1. Ocean’s 11: This original film is still regarded as one of the best heist movies to ever come out of the Rat Pack era. In fact, the story of Danny Ocean’s gang of thieves was so popular that a remake was ordered in 2001, which starred current big names such as George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia and Julia Roberts. In the 1960’s version, Frank Sinatra (Ocean) recruited a team to pull off an elaborate New Year’s Eve heist of five different Las Vegas casinos: the Sahara, Riviera, Desert Inn, Sands and The Flamingo. An electrical transmission tower is blown up, the city goes dark, and the men sneak inside to collect the cash from the cages. The best part is probably the ironic plot twist at the end—something no one saw coming!
2. Casino: Martin Scorsese directed this crime drama based on a book by the same name authored by Nicholas Pileggi. Robert De Niro stars as Sam “Ace” Rothstein, a sports handicapper working for the Mob in Las Vegas. Along the way, Ace falls in love with a hustler (played by Sharon Stone), gets married, has a daughter and gets caught by the FBI for the skimming operation. In the end, Ace is living in San Diego, still working for the Mob, “…right back where I started.” This film also boasts an interesting piece of word trivia…do you know what it is?
3. Casino Royale: In the remake released in 2006, James Bond, recently promoted to a 00, faces the mysterious Le Chiffre, banker to the world’s largest terrorist organizations. M16 assigns 007 to play in a high-stakes Poker game hosted by Le Chiffre in Montenegro at Le Casino Royale, knowing his defeat would bring an end to the terrorist cells. Bond works with the lovely Vesper Lynd and M16 field agent Felix Leiter to bring high drama as the chips are down in this action-packed, high-octane feature that reinforces the cardinal rule in espionage: never trust anyone.
4. Rounders: This dashing film about the underground world of high-stakes Poker is anchored by stellar performances by Matt Damon and Edward Norton. The duo plays childhood friends who deal cards in order to pay off a huge debt in five-days time. In fact, the term “Rounders” refers to a person travelling around the world playing high-stakes cash games. Although the movie only made a modest amount at the box office, with the growing popularity of Texas Hold’Em in the 1990’s, it instantly became a cult classic.
5. 21: The story of six members of the MIT Blackjack Team captured the big screen in this heist drama released in 2008. The protagonist Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) reluctantly joins the infamous Blackjack Team in order to pay for admission to Harvard Medical School. Over many weekends in Vegas, Ben earns a reputation for being a top “Big Player” opposite his “Spotters” in this system of card counting. After much drama, Ben wraps up his career in counting with one last big job—all before recounting the entire tale to the admissions director at Harvard.
Also on our list: The Cooler, The Hangover, Leaving Las Vegas and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Did we leave off any of your favorites on this list? Let us know in the comments below!