Since it is vital for a movie to suspend disbelief, Richard Dreyfus pulls off the ultimate coup de grâce 61 minutes, 25 seconds into the 1989 horse racing epic Let It Ride when, as Trotter, he and his disbelief are suspended in air.
In a ritzy jockey club during an unfolding glorious wagering day no doubt dreamt by many, Trotter wins again, leaps and, frozen in mid-air for four or five seconds, a Phil Mickelson-like six inches off the ground, the camera zooms in as he yowls, “God likes me! He really, really likes me!” to the heavens.
Camera zooms out. He lands. It is a romp of an afternoon, following him from the outhouse (he’s driving the porcelain bus, on his knees, in the grubby gents of a grungy dive bar) to the aforementioned champagne-swilling penthouse. He turns fifty bucks into six figures.
My favorite scene from a gambling movie.
“That was great because we all wish we could have that run, maybe that perfect round of golf,” said Jay Kornegay, vice president of race and sports at the Westgate SuperBook. “You’re always hoping …”
Kornegay also opted for humor in a tidy inquiry of several industry professionals, for their favorite betting-movie scenes, that could lead to hours of entertainment during these very strange days:
The Sting (1973): Robert Shaw’s Doyle Lonnegan places $500,000 on Lucky Dan inside Paul Newman’s gambling parlor. Newman’s Henry Gondorff, posing as boorish Chicago bookie “Shaw,” out-cheats Lonnegan in a poker game on a train.
DraftKings sportsbook director Johnny Avello: “Loved that con game, which no one watching could have envisioned happening. Walked out of the [theater] smiling.”
William Hill U.S. director of trading Nick Bogdanovich said of The Sting: “The lines were classic. The scene was classic. Two great actors at their best.”
21 (2008): The MIT group learns how to count cards .
Professional bettor Eric Parkila: “I’ve always been fascinated with the idea and mental discipline required to count cards. I’ve taught myself a few times, but you really have to stick with it and practice to get to be any good at it.”
Honeymoon In Vegas (1992): In a crooked poker game, Nicolas Cage loses his girlfriend with a straight flush — to James Caan’s higher straight flush. Hall of Fame basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian has a small role in the film.
SuperBook vice president of race and sports Jay Kornegay: “He then had to revisit it with the ‘How To’ video playing in his suite— ‘The Invincible, Unbeatable Straight Flush.’ Love that. Makes me laugh. I always enjoy it.”
Vegas Vacation (1997): Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) at the blackjack table.
Veteran Vegas oddsmaker Kenny White: “The dealer tells Griswold, ‘You don’t know when to quit, do you, Griswold? Here’s an idea — why don’t you give me half the money you were gonna bet, then we’ll go out back, I’ll kick you in the nuts and we’ll call it a day?’ Love that movie!”
Rounders (1998): The heads-up scene near the end of the movie provided it with a resounding final punch, rich with memorable lines, and Teddy KGB (actor John Malkovich) ensured that it would receive an R rating.
Professional bettor Matt Lindeman: “So many epic lines came from Teddy KGB in that scene, my high school buddies and I still quote it religiously. ‘It’s a (bleeping) joke, anyway, after all I’m paying you with your money, from the last time …’ Not exactly appropriate.”
The Hustler (1961): Bert Gordon (George C. Scott) scolds Fast Eddie Felton (Paul Newman).
Bettor/consultant/Vegas legend Michael “Roxy” Roxborough: “Bert says, ‘Look, you wanna hustle pool, don’t you? This game isn’t like football. Nobody pays you for yardage. When you hustle you keep score real simple. The end of the game you count up your money. That’s how you find out who’s best. That’s the only way.’ ”
Ocean’s Thirteen (2007): Brad Pitt and George Clooney capitalize on casino owner Al Pacino being locked inside his own vault
PropSwap co-founder Ian Epstein: “First, the casino set they built for this movie is downright impressive, and this scene makes full use of it. But who wouldn’t want to walk into a casino and know that you would win all of your bets for three straight minutes? Once they’re done pulling their heist, in comes Sinatra with ‘This Town.’ A great cinematic five minutes.”
Caddyshack (1980): Rodney Dangerfield’s Al Czervik bets Ted Knight’s Judge Elihu Smails $100 that Smails slices his next shot into the woods
PropSwap co-founder Luke Pergande: “Smails says, ‘Gambling is illegal at Bushwood, sir. And I never slice.’ And he slices into the woods. (Czervik) says, ‘Okay, you can owe me!’ Oh, man. So funny.”