When you consider the way that the media has glamorized cards and casinos, is it any wonder that more than 35 million people visit Las Vegas every year? Apart from the reality poker TV shows and annual coverage of the big tournaments, literally dozens of Hollywood movies have featured everything from high roller roulette to riverboat poker.
This gaming fascination isn’t limited to America either. Consider Guy Ritchie’s smash hit Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels where a big poker loss results in one very long night of slapstick action. Or how about the offbeat German cult classic Run Lola Run where the title character saves her lover’s life by making a fortuitous bet at a roulette table. Card games have been featured on the big screen since the first black and white movies. Silver screen appearances date back over half a century, with one of the most notable early card game scenes appearing in the 1948 Gene Autry classic Loaded Pistols where a blackout during a heated poker game leads to the shootout that sets the scene for the entire movie.
Card games appear in virtually every movie genre from dramas to romances and from comedies to action movies. Heck, game-inspired movies like the recent 21, the classic Rounders, and the timeless The Gambler make casino table games seem like their own genre. Take Casino or Ocean's Eleven where the heart of the action is limited to the casino floor. It’s these dark but glamorous views of the industry that keep millions of people flocking to Vegas, to Atlantic City, to Monte Carlo and more recently to luxurious online sites like Casino Europa, PokerStars, and 888 Casino.
Movies like Maverick and Casino Royale capture the tension and excitement that surround big games. Both movies also feature monster hands; in Maverick the title character wins everything with a dramatic (and rare) royal flush while in Casino Royale Bond saves the day with an unlikely straight flush. The movies aren’t always about glorifying the big wins though. In Indecent Proposal a young couple is forced to take a sordid deal after losing all their savings at the roulette table, and in Swingers the optimistic lead loses 2/3’s of his money after doubling down on his first hand at a high roller blackjack table.
Other classic movies featuring card and casino game action include: The Cooler, The Cincinnati Kid, Kaleidoscope, The Sting, A Big Hand for a Little Lady, Croupier, Shade, Sunset Trail, California Split, Honeymoon in Vegas, Rat Race, National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation, Rain Man, and Leaving Las Vegas. This is just a short selection from a long list of movies that use the allure of the casino to liven up their plots.
While watching these movies probably won’t improve your own game, it can be a great way to relive the excitement of sitting at the table yourself. We just hope you never find your house, marriage, or life on the line.
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