Blackjack, above most other forms of gambling, lends itself to movies. That is because the game has everything that Hollywood loves built right into it; high stakes, fast action, and easily understood rules. Hence it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that many movies use Blackjack as a primary plot device. We took a look at some of the best movies that use high stakes card games.
Rain Man (1988)
Yes, Rain Man is about far more than cards. It is more about the relationship between a pair of estranged brothers that live very different lives, one an autistic and the other an opportunistic businessman. Played by Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman, the duo head off on various adventures, and gradually learn to love one another. The beautiful relationship is deeply heart-warming, and enough to bring a tear to the eye of even the most hardened moviegoer.
But it is the casino scenes that most remember. The autistic brother, it turns out, has incredible powers of recall, which means that he is inherently good at counting cards. So the pair head to a casino to earn some easy money, only for things to not go well when security catches on to the scheme.
Even for those not interested in Blackjack, this is an amazing movie. But for those that are into it, the story is engaging on a whole different level.
License To Kill (1989)
Wait a second, isn’t James Bond into Poker, or Baccarat? Yes, most of the time he is. Except in 1989’s License To Kill. It’s true that this isn’t anyone’s favourite Bond film, not in the least due to it diverging from what most consider to the iconic character’s core. But it was still a big hit on release, and paved the way for bigger and better productions further down the line.
It also has the scene where bond plays Blackjack at absurdly high stakes. If anything, many think of this as the Bond movie where he casually raises the betting limit to $5,000 a pop. Then proceeds to play multiple hands at once as easily as if he was enjoying the Bingo Canada has to offer. Wait a second, did he just raise the limit to $10,000? It’s an absurd scene, especially seeing Bond sit with a mountain of $10,000 chips. But also an extremely memorable scene, especially since Bond seems to win for no other reason than he happens to be the hero.
No list of gambling movies is ever written without mentioning 1998’s 21. Starring Kevin Spacey, the story is based around the real-life events of an MIT Blackjack Team. It is well known that the real life gang of card counters hit Vegas on a regular basis, racking up absurd amounts of money in the process.
Based on the book Bringing Down The House, 21 has been criticised for doing a poor job of telling the real story. This is true, but the film still does an incredible job of conveying how high level cheating works. If anything, this may not only be the best Blackjack film, but the best gambling film.