Gambling can be really thrilling and exciting, that’s why many of the best scenes in movies feature this this high stakes past time. Nothing builds the suspense in a film like watching your favourite character have the chance to make it or break it. Here are our top 10 gambling scenes in popular movies that really showcase how exciting a good punt can be.
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1. Casino Royale
Daniel Craig made for a suave and serious James Bond character in ‘Casino Royale’. In the film the secret agent Bond has to win back stolen money from the bad guy Le Chiffre in a high roller Texas Hold ‘Em poker tournament for the $115 million jackpot. The scene of the final poker hand is the most gripping, it features close-ups of a determined Bond, the stealthy villain and a very worried Vesper (the leading lady in this James Bond film). When the baddie looks like he’s set to win with a full house of three Aces and a pair of 6’s, Bond steals the game dramatically with a straight flush and Le Chiffre storms off in a fury.
2. Silver Linings Playbook
‘Silver Linings Playbook’ is a quirky romantic comedy-drama starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. Throughout the film you see Pat’s father, who is an obsessive punter, fixate on how Pat’s actions affect the outcome of football matches. One of the most suspenseful scenes in the film is when Pat’s father bets almost all of the family’s money that the Philadelphia Eagles will win the next game and that Pat and Tiffany will score at least a 5 out of 10 in their upcoming dance contest. The scene is both hilarious and stressful and makes for excellent viewing.
3. Rain Man
The casino is a magical place in ‘Rain Man’; it’s the place where two estranged brothers finally come together. Raymond, AKA Rain Man, is autistic but he unleashes his hidden mathematical ability and makes a load of money when his little brother, played by Tom Cruise, takes him to the casino. Even though counting cards is technically cheating and illegal, watching Raymond be an adorable and awkward genius making thousands is brilliant to watch. The gambling scenes in Rain Man are some of the most iconic and influential in popular culture. When people think of casino successes they often think of ‘Rain Man’ and there have been numerous copycat homage scenes that reference ‘Rain Man’ in other films.
4. The Hangover
‘The Hangover’ is famously set on the Las Vegas strip where a number of crazy shenanigans ensue. The best gambling scene in the movie is when the trio have to try and scramble enough ransom money together to pay for Doug’s ransom. The whole scene is obviously ‘The Hangover’s version of Rain Man. They copy the same ‘Iko Iko’ song that recurs in ‘Rain Man’ and have Allen dressed in the same grey suit and behaving in the same awkward and reserved manner. If you’ve seen ‘Rain Man’ before you’ll find this scene especially funny.
The secret gambling den in ‘Casablanca’ called ‘Rick’s Café’ is where many of the major deals and criminal arrangements are made in the film. One of the main themes in the film is organised crime, which is demonstrated beautifully in the film when the secret casino is shut down in a humorously hypocritical manner by a police officer. Watch the clip to see the police officer hilariously declare his indignation, subtly partake in the gambling scene himself and then return to his law-abiding façade in less than 20 seconds.
6. Lucky You
‘Lucky You’ centres around the relationship formed between a professional poker player, played by Eric Bana, and an aspiring singer Billie, played by Drew Barrymore. However with all the romantic antics aside there are some truly excellent gambling scenes that depict the type of risky high stakes play that takes place in professional gambling circles. The link below is of our favourite gambling scene in the movie, where players bluff each other and Bana has to discern whether his opponent is trying to throw him off or use reverse psychology. It’s a gripping exchange that has you on the edge of your seat.
7. Ocean’s Thirteen
There are great gambling scenes in the whole ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ series of films, but some of the most fun casino moments are found in the last instalment of the trilogy. The movie really peaks when the gang manage to successfully shut down their rival’s casino so that they can cheat wildly without any interference from the casino’s management. Watching George Clooney and Brad Pitt cheat like pros in Al Pacino’s lavish casino, making huge bets that they know they’ll win is a gambler’s dream and wonderful to watch. A highlight for us was watching a delighted Bernie Mac working undercover as a croupier.
8. Rush Hour 2
Watching the hilarious duo Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker wreak havoc in the Red Dragon Casino in the action comedy ‘Rush Hour 2’ is highly entertaining. The best gambling scene of the film is when Tucker has to make a huge distraction on the casino floor to allow his partner to do the investigating. He does a great job of making a scene and drawing attention to himself in a spectacular fashion by hassling his croupier and playing with extraordinary amounts of money. Highlights include him ranting; “I ain’t calming down no more, I’m sick of you trying to calm me down!”
9. Last Vegas
‘Last Vegas’ has an all-star cast and is about a bunch of old timers have one last rowdy get together in Vegas. It has a great gambling scene where Robert De Niro’s character Paddy is concerned that his friend Archie, played by Morgan Freeman, is losing all of his money in at the blackjack table after Archie boasts of playing with half of his pension funds. On further inspection though the group learns that Archie has actually been making thousands at the blackjack table, enough to fund the group’s extravagant Las Vegas getaway.
10. What Happens in Vegas
We love the brief, but life-changing gambling scene in ‘What Happens in Vegas’. The two central characters, played by Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher, agree to get a divorce after their quickie Vegas wedding. Just as they make this verbal agreement Kutcher’s character puts a penny into the slots machine, which wins him thousands, which leads the two to reconsider their lives’ paths. The scene shows just how random and life altering pokies machines can be, even when you least expect it.