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Over the years, gambling has become glamorized on the silver screen including on 'The Gambler'. Here are some more iconic gamblers.

‘The Gambler’: The most iconic fictional gamblers of all time

Over the years, gambling has become glamorized on the silver screen. Hollywood has captivated audiences by crafting characters who play big hands and routinely fritter away millions of pounds.

Whether it is roulette, blackjack, or poker, the stakes usually couldn’t be much higher. More often than not, there is a twist in the tale and things aren’t always as straightforward as they should be. In this article, we look back at some of the most iconic fictional gamblers of all time.

Le Chiffre in Casino Royale (2006)

 James Bond takes centre stage in Casino Royale, but the man with the gambling prowess is the villain of the piece, Le Chiffre. Translating as ‘The Cypher’, Le Chiffre specializes in poker.

In the film, Le Chiffre, played by Mads Mikkelsen, decides to invest huge sums of money in a plot to short the stock of an airline company. However, 007 is determined to do everything in his power to prevent Le Chiffre from getting away with it. 

Bret Maverick in Maverick (1994)

Typically, Western films involve shoot-ups and cowboys playing card games with accusations of cheating being thrown about. In Maverick, Bret Maverick, who is played by Mel Gibson, is a card-playing conman who does everything he can to enter a high-stakes poker tournament.

Together with his fellow con artist Anabelle, he travels across the US to make enough money to pay for the tournament’s entrance fee. His aim isn’t just to win, but to prove that he is the best poker player of all time.

Jim Bennett in The Gambler (2014)

Played by Mark Wahlberg, Jim Bennett is a professor of literature who follows an intriguing life philosophy that has seen him become addicted to gambling. He believes that you either have everything or nothing at all, and this leads him to a slippery slope betting ridiculously at casinos.

In the end, Bennett finds himself mired in debt and he owes money to a lot of people. He is faced with a week’s deadline to pay up – or else he risks losing his life.

Alan Garner in The Hangover (2009)

The Hangover series provides a lot of hilarity, and essentially nothing could be truer than the saying: “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!” Of all the characters, Alan Garner, played by Zach Galifianakis, is perhaps the most hapless.

Revolving around three friends battling a hangover to overcome memory loss, there is one scene in which the gang have to get their hands on $80,000, and this quickly leads them to the blackjack table in Vegas. Alan proves to be rather canny at blackjack and he helps his wayward friends settle their debts.

Dan Mahowny in Owning Mahowny (2003) 

Another gambling film based loosely on real events, this sees a Canadian bank employee embezzle over $10m to gamble with. As Dan Mahowny (Philip Seymour Hoffman) begins to steal larger and larger amounts, people quickly begin to get very suspicious.

Feeling inspired to try your own hand? Head over to for an informative and honest guide to getting started in the “weird and wonderful world of online gaming”.


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