The Three Greatest Retro Onscreen Gambling Scenes of All Time

The Three Greatest Retro Onscreen Gambling Scenes of All Time
If there’s one genre that filmmakers return to over and over again, it’s gambling movies. Filled with high-stakes action and thrilling plots, the world they depict is a natural choice of topic for the silver screen, with the off-screen reality often proving just as exciting as its onscreen depiction.

Filled with fortuitous rolls of the dice, charismatic characters, and stories that keep us perched on the edge of our seats until the very last moment, they include some of the best movies ever made. But which of these retro flicks takes the crown for the greatest gambling scene of all time?

House of Games (1987)

In third place, we nominate a 1987 box office hit: the terrific House of Games (above). Telling the story of a poker-playing psychiatrist and a conman who manipulates her into helping him, this is undoubtedly a retro casino classic.

The cast is headed up by Lindsay Crouse, acting the part of the successful Margaret Ford, who’s earned critical acclaim with the publication of her book but feels professionally unfulfilled. She gives a staggering performance in the film’s pivotal scene, where she joins a high-stakes poker game and analyses her opponent’s body language to gain the upper hand and save her patient. If you enjoy clever plots and charismatic characters or have even a passing interest in gambling, this scene and movie are a must-watch.

The Cincinnati Kid (1965)

In this cinematic classic, the protagonist – brilliantly embodied by Steve McQueen – is not just playing for money, but to earn a reputation as the best of the best.

Set at breakneck speed, the movie follows the titular ‘Kid’ as he goes head to head with The Man: a brilliant player whose crown he’s determined to steal. When young stud locks horns with old hand in the film’s most dramatic scene, sparks fly and the stakes are upped, with the final twist proving that anything can happen when the cards are on the table. The open stakes nature of the poker games adds to the excitement of the film, but modern casinos such as the online variants avoid such drama by having limits in place so only pre-deposited money can be used on poker and slots, such as those offered by Jackpot King. While the open stakes tension of The Cincinnati Kid makes for an incredibly watchable film, real-life players certainly prefer less risk in their gaming these days.

A Big Hand for the Little Lady (1966)

Before we begin this particular assessment, let us qualify it by saying that A Big Hand for the Little Lady is not only one of the greatest gambling movies ever made, but one of the finest films to come from 60s cinema, irrespective of genre. Featuring the combined acting might of Henry Fonda and Joanne Woodward, it has one of the longest and most memorable poker scenes of all time and is a true treat for anyone with an interest in the game.

It tells the sweeping story of a woman who takes over for her husband after his hand collapses, and shoulders sole responsibility for saving the family fortune. With a fabulous twist to end on, it’s a clever western with an old-fashioned feminist slant.

In need of something to enjoy on a lazy Friday night? Then why not add these three retro classics to your watch list?