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The Secrets Behind Filming The Perfect Casino Scene

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An intriguing, interesting and dramatic story is the key to the success of any popular movie, and whilst the best can make enthralling films from otherwise dull stories, most rely on a naturally engaging topic.

When it comes to real life drama, thrills, spills and intrigue is there anything better than high stakes gambling? Perhaps not, which is why so many directors have chosen casinos as key sets in their blockbuster movies.

Gambling is so popular and appealing to the public that it is now not only enjoyed in glamorous casinos but also on the web. Live Roulette Casinos online at sites like roulettesites.org allow people to enjoy the glamour of the casino on the web.

In this article we take a look at what makes the perfect casino scene by looking back at some classic movies. For the sadists out there, don’t worry, we’ll also take a brief look at some of the worst movie casino scenes.

The Key Ingredients To a Good Casino Scene

Producing a watchable and engaging movie casino scene is much like cooking a great meal, it’s all about the ingredients. So what are the key ingredients that producers need to mix in to their casino scenes?


Gambling can be one of the highest-octane and dramatic pursuits in the world, so there is no need for producers and directors to over egg the pudding when they cover it in their films.

There is nothing worse than watching a gambling scene in a film and seeing players throw in millions of dollars on bad hands or dodgy bets. Instead a good producer will engineer a scene of high drama which builds to a natural crescendo, much like real life games.


Above we mentioned how gambling can be one of the highest-octane and dramatic pursuits in the world. However, at times it can also be one of the dullest things to play in or watch.

Another common mistake that producers make is to focus too much on the realism of gambling and thus subject viewers to tediously long cut scenes of dull action. A good producer will focus their efforts on recreating the final hand of a high stakes poker game.

Character Development

Gambling and in particular poker comes down to nerve and human psychology, which is why broadcasters of major card tournaments dedicate so much time into exploring the background of all the competitors.

In gambling movies viewers do not want to see a scene that focuses solely on the intricacies of a game of poker. Instead they want to see the battles between the players developing, which is why exploring the background of the characters prior to the gambling scene is so important.

Gambling Scenes Done Well

Rounders (1998) – Matt Damon starred in this cult classic film that explored the dangerous and thrilling world of underground poker. In the film Damon’s character has a talent for poker, but one which often gets him into trouble.

In the final game scene of the movie his character takes on Teddy KGB who is portrayed fantastically by John Malkovich. The tension in this final scene is incredible and it owes largely to the character development throughout the film and the tremendous realism in every poker cut.

Cool Hand Luke (1967) – Movie critics and fans have a tendency to forget about films released before the 1980s. However, if you were to take that approach you’d miss out on great films like Cool Hand Luke.

Paul Newman plays the lead role in this film which has its crowning moment when he bluffs a group of Florida prisoners in Stud Poker with a hand of ‘nothing’. There’s also shenanigans involving a prosthetic leg as the film progresses. For poker lovers and film fans, this is a must-watch.

Gambling Scenes Done Badly

Runner Runner (2013) – Ben Affleck is one of the most famous celebrity gamblers out there so he was obviously a natural choice for a lead role in a gambling film. Unfortunately Affleck bombs in this film and is almost out-acted by his fellow lead Justin Timberlake.

The script is awful, the plot is awful and the acting is awful which explains why the film has received a rating of just 8% on Rotten Tomatoes. In the main gambling scene that sets the story of the film, Justin Timberlake’s character loses heaps of money playing online poker.

In doing so he uncovers an elaborate fraud which he dedicates the rest of the film to unravelling. His reasons for gambling online? To pay for his tuition. Great cliché there guys.

Casino Royale (2006) – Every other article about gambling in films eulogises about the drama and realism of the famous poker scene in Casino Royale. Unfortunately they are all wrong…

In the most famous scene of this movie our hero James Bond tussles with banking super villain Le Chiffre in a high-stakes game of poker. Prior to the final hand everything is good from a production point of view.

There is great character development, real focus on the human psychology at play in poker and a steady build-up of tension and drama. Then comes the completely unrealistic final hand that pulls into question the entire integrity of the gambling scene.

The first big red flag for realism is that the pot reaches a staggering $120 million. We know Bond is well paid and backed by the British state, but can you imagine the treasury signing of millions of dollars for a poker game?

Then comes the fact that Le Chiffre is holding a full house that can only be beaten by one very unlikely and highly improbable hand. Guess what? James Bond holds that hand and goes on to win the entire pot. Utterly ridiculous.


Making the perfect gambling movie scene is tough, as has been proved by the countless poor efforts down the years. Producers and writers need to focus on character development, realism and drama in equal measure.

If they neglect or over egg one of those areas then the scene will invariably end up being a car crash. Make sure to saviour the great gambling movie scenes that you see as it appears they are becoming less and less common.

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