7 Lessons Star Wars: The Last Jedi Taught Me About Gambling

by Jeff Harris
on February 2, 2018

Theater audiences are currently being entertained by Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.

The second film in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, this movie follows Rey (Daisy Ridley) as she discovers exiled Jedi Master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill).

This is a really cool Star Wars film because it brings back old stars like Hamill and Carrie Fisher. And the special effects are as good as in any Star Wars movie I’ve seen.

Beyond seeing this film for entertainment purposes, I also applied its events to gambling. And Star Wars: The Last Jedi actually taught me several things about wagering.

Follow along as I discuss 7 lessons that this movie taught me or reinforced what I know about gambling.

*Warning: spoilers ahead*

1. Know When to Walk Away

One of the most important things to know in betting is when to quit. This is easier said than done because we all want to win back losses during a bad session.

But being disciplined enough to walk away when you’re losing a significant amount is important to be a good gambler.

The opening scene of The Last Jedi does a good job of teaching this lesson.

The movie begins with General Leia Organa (Fisher) ordering an evacuation from their main base. The evil First Order sends in a Dreadnought (massive battleship) to destroy the Resistance base.

Commander Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and his soldiers take out the Dreadnought’s point defense cannons. Dameron is confident that they can destroy the ship, and he leads Resistance X-wing bombers against the Dreadnought.

General Leia orders him and the bombers to retreat because it’s too dangerous. But Poe ignores her orders and continues attacking the ship until it’s destroyed.

Unfortunately, the team takes heavy losses, including gunner Paige Tico (Ngo Thanh Van). The Resistance planes eventually escape by switching to lightspeed.

Leia chews Poe out for ignoring a direct order and demotes him to Captain. This is a good example of how not knowing when to walk away can backfire on you.

2. Always Have an In-Depth Strategy in Skill-Based Gambling

First Order General Armitage Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) is reprimanded by Supreme Leader Snoke for letting the Resistance escape.

Snoke sees General Hux’s not blocking the rebels’ escape route as a huge failure. But Hux informs Snoke that the First Order managed to put a tracker on a Resistance ship and are pursing them through hyperspace.

The tracker allows the First Order to quickly catch up to the rebels and attempt to destroy them.

Hux had a more complex strategy in case he didn’t subdue the rebel forces. And this prevented the First Order from having to do heavy reconnaissance work to find the Resistance again.

Applying this to gambling, you should always have an in-depth strategy in skill-based games, including card counting, daily fantasy sports (DFS), poker, and sports betting.

Using card counting as an example, you must know how to:

  • Manage a bankroll
  • Use a card counting system
  • Keep an accurate count
  • Spread your bets
  • Evade casino detection with disciplined bet spreading

Bankroll management is especially key here, because you need enough money and a good betting plan for the times when luck isn’t in your favor.

This is similar to how General Hux’s men placed a tracker on one of the ships in case they failed to stop the rebel fleet.

Here’s a poker example of having extra layers to your strategy:

  • You have a low flush draw on the flop.
  • This gives you a 19.1% chance of hitting your flush by the flop.
  • The pot is worth $85.
  • You must call $15, which would make the total pot $100.
  • You’re contributing 15% to the pot.
  • Given that your hand equity (19.1%) is better than your pot odds, you should make the call.
  • But you also believe that your opponent may have a better flush draw.
  • You decide against making the call based on what you know about the opponent.

3. Being Aggressive Can Pay Off

I’m a heavy advocate of bankroll management and being conservative in gambling. But there are also times when being aggressive can really pay.

Poker players benefit from being aggressive in a controlled manner. This helps them win pots through two ways:

  • Forcing other players to fold
  • Having the best cards

In contrast, a passive player only wins when they have the top hand.

Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Snoke’s Dark Side apprentice, would be a good poker player.

Ren gets fired up after Snoke bashes him for not fully embracing the Dark Side. And he leads a risky attack against the Resistance fleet, flying into the Raddus (rebels’ chief base) to destroy numerous ships.

Ren later moves to fire on the Raddus’ bridge and kill its commanders. But this is where he loses his aggression, sensing his mother, Leia Organa, through the Force.

I can’t blame Ren for not wanting to risk killing his mother. But the TIE fighter escorts take care of this decision for him, firing at the bridge and wiping out most of the Resistance leaders.

Leia barely survives, having used the Force to stay alive when exposed to outer space. But she also slips into a coma.

Going back to Ren, his daring attack on the Raddus deals a crippling blow to the Resistance. And if a few things had gone differently, this might have been all the First Order needed to finally defeat their enemies. Aggression like this can similarly pay off in the gambling world.

4. Being Passive Doesn’t Always Pay Off

With Leia unconscious and the High Command killed during the attack, Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern) takes over the Resistance.

Holdo addresses the rebels, explaining how there are only four hundred remaining members of the Resistance. She then determines that they should continue running to ensure the movement’s survival.

Unfortunately, this passive strategy backfires when the three remaining ships’ fuel supplies begin dwindling. The Resistance loses the medical ship Anodyne when it runs out of fuel.

The First Order catches the Anodyne and destroys it before the crew can escape. They later blow up the Ninka ship, which Holdo previously commanded.

Poe grows tired of Holdo’s passive strategy and begins arguing with her about the lack of action. In response, Holdo deems Poe a reckless “fly boy” and says that he’s not suited for the situation they’re currently in.

The Admiral fails to divulge her plans with Poe, leading him and several others to stage a mutiny. Holdo escapes by kicking a steam pipe and running deeper into the Raddus.

Leia awakens and orders Poe and the other surviving Resistance to evacuate the Raddus in favor of the planet Crait.

