Gambling has long been a popular topic in Hollywood. That’s because big wins, big losses and big drama are part of the plot in everyday casinos and they translate quite naturally to the big screen.
Over the years, there have been tons of movies that incorporate gambling but some scenes and settings have been more realistic than others. We ran through the archives and talked about it at the water cooler amongst ourselves to narrow down the list of the can’t-miss gaming moves. Here are the ones that made the cut (which you should check out):
Everyone knows James Bond loves to gamble. Of course, our slick-tongued, well-coiffed hero always seems to come out on top.
While 007 is mostly into baccarat, Daniel Craig debuted as Bond in the movie Casino Royale, a film that had a strong poker flavor to it. The villain in this feature, Le Chiffre, played by Mads Mikkelson, is participating in a high-stakes poker game to avoid falling into trouble with the evil people he works with (and owes money to).
Meanwhile, Bond is sent to prevent him from winning any money from this poker game, which leads to them going toe to toe in a match for the ages. You can certainly say that this was the most important game of their poker careers up to this point. It’s an interesting plot that keeps you entertained throughout the entire movie.
Wake In Fright
Some people consider Wake in Fright to be one of the best gambling movies released. Others find it to be nothing more than a weird spectacle. We’re somewhere in between.
This film sees an Australian teacher named John Grant plan a trip to Sydney in order to visit his girlfriend during the holidays. He takes a train to head over to a small town, a place where he was supposed to catch a flight. Instead, he lands in a town that is filled with drunken residents, a lack of humanity and non-stop gambling. As he’s there, things just keep on getting worse for him. It’s a fun, odd and dark journey.
Hard Eight not only has a stellar cast to work with, but a wonderful plot line as well. The crew consisting of Samuel L. Jackson, Paul Thomas Anderson, Philip Baker Hall and John C. Reilly did an excellent job making this script come to life.
The plot follows a veteran card player alongside one lonely orphan who are living the gaming life in Sin City. It’s basically a story about what happens to the people that spend their entire lives in Las Vegas just gambling away.
The Gambler (2014)
Mark Wahlberg plays Jim Bennett, a casual English professor as well as a high-stakes gambler in the 2014 remake of the 1974 film. The movie follows Bennett as he decides to borrow money from a gangster, as he needs the cash after falling into a quarter-million-dollar hole to the owner of an illegal gambling ring.
Of course, what’s always a bad strategy in reality is employed in a movie as he tries to play his way out of the hole but this time, the movie keeps it realistic. Matters just keep on getting worse and worse. Bennett then has to maneuver through the underground as he tries to balance his two lives out with one another, hoping that he can make everything right again. It’s just another reason why gambling can negatively impact your life when the addiction starts to come out.
This is actually a true story that’s brought to the big screen. The plot follows Molly Bloom, a young Olympic-class skier, as she runs a highly illegal high-stakes poker club that is one of the most exclusive in the world. The only players that are allowed to enter and compete are the rich and powerful, such as athletes, business stars and other celebrities that want in.
Most of the movie is spent diving into the poker games and watching her attempt to climb the ranks of this underground world that she’s competing in. All the while we have Idris Elba playing her defense lawyer named Charlie Jaffey. Jaffey is essentially the only person who is truly her ally throughout this entire endeavor.
This is a different type of gambling movie than the ones in this list. This movie is all about one man who wants to test his luck gambling in Las Vegas. However, his luck is so bad that it starts to become contagious. A casino then realizes this and hires him to run his own table to help them net more revenue. It all gets turned around when he starts to fall in love with a waitress who has “lady luck” on her side, which then turns all of their fortunes upside down.
When the revenue stops coming in, the casino higher-ups try to break up the romance to go back to his bad luck streak.
It might not be the most realistic movie out there, but it’s entertaining.
The Card Counter
Oscar Isaac plays William Tell, a gambler and former serviceman. All he ever wants to do is just play cards; that is, until he runs into a man named Cirk. Cirk approaches Tell for help after he wants to get revenge on a retired military major. Tell thinks that he can reform Cirk rather than force him to go through with what he wants to do, so he takes him traveling to different casinos. Eventually, the two men start to set their eyes on winning the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. All the while, Tell is being backed by a weird gambling financier. It’s an interesting take on gambling, one that might catch you off guard.
This is a classic.
Matt Damon stars in this film as Mike McDermott, a gambler who loses all of the money he has to a Russian club owner. This huge loss of money causes Mike to step away from gambling and focus on his actual life outside of that world. Unfortunately, his best friend Worm, played by Edward Norton, gets released from prison and drags Mike back into gambling.
Shortly after that, Mike loses his girlfriend and forgets about the schoolwork he was doing. Mike then puts all of his efforts into helping Worm get out of the prison debt he made for himself. The two men have to spend five days without any sleep trying to get $15,000 to pay off the debts that Worm owes by this specific deadline. It’s a wonderful movie that shows how addictive gambling can be and also how dangerous it is to anybody partaking in it.
The list wouldn’t be complete without this casino-heist story. While there’s not a ton of actual gambling that happens in this film, the story is an epic robbery of a legendary venue in Vegas.
This 2001 remake of the 1960 Rat Pack film is led by an all-star cast with George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts – among many, many other familiar faces. Danny Ocean, who is played by Clooney, compiles a group of the best criminal minds to execute the perfect plan. Not only does Ocean get Terry Benedict’s money in the end, he also walks away with his girl.