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Casino Moments in Hollywood – From Blockbusters to Lesser Known Movies

Casinos have proven to be a rich source of material for books, TV shows and movies.

Hollywood movies regularly feature casinos, usually as an integral part of the story. They have provided the perfect background for movies like Casablanca where our flawed hero Rick makes his biggest self sacrifice by letting the love of his life go by fixing the roulette wheel. Her husband wins after advice from Rick and he and his wife Lisa are able to fly away leaving Rick alone.

It feels like there isn’t a single James Bond film that doesn’t feature a casino at some point and the super spy loves playing a variety of casino games, most notably baccarat. The casinos are always stylish, the men in tuxedos or suits and the women in evening dresses. You wouldn’t catch Bond playing the slot machines or video poker. It’s glamour all the way for James Bond.

There are many classic moments in Hollywood and these are just a few but be warned there are some spoilers if you haven’t watched the movies already.

Rain Man

This multi Oscar winning movie had many good moments but the casino scene is a particular standout. Charlie’s father has died and due to the will reading he discovers he has a brother he never knew about called Raymond. More than this, their father left the contents of his will for the care of Raymond who is an autistic savant. Charlie spends much of the movie trying to find ways to get his hands on the inheritance but slowly bonds with his brother.

At the point of the casino scene Charlie has lost his girlfriend and owes $80,000 but through their time together he realises his brother is a mathematical genius. If there is one way to win in a casino then it is by counting cards at blackjack and Raymond keeps winning. Hit me, hit me, hit me…..until they are ejected by disgruntled casino staff.

Casino Royale

There are so many scenes in this movie that are filmed in casinos it is impossible to pick one particularly but the whole movie is a game of wits between Bond and Le Chiffre (or The Cypher). The movie plays out like one long poker game between the two.

Other notable James Bond scenes include Skyfall in a sumptuous but unfortunately fake Macau casino where he arrives by floating in on a river boat through a dragon’s mouth and Dr No where a suave Bond played by Sean Connery cleans everyone out and wins big.

Mississippi Grind

Although not a big hit this is a good movie for gambling fans or perhaps just fans of the two main stars; Ryan Reynolds and Ben Mendhelson.

Gambling addict Gerry believes his new friend is his good luck charm. Gerry has spent his whole life chasing that big win and although it is unclear if he has ever won anything of substance you can see he is on his uppers in the movie. A failed marriage, debts and a habit of stealing to fund his habit have left him ostracised from his daughter and it would appear with few friends. Curtis bankrolls Gerry and they head across the country trying their luck at everything from the horses to rulett and poker.

Predictably everything goes wrong and they fall out until the final scene where after some success at the blackjack table they reunite and play craps. Their chips build up and up with Curtis saying “you can’t lose” as Gerry throws the dice gambling everything they have. If you want to know what happens then you should stream the movie.

Killing Them Softly

Not technically a casino scene but the card game run by Ray Liotta gets robbed by two total amateurs. Unfortunately for the robbers this card game is run by the mob and they end up with two hitmen being sent to track them down. Even more unfortunately for Ray Liotta’s character it’s not the first time his card game has been turned over and suspicions fall on him at first. A slow burner of a movie with a great cast including Brad Pitt, Ben Mendelsohn, Scoot McNairy and the great James Gandolfini.

The Hangover

You have probably already seen this movie but the casino scene couldn’t be missed off the list as it is a classic moment in this hilarious movie. Alan is a walking disaster from the moment the group set off to Las Vegas up to the casino scene. He is almost single handedly responsible for drugging the gang with rohypnol which ends with one friend marrying a stripper, losing the groom to be, kidnapping a gangster called Mr Chow and subsequently stealing & losing his chips worth $80,000. This is not to mention taking a certain Mike Tyson’s pet tiger without his permission.

Alan somehow convinces the gang he knows how to get the money back. Earlier in the movie Alan tells everyone how he has learnt how to count cards. From a book. Incredibly Alan shows Rain Man like skills at the table and predictably wins enough money to pay off Mr Chow and get their friend released…..or does he?


Another card game run by the mob that ends badly. Joe Pesci’s psychotic gangster takes great exception to the young man making them drinks after he confuses Tommy DeVito’s (Pesci) order and forgets to bring him anything. Tommy understandably isn’t amused and reacts in a characteristically over the top manner.

Not much later in the movie the group return for another game with the poor barman now sporting a limp. Unfortunately the young man decides he isn’t taking any more stick fro Tommy and tells him where to go.

That’s the last time we see Spider the barman.

Other movies worth a mention

Johnny English and Austin Powers both spoof James Bond and have funny casino scenes. Austin Powers is convinced that because he is a British Spy he must therefore be great at casino games and this is evidently not the case. Ocean’s Eleven, Casino, 21 and The Gambler all have great moments. You can make your own casino moments by playing in a traditional casino or just by logging on to an online casino.

There are lots of games to play like blackjack, poker and slots online. Just register an account and you can pretend to be Bond at the baccarat table in no time.


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