Best Movies About Gambling
The gambling industry is a handy source of inspiration for moviemakers, and for a good reason. This business intersects with numerous intriguing themes, including crime, family or friendship adventures. Filmmakers use Las Vegas and other gambling cities as a canvas for touching: realistic stories of love, victories, defeats and significant existential issues.
Our list of films covers all the aspects mentioned above and more. Keep reading, and you will definitely find some cool pieces for your regular movie nights.
Hard Eight (1996)
It all starts with something small, and Paul Thomas Anderson began his directing career with a gambling-related film. He made his cinema debut with this crime thriller in 1996 and received several Independent Spirit Award nominations. The audience appreciated this touching piece for its captivating plot, good acting and unexpected twists with an ambiguous ending.
Watch Hard Eight, and you will witness a crime drama that unfolds on Las Vegas’s streets. This movie tells you the story of a guy named John who lost everything he had but found a mentor, Sydney, who became a father figure to him. These two characters are about to go through some crazy ups and downs, and you should see how their adventures end.
Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Everyone has their own calling, and Danny Ocean is no exception in this regard. He masterfully organizes major robberies and remains true to his cause, even despite minor defeats.
The film begins with scenes describing the aftermath of such mistakes when the director reveals to us that Danny has just been released from prison. But that is okay since Ocean was not wasting his time. Instead, he decided to assemble a robbery team that would shake Las Vegas’s history.
Steven Soderbergh showed this iconic gambling piece to viewers in 2001. He relied on the crime comedy genre and an incredibly charismatic cast with top-notch movie stars. Thus, the story’s peculiar unhurried pace, clever robbery tricks and luxury casinos as the central locations will undoubtedly surprise you.
Owning Mahowny (2003)
Everything comes with a price, especially when it refers to uncontrolled gambling. This film by Richard Kwietniowski perfectly portrays the story of Dan Mahoney, a successful bank employee who also loved to bet. All colleagues respected Dan and never imagined that he also had a significant negative quality - a serious gambling addiction.
The director puts the protagonist in an intriguing situation. Dan gets a promising new position with great privileges and access to solid client accounts. At first, the character does not pay attention to this and continues to play for his own money, but several consecutive defeats change his mind. Eventually, Dan’s passion for gambling winnings leads him to use clients’ money to play in Atlantic City.
Add this movie to your wish list, and you will have a quality crime drama about a man who could afford any bet.
The Gambler (2014)
Another iconic representation of the obsessed player is The Gambler. As the movie’s director, Rupert White, wants to tell us about a character who cannot stop when things do not go his way. He continues to play despite everything and leaves the casino tables with empty pockets only. But at the same time, it is just one side of the main character, Jim Bennett. Yes, he devotes his nights to wild gambling adventures and regretful decisions. However, he also teaches literature at a reputable establishment.
Jimmy lives a double life in the movie, but his gambling reality begins to prevail after another mindless loss. In the film, you will see whether the hero can handle his atypical problems or not. Many viewers call this piece one of the best in the gambling theme, so that it will be a worthy addition to your media library.
Martin Scorsese knows how to present his stories beautifully and realistically. In the Casino, he reproduces the illusory Sin City’s atmosphere perfectly. He manages to show both Las Vegas’s gambling side and the behind-the-scenes life of the local mafia who operated this wonderful gambling oasis in the middle of the Nevada desert.
Be ready to witness some violent scenes if you want to watch this memorable story. It will tell you about a successful sports bettor who will face real criminal hell along with serious mental tests. The movie is an integral part of the gambling legacy. It has everything you need for a memorable cinematic experience: amazing actors, numerous improvised moments and a plot that puts you on the edge of your seat to the last second.
This movie will provide a portion of pleasant impressions for fans of intricate detective stories. The director builds a narrative around Jack Manfred, who gradually learns the gambling world. He gets the croupier position and tries to make a living by following all the casino rules. However, the hero gives up and begins to follow his employees’ approach in the end. His insensitive and carefree lifestyle leads him to criminal events that turn his life upside down.
