Most Recognized Casino Film Characters Image

Who doesn’t love a movie with a storyline about gambling or gamblers? These movies take you into the fast-moving world of casino lights, high stakes games, glamour, tension and the thrill of winning.   Many iconic film stars have been in at least one casino film.  These characters are memorable for their love of high risks, danger and a go-getter attitude. Who are the most recognized casino film characters across the generations? 

Jim Sturgess as Ben Campbell in 21 (2008)

How can one be so smart? Apparently, smart enough to figure out how to make tidy profits by constantly beating the house at blackjack. This movie is based on a true story revolving around a team of MIT students and their professor who figured out a perfect system of counting cards.

While the professor put together the team, Ben is the sharpest and star of the group. He is good alone as well as in a team. Watching him play makes the viewer marvel at his brilliance.  This movie’s story is memorable for its stranger than fiction, yet true story. It also highlights why blackjack is such an enjoyable game. Check out for a list of quality casinos where you can play blackjack.

Daniel Craig as James Bond in Casino Royale (2006)

Agent 007 has been one of the longest-running characters in the movie world.  In the spy movie Casino Royale, Daniel Craig plays James Bond or Agent 007.  He is after a notorious arms smuggler named Le Chiffre who has a weakness for high stakes poker.

While this is not a pure gambling movie, the poker game scene is making a mark among gambling movies for its high tension. Bond stares down and bluffs the villain to a win worthy of a WSOP finale. 

This movie was not the first Agent 007 to go after a villain by way of gambling. In GoldenEye (1995), James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) plays baccarat against the criminal mastermind (Xenia Onatopp) in another memorable scene.

Robert De Niro as Ace Rothstein in Casino (1995)

Casino is also a gambling movie based on a true story. It is the classic tale of gangsters and gambling.  Sam “Ace” Rothstein is a gambler who doubles as the casino manager of Tangiers casino. But he is also an agent of the Chicago Outfit, which is a Chicago based mob who control the casino and use it for criminal activities.

Ace must tread a fine balance of staying within the law while pleasing his mafia masters. Things are made more difficult by his scheming wife. He also has an increasingly greedy friend, Nicky Santoro (played by Joe Pesci) he has to cover for, but must turn on at the end.

This movie is based on the true story of Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal, who was an agent of a real mafia, the Chicago Outfit.  In real life, Lefty managed four of Las Vegas ‘popular casinos; Fremont, Marina, Hacienda and the Stardust. This movie depicts how earlier casinos and their management trod the line between criminality and genuine business. 

Steve McQueen as Eric Stoner in Cincinnati Kid (1965)

The movie Cincinnati Kid regularly makes it to the top of best gambling movies of all times.  It was a hardcore gambler’s movie with a thrilling story of the underdog. Steve McQueen starred in many films, but this movie lifted his profile immensely.

Eric Stoner is an underdog with nothing to lose but his ego. He decides to climb to the top of the poker food chain by beating the Man. The movie follows the young pretender to the throne on his daring, albeit foolish mission.   The final poker showdown is intense and full of tension, showing why the movie deserves a slot in the top 10 gambling movies of all time. 

George Clooney as Danny Ocean in Oceans series 

This series of heist movies captured the imaginations of millions of viewers with its conniving, gutsy and sharp band of criminals. They know it is in the Vegas casinos where they can find big money. And they plan to steal big; $150 million in hard cash. 

Danny Ocean is the cunning mastermind of the heists.  With his charisma, he can put together a band of miscreants including pickpockets, magicians, casino dealers and other colorful characters. Ocean’s guile and ability to plan makes his character admirable.  The Oceans 11, 12, and 13 series are also thrilling for fans of gambling movies because much of the action revolves around casinos.

It is hard to go wrong with a casino movie, whichever twist the storyline takes.  If you haven’t watched any of the above characters, make sure to queue the films on your Netflix this weekend.

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