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Top 10 gambling scenes from casino films

30 Nov | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Top 10 gambling scenes from casino films

Card-counting, outrageous heists and poker with the highest stakes imaginable all feature in this countdown of memorable movie moments.

At Betway, our online casino offers over 400 games, with casinos and gambling always having enjoyed a special place in Hollywood history.

Here, we relive some of the greatest high-stakes action scenes to ever grace the silver screen.

10. “Perhaps you’d be more comfortable at one of our lower-stakes tables.”

Film: Swingers
Year: 1996
Who: Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn

The mix of old Vegas and new is shown in stark contrast as wannabe actors Trent (Vaughn) and Mike (Favreau) don their best suits and head out to Sin City, looking for some Rat Pack-style action.

What they find is old age pensioners and a free drink.  If only they had realised it was a six-hour car journey from LA.

Bigging it up as high rollers, they sit down at the wrong blackjack table and swiftly lose their $300 bankroll in one hand.

“Haven’t you got anything smaller?”

9. “Aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhhh!”

Film: Run Lola Run
Year: 1998
Who: Franka Potente

After a money delivery goes south, Lola (Potente) has 20 minutes to find 100,000 Deutschmarks for local hoods or her boyfriend checks out – permanently.

Spending most of her time in a mad dash, Lola finds time to stop at a Berlin casino to try her luck at spinning up a meagre 100-mark bankroll.

The champagne glass-shattering screech coming from Lola’s mouth as the roulette wheel comes to a stop is a lovely touch.

8. “Rain Man, let’s play some cards.”

Film: Rain Man
Year: 1988
Who: Tom Cruise, Dustin Hoffman

Hoffman won an Oscar for Rain Man, which was also named Best Picture in 1988, as an autistic savant taken on a road trip by his brother, Charlie (Cruise).

Charlie is in desperate need of a bailout for his failing car dealership, so the pair drop in to a Nevada casino to play a little blackjack.

The scene was beautifully referenced in The Hangover, with Zach Galifianakis using his “incredible” number skills to count cards.

7. “$115m in the pot…”

Film: Casino Royale
Year: 2005
Who: Daniel Craig, Mads Mikkelsen

Every new Bond has to have his own casino scene and, in his first outing as 007, Craig’s in Casino Royale is one of the best.

Texas Hold’em replaces the game of baccarat from the book as the secret agent takes on international arms trader Le Chiffre at a million-dollar buy-in cash game.

In the ultimate game of high stakes, Bond has to survive poisoning and a heart attack before finishing off his opponents. Nobody does it better.

6. “You can either have the money and the hammer, or you can walk out of here. You can’t have both.”

Film: Casino
Year: 1995
Who: Robert de Niro, Joe Pesci

Martin Scorsese wasn’t on top form when he reunited the Goodfellas duo of Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci for this (sort of)  true story about a 1970s Vegas casino boss.

There’s way too much voice-over, and it’s far too violent, but you can’t deny the glamour, glitz, and natty suits.

Take your pick from a hundred scenes to quote to your friends, but the justice dispensed to two casino cheats is up there.

You’ll never look at a circular saw the same way again.

5. “We can’t take any more bets until we’re back up.”

Film: Ocean’s Thirteen
Year: 2007
Who: Al Pacino, Ellen Barkin, George Clooney

The Ocean’s trilogy limped to a conclusion in 2007 with another star-studded caper set in a new Vegas casino.

The film was written by David Levien and Brian Koppelman – who also wrote poker films Rounders and Runner Runner  and reunites Danny Ocean with his band of thieves.

The plot falls down a little, and there are just too many stars jostling for space, but the simulated earthquake in the casino is a real treat.

4. “We can’t go on together, with suspicious minds.”

Film: Blade Runner 2049
Year: 2017
Who: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford

If you’ve ever played the Fallout video games, you might think of Las Vegas as a rough, futuristic landscape populated by crazed soldiers and raiders.

But Sin City as a post-apocalyptic wasteland is also something touched on in this atmospheric sequel to Blade Runner from 2017.

The original film’s central character, Deckard (Ford) is holed up in a Nevada gambling den that, like Deckard himself, has seen better days.

Gosling’s replicant has been sent to bring him in, with the highlight a gunfight in an old casino cabaret bar while a glitchy holographic Elvis belts out a few classics.

3. “Bond. James Bond.”

Film: Dr No
Year: 1962
Who: Sean Connery

It’s fitting that the first movie introduction to Ian Fleming’s 007 is at a casino table.

It was British spy James Bond’s natural habitat, usually accompanied with a vodka Martini in one hand and a model in the other.

As was the case in most Bond novels, 007 is playing – and crushing – baccarat. 

2. “Let’s go make a killing.”

Film: 21
Year: 2008
Who: Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, Jim Sturgess

21 is based on Ben Mezrich’s excellent book, Bringing Down The House.

It focuses on a real-life group of MIT students who became the most effective blackjack card-counting team in the world.

While the casino’s retaliation tactics are rather romanticised in the film version, it still makes for some tense scenes as the students try to get away with their millions.

1. “You can lose $80m secretly, or you can lose $160m publicly. It’s your decision.”

Film: Ocean’s Eleven
Year: 2001
Who: Matt Damon, George Clooney

What is arguably Hollywood’s best casino scenes doesn’t actually take place on the casino floor.

A star-studded remake of the 1960s Rat Pack vehicle, Steven Soderbergh’s slick thriller stars Brad Pitt and George Clooney as two hustlers planning to relieve three Vegas casinos from $160m of their own cash.

As the heroes are about to blow the vault that links the MGM Grand, Bellagio, and The Mirage, the tension is lightened by Clooney forgetting to change the batteries on his detonator.