Holdo reappears and refuses to go on a transport ship, telling Leia that somebody has to stay aboard the Raddus. The Admiral leaves her friend with the parting words, “May the Force be with you.”

Poe, Finn the ex-stormtrooper (John Boyega), Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), and the droid BB-8 ignore Leia’s orders and instead form their own plan. They set out to board the Supremacy – a Mega-class Star Dreadnought – to disable the First Order’s tracking system.

It’s hard to say whether or not Holdo would’ve made a difference by being aggressive from the outset.

But she could’ve perhaps better helped the resistance by using Poe’s plan. After all, she lost two ships while fleeing, and barely escaped a mutiny.

Holdo eventually turned her aggression to the max by making the ultimate sacrifice. With the First Order chasing and destroying fleeing transports to Crait, she turns the Raddus and drives straight into the Supremacy at lightspeed.

She dies in the crash, but also throws the Supremacy into chaos and allows the rebels to escape. She also indirectly saves Finn and Rose, who were about to be executed aboard the Supremacy.

5. Jedi Masters Study Strategy and Train – Just Like Great Gamblers

With the Resistance being chased across the galaxy, Rey departs to the water world of Ahch-To with the Wookiee Chewbacca and droid R2-D2.

Rey uses the Force to find Jedi Master Luke Skywalker in hopes that he’ll train her. But Luke refuses, citing his failure with Ren.

R2-D2 eventually convinces Luke to change his mind and train Rey.

He begins by having her study ancient text from the first Jedi Temple. Skywalker also convinces her to keep an open mind, rather than viewing the Force as either the Dark or Light Side.

Luke also cautions Rey about the failures of the Jedi Order so that she doesn’t fall into the same path. He trains her better in the ways of the Force, too.

This storyline highlights the ways of the Jedi, which includes extensive training to master the Force. Gamblers should use the same discipline when learning their preferred game of choice.

For example, a sports bettor needs to be good at studying statistics, looking at recent historical trends, using betting software, and managing their bankroll.

These aren’t skills that just happen overnight. Instead, a great sports bettor works for years to hone their craft.

Likewise, a card counter must keep an accurate count amid casino distractions and know when to increase and lower their bets. This can be learned, but it also takes practice and discipline.

6. Always Be One Step Ahead of the Game

Rey eventually leaves Ahch-To, after she fails to convince Luke to join the Resistance. She departs for the Supremacy to convince Ren to join the Light Side.

She’s immediately placed under arrest and taken to Snoke upon arrival. Rey tries convincing Ren to join the Resistance.

Snoke then reveals that he was responsible for a mental connection between Ren and Rey, with the goal of finding and destroying Skywalker.

Snoke orders Ren to kill Rey, only to have his apprentice cut him in half with Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber. This is ironic, given that Snoke bragged to Rey about how much control he had over Ren.

Rey and Ren then cooperate to defeat Snoke’s Praetorian Guard. Ren invites Rey to rule the galaxy with him, but she instead demands that he joins the Resistance.

With both sides refusing to budge, the two battle over a lightsaber and cause an explosion. Rey uses this opportunity to escape in Snoke’s personal ship.

Ren awakens and blames Snoke’s death on Rey. He also declares himself the Supreme Leader and takes control of the First Order.

General Hux protests, but is subdued when being choked with the Force.

This scene shows that Ren is essentially one step ahead of both Snoke and Hux in his power grab. In fact, Snoke, who’s extremely skilled in the Force, had no idea that his pupil would betray him.

Skill-based gamblers can take something away from this scene, in that it pays to think ahead of the competition. Here are a few examples:

  • Scouting and finding an undervalued daily fantasy football player who few other people think of
  • Using poker experience and aggression to out-think your opponents
  • Using advanced sports betting statistics to make a great wager

7. You Can Always Live to Fight Another Day

The last scene in Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a battle on Crait. The Resistance puts up a good fight against the First Order’s AT-M6 Walkers and TIE crafts.

But things look hopeless, due to the First Order’s manpower and firepower advantage. Leia isn’t able to gain any support from allies with a distress signal, making her feel like the galaxy has lost hope.

Luke arrives to save the day, though, and confronts Ren. The former apprentice orders the Walkers to attack Luke’s position.

But Skywalker emerges unscathed and advances toward Ren. The two have a lightsaber battle, in which Luke continually dodges Ren’s attacks.

The latter grows angry and finally defeats Luke, only to find that he’s been fighting a Force projection the entire time. This distraction allows the Resistance to escape aboard the Millennium Falcon.

Rey is depressed about the small number of Resistance fighters left.

But Leia comforts her by saying that all the key members of the rebellion are still alive. General Organa also reveals how she took all of the books from the Jedi library, allowing Rey to continue her learning and training.

The ending reinforces to me how important it is for gamblers to live to fight another day.

Maybe you suffer through a bad blackjack session or are dominated in a heads-up poker cash game. But this doesn’t resign you to defeat.

Instead, you can learn from your mistakes and return an improved player.

For a poker player, this could involve reflecting on difficult hands and watching pros on Twitch streams. For a DFS player, this could lead to studying more general strategy and devising a better way to pick lineups.


Star Wars: The Last Jedi doesn’t have any memorable gambling characters. Contrast this to the original Star Wars, where both Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) enjoyed a good wager.

Nevertheless, I still made some important parallels to gambling while watching.

Certain scenes in this movie covered knowing when to quit, the advantages of being aggressive, being a step ahead of opponents, and training and studying to improve.

Simply watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi isn’t suddenly going to make you an elite gambler. But you can at least apply the lessons here and use them as a general guide for improving your game.

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