The glitz and glamour of high stakes gambling is central to some of the biggest box office successes of our time. Casinos, especially in Las Vegas, with their connections to the mob, are the perfect settings for drama, intrigue and suave, slick scams. Superstars in the form of Robert Redford, Brad Pitt, Juliet Roberts, George Clooney and Jodie Foster have bedazzled in casino films destined to wow audiences for years to come. With technology driving a new, equally enthusiastic crop of gamblers to the online and mobile casinos, we thought it was high time we rounded up the best casino films of our era.
The Sting: 1973
Set in 1930s Chicago and featuring Robert Redford and Paul Newman as a pair of dashing conmen, The Sting is fast paced, witty and incredibly smart. The duo is intent on swindling a lot of money out a high stakes gambler, who is played by the inimitable Robert Shaw. A defining scene is the poker game that takes place on a train travelling between Chicago and New York. Part of the movie’s charm is that the hapless high roller never figures out that the con artists are working him over as a team.
Based on the popular TV show, Maverick is an entertaining Western that follows the travails of a chilled out card shark played by Mel Gibson. The title character is trying to raise money for the world series of poker in St Louis. The only way he can do that is to play poker… but there are a few hurdles in his way; a gun touting maniac and a professional poker player in the form of Jodie Foster. Key ingredients are deception, greed and a smattering of romance and if death defying stunts are an attraction, you’ll enjoy Maverick the movie.
Casino provides fascinating insight on how the mob skimmed millions of dollars out of the Las Vegas casinos. It’s a Martin Scorcese masterpiece starring Robert De Niro as the smart and savvy Rothstein and Joe Pesci as a brutal mob enforcer. Di Niro falls for a high priced call girl, played by Sharon Stone…and all hell breaks loose. Car bombs, pimps, bags of cash and plenty of violence are the order of the day.
Rounders features Matt Damon as a clean cut law student who happens to be a highly skilled poker player. He loses his tuition money, his girl and almost his life to high stakes gambling. His protagonist at the poker table is a ruthless Russian gangster, played by John Malkovitch. Although Damon tries to give it all up, the allure of Texas Hold ‘em and the untimely return of a jail bird friend put’s his life on the skids. Rounders grossed $22.9 million at the box office and is a brave attempt at revealing the risks associated with compulsive gambling.
Oceans 11: 2001
George Clooney plays Danny Ocean, a charismatic thief who assembles a team to carry out the biggest casino heist of all time. Instead of hitting one casino, the plan is to steal millions from the Mirage, Bellagio and MGM Grand. The acting line-up is like the who’s who of Hollywood, with Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia, Elliott Gould and Matt Damon sharing the ‘stage’ with a host of other stars. There’s plenty of fun, intrigue and romance to keep you entertained and several scenes were actually shot inside the casinos.
Casino Royale: 2006
Casino Royale features Daniel Craig as James Bond and Dame Judi Dench as the disapproving M. As always, you can expect awesome stunts, gorgeous women and nefarious characters who, in the case of Casino Royale, are billed by the rather depraved Le Chiffre, played by Mads Mickelson. Bond has to take on Le Chiffre in an epic poker game in an effort to claim millions of pounds that would otherwise be used to fund terrorism. It’s the first Bond movie starring Craig as the brutalized hero and by all accounts, the English actor was an overwhelming success, as the movie grossed $599 million at the box office!
With casinos romanticized in so many movies, gambling has remained central to modern civilization. Travel anywhere in the world and you’ll find people playing dice, Mahjong, Yoté and Batota. The thrill of winning is as visceral as ever and these days, you earn bonuses for signing up at an online casino. If you want to experience the rush of gambling, there are guides featuring No Deposit Casinos – 100’s of No Deposit Bonuses where you can play real money casino games for free.