It’s not a stretch to pair casinos and movie-making. The allure of the bright lights, potential fortune and luck of the draw intertwine in both cases. Maybe that’s why some of the most memorable of all Hollywood films involve the casino scene. If you call yourself a movie buff or casino fan, then you really can’t miss these classics.
If authenticity is what you crave in movies, then this poker classic from 1998 should land on your short list. A young Matt Damon (circa 1998) tries to make bankroll to enter the World Series of Poker – all to get a good friend out of debt. Real poker players have praised the realistic components of the film, from the hands people play to their poker tells to the lingo they use around the poker table. The movie introduced poker to a new generation of watchers, years before online poker became mainstream.
Combined some of the biggest stars from the mid-1990s, this 1995 casino classic showed the dark side of mob-run casinos in Las Vegas with really likable characters. Sharon Stone, Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro stole the movie spotlight, alongside the actual gambling components like table poker, sports books and slots. Movie fans on the site IMDB.com have voted it the best casino film of all time and the box office reflected that, bringing in $116 million when it was playing.
Whether you prefer a young James Caan (1974) or the updated version with Mark Wahlberg (2014), this film looks at addiction and how gambling plays its role. The main character Axel Freed is in debt – to the tune of $44,000 – so he hits the poker tables to try to gain back what he’s lost. The film does a good job revealing the psychology behind winning, and losing, in high-stakes situations.
Can James Bond really do any wrong? When he drives a fast car, we want to drive it. When he drinks a dirty martini, shaken – not stirred, we want one too. And when he sits down at a poker table, we wish we were facing him down on the other side. Casino Royale ushered in a modern-day Bond in 2006 and introduced fans to Daniel Craig. Poker die-hards have pointed out that a poker expert consultant may have boosted the film’s credibility by making the plays around the card table more realistic. Still – if you like the glamor of in-person poker, you’ll love the scenes in this movie.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
While the casinos may bring you there, everyone knows there is much more to Las Vegas than the casinos and this 1998 Johnny Depp classic highlights that fact. This black comedy takes viewers on a psychedelic trip through a Vegas trip, painting casinos in a fascinating light. If you’ve ever felt like you were having a surreal time in Vegas, this movie will take you back to that place, and then some.