Viewers love gambling scenes for a variety of different reasons, but often it can be because they like to see someone defeat the odds and win big, when they have put everything on the line beforehand. Some gambling scenes have even involved the highest stakes of all, people’s lives. There have been some great films and TV shows over the years that have featured superb gambling scenes, so let’s take a look at some of the most memorable ones to ever hit the screens.
We kick off with potentially the most iconic gambling scene in movie history from Casino Royale (above). The scene sees Bond, played by Daniel Craig, taking on terrorist banker and villain Le Chiffre, played by Mads Mikkelsen. Bond makes mistakes and looks like he’s messed up at the beginning as the tension builds, he even evades getting poisoned. Even though the odds are stacked heavily against him, he wins big, cashing out over $100 million. The biggest win in cinematic history.
The blackjack scene in Rain Man sees two estranged brothers come together to win big in Las Vegas. Charlie drags his autistic brother Ray to a casino in Sin City as he has big debts and Ray has a special ability when it comes to maths. There’s arguing and bickering as Ray keeps saying “hit me, hit me, hit me” even though it looks like he’s making a big mistake. In the end Ray wins big, enabling his brother to pay off all of his debts.
You could say that this scene is a bit different to the others as while it does take place in a gambling setting, Tommy DeVito, played by the brilliant Joe Pesci (above), really makes the scene by his presence alone. There’s a game of cards going on and Pesci being there sends anxiety levels through the roof. Spider forgets to bring Tommy his drink and this sees Tommy overreact, as you’d expect, blowing things out of all proportion while at the table. Tommy deals with Spider just how you’d imagine.
There are plenty of gambling scenes in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and they feature characters such as Al Capone, Lucky Luciano and Arnold Rothstein. Rothstein is a gangster and a gambler played by Michael Stuhlbarg in superb unhinged fashion. Rothstein wipes out the small casino owned by Nucky Thompson but that’s not enough for Rothstein, he wants more and is out to get it. Nucky though has other ideas and it sees an argument ensure and then a brawl break out.
Hustle is a superb British conman drama which sees the team of grifters led by Mickey Stone often taking huge risks in return for huge rewards. In the episode “Clearance From a Deal” in series seven, a casino owner and Marcus Wendell are visiting town from the USA. Stone and his team are looking to beat the house, even though they know the wheel is rigged. Everyone is of the understanding that the wheel is biased in the house’s favour but it was actually fixed years ago.