Whether you like to get your thrills at your local casino or simply enjoy the leisure of playing cards at home with friends, there really is a way for everyone to get out and test their luck. There are, however, some that simply like to watch, and that has been proven by the success of several films over the past couple decades. Compiled here are the top 5 casino movies (with no specific order) for those who simply want to relax and live vicariously through these adrenaline seekers including talented actors Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, George Clooney, and more.
Ocean’s 11 (2001)
Before getting out of a New Jersey prison, Daniel Ocean has already concocted his next heist. Targeting three Las Vegas casinos, all of which are owned by Terry Benedict, a callous businessman. Galvanized by the highly anticipated boxing match between Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko, below the strip is a staggering $150 million dollars. Ocean gets to work by handpicking professionals, all of which are experts in their specific trade. There is the card magician, Rusty Ryan; the pickpocket, Linus Caldwell; the pyrotechnician, Basher Tarr; and many others are hired for additional help with transportation and surveillance of the casino and its tendencies. The rules for Ocean’s crew are simple: no blood, rob only who deserves it, and do it as if you have nothing to lose.
Sam Rothstein, known as Ace to his friends, is an expert handicapper and bookie who is hired by a Chicago based Italian Mafia to help manage the Tangiers Casino in Las Vegas. Ace struggles at first trying to set himself somewhat straight, however once he gets the hang of it, he begins to turn a profit. Childhood friend, Nicky Santoro, who traveled with him to Vegas, begins to undermine his success by living out his Las Vegas mobster dreams elsewhere on the strip. Ginger Mckenna, Ace’s wife, is also another factor that hinders Ace’s success. Knowingly marrying a hustler, Ace tries to believe in the best of a woman who may only be self-destructive, to both herself and Ace.
An impressive card player, Mike McDermott loses his $30,000 bank playing Texas Hold’em against Russian mobster Teddy “KGB,” owner of the illegal underground poker room. After his loss, McDermott quits cards and promises his girlfriend he’ll be more dedicated to law school; however, this all gets flipped upside down after childhood friend Lester “Worm” Murphy returns from prison. McDermott soon finds out that Worm has an outstanding debt owed, and after a five-day ultimatum, the pair realizes they have to resort to cards in order to come up with the money. Almost halfway to their goal, the two are caught cheating and wiped out of everything, which is when McDermott finds out that Worm owes his debt to KGB. Worm skips town and McDermott decides to stay in order to find redemption, clear worms debt, and prove his poker worth, but will he be able to prove himself this time?
The Sting (1973)
Small time grifter Johnny Hooker pulls a stunt on head crime boss Doyle Lonnegan. After the stunt, Lonnegan demands respects be paid, and ends up killing Hooker’s partner. Hooker flees and seeks out the aid of one of Luther’s old contacts, Henry Gondorff, a master con artist. Hooker plans on pulling a huge stunt on Lonnegan to avenge the death of his partner and friend. After amassing an expert team of other con artists, the team devises an elaborate plot, but will it be enough to fool Lonnegan?
Hard Eight (1996)
Sydney, a veteran gambler in his sixties, meets a man, John, during one of his frequent visits to the casinos. John, who is ultimately a loser who has lost the majority of his time, is befriended by Sydney who acts as a father and mentor figure. Sydney begins teaching John all of his old tricks and trades in order to improve John’s game as well as setting him up with one of the waitresses at the casino. However, Sin City may prove to be too much to handle for this unlikely duo.
So that’s our list! There’s been some great gambling and poker movies but not a lot about online casino gaming – However, the 2013 film ‘runner runner’ starring Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck gets a notable shoutout from us for bringing online gambling to the modern digital age. Whilst it’s not strictly a casino movie, it’s still worth a watch!