The best casino and gambling films

The best casino and gambling films

There are quite a few films that feature gambling and high roller casinos. Most of them are poker or blackjack films. Apparently, the cards look more colourful and intriguing on screen. Bluffs, no bluffs, suspense, hard decisions, big wins and huge disappointments. We tell you about seven cool movies that will make you fall in love with the casino aesthetic. But be careful — there will be some spoilers.

Casino (1995)

It’s the best casino movie ever made. What can you say, directed by Scorsese, starring De Niro, Sharon Stone, Joe Pesci. All three main characters based on real people.

De Niro plays Frank Rosenthal, who was really involved with Chicago mafia and ran three casinos in Las Vegas — Fremont, Hacienda and Stardust.Joe Pesci plays Anthony Spilotro, his job was to keep an eye on the illegal profits of the casinos that Rosenthal was running.

A lot in the film is very much based on real events. Even the fact that De Niro’s car was blown up and he survived due to the metal plate under his seat. Anthony Spilotro was then, as the film tells us, taken to a cornfield and killed along with his brother. So, the basis for the film itself is very poignant. That’s probably why the film turned out to be so legendary.

21 (2008)

A team of MIT students hone their blackjack card counting skills and make huge money at a Vegas casino. On weekends they don’t go on vacation to the next block, but to Sin City. The main character is the clever but poor Ben Campbell, who can’t get into Harvard for lack of money.

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He joins a team of counters to raise money for tuition, but is completely immersed in a whirlwind of big money, fun and carelessness. All seems to be going well, but further on comes a disagreement with the professor who heads the group. He is a powerful man in their circle and can do a lot of damage to the protagonist. Intrigue, set ups, losses, wins. All in all, it certainly won’t be boring.

This movie is also based on true events. Unlike the Casino movie, there is little reality and a lot of fiction. MIT students really did count cards at blackjack and made good money at it. But the main character, Jeff Ma, was not poor. He had well-to-do parents and wouldn’t have had to gamble to pay for his Harvard education. He said he wanted to go to Harvard at one time, but the earning potential of blackjack deterred him from doing so.

There was no professor leading a group of counter students and there was no romance between the main characters either. All in all, the screenwriters allowed themselves a lot of freedom. But you have to admit that the fiction turned out to be fascinating. Jeff Ma himself appeared in the movie as a casino dealer.

Hard Eight (1998)

The opening part of this movie is pretty awesome. A professional player teaches a newcomer how to spend money at the casino with more profit. You open a player card, buy some coins for the slots, spend a little while stretching the fun. Then you cash out, buy coins again, and the casino feels like you’re spending a lot while turning around a small amount of money.

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By the middle of the film, the focus is already shifting. One silly mistake forces the protagonists to change the established rhythm of life and kill a man. The truth of why an elderly professional has taken a foolish gambler under his wing is also revealed.

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Casino Royale (2006)

The film isn’t much about the casino as it is about the usual spy stuff. The film is great, there are no words, but it doesn’t quite live up to its name Casino Royale. The action often only takes place in the casino, but there is no game. Despite this, it still has the right to be on the list of the best casino movies, due to the spectacle and quality.

James Bond participates in a mega high roller poker tournament. Each participant invests $10 million and can top up another $5 million. A criminal financier wants to win the tournament and take the money to pay off criminal debts. James Bond plays and wins just to prevent terrorist financing.

Generally, various mistakes and inconsistencies are pointed out in this film. But in the final part of the poker tournament, when James Bond wins, there is probably the most remarkable one. Perhaps it’s the translation, or maybe it’s the same in English. But the dealer calls Bond’s combination a royal flush, whereas it’s just a straight flush all spades from 4 to 8.

The Gambler (2014)

This casino movie is more about the problems of gambling addiction. A professor of literature is addicted to blackjack in an underground casino. At times he gets lucky, and cases on the verge of miracles happen. Starring Mark Wahlberg.

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But he can’t stop in time and his debts grow. He can’t pay them back and turns to his rich mother. She gives him the money, but he loses it at a casino instead of paying back the debts. In the end he finds more money and bets on roulette. When he wins, he pays everyone off and supposedly quits the game. It’s a bit corny, but it’ll do.

Rounders (1998)

Again a film about an underground casino and poker. Starring Matt Damon  and Edward Norton. In the beginning, the player loses big and makes a promise not to sit down at the poker table again. But then slowly he gets sucked back in, while his career as a lawyer doesn’t pan out.

Well then, as usual, the criminals clamp down on the protagonist and his friend and they are forced to gamble to survive. All in all, the film is pretty predictable, but not badly shot.

By the way, Matt Damon doesn’t mind playing poker himself. In real life, he’s seen more than once at poker tournaments. There is even an amusing video of him playing a table with professionals, getting a full house, pretending he has a weak hand but no one believes his bluff.

Croupier (1998)

This movie is not about players, but about a dealer, starring Clive Owen. His character is not just a croupier, he is a writer. And over the course of the film, personalities emerge who try to induce him to cheat at the casino.

Ayhan Fletcher

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