Gaming has been a popular theme in Hollywood for decades. From heist movies to thrillers, Hollywood has produced many films that revolve around the world of betting games.
If you’re an avid fan of both film and gaming, it’s easy to see what the topic has inspired so many films. There’s nothing quite like the rush of adrenaline that comes from the bluffs, big losses and spectacular wins that happen in the world of betting. So, without further ado, let’s jump into five of the best betting films Hollywood has to offer!
1. Rounders (1998)
Rounders is a modern classic that tells the story of a young law student named Mike (Matt Damon) who drops out of school to pursue a career as a professional poker player. Mike’s friend, Worm (Edward Norton), gets released from prison and forces Mike back into the underground world of high-stakes poker.
Upon its release, the film was praised for its realism, not just in terms of the film’s plot, but also in how it depicted high stakes poker. Most of us will never get to have the experience of playing in the big leagues but Rounders offers us a rare glimpse into this underground world.
2. Casino (1995)
Casino is a Martin Scorsese film that explores the dangerous and daring side of gaming. The movie follows Sam “Ace” Rothstein (Robert De Niro), a professional gambler who is tasked with running a casino in Las Vegas for the mob. As he becomes more and more involved with the criminal underworld, Sam’s life spirals out of control. The film provides an engrossing look at how corruption and greed undermined the Casino scene in the late 20th century.
With Scorsese at the helm, the criminal underbelly of the Casino takes on the tone of his other classic ‘Gangster Noir’ cinematography where a lone protagonist journeys into a dangerous situation with only his cunning to keep him alive.
Thankfully for us modern betting enthusiasts, the dark world of Las Vegas is now relegated to the history books. The US passed a series of laws that have essentially put the crooks out of business and turned the Strip’s brick and mortar casinos into reliable and honest businesses.
3. The Sting (1973)
The Sting is a classic heist film that revolves around a group of professional gamblers who plan an elaborate con on a corrupt crime boss. The movie stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford and is set in the 1930s. The film provides an engaging and entertaining look at the world of gambling, as well as the ingenuity and wit required to succeed in it.
The Sting is Robert Redford in his prime, and both leads deliver a phenomenal performance! Now considered a classic of the ‘neo-noir’ genre, the Sting will provide entertainment for gaming fans and film fanatic alike – an excellent choice for a Friday night movie with friends.
4. 21 (2008)
A personal favorite for many younger players – 21 is a film based on the true story of the MIT Blackjack Team, a group of students who used their math skills to win millions of dollars in Las Vegas casinos. The movie stars Jim Sturgess and Kevin Spacey and provides an insightful look at the world of blackjack and the strategies used by professional players to gain an edge.
The true story upon which 21 is based is one of the most interesting in gaming history. Not giving away any spoilers, we’d thoroughly recommend reading the full story after you’ve watched the film to get an idea of just how complex card counting strategies can become.
5. The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
The Cincinnati Kid is a classic movie about poker that stars Steve McQueen as a young poker player who is looking to make a name for himself in the world of high-stakes poker. The movie explores the rivalry between the Kid and a seasoned poker player named Lancey Howard (Edward G. Robinson) and provides an engaging look at the psychology of poker and the strategies used by professional players to gain an edge.
The oldest film on the list, The Cincinnati Kid might sound like a slow watch for those with 21st century sensibilities. And, to some, it might seem slow. But if you want to get the experience of what coming up in the world of 60s casino games looked like, then sit back and enjoy the journey back in time.
A Word On Realism
In terms of realism, some of these movies are more accurate than others. Rounders is considered to be one of the most realistic depictions of poker in film, while The Sting is a more stylized and entertaining take on the world of gambling.
Casino provides a more realistic look at the criminal underworld that can be associated with gambling, while 21 provides an insightful look at the strategies used by professional blackjack players. The Cincinnati Kid provides an engaging look at the psychology of poker and the strategies used by professional players to gain an edge.
The filmmaker’s tools are counter to the rules of gaming. The camera shows us insight into a game that most players wouldn’t have. This is how the director builds tension: by choosing what to reveal and what to conceal. If done well, the resultant film can be both realistic and engaging, but this is a hard feat to pull off.
Ultimately what appeals to an avid table games fanatic might be different to what catches the interest of a slots player who loves the fast-paced action ZAR Casino online has to offer. So, do some research before you decide what to watch and make sure you’re getting the experience you want from the film before devoting hours of your life to something you may find tedious or too unrealistic.
Overall, these five movies provide a diverse and entertaining look at the world of gambling. Whether you are a fan of poker, blackjack, or heist films, there is something for everyone on this list. So, sit back, grab some popcorn, and enjoy these classic films about the thrill and danger of gambling.