Things Movies Get Wrong About Gambling and Casinos
There are numerous exciting movies about gambling. This theme is perfect for cinematography since it works as a great allegory of life – we all make stakes and expect them to be successful. What is more, even beyond this language of symbols, casino is a bright environment that looks effective on the screen: it is risky, thrilling, and emotional.
However, comparing real-life gambling and the way it is depicted, one can notice some fundamental differences that are interesting to analyze. Let’s talk about some myths and misconceptions about casinos given by Hollywood.
Myth #1: The safeguard can beat you up
Some films about casinos depict “genius gamblers,” who count cards and, therefore – win millions. When the safeguard notices that, they usually beat such successful players up and throw them away from a casino. There are two myths here. First, it’s impossible to win millions if you count cards.
Yes, your chances to win some cash increase, but they are not significant. Second, counting cards is not prohibited – this is a common strategy. And, of course, the safeguard is not looking for an opportunity to hurt you – they just keep the order in a casino.
Myth #2: Casinos are owned by criminal gangs and mafia
Casino movies like Casino (1995), directed by Martin Scorsese, show that pretty dark organizations rule gambling. These owners are usually insane, and their hands are coated with blood. In the past, Las Vegas criminals owned casinos to launder money, but today this is a rare thing.
Most modern casinos are owned by businessmen and are regulated by the government. Some owners actively fund social programs and charity, so they are not crazy maniacs and custodial persons.
Myth #3: Casinos hire special people that spoil your game
Movies about casinos investigate the concepts of luck, bad luck, and coincidence too often. While these phenomena can be depicted keenly, some directors prefer to make meaning perfectly plain. For example, the film Cooler (2003) depicts a casino employee that appears at the playing tables to flush players’ luck. There is a myth that when a player starts winning too much, gets too hot and inspired, the casino interrupts the process not to lose money. The psychological trick looks like this: they send a man who starts losing his money right in front of your eyes. This turns anxiety on, and you are less likely to continue the game.
This might be a nice fantastic plot for a movie, but if we apply such a “cunning plan” to reality, the logical inconsistencies become apparent. First, even if we suggest that someone’s bad luck can decrease your motivation to play, it is hard to say that you will start losing as well. Motivation to continue has nothing to do with your luck. Second, when you see someone losing nearby, this means that . . . someone is losing nearby.
Does it relate to you anyhow? Nope. Third, this sounds more like an attempt to escape responsibility for those who cannot control themselves – “this is not my fault that I have lost the money, but someone did that to me.” Even if you read some comments about online casinos at CasinosFellow, for instance, you can easily recognize when people are angry at a casino just because they were not lucky.
That’s nobody’s fault, but when you are frustrated, you start blaming the world and inventing self-justifying explanations. However, in the real casinos, there are no secret employees that exist to spoil your game.
Myth #4: Fantastic poker hands
In most movies, when a character has a poker hand, this might look pretty ridiculous. They are usually as fantastic as a couple of full houses, plus flush, plus royal flush. In reality, such combinations are rare, while having a combination of combinations is almost impossible. Movies like Casino Royale (2006) and Maverick (1994) turn poker scenes into something magical, while they are not.
Myth # 5: Calling and raising simultaneously
In movies that depict poker games, you might have seen the scenes when a character calls and raises at the same time. This is the violation of poker rules, and you cannot do that in the real game. Players can either call or raise, but not all together. In poker, an announcement you make is always single and final – you call or raise.
You will never see people doing both at the poker table, and we recommend you to avoid such behavior – this will annoy other participants a lot. Directors use this to intensify emotions and add some drama.
Well, in general, things wrong with movies can be easily explained – directors use exaggeration, imagination, and common misconceptions to increase the tension of the scenes. While casino is pretty intensive as it is, the screen requires even more bare emotions. At the same time, the problem with such hyperbolas and myths make ordinary people think that casinos involve crime, manipulations, and violence.
People forget that films need loud and bright episodes! And casino is a perfect environment to use: people lose/win incredible sums of cash, invent genius strategies, act tough, and live a glamorous life where money rain from the sky. This is art, and we need to perceive it as art! Enjoy casino movies and remember that not all of them are documentary.
Susan Wallace is a blogger and writer with a great passion for movies. Susan has a personal blog, where she shares her thoughts and interpretations of both – modern and classical films. Also, she is fond of traveling around the world. The author’s most precious dream is to make a documentary about her trips to different countries.