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Life lessons from gambling?

In our top 5 dirty movies about gambling, you too can learn one thing or two (or even a life lesson) in the most unlikely of all places: the casino!

Gambling movies tend to fall into a few different categories. Some revolve around the glitz and glamor most people associate with Las Vegas. Others show the seedy underbelly of the industry. Some are high-octane fuelled adventures, and some are funny buddy movies.

It doesn’t matter; they all have one thing in common – they’re exciting and teach us a lesson. In this post, I’ll go over my favourite gambling movies and what fun life lessons they can teach us.


1. Casino Royale (Martin Campbell, 2006):

The lesson learned here is that it’s always possible to remake yourself. Up until that point, the Bond franchise had become a little stale. It was the same formula over and over again:

  • Super-villain versus super-spy – no points for guessing who always won;
  • Some over the top plan;
  • Camp humour; and
  • Weird, wonderful gadgetry that was just way too convenient.

It worked brilliantly back in the 1960s, and I still find those movies fun to watch. But box office statistics showed that Bond needed a makeover. It was a big departure from the previous movies and something of a gamble itself.

In true form for a gambling movie, the bold bet paid off. It won critical acclaim and approval from a somewhat unexpected source. It was the only 007 movie to make it past Chinese censors.


2. Rounders (John Dahl, 1998):

This is one of those movies that show the more sordid side of gambling. It’s all high-stakes and entirely illegal gambling. Malkovitch, as usual, delivers a gritty performance as the villain of the piece. That said, it is also quite humorous at times.

The life lesson learned? Never give up and don’t believe what you see on the big screen. This movie makes a gambling addiction seem like nothing serious when, in fact, it can be just as devastating as alcoholism.

Click here in order to find out the key talking point from John Dahl’s Rounders.


3. Rain Man (Barry Levinson, 1989):

This movie is an example of what good acting and directing are all about. Production cost $25 million, but the box office takings were $345.8 million. It’s about a hustler played by Tom Cruise with an autistic brother who’s great at gambling.

The classic life lessons are that you can never judge someone entirely from what you see outside, and that family is important. (Especially, in this case, when being estranged from your father loses you your share of $3 million).


4. Ocean’s Eleven (Steven Soderbergh, 2001):

The lessons in this movie were simple:

  • No one gets hurt;
  • Only steal from the bad guys; and
  • Go all in.

George Clooney played the lead role as a recently paroled ex-con working a heist. It’s extremely entertaining thanks to the complexity of the plan. It epitomises the idea “go big or go home”.


5. Maverick (Richard Donner, 1994):

Okay; so this is a pretty ancient movie by modern standards. That doesn’t make it any less fun to watch. It’s a gambling movie set in the wild west, so what’s not to love? Maverick is a clever poker player who meets his match in the feisty Annabelle.

The movie is fun, and the message is clear – sticking to the straight and narrow is good, but sometimes being a bit of a cheat is fun too.


That concludes the roundup. Are these the life lessons that you learned from the movies? If not, why not let us know what you thought the lessons were?

By Petra von Kant - 26-06-2019

By Petra von Kant - 26-06-2019

Petra von Kant is a filmmaker, critic and performance artist. She was born Manoel Almeida to Brazilian parents in 1971 in Bremen, Germany. Her parents were political refugees fleeing the military dict...

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