Whether they're funny, heartbreaking, or downright hilarious, some gambling-related movie scenes are unforgettable: Dustin Hoffman counting cards at the blackjack table in “Rain Man.” Woody Harrelson and Demi Moore losing their life savings and previous night's winnings in roulette in “Indecent Proposal.” Jon Favreau fumbling his way through the $200 minimum blackjack table in “Swingers.”
We compiled 20 of the most memorable gambling moments, including wins, losses, and heists. For each scene, we tracked how much money changed hands and mapped the casinos in Las Vegas where the action occurred. Keep reading to relive your favourite gambling triumphs and defeats.
MAPPING VEGAS MOVIE MOMENTS
When it comes to memorable moments in gambling movies, where do the big wins and losses take place? Caesars Palace hits the jackpot when it comes to pivotal gambling moments in four separate films – at the blackjack table in “Rain Man” and “The Hangover” and at the slots in “Think Like a Man Too” and “The Guilt Trip.”
Our favourite keno moment occurred at the MGM Grand during “Vegas Vacation,” and Circus Circus was home to the most memorable craps scene (in “Diamonds Are Forever”). Two unforgettable scenes featuring roulette losses occurred on the Strip as well: at the Westgate Las Vegas (then called the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel) in “Indecent Proposal” and at the now-closed Desert Inn in “Lost in America.”
Away from the Strip, two downtown casinos saw plenty of movie action between them. The Golden Nugget was home to two exciting cards scenes – a Texas Hold 'em win in “The Grand” and a blackjack loss in “Wild Card.” Binion's Horseshoe hosted exciting poker wins in two films – “Lucky You” and “High Roller.”
ANALYZING WINS IN THE MOVIES
Of all the gambling scenes we examined, one moment stands out when it comes to breaking the bank: The gang of criminal masterminds in 2011's “Ocean's Eleven” makes off with $150 million U.S. from the Bellagio vault.
The next-largest win occurs in the 2007 mockumentary “The Grand,” when Cheryl Hines as Lainie Schwartzman scores the $10 million U.S. first prize in a winner-take-all poker tournament at the Golden Nugget. The third-largest triumph is the $3 million U.S. jackpot at a Planet Hollywood slot machine in “What Happens in Vegas” – which Ashton Kutcher's Jack wins with his new wife's quarter before the impromptu marriage is annulled.
ANALYZING LOSSES IN THE MOVIES
The biggest loss in the movies we analyzed was in the 2015 action film “Wild Card”: Jason Statham's Nick Wild loses $500,000 U.S. in a single blackjack bet at the Golden Nugget. Next comes the $180,000 U.S. that Julie Hagerty's Linda gambles away at Desert Inn Casino as her husband David (played by Albert Brooks) sleeps.
The third-biggest loss happens during a poker game at Bally's in 1992's “Honeymoon in Vegas,” when Nicolas Cage's Jack loses $65,000 U.S. to a notorious gambler.
Whether they're about beating the odds, losing big, or making off with someone else's money, these movie scenes will keep you on the edge of your seat. Our study revealed some interesting facts about our favourite moments in film.
- On the big screen at least, Vegas is the place to be – with some of the biggest wins occuring at the Venetian and Planet Hollywood.
- The biggest wins came from playing poker, the slot machines, or blackjack. However, the biggest loss came from blackjack as well.
- It's clear that everyone loves a winner. Of the 20 movie scenes we examined, only five featured characters who ended up in the red. The other 15 featured winners (which, in two of the films, were technically just successful thieves).
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We chose 20 movies that featured characters gambling in real Las Vegas casinos. We then searched IMDB pages and scripts of those films to determine what year the film was released and set, what game was played, what casino was featured, and how much money was gained or lost. If the film was set before 2015, we used an inflation calculator to determine how much money it would be in today's economy and then used Google's exchange calculator to determine today's Canadian dollar value. We used Google Maps to determine where each casino was located.
Google Finance Exchange Calculator
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