Casino gaming is an activity that has long been appealing to movie directors and TV executives. The natural drama and intrigue of roulette, blackjack and poker acting as the perfect plot device to get viewers on the edge of their seats.
But how accurate is the action portrayed on the silver screen? Is there anything we can learn from casino scenes in movies and TV shows that can make us better, more successful players when we sit down to play our favourite slots online or battle it out in an online poker room?
Read on to find out.
Are Casino Scenes on Screen Realistic?
Before we get started on the lessons that we can learn from the portrayal of casinos on screen, let us first address the rather large elephant in the room. Are casino scenes on screen realistic? No, not really.
The vast majority of casino scenes that we see on screen have been injected with a sense of drama and intrigue that 99% of real life casino games just simply don’t have. When you pick up your phone to play roulette, you’re not doing it to make a point to a Bond villain.
Likewise, the sight of someone depositing £10 onto their online iGaming account and spending a £2 a day spinning one penny slots isn’t going to make for the most entertaining film or TV show.
That doesn’t mean that everything portrayed on screen is overblown and unrealistic though. Much of the in game action is true, but it is often just the circumstances around it that are dramatized. So, with that in mind, what are some of the key lessons we can learn from casino movies?
Play the Game and the Player
It’s a common trope of James Bond films to see 007 enter a casino and use his charm, with and dashing to outdo someone at a casino game. The way in which Bond triumphs is almost always over-dramatized, but we can still learn important lessons from the way in which he conducts himself.
If we look at poker for example, Bond tends to get the better of his opponents by being bold and brave. In a game like poker, where the game is balanced between skill and luck, psychology plays a massive role.
If we follow 007’s lead and approach the table with confidence, daring our opponents to meet us with the same levels of confidence, then we often find that we run out victorious. Remember though, confidence is no replacement for experience.
If you confidently bluff a really, really bad hand and someone calls you out on it, you’re still going to lose regardless of how confident you are.
(Victory in this scenario for James Bond would be hugely improbable in real life, which is why it’s hugely probably in the movie!)
Know Your Limits
One of the most commonly told stories about casinos on the big screen is the harm of addiction and the problems it can cause. Films depicting casino addiction not only draw us in with their engaging storylines, they also teach us a valuable lesson about the nature of addiction.
In Owning Mahowny for example, the superb 2003 Canadian film featuring Philip Seymour Hoffman we see how the main character’s uncontrollable addiction leaches out of the casino to infect all areas of his life.
Movies like this serve as a cautionary tale. They impress upon us the importance of knowing our own limits and being responsible for our own casino gaming.
Practice Makes Perfect
There’s a risky way of thinking permeating modern culture that people are either natural or not natural at certain things. This way of thinking is often used to justify why we just aren’t great at maths or why other’s seem to be doing much better than us academically or sportingly.
This way of thinking is risky because it abdicates responsibility from the individual and gives people an excuse not to try hard and practice. In reality, people aren’t naturals at all, they are just dedicated to practice and improving themselves.
The same is true of casino – practice makes perfect. One film that portrays this brilliantly is Rounders, in which the main protagonist has to perfect his poker skills to come out – spoiler alert – on top at the end of the movie.
(Mike’s practice and dedication to improving culminates in this final, dramatic scene in Rounders.)
There are plenty of valuable life lessons that we can gain from movies. Similarly there are many things we can learn about casinos from the way it is depicted on the big screen, but if you are serious about becoming better and winning more you will find a better source of education.
There are countless books, online guides and YouTube tutorials out there that will make you into a better poker player, make you more assured at blackjack and increase your chances of winning on the roulette wheel.
Don’t fall into the trap of doing something at a casino just because you’ve seen someone doing it in a movie. The odds were purposely stacked in the character’s favour by the director whereas your odds are at the mercy of the gods.
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