Lessons From Casino Movies – What’s The Catch?

The double-edged knife that is the casino…

Each and every movie has a premise which can either make or break the story. These casino movies ponder on all the themes and dilemmas that crop up in the gambling and casino world. Each movie has a unique way of expressing and delving deeper into both the common and not-so-common issues when it comes to the glamourous, yet shady casino realm. Some of the movies depict what happens in the world-famous land-based casino hub that is Las Vegas. The allusive exterior covers up the dark underworld beneath.

21 (2008)

21, Kevin Spacey, Las Vegas, Top 10 Films,

This movie directed by Robert Luketic deals with the repercussions associated with card counting in blackjack, which for online gamblers is a totally different experience to online blackjack. As mentioned in the movie, card counting isn’t strictly illegal, however it is frowned upon by many a casino and certain precautions are taken in order to detect players who are counting cards as opposed to players who are merely having a lucky streak. Whoever would be desperate enough, yet have the capacity to grasp the concept quickly? The protagonist, Ben Campbell is an MIT student who hopes to become a doctor at Harvard. However, Harvard isn’t well known for its economical tuition fees. Being a brilliant maths student, Ben decides to join his maths professor along with the professor’s team of handpicked students to travel to Vegas and scam the casinos with their complex yet profitable card counting strategy. However, things don’t go well for the gang as rivalry and big-headedness gets the better of them.

Ben Campbell’s valuable lesson is that scamming can certainly become a dirty game. The most important thing though is that he managed to go through a unique experience which got him to stand out from the other students that enter Harvard. He may have lost the money, but the experience in Las Vegas certainly served him a chance at getting a scholarship to Harvard.

The Hangover (2009)

The Hangover, Las Vegas, Top 10 Films,

Four guys at a bachelor party in Las Vegas. What could possibly go wrong? Quite a lot apparently. Everybody has experienced the terrible morning after a heavy night of drinking, but none more so than the gang or the wolf pack as Alan calls them. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing to let loose once in a while. Yet, you can’t help but feel regret when you wake up with a tiger in the bathroom, somebody’s baby and the groom-to-be nowhere to be found. The cherry on the cake is the fact that they remember absolutely nothing and have the odious task of trying to figure out where Doug could be by trying to put all the puzzle pieces together of their rather extravagant night. Despite their different characters, the three guys must work together to figure everything out. Luckily, by the end of the movie, they learn the truth of their antics and the experience bonds the group.

The Sting (1973)

The Sting, How To Win In The Casino According To The Movies

The American caper film, directed by George Roy Hill, is set in Chicago 1936. This Oscar winning movie follows the revenge of two grifters teaming up to avenge the murder of a mutual friend. Robert Redford plays the aspiring conman while Paul Newman plays the old pro. Together, they plan a con during a poker game against the mob boss. The team of conman create an elaborate plan to con the mob boss’ money without him realising it. Now this revenge plot is extremely risky on the part of the conmen. They are ultimately playing with fire by conning a dangerous mafia boss since they would pay dearly if they are caught out.

The mob boss usually wins at the game since he has his way of cheating to win. When he is outdone by the conmen, he was evidently beaten at his own game. He reached a state of checkmate because if he states he was cheated, he would in fact have had to admit he himself cheated.

Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas (1998)

Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, Johnny Depp, Top 10 Films,

This movie based on the novel by Hunter S Thompson and directed by Terry Gilliam. It should come as no surprise that it is a psychedelic satirical road film. The duo, Raoul Duke a journalist and Dr Gonzo, his lawyer, travel through Las Vegas to cover a story of a motorcycling race in Las Vegas. However, due to being under the influence of psychoactive substances, they end up exploring the metropolitan city. Their drug infused adventure leads to many hallucinations and shenanigans. The message is abundantly clear – drugs are bad, and all drugs are not created equal.

Following this story, we see the dangerous combination of purchasing and using a large number of drugs in such an evocative place like Las Vegas. You know things are getting out of hand when Duke returns from trying his luck at Wheel of Fortune to find Gonzo trying to put the tape player in the filled bathtub. This film is a valuable life lesson from the famous American journalist and author who had a rather extravagant lifestyle to say the least.

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Ocean's 11, Top 10 Films, George Clooney,

Ocean’s Eleven is a film which showcases that the plan can only work if the carefully hand-picked criminals all work as a team. The Ocean’s film series all focus on pulling off an elaborate heist. The team’s roles are intertwined as they have been hired for their specific set of skills which are essential to the detailed plan that Danny has laid out. Of course, this ambitious heist would not have been possible without a capable leader, being our man Danny Ocean played by none other than George Clooney. We follow the characters as the story unfolds, and we discover each and every stage of the plan as the film goes on. Yet this movie isn’t just a film about a big heist, it is fundamentally a film about executing a plan with suavity more than anything else.

The film becomes more intriguing when the stakes are set even higher when we learn that the target who owns the three casinos which Danny Ocean has planned to steal the money from is currently dating his ex-wife. This is quite a big risk, since there is the emotional element to this heist turned revenge plot. Only a man like Danny Ocean would be able to carry out a detailed plan be in a level-headed way, knowing full well the risk entailed and the consequences, should the plan go wrong.

Parting Words – You Win Some and You Lose Some

There are a great many fantastic casino and gambling movies and clearly, all the successful movies have a unique message to pass on to the audience. We see the beloved characters go through many obstacles to achieve their deepest desires. Most importantly, we empathise with the characters and on some level, we understand their struggles which makes seeing them overcome their problems even more

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