Playing at the casino is great fun. The unknown of the next card, the tension as you wait to see where the ball will land on the roulette wheel and the thrill of trying to beat the table at poker are just some of the ways you can enjoy yourself. With that in mind, it seemed inevitable that the excitement of the casino would be transferred to the big screen.
Over the years, we have been treated to some fantastic casino-inspired movies, and here we will run down five of the best, although there were many to choose from!
James Bond: Casino Royale
Everyone’s favorite British Secret Service agent was back in 2006 with Casino Royale, a film that made a worldwide gross of $599m. And, after the all-action, blood, violence and carnage that seems to accompany Bond wherever he goes, we were treated to a captivating high-stakes poker game.
Needing a win to bankrupt the terrorist financer Le Chiffre, Bond starts off badly and loses his initial stake. After receiving further stake money from a player equally desperate to capture Le Chiffre, Bond is back in.
Finally, the game concludes with a tense final hand, worth well over $100m. With several players going all-in, Le Chiffre trumps them with his hand, although Bond is the last player to reveal his cards. Thankfully, 007 has a straight flush which secures all the money – and saves the day!
Directed by the legendary Martin Scorsese, Casino is an epic crime drama that shows a darker side to life in the big Vegas casinos. It also stars some very high profile names including Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci.
De Niro plays Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein who is sent to Vegas by the Chicago mob and manages to increase profits in no time for the mafia. However, when childhood friend but enforcer Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) arrives to protect Ace, things start to get out of hand.
Santoro’s erratic and violent tendencies see him banned from every casino across Sin City. Meanwhile, Ace falls for Ginger McKenna (Sharon Stone) as both of their lives get out of hand, which combines for a Scorsese thriller.
Boasting a youthful Matt Damon, Rounders is the perfect movie for all poker fans out there. Damon plays Mike McDermott, a talented poker player and law student who dreams of winning at the World Series of Poker.
Despite paying for his university fees through his skill at the table, Mike loses $30,000 against Teddy ‘KGB’ a Russian mobster who runs an underground game. This is enough to put him off poker for good, to focus on his education.
Yet, when an old friend is released from prison, still owing a debt, Mike feels obliged to help, and turns to the only thing he knows. Rounders follows their race against time to make enough money to sort the debt and concludes with a terrific final game when he faces his original nemesis – Teddy ‘KGB’.
Now, one for the blackjack fans out there. 21 is the most recent movie on the list, having been released in 2008. Ben Campbell is a senior math major from MIT and is accepted into Harvard Medical School, but the $300,000 fee is unobtainable, so he seeks a scholarship.
After impressing the professor, Micky Rosa, Ben is persuaded to join his specialist card-counting blackjack team, realising that it can make him the money he needs. The team proceeds to make regular trips to Vegas and their ability sees the money pile up.
However, strains emerge in the team and an emotionally distracted Ben falls out with the professor after being responsible for a major loss. To make up for it, Ben inadvertently tricks Rosa to having one final crack at Vegas, but there’s a twist in store once they finish up at the tables.
The Cincinnati Kid
We go way back to 1965 for our final casino movie, with The Cincinnati Kid. It centers on the life of up and coming poker sensation Eric Stoner, known as ‘The Kid’, who was played by Steve McQueen and had quietly built a reputation for himself.
This gave him the confidence to think he could take on Lancey Howard, known as ‘The Man’. Howard had already beaten ‘The Kid’ previously, but that didn’t deter him, as he saw beating Howard the only way to get the recognition he felt he deserved at the tables.
Despite distractions along the way, ‘The Kid’ is sat at the final table with five other players. Gradually the rest begin to fall away until we are left with Stoner against Howard. A fascinating hand plays out, but only one would emerge victorious.
That makes up our five top casino movies, although there were many other classics that could have made the list. If that’s got you in the mood for a game yourself, you know what to do. Head over to New Jersey Online Casinos and whether you want to be like James Bond at the poker table or Ben Campbell at the blackjack, you can replicate your favorite casino scenes and have some real fun!