When the Chips are Down: Gambling Scenes Out of the Ordinary


In our media-rich culture, there’s an abudance of niche content to satisfy every need. And gambling’s of course no exception. KidPoker on Netflix is a beautifully shot documentary detailing the story of poker king Daniel Negreanu. For all poker devotees, this is must-watch material. But gambling is not always the central focus. There’s tons of movies and television shows where gambling is not part of the main narrative, yet it remains essential to the storyline.

While a James Bond movie wouldn’t be complete without the necessary casino scene featuring 007 and an evil villain trying to outwit each other over the poker table or roulette wheel, this pastime to many and profession to an exceptional few has worked its way to our screens in less obvious places. That’s certainly indicative of the popularity of this pursuit and the excitement it brings to many. Let’s take a look at some examples of interesting gambling scenes you may have forgotten.

Rain Man

Exactly how a severely autistic person would handle a highly-pressurised situation and the sensory overload of a Vegas casino is a different debate. In Rain Man, Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) uses his ability to count cards to bail his wheeler-dealer estranged brother Charlie Babbett (Tom Cruise) out of $80,000 worth of debt. After a shaky start, they win big and are escorted out of the casino as wealthy men. Never have the two been closer yet further apart.

Toy Story 3

Way darker than its two predecessors, Toy Story 3 is a den of inequity where the sidekicks of an evil bear called Lotso use their spare time to bet Monopoly money on the spin of a wheel. Ken of Ken and Barbie fame plays croupier but it’s the rubber Octopus who cleans up as Buzz Lightyear secretly watches on.

Only Fools and Horses

The look on Boycie’s face is priceless as he discovers that Del Boy’s “two pairs” are a pair of aces, thus beating the four Kings and a 10 he’d got through deceptive means, prompting an immortal line from Del Boy: “I knew you were cheating because that wasn’t the hand I dealt you.”

Austin Powers

Brilliantly mimicking the James Bond genre, cravat-wearing 1960s superhero Austin Powers takes on an eye-patch wearing villain at blackjack. Completely clueless about the rules, Powers sticks on five and inevitably loses the hand, declaring, “I won’t lie to you, cards are not my bag, baby.” He truly is the anti-Bond.

Hot Tub Time Machine

A movie that sucks in more ways than one, albeit one with cult status. The creators have managed to come up with a classic bar room scene where a rogue squirrel running onto the field of play during a televised NFL game has the gamblers going nuts as it ruins what would have been a game-winning touchdown.

The Simpsons, Series 1, Episode 1

Virtually penniless and with the festive season just around the corner, Homer heads down to the local dog track and bets everything he has on a plucky outsider named Santa’s Little Helper. The dog finishes last, but Homer’s failed wager becomes a source of Christmas joy as the Simpson family gains a new member – a pet greyhound which viewers got to love from the get-go.

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