People have always loved to gamble — evidence from China shows the practice goes back as far as 2300bc. It’s not even necessary to visit a casino anymore now that online gambling on trusted and regulated sites shares the thrill of a casino with everyone, click this link for an example. Whether you’re playing in a real casino or online, it’s a great way to escape from everyday life and just have fun.
In the movies, though, it can be quite different. Casinos are the ideal backdrop for scenes of high tension, glamor, and intrigue, and we love seeing beautiful people in gorgeous outfits flirt, deceive, and outwit their rivals. Over the years, many of cinema’s most unforgettable moments have been played out in casinos. Here are 10 of the most memorable.
What Bond film would be complete without at least one trip to an ultra-chic casino full of millionaires and beautiful young women? Casino Royale features some of the most iconic gambling scenes, most notably when our hero wins $115 million in a game of Held-Em Poker against his nemesis, the terrorist financier Le Chiffre.
Martin Scorcese’s 1995 film revolves around the rivalries of various corrupt casino operators in the glittering world of Las Vegas, the undisputed mecca for gamblers. Sharon Stone puts in a career-defining performance as Ginger, and Robert de Niro personifies the paranoia of a crook who knows his time is running out.
Dustin Hoffman gives a stellar performance as the eponymous hero. One of the most memorable scenes is that in which he uses his almost super-human card counting skills to win at blackjack, and his brother realizes what this could mean for their finances.
What a cast in this movie! Eleven of Hollywood’s most iconic actors together for a light-hearted, yet tension-filled, ride, as they plot together to steal a whopping $150 million from 3 casinos in Vegas.
Starring Bradley Cooper, this unexpected worldwide hit tells the story of 3 hapless guys on their bachelor party, which ends up in Vegas. In a clever Rain Man parody, Alan discovers that he has exceptional card-counting skills and wins at blackjack.
Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery
Another hilarious parody of those iconic Bond casino scenes. Unlike the suave and worldly Bond, however, Powers clearly has no idea of the rules of blackjack, so in typical fashion, bluffs his way through.
A more recent example of James Bond visiting a casino, taking us away from the more typical locations of Vegas or Monaco. This time, in a tension-filled scene, James plays sic bo, a game of pure chance where no element of skill is required, at the Floating Dragon Casino in Macau.
This 2008 cult film focuses on a group of students playing poker in Las Vegas. It’s based on the amazing true story of the MIT Blackjack team who used their skills to win at the tables, and for a while, live the high life. Of course, nothing ever goes smoothly, friendships are strained, and there’s a fair amount of melodrama that, overall, detracts from the real story. However, the movie did inspire young blackjack enthusiasts to try and emulate the methods of the group.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
The casino scene at Canto Bright has often divided fans of the franchise. The visit to this haven for the decadent rich was derided by critics as irrelevant, but the moment when an alien gambler tries to insert coins into the BB-8 android is a classic.
Run Lola, Run!
Set in Berlin, the heroine Lola rushes from high-end to small casinos in a desperate bid to raise the ransom kidnappers are demanding in return for the release of her boyfriend.
These are just a few of our favorites, but there are countless others that make good use of a casino setting to evoke an atmosphere of tension, glamor, and a sense that anything can happen. What we can always be sure of though, is that, with an element of luck always in play, the action will never be boring.