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Best of Vin Narayanan

Gaming Guru

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Top-10 Hollywood gambling moments

10 March 2008

10. Swingers
The beauty of this scene is that almost anyone who's been to Vegas can relate to it. Mikey (Jon Favreau) and Trent (Vince Vauhn) are desperately trying get comps and women by trying to gamble like experienced high rollers -- and they fail miserably. Meanwhile, the old lady at the low-stakes table misplays her blackjack hand, wins, and gets a free breakfast out of the deal. Hilarious!

9. Night Court
In this scene, Judge Harry Stone (Harry Anderson) is arm wrestling a billionaire for $300,000 for an orphanage. The billionaire is about to put the Judge away when Christine Sullivan, a public defender played by Markie Post, decides to give Harry the "unfettered" distraction he needs to win.

8. Cheers
It is impossible not to laugh at this next scene. Cheers' master of trivia, postal work Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger), comes charging into the bar with proof that he'd won a $20 bet with fellow bar regular Norm Peterson. The only problem is he spent $30 to win the bet...

7. Friends
The social dynamics of poker home games are always interesting, especially when it's co-ed, two of the people at the table have dated each other and broken up -- but are still in love and one person can say with a straight face "I fold like cheap hooker who got hit in the stomach by a fat guy with sores on his face."

6. The Hustler
Down to his last $3,000, Fast Eddie (Paul Newman) returns to the pool hall and challenges Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason) to one last match. For pure pool action, the scenes earlier in the movie are much better. But as far as drama goes, this final act is as good as it gets.

5. Rain Man
Autistic savant Raymond Babbitt (Dustin Hoffman) and his brother Charles (Tom Cruise) live the Vegas dream in this scene. They walk into the casino, win a ton of money playing blackjack -- with Raymond's card counting abilities giving them the edge -- and walk out of the casino with the cash.

4. Casino
Watching Joe Pesci go ballistic in a mob movie is as good as it gets. And the abuse he hurls at the blackjack dealers in this scene is classic.

3. Casino Royale
Sure this scene is unrealistic. But it's still fun to watch James Bond (Daniel Craig) come up with a straight flush to beat two full houses. The best part of this scene is the way the showdown is handled. Rather than all the cards being turned up at once, we get to see them one at a time, allowing the suspense to build. And even without the back story, you can feel the tension in this clip.

2. Rounders
If you're expecting to watch Mike McDermott's (Matt Damon) final showdown with Teddy KGB (John Malkovich), think again. That scene, while dramatic, is disqualified because Malkovich's Russian accent is so bad, no scene involving him can be included in a top-ten list. Instead, we went with the more poignant Judge's Game. It captures what many of us "home-gamers" consider the essence of poker. And it offers a nice insight into the comradery forged between cigars and chips.

1. Cincinnati Kid
This movie -- and scene -- is clear proof that you don't need to see hole-cams and expert analysts to have a dramatic poker moment in a poker game. The cash on the table, the excitement of the chattering crowd and the tension etched on the faces of Steve McQueen and Lancey Howard easily makes this the top gambling moment created by Hollywood.

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Best of Vin Narayanan
Vin Narayanan

Vin Narayanan is the managing editor at Casino City. When he's not writing or editing stories, he likes to play Chinese Poker, Badugi, Razz and any other "non-traditional" poker game. He also thinks blackjack is his best game and loves game theory.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for USATODAY.com, USA WEEKEND and CNN.

A proud graduate of Michigan State University, Vin can be found on most nights and weekends trying to find a way to watch the Spartans play football or basketball.

Vin Narayanan
Vin Narayanan is the managing editor at Casino City. When he's not writing or editing stories, he likes to play Chinese Poker, Badugi, Razz and any other "non-traditional" poker game. He also thinks blackjack is his best game and loves game theory.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for USATODAY.com, USA WEEKEND and CNN.

A proud graduate of Michigan State University, Vin can be found on most nights and weekends trying to find a way to watch the Spartans play football or basketball.