California Split is a gambling movie released in 1974. It focuses on the harsh reality of gambling addictions highlighting how friendships are formed and then destroyed. Directed by Robert Altman and stars a pair of gamblers played by George Segal and Elliot Gould.
The Main Story
In California Split, a friendship develops between Bill Denny (George Segal) and Charlie Waters (Elliot Gould) and its due to their love of gambling. Charlie is the experienced gambler who is continuously looking for the next score, whereas Bill works at a magazine and is initially not as committed to gambling; however, that is all about to change.
The friendship develops when the 2 of them are playing a poker game at a casino, and a fellow poker player accuses them of cheating. The Poker player was angry as he felt the pair of them conspired with each other, and thus cheated. However, at this point, they were not even friends.
However, a friendship soon develops, and they start playing the tables at casinos together. During this time, Bill becomes more addicted to gambling and gets himself into debt with a bookie. He starts selling off his possessions to fund a gambling trip to Reno where the pair of them pool their bankroll to stake Bill in a poker game against the world champion Amarillo Slim. During the game, Bill wins $18000 and from there on out he is on a winning streak and wins more money on Blackjack, Craps and Roulette.
California Splits ends when Charlie the free-spirited professional gambler tells Bill he is quitting after his winning streak in Reno. It’s somewhat ironic seeing as Bill a once casual gambler mirrored Charlie’s life, lost everything and eventually left to his own devices and an addiction he cannot curb.