There is a movie to cover every possible emotion felt: it’s what we love about cinema. So it’s of no surprise that gambling would be covered on the big screen on both sides of the spectrum. We’ve seen actors portray those life-changing wins and those soul-destroying losses. It can teach us lessons about knowing when to quit when you’re on a roll! We love to see the thrill of the cards and what the outcome will be. Can they land the massive jackpot, will the heist go through? Going for the jackpot gets your juices flowing. Some directors and actors have the thrill of the chase down, and we have compiled a list of the best movies about gambling. Some of the movies on the list teach us a lesson, some show us the harsh reality of the card table and some are just downright thrilling! Take a look at some of these gains and loses that we have loved in cinema: and may it be a lesson to you when it comes to raising those stakes.
Counting cards is a difficult thing to do, and can prove even more costly if you’re caught. In Rain Man, with an all-star cast of Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman, Cruise’s character Charlie Babbitt has his supposed inheritance taken away from him and he is keen to find out who to. He discovers he has an autistic brother named Raymond (Hoffman) who is incredibly gifted when it comes to mathematical equations. Charlie uses this to his advantage, taking his brother Raymond to Las Vegas where he can count the cards to win money to pay off his debts. There is a happy ending as the brothers reconcile their relationship – and who doesn’t love an ending like that?
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Back in the late 1990s, Guy Ritchie made his name with gritty movies like Snatch and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Lock Stock is a masterpiece that shows how difficult things can get if you play above your stations at the card table. Four criminals and best friends put together money so the card sharp of the group, Eddy, can take on big-time ‘Hatchet’ Harry Lonsdale at three card brag games. Unfortunately for Eddy, the game is rigged and he loses every penny. This tale follows the trials and tribulations of owing big money to a big-time honcho. Lock Stock helped to make Ritchie a household name in the directing world, and showed the other side of gambling: when you lose. It can be all too easy to lose big money on bets so learn from Eddy’s mistakes!
Winner of seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Director, The Sting is one of the best loved films of the 1970s. An all-star cast of Robert Redford and Paul Newman isn’t too bad either! The movie is set in the height of the Great Depression in 1936. Redford’s Johnny Hooker cons $11,000 in cash in what’s known as a ‘pigeon drop’ – the ‘pigeon’ in question gives up a big sum of money so they can secure the rights to a larger sum of money or a valuable object. Unfortunately for Hooker, he conned a man who works for a notoriously vicious crime boss, Doyle Lonnegan. The story itself was inspired by real-life con artists from the David Maurer book, The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man.
If it’s the Rat Pack version from 1960, or the version made famous in 2001 with George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt; Ocean’s Eleven has been well-loved for decades. Following a stint in prison, Clooney’s character Danny Ocean devises a plan to rob some of the biggest casinos in Las Vegas – The Bellagio, The MGM Grand and the Mirage. Ocean and his partner-in-crime, Rusty Ryan (played by Brad Pitt) create a gang of criminals to help with the incredible heist. A huge cast, an amazing story, and the possibility of taking an incredible sum of money from the best-loved casinos in the world – Ocean’s 11 is on to a winner. If you loved this, you’re sure to love the all-female cast of Ocean’s Eight, due for release in 2018.
This list would not be complete without one of the finest performances from the immense Robert De Niro, directed by the incredible Martin Scorsese. Those two go hand in hand when it comes to some of the best cinematic performances of all time, and Casino is no different. De Niro’s character Sam Rothstein is sent to Las Vegas to run a casino on behalf of the Chicago-based mafia. He and best friend from childhood, Nicky Santoro soon make their mark on the city. A price comes with the glitz and glamour of Sin City.
Stealing from multi-million dollar casinos may not be your thing, but these movies will definitely get you in the mood for a few rounds of cards! Brush up on your skills before your big heist by playing online: learn the games before you go to the tables to better your chances of winning big. Whether it’s brightly coloured slot games, online backjack or you want to get to know the game of poker a bit better, playing online will help you hone in on those skills. We hope the cards are kinder to you than they were to these guys!