What Film Taught Me About…Gambling

All in?


Everything I know about gambling has been learnt from films. Unfortunately, as a result I know very little of the technicalities. Without the swelling of an atmospheric soundtrack to indicate how well I was getting on, I would no doubt end up losing my shirt.  But let’s talk about what we do know…

Gambling Is Cool.

Gambling is cool. Fact. Think Daniel Craig’s 007 in Casino Royale, resuscitating himself post-poisoning, before slipping into a crisp new tux and being back at the table in time to play his hand. Think dapper Danny Ocean all suited and booted, suave and sophisticated in Ocean’s 11. Think Bobby De Niro with his omnipresent cigarette, overseeing his empire with authority in Casino. These characters are cool, calm and collected and who doesn’t want that?

Pull Your Pokerface

No, not just Lady Gaga’s second best song, but a pokerface is an essential tool for keeping your opponent guessing as to your next move. Resisting the urge to flip the table when you’re dealt a naff hand is strongly recommended. Think Leslie Nielsen, think dead pan. Not having a stress-induced bleeding tear duct is also an advantage. We’re looking at you, Le Chiffre. If you do happen to lose big when you were planning to win, a swift but controlled exit a la Nick Moran in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is recommended, with The Stooges as the soundtrack to your exit.

Cheats Get Beats

It goes without saying that you need a steady nerve to gamble. But you must be near-suicidal to consider cheating. If film has taught me anything, it’s that if you get caught with anything up your sleeves, metaphorical or otherwise, the odds are you’ll end up being given a shoeing round the back of the casino, having your fingers broken or having your head squeezed in a vice. Usually by Joe Pesci. It sounds a whole lot safer to stick to gambling online and of course, to play fair.

Casino Royale

You’ve Got To Go All In.

Are there any films where betting small pays off? Any films where going home with £20 up and a subtle sense of achievement is the climax? Of course not. You need to put it all on red, all in on one hand and bet your shirt. “Nothing or double: this knife, cuts this bottle in half” says Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) in John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China. Can you imagine Jack Burton coming back with “I’ll put a quid on”? You don’t save the world with that attitude.

“Never tell me the odds.”

Like most things in life, all I know is what Star Wars taught me. Regarding traversing an asteroid field, I had an inclination that the chances of making it through unscathed would be pretty slim, and C-3PO’s fretful delivery in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back cemented that hunch. “Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to 1,” claims Threepio as our heroes fell from the Empire. “Never tell me the odds” replies Han, and I’m with him on this one. But that’s because I don’t want confusing.

They’re Watching You!

As seen in Casino and Ocean’s 11, you’ve got to believe that your every move is being monitored from the Blackjack table to the slots. The Eye In The Sky, that little, upside-down R2-D2 head on the ceiling, watches everyone. As De Niro’s Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein says; “In Vegas, everybody’s gotta watch everyone else.” So whatever you’re thinking…don’t try it, right?

What have films taught you about gambling? Take us to school and let us know in the comments below.

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