Some casino films really are about the game. 21 tells the real-life tale of a group of MIT students whose blackjack card counting skills beat the house to the tune of millions of dollars. Math professor Micky Rosa (Kevin Spacey) spots raw talent in math student Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess).
Rosa initially invites his young protégé to his high-stakes poker games, where he teaches him the gentle art of card counting.
Soon the band of merry MIT card counters takes their show on the road and winds up in the hallowed halls of Vegas casinos to play blackjack. With all the money at stake, bitter rivalries ensue, pitting master against protégé.
After much betrayal and backstabbing, 21 deals the cards of fate to see who will emerge as the ultimate victor in the card counting game.
Casino Royale (2006)
You’ve come a long way, Mr. Bond. Ian Fleming’s first 007 novel, Casino Royale, was made into more of a spy parody film in 1967. Decades later, James Bond got a gritty new reboot in the person of Daniel Craig, who plays James Bond in the early days of his espionage career.
The 2006 Casino Royale reboot is one of the best of the Bond films. The new Bond films offer the same flash cars, debonair heroes, and exotic locations as all the others in the franchise. The fight scenes are much more realistic, and the poker game between Bond and villain Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) almost steals the show.
The film capitalizes on the Texas hold ‘em zeitgeist sweeping the globe at the time. One of the most popular poker variations of all time, Texas hold ‘em keeps gamblers and moviegoers on the edge of their seats with each turn of the cards. Especially when James Bond is betting millions at the table.
More of a cult gambling movie, Rounders sheds a light on the shadows of illegal poker rooms. This modern take on legendary Texas road gamblers like Amarillo Slim and Doyle Brunson is all about high-stakes poker and the men who chase the game all over the map.
‘Rounders’ refers to professional gamblers who travel seeking high-stakes poker rooms, and often, cheaters and cons are part of the action. Matt Damon and Edward Norton play two card sharks hustling their way through backroom poker adventures.
Damon’s character (Mike) is more refined, while Norton plays a two-bit con named ‘Worm.’ The pair need to pay off a large debt to a Russian mobster called Teddy “KGB” (John Malkovich). Mike gets thoroughly trounced by KGB, and now has a massive debt to settle.
Cameos by WSOP pros and the attention to detail in the card games will keep poker enthusiasts hanging on for the entire Rounders ride.