The 10 Best Casino Scenes in Movie History

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casino scenes

There’s something about the drama and high stakes of a casino that lends itself perfectly to climactic movie scenes.

Whether our heroes are gambling with the villain as he tries to discern their identity or pulling off the heist of a lifetime, casinos have provided the backdrop to some of the best and most memorable scenes in cinema.

We’ve put together a rundown of the 10 best casino scenes in movie history to help you relive the high-rolling majesty of some of the big screen’s most iconic moments.

If you find yourself wanting to play for real after watching some of these, remember that some casino operators offer 120 free spins for real money, so you’ve got plenty of options for casino gaming online!

1. Casino Royale (2006)

Two movies exist under the Casino Royale name, but only one of them is worthy of this list

2006’s Daniel Craig-starring semi-reboot pits a young and hungry James Bond against Le Chiffre, a shadowy mastermind played with aplomb by (who else?) Mads Mikkelsen.

In the climactic scene of the movie, Bond finds himself facing off against Le Chiffre in a high-stakes poker tournament, and suffice it to say that there’s much more at stake than just money or chips.

2. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

It’s hard to imagine a movie that’s more star-studded than Ocean’s Eleven; its cast includes George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, and many other celebs.

The plot of this remake of the 1960 movie of the same name follows a group of criminals who plan to pull off heists on three Las Vegas casinos, and so you can imagine that casinos figure heavily in the movie.

You can take your pick of pretty much any casino scene in Ocean’s Eleven; they’re all shot with director Steven Soderbergh’s characteristic sense of style and panache.

3. Casino (1995)

Any movie whose name is Casino surely promises to include some truly unforgettable casino scenes, and so it is with Martin Scorsese’s 1995 crime epic.

The scene we’re including here is one in which Joe Pesci’s Nicky Santoro plays blackjack, demanding a marker worth $50,000 and intimidating those around him into getting it for him.

Scorsese and Pesci are a match made in heaven (see Goodfellas for further proof), and this scene demonstrates both Pesci’s talent and Scorsese’s incredible eye for a great scene.

4. The Hangover (2009)

Not every casino scene in movies has to be serious. The Hangover, directed by Joker’s Todd Phillips, demonstrates that casinos are great for comedy potential as well.

In the iconic casino scene from The Hangover, Alan, played by Zach Galifianakis, must help the group to win money while playing blackjack, engaging in card-counting (a high-level blackjack strategy) to do so.

Sequels would provide diminishing returns, but the first Hangover movie is still a very solid prospect indeed, so watch it if you’re looking for some fun.

5. Goodfellas (1990)

We mentioned Goodfellas earlier, and for good reason; it’s one of Martin Scorsese’s best and most memorable films, and you’ll likely find it on a lot of movie fans’ “best of” lists.

Goodfellas also has an excellent and memorable casino scene, and just like Casino’s, it features Joe Pesci. He’s once again at his aggressive and intimidating best as he berates Michael Imperioli’s Spider.

Pesci is great throughout Goodfellas, and he’s surrounded by excellent performances from the likes of Robert de Niro and Ray Liotta as well.

6. Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)

Guy Ritchie would probably like to be thought of as the British answer to Martin Scorsese, and while he’s not quite on the same level, this 1998 UK gangster flick is worth a watch.

The casino scene here involves Nick Moran’s Eddy and PH Moriarty’s Hatchet Harry playing poker together, and the scene is a great representation of the tension in their relationship.

Poker figures heavily in a lot of casino scenes, and that’s probably because it’s one of the most classy and stylish casino games there is.

7. Rain Man (1988)

Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise star together in this comedy-drama road movie about a sharp entrepreneur type (that’s Cruise) and his savant brother (Hoffman).

Late in the movie, Cruise’s character Charlie finds himself in debt, and so he must turn to Hoffman’s character in order to help him win at blackjack.

We won’t spoil what happens during the scene or over the course of the rest of the movie. Rain Man is solid, but it might feel a little outdated considering modern attitudes towards autism.

8. Cool Hand Luke (1967)

We move to the world of classic Hollywood for one of legend Paul Newman’s best performances. Cool Hand Luke is all about a convict in a prison camp (the titular Luke) who defies the establishment.

Technically speaking, the scene in question in Cool Hand Luke doesn’t take place in a casino; the movie is set in a prison camp, so there are no glitzy and glamorous establishments to be seen.

However, it does involve Luke impressively bluffing his way through a terrible poker hand, and so we’re including it anyway, because it deserves to be seen.

9. The Sting (1973)

Here’s another excellent Paul Newman movie with a great gambling scene at its core. Newman plays one of two professional con men, with the other played by the equally excellent Robert Redford.

Together, the two men decide to con Robert Shaw’s mob boss Doyle Lonnegan, and the pivotal “casino” scene occurs as Newman’s Henry Gondorff battles Lonnegan during a poker game.

The rest of The Sting is well worth a watch too; it’s one of the most well-known and well-liked heist movies ever made, and if you watch it, you’ll find out why.

10. Molly’s Game (2017)

We turn now to more recent fare in the form of Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut Molly’s Game. Sorkin’s also the writer on this biopic of underground poker empress Molly Bloom, played by Jessica Chastain.

Given that the movie revolves around a gambling network, we could pick pretty much any scene from the movie and call it an iconic casino scene, so we’ll let you decide which of the movie’s setups you like best.

Molly’s Game may not be the deepest or most emotionally resonant movie ever made, but as a showcase for Sorkin’s whip-smart dialogue, it shines.