Admit it, gambling is one of the biggest thrills in many of our lives. And with the spread of online casinos it’s a thrill we can all access now more than ever.
So Is It Any Surprise that Gambling Scenes Are Used so Often in Movies?
You’ll see everything from poker games to ringside betting dramas cropping up in films all over the world. Using these gaming scenes are a way for filmmakers to conjure up a tense, exciting atmosphere or add a bit of glamour to any scene.
Any shots involving gambling are likely to be a chance to create drama out of the characters in a movie. It can be an immediate way of introducing some interesting psychology or conjuring up potential mind games.
Directors know that if it’s exciting for players like us to take part in humble games of chance, it can become even more exciting to watch movies stars doing similar things.
That’s why cinema history is full of gambling scenes. Some are short cameo roles, like the bachelor party of the Wolf of Wall Street. This memorable scene was shot in The Mirage Casino in Las Vegas to add over-the-top colour and flamboyance to an already indulgent scene.
The same casino formed the backdrop to another fleeting scene, this time in Chevy Chase’s wild comedy Vegas Vacation. It still makes an impact though.
Plenty of other films are completely focussed around casinos and gambling however. From The Sting to Casino Royale, there is along list of gambling and betting movies – so we’ve had great fun picking our favourites:
The Sting (1973)
Take a ringside seat for this one. Paul Newman and Robert Redford starred in this comedy gambling film set in the thirties.
It beautifully told the story of a true-life gambling con and was famous for its use of traditional ragtime music and period scene-setting cards throughout.
The movie is still a classic. In fact it was one of the most successful gambling depictions ever created.
In the end the film was nominated for ten Oscars and won seven. The Sting has even been preserved in the Library of Congress – for being ‘culturally significant’.
Rain Man (1988)
Dustin Hoffman brilliantly plays an autistic heir to a big fortune. But his greedy brother played by Tom Cruise discovers that the newly-wealthy Raymond has an unlikely but superhuman ability to count all the cards in a poker game.
There follows a glorious scene when Cruise takes his brother along to a casino to see what happens…
Casino Royale (2006)
There’s usually a martini cocktail being shaken not stirred in a casino bar somewhere in any of the James Bond films. Perhaps Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale had the biggest slice of gambling action.
Brace yourself for some of the most tense and dramatic casino table action. It’s more than just a few bets between punters – as usual the fate of the world is at stake.
The four Oceans movies broke box-office records and led to a glut of copy-cat heist films. We think the first was the best: Ocean’s Eleven in 2001 with George Clooney, Matt Damon and Brad Pitt.
It was followed by Twelve (2004), Thirteen (2007) and the all-female Eight (2018). The series were inspired by a sixties ‘Rat Pack’ Frank Sinatra movie.
It’s all about casinos and gambling – and how to put one over on various evil casino bosses. The films manage to be thrilling and funny at the same time.
Guy Ritchie’s crime comedy had nothing to do with glamorous casinos – but plenty to do with gambling. The story revolved around betting on boxing.
Stars like Jason Statham, Brad Pitt, Vinnie Jones and Stephen Graham created a hugely enjoyable melee of eccentric colourful characters. It has become a cult classic and now features in IMDb’s top 250 films of all time.The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
This oldie-but-goodie featured the coolest actor of his generation, Steve McQueen, as an ultra-unflappable professional gambler. Watch out for his dead-eyed calm in the gripping finale around the poker table.
The Card Counter (2021)
Oscar Isaac stars as professional card player in this recent drama. Look out for a powerful baddie played by Willem Dafoe.
It was called one of the best films of the year by critics although audiences weren’t huge. That’s why The Card Counter is now definitely one to track down on your favourite streaming service.
Across the generations a gambling scene has always stood for excitement. From Steve McQueen to George Clooney, these are the parts of films that make up sit up and notice.
And it’s all because deep down, we all love the thrill and tension of games of chance. We may win, we may lose – but it’s the finding out that is always the fun.