Best Written Casino Scenes
Casinos are places full of drama, where people can potentially win big if they can beat the odds.
This naturally lends itself well to the medium of film, allowing for scenes full of tension and excitement — even when the actual casino games aren’t a focus. With that in mind, here are a few examples of well-written casino scenes from throughout the years.
Still from 'Casino Royale'. Photo credit: British GQ
Rain Man is not a film about gambling, but one of its pivotal scenes involves the film’s two brothers as they gamble at a Las Vegas casino. Charlie directs his brother Raymond (an autistic man with savant syndrome) as they win big to pay off the former’s debts. Before their winning spree, Charlie opens with "Rain Man, let's play some cards", which serves multiple roles. It’s the films name, which lets moviegoers know that something important is about to happen, while also referencing the brothers’ new relationship. Charlie starts off not remembering Raymond, before eventually remembering that he was the “Rain Man”, someone Charlie mistook as an imaginary friend due to his upbringing. While things get off to a rocky start — Charlie doesn’t want to hit on an 18, while Raymond repeatedly states “Hit me” — repeated successes make Charlie realise Raymond's skill at counting cards. From that point, Charlie takes a backseat, occasionally guiding Raymond by asking minor questions like “You wanna bet one chip or two chips?”, finally trusting his brother after their unorthodox journey. Rain Man? Yeah. Let's play some cards. Yeah. You want a hit? No. You've got 18. Want a hit. Sir, you have 18. He doesn't want a hit. Hit me. Definitely want a hit.
Casinos are a staple of many Bond films, so it’s not a huge surprise that this is also the case for Casino Royale (if the film’s name didn’t already give it away). Halfway through the film, Bond finds himself in a high-stakes game against the main antagonist, with the odds stacked against him. In the scene, Bond is playing Texas Hold’em, the most popular form of poker. This replaces baccarat, which was used in the original novel, which was an excellent way to adapt the source material. For an audience with a rudimentary grasp of card games, poker is easier to understand, while still allowing for the same setting to be used. Very few words are actually said by Bond himself, partially due to the tension in the scene, but also because of a near-fatal poisoning that took place not long before this key scene. He does however make one memorable quip about his current predicament, saying “Oh I'm sorry, that last hand nearly killed me”. Now get yourself off to a hospital. I will do, as soon as I've won this game. You're not seriously going back there? I wouldn't dream of it. --- Gentlemen, showdown, please. Two pair. Aces and sevens. Queen plays. Wins. Oh, I'm sorry. That last hand, it nearly killed me.
Casino features Sam “Ace” Rothstein, who is thrust into a management role at a big casino in Las Vegas. The film goes over the various incidents that occur during his time there, dealing with the Mafia, gangs and the police. One of the best scenes from the film involves “Cowboy”, who is basically just a regular guy wearing a cowboy hat. Ace has a run-in with this character and must make an example of him for all future casino goers. Cowboy decided to rest his feet on the poker table he’s playing at, which Ace takes as an insult. He states “I don't give a sh*t who he's connected to. Tell him to take his feet off the table. What's he think this is, a goddamn sawdust joint?” This shows the type of personality Ace has, dealing with any sign of disrespect regardless of the person opposing him. He even holds his ground against Nicky, a mob enforcer, telling him that “If he does it again, he's out for good. I don't care what it is, Nick, I'm gonna ha- I'll - I'll never let him in the place again.” With this scene taking place early on, it gives viewers a good feel for Ace as a character, before he really has to deal with the worst Las Vegas can throw at him. What's he think this is, a goddamned sawdust joint? Sir, would you mind taking your feet off the table? Yeah, I would mind, I'm having a bad night.