the Treasure Island Casino.

Not much is known of the guy’s casino table manners, but apparently due to him being unable to shower for a few days after getting the boot from home, it’s said that his odor was so bad that no-one would even sit at his table; well besides the poor dealer who had the unfortunate sole-pleasure of his smell.

Thanks to his unconventional strategy – he didn’t follow the basic blackjack strategy whatsoever – he managed to win $1 million. This could have been a major turning point in his life, but unfortunately he carried on playing; in the end he left Treasure Island $400 poorer than he was when he entered the casino. Poor guy, literally.

Reality bites

Some of you might be thinking, ‘wow maybe I can do what these guys did and make a whole ton of money, maybe I can pull a Don Johnson’. Right now you might be on the verge of emptying your bank accounts and booking a flight to Vegas. Don’t do it yet, wait until you’ve read about the next guy, who is proof that sometimes staking everything on the blackjack tables is not always the best way to improve a situation.

Terrence Watanabe took a short trip to Vegas, but he forgot to leave. He already had a serious amount of money after selling his stake in a successful company. While in Vegas he got a bit too accustomed to the High-Roller lifestyle; accompanied by copious amounts of free alcohol and painkillers.

Casino employee’s say that Mr. Watanabe would sometimes lose $5 million a day, gamble for 24 hours straight, and was allowed to play three hands of blackjack at once. It’s estimated that Terrance lost around $200 million in total. Ouch.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like playing blackjack is the most reliable method of saving your ass and getting you much needed money fast; although it genuinely is possible at times. There’s the interesting case of Ashley Revell, a man who took everything he owned and sold it, went to Vegas and bet it all on one spin of the roulette wheel. Betting red, he doubled his money and walked out with a cool $270,000.

Maybe roulette is better suited to the task; but after all, it looks like its all down to luck, right?