The List: Top 10 casino movies

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From the October 11, 2012 edition

With the Hollywood Casino now open in Columbus, we look back at the best casino movies that’ll hopefully help you know when to hold ’em, when to fold ’em and when to walk away — oh, and when to run.

10. “Showgirls”

Paul Verhoeven’s 1995 NC-17-rated schlockfest has become an unintended camp classic of sorts. So bad it’s good … in no small part thanks to Elizabeth Berkley going over the top to shed her “Saved by the Bell” image.

9. “Casino Royale”

Having Daniel Craig take over the James Bond role revitalized the franchise and for the first time in a long time, Bond was actually badass — whether at the poker table, in the boudoir or in hand-to-hand combat with bad guys.

8. “Rounders”

Starring Matt Damon and Edward Norton, “Rounders” is one of the finest — and most realistic — poker movies ever made. The bittersweet ending shows how some people can never let go of the game.

7. “Very Bad Things”

This pitch-black — and we mean black — comedy about a Vegas bachelor party gone way awry trumps “The Hangover” in our book, even without Mike Tyson’s tiger.

6. “The Cooler”

“The Cooler” sets out with a fairly simple romantic comedy premise about a loser who can’t catch a break and then he finds love. The all-star cast (William H. Macy, Alec Baldwin, Maria Bello) and dark tone elevate the film into something special.

5. “Swingers”

This mostly L.A. story qualifies for this list based on the wonderful Vegas roadtrip Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau take midway through the movie. “I’m telling you, baby, you always double down on 11.”

4. “Leaving Las Vegas”

Nicolas Cage’s Oscar-winning turn as a screenwriter who goes to Vegas to drink himself to death stole the spotlight, but Elizabeth Shue is just as heartbreaking as the prostitute he shares his final days with.

3. “Ocean’s Eleven”

Steven Soderbergh’s remake of the Rat Pack version is smart, funny and an incredibly exciting and well-done caper flick. Bonus points because teaching us that the only way you leave Las Vegas hundreds of millions of dollars up is to steal it.

2. “Casino”

Martin Scorsese’s epic tale—based on real-life events—about the mafia’s height of power in Las Vegas features some of the best work from Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone. Nicky’s (Pesci) death scene in the corn field is one of the most brutal examples of mob retribution ever put to film.

1. “Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas”

Terry Gilliam’s manic visual style was perfect for adapting Hunter S. Thompson’s classic of “gonzo journalism.” Johnny Depp threw himself so deeply into the role, he forged a friendship with Thompson that lasted until the writer’s death.