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Casino movies: Gambling on the silver screen

Gambling and the casino world have long been a fascination for Hollywood and audiences alike. The glitz and glamour of the casino lifestyle and the thrill of putting everything on the line in hopes of that happy ending have long fueled the daydreams of most, a fact Hollywood has tapped into to put together tales of wish fulfillment and of dreams gone awry.

Some of them have focused on telling the rich and colorful history of gambling, as well as dissecting the seedy underbelly and criminal operations of Las Vegas of yore. Others tell tales of cheaters and card counters trying to pull a big score, or down on their luck gamblers looking for redemption in a roll of the dice. Regardless of the approach, it’s hard not to identify with the protagonists of these stories and their quest to live large and hit it big – particularly for gambling enthusiasts.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best movies that have brought the glamorous and exciting world of casinos to the silver screen.

Hard Eight (1996)
While Paul Thomas Anderson did not become a household name until his brilliant Boogie Nights, the prolific director’s first movie about the world of high-stakes gambling is definitely a must watch for any casino enthusiast. Featuring an all-star cast that includes Philip Baker Hall, John C Reilly, Samuel L Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow and the always amazing Philip Seymour Hoffman, Hard Eight tells the story of seasoned gambler Sydney and his protégé John.

Sydney proposes to take John under his wing and teach him the ropes about gambling in order to help him pay for his mother’s funeral. Before he knows it, John is deep into the world of high stakes gambling and gets involved in a complicated situation when he tries to help Clementine, a cocktail waitress who moonlights as a call girl. Despite being PTA’s first film, it managed to receive him fantastic movie reviews.

Runner Runner (2013)
Not all casino movies take place in brick and mortar casinos. Runner Runner is a casino thriller for the early online gambling era, where offshore casinos with little regulation could cheat players out of their money. Partly based on a true story Runner tells the tale of Richie Furst (played by pop star Justin Timberlake), an online casino gambler who is cheated out of his money and travels to Costa Rica to confront the owner of the casino with statistical proof, Ben Affleck’s Ivan Brock. Brock offers Ritchie a job in his operation, leading Ritchie to discover the seedy world of offshore gaming and find himself in trouble with the FBI.

In many ways Runner Runner serves as a warning to online gamblers to always do their research before depositing money in an online casino. If you are looking to play online, we recommend taking the time to read reviews like this Casumo review will ensure your money is safe and the operation is legitimate.

The Gambler (1974)
A loose adaptation of the short novel by Russian heavyweight Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Gambler is a morality tale about not knowing your limits. Inspirational English professor and author Axel Freed (the brilliant James Caan) has a dark secret, as his gambling addiction has managed to leave him in huge debt.

Stealing $44,000 from his mother, he heads to Vegas to gamble it in hopes of paying his debt. However, when he manages to make the money he needs he ends up gambling it again on basketball games and loses it, leaving him in a tough predicament with loan sharks.

Casino (1996)
Iconic director Martin Scorsese’s spiritual sequel to his epic crime film Goodfellas, Casino tells the story of Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein (the legendary Robert De Niro) a mob associate who is sent to run the Tangier Casino in Las Vegas for the Chicago Outfit mafia. He manages to double the profits of the casino before long, until his hot headed friend and mafia enforcer Nicky Santoro (a perfectly cast Joe Pesci) is sent to help him out, and instead manages to create nothing but trouble.

Depicting the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas and then contrasting it with the dark underbelly within, Casino tells a morality tale filled with deception, greed, violence and corruption worthy of the inclusion on the list of the best casino movies ever made.

The Cooler (2003)
Most online casinos now have a great game choice. If they are really putting the boat for Most gamblers have met a Cooler at some point in their lives, and if they are unlucky enough they have even been a Cooler for a period of time. A Cooler, of course, is a gambler that has such bad luck that he can even sour other’s winning streaks just by being around them. The Cooler perfectly casts the brilliant William H. Macy – known for playing miserable everymen - as Bernie Lootz the titular cooler who is employed by a casino boss (played brilliantly by Alec Baldwin) to end player’s big winning streaks in order to pay off his own gambling debt. Unfortunately for him, his luck is about to change when he falls in love with a waitress who was hired by the casino boss to prevent him from leaving Las Vegas.

Casino Royale (2006)
When people think of casinos they often think of James Bond sitting in a table with a striking tuxedo drinking his signature vodka martini. While plenty of films in the James Bond canon feature such an image, there is none better than this one.

Chosen as the vehicle to reboot James Bond in the grim and gritty modern action thriller style with Daniel Craig in the iconic role, Casino Royale quickly became a fan favorite. In order to stop Le Chiffre, a banker to the world’s most dangerous terrorists, Bond is forced to take a huge gamble and engage in a high-stakes game of Texas Hold’em in the Casino Royale, where he must win the game in order to stop him or face having financed terrorism.

Croupier (1999)
Clive Owen stars as Jack Manfred, a struggling writer that is forced to take a job as a croupier to make ends meet. After seeing the corrupting effects that gambling has on both the casino players and the people working there , before long he finds himself involved in a plot to act as an accessory and inside man for a scheme to rob the casino he works for.

Unlike most casino movies, croupier does not attempt to enamor viewers with the glitzy casino lifestyle, but rather offers a cold, realistic approach to the casino lifestyle.
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