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Casino Games On Screen

Lights, camera, action!

Source: Pixabay

Why do casino games look so good in the movies? Maybe it’s got something to do with the interest that people have for the games themselves, or maybe something rubs off from the actors and actresses who play the games on screen. One thing’s for sure, though, it takes great actors, superb directors and an excellent script to portray card games authentically in the movies. There is no shortage of movies available where scenes take place involving casino games, but not all of them are of the same quality. The fact is that it’s easy to fool inexperienced viewers into believing they are witnessing the real deal, but without proper research, the games just look fake. No experienced gamer would ever be interested in watching a movie in which the card games are not authentic.  When the writing, acting, direction and research all come together, though, the result is some of the most unforgettable scenes ever found in the movies. 

Acting out casino games

One of the most famous characters in the world of movies is James Bond, 007, the British secret agent with the “license to kill”. The 2006 remake of the classic Bond movie Casino Royale, cards play an important role. In the movie, Daniel Craig’s James Bond takes part in a tournament of no-limit Texas Hold’em poker held in Monte Negro, although in reality the game was filmed in the city of Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic. Bond’s style of play is to read people to get to the heart of the game, while his nemesis, Mads Mikkelsen, is a percentage player who watches the numbers, not the players. Bond’s reading is that it’s not the hand that’s being played, it’s the person opposite that’s being played. What follows is a game of cat and mouse, tells and false tells. Ultimately, Bond always comes tops, “splashing the pot” and making sure that the dealer has to count his stacks of chips.

A movie doesn’t need to take place entirely in a casino – for example, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest isn’t about a high-flying gaming environment at all, and yet Jack Nicholson manages to bring all the atmosphere of a big game to what is actually just a small-time blackjack game played by some patients in a hospital ward. His character, McMurphy, focuses on the possibilities and helps everyone in the ward see a bigger picture, bringing home the casino that only exists in his imagination. That’s the power of the movies – to create entertainment and put it on the blank screen.  At the same time, the movie has a message about self-belief that still resonates today.

Classic scene from an old movie

Source: Pixabay

A game of characters

In Rounders, a movie from 1998, a great cast helps to flesh out some interesting scenes. In the movie, a Rounder refers to a person who travels from city to city in search of high-stakes casino games. In this particular case, Matt Damon plays the part of a brilliant poker player who is motivated by the need to get to the table so that he can help a friend pay off his debts. His fellow cast members Ed Norton, John Malkovich and John Turturro add their own quirky acting skills to the tables to create the right sort of atmosphere for a movie featuring poker games. It’s a rewarding movie for any poker and movie enthusiast to watch.

There are so many movies in which casino gaming plays a central role. Some of them feature the familiar lights and sounds of the world capital of casino games, Las Vegas, as a backdrop, and others take a closer look at other casino environments – places such as Atlantic City, London, and Monte Carlo. From Oceans Eleven (both versions) to The Sting and even slightly crazy takes on card games like Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (directed by Guy Ritchie, formerly married to Madonna), it’s clear that card games in the movies are here to stay. Not only does the use of card games give script-writers the chance to shine with that symbolic language unique to casinos, but card games also give directors the opportunity to create the right dramatic situation, and they provide actors with the space to create unforgettable characters.

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