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Some of the Best Casino Movies

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Over the past six decades, there have been hundreds of gambling films released, with many going on to achieve box office success, critical acclaim, and classic status among audiences all over the world.

From psychedelic scenes in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to multi-million-dollar poker hands in Casino Royale via Rounders and The Gambler; there is a casino-themed movie to suit all preferences and tastes.

But some are better than others when it comes to showcasing gambling and casinos and tapping into the risk-taker that lurks within us all.

Jackpot.co.uk recently compiled a list of the top ten gambling films of all time, but for those who don’t have the time to watch them all, here are the five–must see casino flicks.

Casino:

Casino is the gold standard when it comes to gambling flicks. And while it doesn’t show a great deal of wagering, it does lay bare the day to day running of a mob-era casino empire – from operating a sportsbook to betting percentages and odds.

The story follows Ace Rothstein and Nicky Santoro, mobsters who move to Las Vegas to make their mark. Ace is the operator of the Tangiers Casino, while Nicky, his childhood friend, is a tough strongman who shakes down the locals.

But both have their flaws, and find themselves on a downward spiral and at risk of losing everything they have worked for. Power, greed, violence; it has all the ingredients of a mobster classic.

Which is why Casino is a must watch for gamblers.

Ocean’s Eleven:

Ocean’s Eleven is perhaps the ultimate casino movie. A group of underdogs, planning the largest casino heist in Las Vegas history, with a complicated love triangle thrown in for good measure.

Danny Ocean plans to steal $150m from a state of the art vault located 70ft below the Las Vegas Strip. To do this he complies his eleven, including a Chinese acrobat, an explosives expert and a thief amongst others.

The sheer audacity of the heist, set against the bright lights of Las Vegas, make for captivating viewing. But throw in an all-star cast including George Clooney and Brad Pitt and it becomes even more spectacular.

It is pure escapism at its best, and for gamblers a chance to enjoy watching someone get one over on the house, for a change. We will have to see what happens in Ocean’s 8.

The Cincinnati Kid:

The Cincinnati Kid is a must-watch for gamblers, and not just because it features Steve McQueen in the lead role. No, the film is celebrated for its accurate portrayal of the skill, intelligence and cunning required to succeed at poker.

And while other films feature extensive gambling scenes – Maverick, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels – most make use of unrealistic hands and near telepathic abilities to read player tells.

The Cincinnati Kid, on the other hand, celebrates the art of poker, and is a true and honest representation of the game. Set in 1930’s New Orleans, it follows up and coming hot-shot Eric Stoner as he takes on the best in the business, Lance Howard.

When it comes to portraying the excitement, anticipation and intensity of the game, no other movie comes close.

Owning Mahowny:

We all know that gambling has its downsides, and that for some their appetite for risk becomes uncontrollable. Owning Mahowny is all about the dark side of gambling, and the extreme lengths people go, to fund their habits.

Dan Mahowny is one such man; at the age of 24 he is the youngest assistant manager in the history of the Canadian Imperial Bank. But over the course of 18 months he defrauds his employer to the tune of $10m.

In the end, he is caught and sentenced to prison, but his story is one most gamblers can connect to and sympathise with. The plot is brought to life by the incredible Philip Seymour Hoffman, who excels in one of his lesser remembered roles.

It is a serious watch, but one which balances out the glamour, thrill and excitement of other casino flicks with the sobering reality of gambling addiction.

21:

A group of M.I.T math students. Learning to count cards under the instruction of a mysterious teacher. Flying to Las Vegas at the weekend to put their skills into action and taking casinos for millions of dollars. What’s not to like.

21 puts the game of blackjack under the spotlight, and reveals the techniques used to count cards and gain an edge over the house. It is a skill most blackjack players would like to master, and dream of talking down the house themselves.

But lessons should be learned from 21; while the group enjoys the high-roller lifestyle for a short period of time, greed eventually takes hold and things begin to fall apart in quite spectacular fashion.

Based on real-life events, 21 has taken on near-cult status among gamblers and in particular blackjack players.

List put together by Tom Moyse.

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One Comment

  1. Fantastic list, and I’m glad to see 21 on here as it’s my favourite movie possibly ever made.

    I would add Rounders to the list. That is the movie which was responsible for getting me into poker, and that has become a huge passion and hobby.

    Cheers and I’m dogging tis site – just discovered it.

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