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Four dirty gambling movies you haven’t heard of!

Marina Hillquist deep dives into the past 5o years of film and dig four little-known dirty gems that portray gambling in ways you could never anticipate!

Gambling is a common theme in movies as it can directly or subtly represent risk, danger, and the ability to instantly change your life. Additionally, the glitz and glamor of casinos can create impressive visuals, but you will also find that many films with gambling focus on the dark, underground side of gambling that can keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Every-one knows about films like Casino (Martin Scorsese, 1996), Ocean’s 11 (Steven Soderbergh, 2002), and Casino Royale (Martin Campbell, 2006), so what are some of the lesser-known gambling-related movies that you might not have heard of? Here are a few ex-amples of lesser-known films worth checking out.


1. California Split (Robert Altman, 1974):

Directed by Robert Altman, California Split stars Elliot Gould, Joseph Walsh, Ann Prentiss, and Gwen Welles and tells the tale of a pair of gamblers who both fall deeper into the gambling world where the stakes keep getting bigger. Like any good gaming movie, they must con-tend with moments of luck and elation mixed with major and shocking setbacks.


2. Hard Eight (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1996):

Hard Eight is a gritty crime drama that sees a veteran gambler (Phillip Baker Hall) take a broke young man, John (John C. Reilly), under his wing to show him the tricks of the trade in Reno. It is the directorial debut of Paul Thomas Anderson, who later went on to direct huge hits like Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and There Will Be Blood. The lives of the two characters start to spiral, especially when John falls for a troubled cocktail waitress (Gwyneth Paltrow).

Hard Eight is also pictured at the top of this article.


3. What Happens In Vegas (2008, Tom Vaughan):

What Happens in Vegas is a fun romantic comedy where a career woman (Cameron Diaz) and a playboy (Ashton Kutcher) wake up after a wild night in Las Vegas to find that they are married. Incredibly, they win a $3 million jackpot on a slot machine and decide to divorce and split the winnings. However, a judge rules that they cannot divorce until they attempt to give the relationship a go for six months.

It’s a fun film that highlights the wildness and thrills that come from Vegas. Fortunately, for people pulled into the Vegas world on screen, there are other ways to enjoy the slots, such as heading to online casinos like Here you can play all kinds of dif-ferent themed slot games with amazing visuals, satisfying sound effects, and slick gameplay. Casinos like this will also accept a range of payment options, including crypto.


4. Croupier (1998, Mike Hodges):

Gambling movies often take the viewpoint of people coming to play at glitzy casinos, but 1998’s Croupier takes an alternative angle of the life of a casino dealer (Clive Owen). Directed by Mike Hodges, the film follows the story of a croupier who is approached by a down-on-her-luck gambler who tries to get him to help her plan a heist.

These are a few lesser-known gambling films that are highly worth checking out. There have been many classic and blockbuster movies largely centered around casinos and gambling, but these films should not be overlooked and incorporate their own themes and ideas sur-rounding gambling to dramatic and entertaining effect.

By Marina Hillquist - 16-10-2023

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