Love gambling and movies? Then you need to watch these silver screen gems…
This violent though masterfully made 1995 classic from the veritable king of gangster movies, Martin Scorsese, is usually a top choice for lists of this nature and topic, and is largely considered one of his greats, next to “Goodfellas” and “The Godfather”.
Set in the 1970s, a particularly troubled period of Las Vegas’ history, when gangsterism and criminal elements were rife in Sin City, Scorsese holds nothing back in delivering his trademark raw and unsettling glimpse into the violent and paranoid world of mobsters.
Starring a host of acclaimed actors, Robert De Niro takes the lead role as a sharp-witted casino handicapper named Ace, who finds himself hired for a job by the local mob to run the Tangiers, one of the biggest casinos on the Strip at the time. Along his dark descent into the underworld of Las Vegas, he soon meets and falls for a beautiful escort, Ginger, played by Sharon Stone who was awarded a Golden Globe for her brilliant performance.
He is also “helped” along his way by a volatile short-tempered gangster named Nicky Santoro, naturally played by Joe Pesci, in a role that is arguably even more violent and disturbing than his famous role in another Scorsese classic, “Goodfellas”.
Other famous members of the cast include James Woods, as well as Hollywood veterans like Don Rickles, Frank Vincent, Kevin Pollak, and L.Q. Jones.
Aside from the brutal depictions of violence and unsavoury look at the Las Vegas underworld in one of its most brutal and crime-ridden eras, Casino nevertheless also offers a unique window into a truly classic period when Vegas was at the very peak of its glory and fame. Every part of this movie is expertly and meticulously crafted, with stellar performances from Scorsese’s ever well-chosen cast.
If you like dark and gritty mob stories, or are just interested in gambling and casino movie, and have somehow never seen this masterpiece, then this is definitely for you.
Otherwise, be warned, it’s not for the faint of heart.
When it comes to movies that realistically and accurately capture the details and nuances of the gambling world, then it’s the 1998 poker movie “Rounders”, directed by Jon Dahl, and starring Matt Damon, Gretchen Mol, Edward Norton, and John Malkovich.
The story centres around a young hotshot poker player named Mike, played by Matt Damon, who has been doing the rounds in New York’s underground poker network. After messing up a high-risk poker game involving Russian mobsters, and losing everything in the process, Mike decides to quit poker altogether. However, after becoming reunited with his old poker buddy, Worm, fresh out prison, he gets dragged right back into it, and into even more trouble.
Although Rounders is intended as hard-hitting drama about a group of young people and the turmoil of their relationships and life-choices, it is also largely considered one of the most accurate movies ever made about the game of poker, played in the smoky back-rooms, basements, warehouses, of New York’s little-known underground poker scene.
The performance from the cast is also exceptionally good, making this an all-round great movie, whether your interest is in poker and playing at grand rush casino online or otherwise.
3. The Cincinnati Kid
Widely considered to be a classic among classics, The Cincinnati Kid, filmed in 1965, directed by Norman Jewison, and starring Steve McQueen, Anne Margret, E.G. Robinson, and Karl Malden, is another story about a hotshot poker player. This film, however, is set in the Old West, a time long before the existence of Vegas-style casinos or Russian mobsters, when high-stakes poker tournaments, played in dusty old saloons and bars was a risky, but very popular, business.
The great Steve McQueen, moody as ever, in one of his most memorable roles, plays Eric “The Kid” Stoner, a tough and experienced poker player who decides to take on the reigning champ, a skilled poker savant by the name of Lancey, “The Man” Howard, brilliantly played by Edward G. Robinson.
The characters are in this movie are cocky and bold, willing to risk it all over a hand of poker, not just for money but for their own egos and pride. Its is not just a western about poker, but also a testament to the true spirit of gambling, as pioneered by the rough and hardy people of the Old Wild West. A must-see if you’re looking for a good old gambling movie, and also another memorable Steve McQueen classic.
It seems most gambling and casino movies are centred around criminal elements of the past, which is understandable as there is plenty of it historically, though it obviously also makes for an exciting and intriguing story.
The 2008 movie “21”, however, directed by Robert Luketic, and starring Jim Sturgess, Kevin Spacey, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Bosworth, among other notable actors, is based on the real-life events of the notoriously successful MIT blackjack team.
The MIT team was founded by a Harvard MBA graduate, named Bill Kaplan, who, after gaining some experience and success himself, trained a group of MIT graduates to count cards and win untold millions of dollars from unsuspecting casinos in Las Vegas, and other places around the world. Their operation spanned two around decades, starting in early 1980s, and going well into the late nineties and early 2000s. By then, though, they had become world famous, and also “infamous” at major casinos, where they were subsequently banned from ever entering again.
The movie 21, though using different names, follows the basic story of Kaplan and his team, and with some added intrigue of its own.
Instead of Bill, the lead character’s name is Ben, a mathematics major graduate who is down on his luck and decides to hatch the daring plan of employing MIT graduates to train and be his card-counting minions in and around the Casinos of Atlantic City. After a series of mishaps, though, things steadily go from bad to worse.
21 is a great film and does a more than decent job of illustrating the incredible excitement and paranoia that Kaplan and his team undoubtedly must have felt and experienced.