If you love a good gambling movie, and let’s be honest, we all do, here are the top five gambling films we think are currently in existence.
A poker film that actually gets it right. In fact, it crushes it. Rounders feels like a poker film made by poker fans for poker fans. We appreciate that many films have used poker as a great plot device (think Casino Royale, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) but Rounders centres itself on poker. Real life fan Matt Damon plays Mike McDermott who begins the film by entering a high end underground game run by an ex-KGB enforcer who has curious love for Oreo cookies. Mike does this in the hope of raising his WSOP main event buy-in but, this being a film n’all, his bluff is called and he loses everything. Except his girlfriend, who stands by him, so long as he stays away from poker. The film cuts forward and his best friend, Worm (Edward Norton) is released from prison and instantly begins to drag him back under. Lumbered with his mate’s debts and never letting poker leave his head, it isn’t long before Mike is back at the tables but I’ll let you find out the rest.
Starring John C. Reilly, Hard Eight tells the story of John. Poor sad John, whom we first meet distraught outside a diner in Las Vegas trying to figure out exactly how he is going to raise the money for his dying mother’s funeral. As soon as the credits finish rolling, John is joined and before long befriended, by Sydney, a former gambler in his 60s. Sydney takes John under his wing and teaches him to gamble successfully, thus raising the sought after funds. Further people John gets involved with include waitress/prostitute Clementine, soon to be his wife, and security worker friend, Jimmy (Samuel L. Jackson). To avoid further spoilers, we’ll leave it there including just why Sydney was so keen to help young John in the first place.
Martin Scorsese took all of the ingredients from his masterpiece Goodfellas and transferred the formula to the desert and Sin City of Nevada’s Las Vegas. It’s essentially a mob movie, highlighting their role in the rise of the city into what it is today. It’s a gory case study that teams up Robert DeNiro (Sam “Ace” Rothstein) and Joe Pesci (Nicky Santoro) again, and throws in a never better Sharon Stone as Mrs Rothstein. Ace free spiny gambler Mr Rothstein has been employed by the Chicago mob to oversee their casino operations down in the desert and send boyhood friend Pesci to provide his security, something he painfully fails to do. As a kind-of new comer’s guide to casinos, Scorsese’s brilliantly epic rolling shot of the mechanics of a casino is a first class piece of film making.
Loser Bernie Lootz (William H. Macy), is down on his luck when we first meet him. So unlucky is the guy that he is basically employed purely to rub off his misfortune on others. At the film’s beginning, he is up to his eyes in gambling debts, loveless and broke. Lootz is also sporting a shattered kneecap courtesy of casino boss Shelly Kaplow, played here by Alec Baldwin. Now though, at long last, the debt is nearly paid off and Lootz doesn’t fancy hanging around in a town that has done him no favours at all. Enter a love interest, planted there by Shelley to keep his best earner onside. Further complications are thrown into the mix when his ex-wife and estranged son turn up to give poor Bernie another headache. A gritty, yet fun look at the casino industry made all the better by its all-star cast.
While not a typical movie, but rather a documentary film, this is a worthwhile watch for fans of poker and all gambling lovers everywhere. This is the story of poker legend and ambassador Daniel Negreanu.
Negreanu is one of the most successful poker players in the world, enjoying huge winnings both live and online. One of many poker celebrities, Daniel’s success has inspired thousands of other aspiring players across the world. Back in the early days of his poker career, sites like Full Tilt dominated the industry, being primarily played on desktop PCs. Many of the up and coming poker pros prefer the mobile or tablet versions which are offered by Daniel’s preferred poker site PokerStars, and many others.
Featuring more home footage than you would have thought possible, we see real up close images from his home in Toronto with his Romanian immigrant family, including a very close relationship with his mother, who would later go on to do a packed lunch for half the poker circuit including Phil Ivey. Ivey, Jennifer and Antonio Esfandiari all provide talking head shots which help keep the story flowing. We learn of the early pool hall days and back door card games that eventually led to Kid Poker trying his luck on the first of many losing trips to Las Vegas before his class finally shone through when, in 1998, he won the first in his total of six World Series of Poker bracelets, then just 23 and giving rise to the nickname KidPoker.
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