Five of the Best Casino Movies
Whether you are on the Las Vegas strip surrounded by the bright lights, in a smaller local casino, or playing online with Coral, the thrill of the games doesn’t change. The nerves and tension as the roulette wheel spins, the intense, quick-thinking that’s required in blackjack or trying to bluff your way to victory on the poker table – the casino is great fun!
Each spin or hand can leave you feeling unlucky or on top of the world. You can go from having nothing to everything in the space of a few games, and this unpredictability makes it appeal to a wide range of players.
It is also why that the casino can be the perfect backdrop to some great movies. The film directors know that, and there are some classics that have been released over the years.
Here we will give you a rundown of some of the best.
Originally released in 1974, there was a remake in 2014 starring Mark Wahlberg, who plays literature professor Jim Bennett, and leads something of a double life. In the day, he will be lecturing to dis-interested students, and by night he would be ready to hit the tables.
The only problem is that he wouldn’t know when to stop. Bennett is a risk-taker, hitting on blackjack when most people would stand, or going all-in on black on the roulette wheel – he wanted all or nothing.
Despite his rash tendencies, it is easy to sympathise with Bennett as he continues to self-destruct. Seeking more avenues to fund his gambling needs, he borrows from several unsavoury characters in the underworld as his problems mount. This sees him put up the ultimate price as collateral – his life.
His unusual teaching methods have seen class attendances fall, although he does build the trust of two students, basketball sensation Lamar Allen and Amy Phillips, who Bennett described as a genius, and their friendship grows throughout.
Yet, the one week deadline that Bennett had to clear his debts is ticking, and after asking his Mother for help one too many times, it looks bleak. But his friendship with Allen means that he agrees to win his next basketball match by under eight points, but that only clears one debt.
Then, it’s off to the casino, with one bag of cash, and two gangsters awaiting payment. The cash doesn’t stretch to cover both, so there’s only one solution – all in on black.
The risk finally pays off, and Bennett runs off into the night, free.
Okay, so James Bond is not exclusively about gambling, but how could we leave this off the list? With all the action you would expect from a 007 movie, we are then treated to a thrilling poker scene.
Firstly, we get to see all the benefits of going to the casino, that make it a great experience. From the tux, to the vodka martini brought over to the table, and then the Monte Carlo casino which is a very appropriate setting for such a big game.
It’s Bond v Le Chiffre, the man who tortured and tormented him, and he cannot afford to lose, because the money on the table would be going towards funding terrorism. No pressure, then!
After a poor start, Bond is forced to buy-in again, which is funded by Felix Leitner, a fellow player and CIA agent that’s also on the table. Then the drama really begins. The pace increases, and players around the table begin to drop out.
The final hand sees the stakes rising, with the pauses between each bet adding to the excitement. Eventually, everything is on the table and it’s the moment of truth. Thankfully, Bond emerges victorious, boasting a royal flush and one of the best poker scenes on the big screen concludes.
It’s only a small part of the whole film, but it’s a thrilling scene and a must-watch for all poker fans.
This follows the life of Mike McDermott who is played by a very young looking Matt Damon. He’s a New York student who happens to be excellent at poker, and has grand ideas about how he can make a living from the game. However, things don’t go to plan initially, when he loses £30,000 to Teddy KGB, who is the poker whizz of the Russian-American mob.
That’s enough to put him off poker, understandably, and with his girlfriend wanting him to quit too, he looks to have changed his ways. That’s until his old friend, Worm, who is played by Edward Norton is released from prison, but still facing a lot of trouble.
With a lot of money needed, and not a lot of time to get it, McDermott acts on behalf of Worm to help him get the money, through the only way he knows – poker.
Mike is a good player, and gradually builds up their pot through his skill, but Worm still wants to hustle and get the money back by unruly means, which will come back to bite them. After cheating during one game, Worm is caught out, and everything they have built up is taken, leaving them with nothing, and the deadline for the debt is getting closer.
The film then goes full circle, when he faces off against Teddy KGB in a brutal all or nothing match. It is the chance for revenge for Mike, but with the added pressure of having to win. As the game plays out, and the tension builds, Mike discovers his opponents tell.
He then goes on to outplay KGB and save the day, with this film showing a great insight into patience and poker strategies and how they can be effective.
Las Vegas may be the pinnacle for any player out there, but this film, directed by the legendary Martin Scorsese, shows the darker side to life in Sin City during the 70’s.
With big name actors like Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone among others, this would go on to be a real hit at the box office as well as individuals being nominated and winning Golden Globe awards for their performances.
De Niro plays Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein who is something of a genius when it comes to numbers, and the mafia recognise this talent and use him to run a casino in Vegas. He doubles their profits, which means that there’s more for the bosses to skim off the top, and everyone is happy.
Ace, who doesn’t seek confrontation or trouble, finds it when he falls for Ginger McKenna, a call girl, and things start to get out of hand. This is compounded when old friend and mad-man Nicky Santoro arrives on the scene. He is a known villain who starts to make a name for himself around Vegas, and word spreads that he is the mob’s enforcer. Things continue to spiral out of control, with Ginger turning to alcohol and regularly fighting with Ace, and she then turns to Nicky who is still the psychotic enforcer we have seen destroy many people.
This mixture of events creates some classic moments and ensure that Casino is a Scorsese thriller and one of the most memorable gambling movies out there.
Featuring Jim Sturgess, Kevin Spacey and Kate Bosworth among others, 21 is a film that provides a modern twist, and is remarkably based on a true story.
Ben Campbell, who is played by Sturgess, is a math major at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and he can’t afford the $300,000 to get into Harvard Medical School.
After professor Micky Rosa recognises Ben’s talent and knowledge, he invites him to join the blackjack team, where a group of similarly talented students are learning how to count cards to take on all the big venues in Vegas.
A fallout threatens to split the team, and several relationships break down between the group, including that of Ben and Rosa, and the casinos become aware of them after several visits.
However, after getting an incomplete on one of his classes, now that blackjack had taken priority, Ben convinces Rosa to get the team together for one last weekend in Vegas before new technology is installed to monitor those who count cards.
Although, the one condition was that Rosa must play too. He did, but Ben had agreed a deal to hand him over to a casino boss that his professor had won millions from years before, leaving Ben and his friends to walk away with one last night of profits.
It’s a roller-coaster ride and gives great insight into how it all works, and how the security works in these places.
There are five of our favourite casino movies, although there was many more epics that we could have chosen from. What do you think, have we missed an obvious one out? And, be sure to watch one of these before you hit Coral casino and our fantastic table games, they will sure to get you in the mood. Good luck!