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Rain Man isn’t exactly a gambling movie, but there’s no question that it’s considered one of the greatest movies ever. It also happens to include a gambling scene. When Charlie (Tom Cruise) realizes that his brother is actually a human calculator, he exploits this rare trait to earn some money to get himself out of a jam. The ensuing casino sequence with the lovable Raymond (in a Best Actor-winning performance by Dustin Hoffman) is definitely, definitely, one of the best blackjack scenes and largely popularized the system of card-counting in popular culture. It also made people think that the practice is illegal, which it isn’t.
Aping off of the classic aforementioned scene from Rain Man, The Hangover features its own great card-counting scene, and one of the best you’ll find in a comedy. When the gang finds itself in dire need of scraping together extra cash, the socially awkward Alan (excellently played by Zach Galifianakis) reveals that he has read a book on card counting and can help the Wolfpack get rich quick. What follows is Galafianakis going full savant as various math equations encircle his head while he racks up the chips. It might be more of a buddy-adventure comedy than a casino movie, but The Hangover still cashes in with one of the best gambling scenes in recent memory.
Few franchises can sell exotic locations and high-stakes adventure quite like James Bond, and no Bond film did it quite as well as Casino Royale. The Texas Hold ‘Em game between the world’s wealthiest and shadiest is one of the best ever put to film; it’s no wonder, then, that it’s ranked as the second-best gambling movie of all time. Casino Royale marked the beginning of the Daniel Craig era of the franchise and what arguably might be the best string of films since the original Connery flicks of the 1960s.
We know that this is the second time Tom Cruise has been included in this list, but this scene from the sequel to the classic pool hall flick, The Hustler, was just begging to be included. When Tom Cruise pulls out the casing holding his pool cue, a curious man asks what it’s in the case, to which Cruise simply responds, “Doom.” It might be the toughest thing we’ve ever heard about a pool stick and it resonated enough with audiences that it went on to inspire the title of the influential first-person-shooter of the same name.