There’s something both simultaneously thrilling and comforting about the classic gambling film. The movies tend to be both fun and exciting while also following a formula that you can always rely on to check off certain boxes and satisfy specific cinematic cravings. These are a few of our favorite movies and scenes that we always think are worth a gamble.
Now that the franchise has pretty much been dragged into the ground, it’s easy to forget that the first film was actually rather fun in its own right. Even more so, most people forget that some of the movie’s best scenes take place in the casino, such as the one with Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifinakis at the blackjack table. Watching the goofy Alan rack up the cash by counting cards is hilarious and a great spoof on other, more serious “card-counting” films like Rain Man and 21.
Run Lola Run
We had almost forgotten about the incredible scene from Run Lola Run. In this 1998 German cult classic, Lola desperately needs to find the money for the ransom to save her boyfriend. Thus, she gambles on a casino in what has to be one of the most intense roulette games of all time. The pulsating techno soundtrack that runs throughout the movie only adds to the heart-stopping atmosphere in what is definitely one of the most underrated thrillers ever.
Martin Scorsese’s epic mob film is considered by some to be the greatest gambling film of all time (and rightly so). The entire movie is a stone-cold classic all the way through, but any scene with Joe Pesci is pure gold. When he firmly asks for his money back and explains what it exactly is that his character does, it’s equally hilarious and terrifying, much like most of Pesci’s mob characters. And his deadpan scene in the lobby explaining to a couple rival mobsters that “Carmine left” is so understated and well played that you can’t help but shrink back in your seat.
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
This 1998 British cult hit kicked off the career of Guy Ritchie and launched a revolutionary resurgence in the British crime genre. With all the other action and adventure that goes down in this flick, it’s easy to overlook the high-stakes card game that gets everything started in the first place. The game of cards between protagonist “Fast” Eddy and several intimidating gangsters is easily one of the most exciting and nail-biting hands ever committed to film. It also kicks off a rollicking romp that remains one of the best films in Ritchie’s career.
Some consider 2006’s Casino Royale to be the best James Bond film ever made. While that’s certainly a bold statement, the movie makes a strong case for its place at the top of the heap. We’d go so far as to say this movie has a better game of Texas Hold ‘Em than even Rounders. Also, poker has never looked classier, more sophisticated or more exciting than watching Bond go heads up with the supervillain accountant, Le Chiffre.