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Seven Gambling Movies: To Watch or Not to Watch?


When you really think about it, everything in life is a gamble including liking the movie we’ve picked. This is especially true when it comes to some favorite area of interest of ours, we’d like to see covered so that it suits our fancy. So, if you are a gambling aficionado, you’d like to see a good gambling flick every now and then… right? So, to help you pick out a couple of great ones well-worth your time and your taste we sat down to a gambling movie marathon to select and review a few of them for you.

So here it goes...

Mississippi Grind

The story line is about an average unlucky gambler named Gerry, portrayed by Ben Mendelsohn, who nevertheless feels that his big break is sure to happen sooner rather than later. And his big break does indeed come when he meets Curtis, a young traveling gambler, portrayed by Ryan Reynolds, while playing Texas Hold ‘em. Curtis told him that the reason he was so good at cards was because he never cared about winning. The two of them start betting on races and gambling together and eventually gamble at different towns down the Mississippi River to New Orleans.

The movie is a perfect blend of a road movie and a gambling motion picture with great portrayals of gamblers on the part of both Mendelsohn and Reynolds.

The Best of It

This feature length documentary gives us an amazing look at the real life of professional sports bettors in Las Vegas. It follows the woes and joys of somewhat quirky characters by the names of Boston, The Shrink, Dink, and Banker. This is a great movie if you want to learn more about touts and money management and not just getting the best out of your number.

The lighter bits featuring their wives, pets and assistants provide excellent balance to the darker side of the documentary.

Lay the Favorite

Now, this is one movie that you can take a pass on. It is based on the journalist Beth Raymor’s memoir of the same name. She was a Fulbright fellow and studied offshore gambling operations in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama. The book is about her experiences in the sex industry, amateur boxing and sports-betting. Lay The Favorite, the movie, focuses on her relocation to Vegas in the 1990s where it turned out she’s got more than just good luck when it comes to gambling. To top it all off, she falls in love with Dink (yes, the sports gambler from The Best of It) and you can imagine how happy that made his wife Tulip.

Nevertheless, it is a shame that a film with such a great array for a cast (Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Vince Vaughn) did not do proper justice to the book. The plot was just moving too fast. That said, go and get Raymor’ s book so you can actually enjoy her action- packed life story.

Casino

This is another gambling picture that is based on a true story from the 1970s and it is a true gem. Under the direction of Martin Scorsese in this 1995 classic Robert De Niro stars as Ace Rothstein, an expert gambling handicapper sent by the Chicago mob outfit to oversee the operations at Tangiers Casino in Las Vegas. Ace and his enforcer Nicky Santoro, played by Joe Pesci, also had to keep grabbing enough money off the top to pay the mafia while evading the FBI and to deal with the Gaming Commission. Eventually they end up competing over managing the casino and Ginger, Ace’s alcoholic wife.

Casino is a must-see flick as it portrays casinos during the good old days in their prime. You have to agree that now that the corporations have taken over they resemble vacation results and movie studios rather than what your standard casino looked like back in the day.

The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas

Gambling doesn’t pop into your mind for sure when you think of the Flintstones. Still, Fred and Barney, portrayed in the movie as young bachelors, do make it to Rock Vegas after all. Chip Rockefeller, who has his heart set on winning Wilma for himself, invites Wilma and her new friends Betty, Fred, and Barney to his Rock Vegas resort. And as always, it is Barney who is keeping Fred in check so this time it is to keep Fred away from playing high-stakes poker.

We also get to see gangsters pay a visit to Chip who owed a lot of money but other than that we don’t recommend you watch the movie if you expect to see a lot of casino-related scenes. If you on the other were missing your two favorite couples from the Stone Age then this is the movie for you.

Harvard Man

Yes, you can even make money and loads of it in fact when losing a game. Alan Jensen, a Harvard student and a point guard on their basketball team, is in need of $100,000 to help out his parents whose house got destroyed in a tornado. His girlfriend Cindy Bandolino, whose father is a mob boss persuades Alan to throw a game against Dartmouth for the money. She tells him that her father is behind this, but she actually she goes to her father's associates, Teddy Carter and Kelly Morgan for funding. And guess what! These two are undercover FBI agents.

The plot where the main character is caught between having a mafia boss and the FBI on his back at the same time would have been very intriguing if it wasn’t for the long flashes of Adrian’s character hallucinations on LSD. It ruined the movie, so this is yet another movie that's not an open recommendation to anyone.

21

The gambling movie is so worth watching! It is based on the true story of a group of MIT students who tried to rob Vegas casinos by playing blackjack and being geniuses at counting cards. The main character Ben Campbell is a mathematical genius who gets accepted into Harvard Medical School after MIT, but can’t afford to pay the $300,000 tuition. However, a professor of his from MIT invites him to join a blackjack team with some of his students and they end up flying back and forth to Las Vegas with Professor Rosa as the greed and money collect but Ben also has to pay the price and forgetting all about an engineering competition is just one of them...

This movie will make you want to learn about how to beat the system but will also teach you all about the much needed caution in gambling. Hope you enjoy the thrilling 2 hours.

There you go - to each his own when it comes to matters of taste, of course, but here is hoping this pick of gambling flicks are of some use to you! Happy watching, rolling, and betting to you all...