Casinos have been depicted in cinema on numerous occasions over the years, but it’s the films that have come about over the last three decades which encapsulate the sort of gambling house you would find today. Here are five great films with a modern and insightful twist on the casino industry.
2001’s Ocean’s Eleven was a modern take on the 1960 Rat Pack film of the same name. For anyone wanting to get a glimpse of what some of Vegas’s top casinos are like, this is the one to watch. Steven Soderbergh’s offering features three famous settings, which are the Bellagio, the Mirage, and the MGM Grand. While the main theme of the film is a heist, it also shows the inner workings of what happens on the casino floor.
Martin Scorsese’s gangster epic set in a Las Vegas casino takes viewers through the day-to-day mechanisms of a casino. The clever direction perfectly captures the beehive-like nature of the gambling house with its many different tables and games. There is even a scene in which the odds of slot machines are discussed. Robert De Niro’s character, Sam Rothstein, argues with the pit boss that the games shouldn’t be paying out too frequently. Times have changed since then, though, and not only do modern slot games have to advertise their RTP – Casino Noire, for example, has an RTP of 96.06 percent -- but online casinos regularly offer free spins on their top games. Even Sam Rothstein couldn’t argue with that.
The Hangover is one of the more recent gambling films, and it takes viewers on a journey through the glitz and glamour of the Las Vegas scene. The main theme of the picture is how easy it is to get lost in this exciting world which is so different from the everyday existence of a lot of its visitors. One of the most memorable moments was when Zach Galifianakis’s character became a blackjack genius after finding a book in the hotel room. This led to a hilarious montage that saw the protagonists win big at the tables.
Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s 2015 comedy-drama, Focus, isn’t centered on gambling or casinos. However, it does feature an iconic gambling scene in which Will Smith’s Nicky engages in a high stakes card game against B. D. Wong’s Liyuan. After losing two massive bets, the picture gives viewers a strong sense of how it would feel to be in that situation. This is followed by the miraculous feeling of joy when Nicky manages to successfully win his money back.
Casino Royale was a 2006 adaptation of Ian Fleming’s first-ever James Bond book, published in 1953. The novel from the English author put 007 in the middle of a high stakes game of baccarat at the Royale-les-Eaux casino in France. Martin Campbell’s offering opted to mix things up for modern audiences, though. Instead of using baccarat, the Eon Productions movie featured Texas Hold’em poker, which was booming in popularity at the time.
For cinema fanatics who want to get a taste of the casino experience, these are some great films to watch. Some other options include Rain Man and The Gambler.