3 Outstanding Movies That Feature Gambling

Have you ever thought about the fact that entertainment is the only service in the world where you pay money, sit down, watch some things happen, then walk away with literally nothing in your hands? Go ahead, try think of another service that gives nothing tangible in return for your money, other than emotional stimulation.

Couldn’t think of anything, could you? That’s why when making a movie, the number one, and basically only goal, is to stimulate emotion in the viewer. This can be done in a number of ways, such as making the viewer care for the characters, which is pretty bizarre when you think about it, or getting the viewers heart pumping with some awesome, pulse pounding events.

Now, casino games do give the player money in return, but also have the added benefit of being extremely tense and exciting. So, let’s do an equation here; movies, plus casino games, equals entertainment gold.

And, let’s be honest, casino games also make for pretty reliable plot devices. Allow me to demonstrate; we want a movie where an average guy has to face off against mobsters, and shoot them repeatedly with a variety of firearms. Why would a person do such a thing? Simple; he has a big casino game debt with the shifty characters, and decided bullets were cheaper than paying the debt.

Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels

You may have noticed I have a very dry, sarcastic sense of humour. If you haven’t noticed, I’ll tell you a secret; I have a dry, sarcastic sense of humour. So, naturally, movies that feature British humour often tickle my fancy.

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is one of my all time favourite movies, along with its sister film, Snatch. In Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels the plot revolves around a bunch of youngsters who try their luck in a high stakes poker game and lose, and thus have to find a way to get some cash really quickly. See how that links to what I said earlier?

The poker game scene in the film is shot in a highly original way, which is a trademark of how casino games are dealt with in films. That is to say; a filming technique is generally needed to make poker more exciting visually, since poker, although a very tense and exciting game in real life, translates very poorly to film – unless you’d prefer a film where people sit around waiting for good hands for twenty minutes.


Before Mel Gibson was a lunatic, he was an incredible actor who starred in outstanding films. Maverick, which I remember clearly seeing in my youth, and again recently, is based around Mel Gibson being an old west conman and card shark. A lovable kind of conman and card shark though, who only cons goons and thugs, and so basically not like a real life conman in any shape or form.

The major plot device of the film is a poker tournament, which Gibson’s character naturally aims to win. For the final poker game, however, the movie does a great job of devising a way for everything to be hinged on Gibson drawing a single card from the deck. The card he draws is, of course, revealed to be the ace of spades. Again, since poker is a very slow game in real life, the movie had to use a technique and boil the game down into a single moment. It is a very effective moment though, and a ringing endorsement, once again, for gambling and films being a match made in heaven.

Indecent Proposal

I was still in school when Indecent Proposal came out, and still remember the enormous amount of controversy it caused. The basis of the plot is as follows; a really rich guy offers you a million dollars to sleep with your wife. Yes, it’s pretty blunt when you say it like that, and the more I thought about it, the more I realised the movie really does base itself around some pretty bizarre concepts.

The two lead characters in the film, a husband and wife, are trying to fight off crippling debt by gambling, which is fairly difficult to buy into the first place – at least it’s difficult to buy if we, the audience, are to believe the couple have two brain cells to rub together between them.

The couple’s gambling plan fails, and just when all hope is lost, in steps Robert Redford, the softly spoken millionaire who is really a nice guy, regardless of him asking you to prostitute your wife. I may be wrong about this, but anyone willing to part with a million dollars for sex certainly wouldn’t appear as Robert Redford does in this film.

Either way, the movie is about the emotions involved in such moral conundrums; despite how unrealistic they seem on the surface. It is a thoughtful, interesting movie, and certainly worth a watch. And if you’re wondering, the actual gambling scenes happen in a montage that is really rather cool.

Marc Armstrong - Signature

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