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Gambling In Movies

In television, and movies all plots revolve around six basic ideas, but in gambling movies they revolve around only two. Gambling movies generally revolve around poker games, where the protagonist, or good guy losses. This is the case for most of the main films, of all times. The good guy has two decisions how to deal with this dilemma, which leads us to the two types of plots seen for gambling movies.

The first plot is the more reasonable one, by not taking the loss lightly. In these cases this means that most likely it will mean trouble. Many loose, and don’t have the collateral to pay their bookies, or the hand winner at the poker table. So the stress begins as the movie begins. The movies with this plot generally revolve around how the good guy will win in the end. Sometimes the good guy plays more games, even when they are under, to win back that and then some. Other occasions, they opt to take a different route to pay off their debts, some through criminal means. i.e. stealing money. Yet, for some reason, there will be one Zen moment in the film, where they try to rationalize what just happened, and what they can do about it. These films strongly represent those points.

The Gambler- 1974- Axel Freed (James Caan) a literature professor looses all his money, and has none to live, but can’t stop gambling. He borrows money from his girlfriend, and then mother to support his habit.

Calming Zen Quote:
"…for ten thousand they brake your arms, for twenty your legs, for fifty you get a whole new face. If I win these three, I might just get back to level!” Axel Freed owed $44,000.

Rounders- 1998-Law student Mike Mc Dermott (Matt Damon) looses his tuition money in a game, and reforms himself afterwards. This is good until his buddy; a good player in his own right (Edward Norton) owes money to pay loan sharks off. They need to play in order get that money back.

Calming Zen Quote:
Mike Mc Dermott (Matt Damon)

 “In ‘Confessions of a Winning Poker Player,’ Jack King said, ‘Few players recall big pots they have won, strange as it seems, but every player can remember with remarkable accuracy the outstanding tough beats of his career.’ It seems true to me, cause walking in here, I can hardly remember how I built my bankroll, but I can't stop thinking about the way I lost it.”

Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels- 1998- Four London working class guys put their best player forward at a poker game. What he doesn’t know is his high stakes game is against someone not to be messed with. He looses half a million Pounds to this guy. He doesn’t have the money to back it up, and if by the end of the week he can’t get it he will loose a finger. So the guys plan to rob their drug dealing neighbors with two antique guns.

Calming Zen Quote:
EDDY (Nick Moran)

“I knew he was bluffing, but somehow the worst card player round the table had fucked me like a frozen virgin with a pair of sevens. A series of blows to my head with a baseball bat would have been greeted with a grin compared to this. Ten minutes earlier, I was two hundred thousand pounds richer; now I owed half a million.”

Rational thinking of the situation during, or right after seemed to help these poker players in these gambling movie plot instances, but the other way to deal with poker loss, and debt for others seemed simpler. The get out of jail free card for these guys may be more emotional, but money free, give up their girlfriends, fiancés, or wives. This could be a day, date, or sex. They don’t see this as prostitution, but end up being jealous or sorry they didn’t play another round, involve a friend, or steal like the guys above. Instead they give their ladies up to rich older men with lots of money. These men say they will make the good guys debt free if their young gorgeous women accompany them, or sleep with them. Later they wish they were beaten up instead. They don’t really have a Zen moment, but a fight with someone on how they did it or how they could have done such as thing. These movies illustrate that point well.

Honeymoon in Vegas - 1992. Jack Singer (Nicholas Cage) takes his girlfriend to Las Vegas to elope. The night before he goes to play poker in one of the casinos, and loses $65K over a many rounds, with interest. The rich older man winner, Tommy Korman (James Caan) decides Singer will be debt free, if he allows his fiancé Betsy (Sarah Jessica Parker) to accompany Korman for the weekend.

Calming Zen Quote:
(Singer tells his girlfriend how he lost the bet.)

Jack Singer: (Cage) “Do you know what a straight flush is? It's like... unbeatable.”

Betsy (Parker): “‘Like unbeatable’ is not unbeatable.”

Jack Singer: “Hey, I know that now, okay!”

Indecent Proposal- 1993-Young couple looses everything, so they go to Vegas for a last chance to get rich quick.  David Murphy (Woody Harrelson) enters the casinos, and loses at their tables, when rich John Gage (Robert Redford) enters into the picture. Gage proposes a solution to the Murphy’s financial troubles, let him have one night with his wife Diana Murphy (Demi Moore), and he will give the couple one million dollars.

Calming Zen Quote
Jeremy (Oliver Platt) David’s Lawyer

“HOW have one night with him.  COULD YOU NEGOTIATE WITHOUT ME? Never negotiate without your lawyer. Never. For a woman like Diana I could have gotten you at least two million. Obviously... you don't want to get screwed, and then... screwed.”

It seems whether funny, or serious, people can’t help but be entertained by flicks surrounding gambling or casinos. These may be extreme cases, in any of these movies, as no one would react as calmly as the characters have. Like most American type films, where happy endings are prevalent, even the good guy in the worst of circumstances prevails. In the mean time, the viewers escape from a real reality, by watching the actions, through the screen of these poor good guy gamblers.