Mike Hodges directed this film in a neo-noir thriller manner, and audiences accepted this approach warmly enough. Besides that, Clive Owen, who played Jack, also felt famous for the first time after this film.
What would you do to pay for your education at Harvard Medical School? After all, $300,000 is no joke! :) No matter how you answer this question, the movie’s main character, Ben, will undoubtedly surprise you. He wants to get into the prestigious educational institution that has already accepted him so much that he has joined one special blackjack team of students. Ben’s teacher is a founder of this secret card crew that teaches the MIT students all the blackjack tricks.
The movie will show you the modern Las Vegas that continues to lure frivolous and cocky tourists every day. You will see adventures that revolve around big money, cheating and, of course, the luxury life that casinos can provide with winnings. The piece will engage you even if you have never played blackjack before. And this is worth a lot.
Atlantic City (1980)
The gambling industry and the criminal world are closely connected on some inexplicable level, and the movie will tell you about this bond. The movie’s director, Louis Malle, shows how the main character, Lou, tries to escape from his gangster past, but it overtakes him in Atlantic City - one of the main gambling cities in the world. After meeting a young rogue unexpectedly, Lou becomes a target for the local mafia, and he will have to go through a lot to withstand his dangerous adventure.
The audience and critics took the film pretty warmly. The director received one of the most prestigious and respected cinematic awards for this piece - the Venice Film Festival’s main prize. In addition, the film academy nominated the film for an Oscar in five nominations, which also speaks of its high quality.
The House (2017)
This Andrew Jay Cohen’s comedy movie focuses on a typical family problem and its completely unconventional solution. Scott and Kate Johansen hope a community program will help them pay for their daughter’s education. But it was not the case. Will Ferrell’s and Amy Poehler’s characters do not want to deprive their daughter of the college experience and decided that gambling could help them in this matter. They listen to their neighbour’s recommendations and open their underground casino in their basement.
Basically, The House is a movie about overly caring parents who just wanted to please their daughter. The director skillfully uses the gambling theme and will put a smile on your face with numerous absurd scenes. If the idea of a home underground casino sounds fun to you, and you would like to know how this initiative could end, this comedy will not disappoint you.
Mississippi Grind (2015)
Perhaps you know Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool and Ben Mendelssohn as the ultimate cinematic villain these days. However, these guys received accolades for completely different roles in 2015. They played gamblers who joined forces to travel to the South States for new winnings. Jerry, played by Mendelssohn, faces tough times and has not won anything for a long time. But when he meets Curtis (Reynolds), this young card player encourages him for another gambling grind.
The piece proved to be quite successful in the cinematic world. Critics and audiences gave the movie overwhelmingly high ratings. The talented duo of the main actors, the authentic gambling setting and the dramatic storyline surely make this film worth your time.
Let It Ride (1989)
You never know what day will happen to be incredibly lucky for you, and the movie’s main character, Jay Trotter, does not know either. He promises his wife to quit gambling but has decided to bet on the upcoming horse races relying on a random clue. Jay gets his first win of the day within minutes and realizes that he is about to experience the luckiest day of his life.
Despite the film’s flop at the box office, Let It Ride’s intriguing story with elements of comedy surprised many viewers in 1989. Director Joe Pytka showed us what would happen to a player who would get their quintessential experience - inexplicably high odds of winning with every bet he makes.
Uncut Gems (2019)
This film brought not only experienced actors but also basketball legend Kevin Garnett under one cinematic roof. The plot revolves around the character, Howard Ratner, who Adam Sandler brilliantly played. His story begins with massive debt and harmful gambling addiction. And although Howard owns a jewelry boutique, he would hardly call his life a happy one. His meeting with Kevin Garnett will set off the script flywheel, and you will witness a gripping crime movie with appropriate jokes.
Many critics and viewers called this Adam Sandler’s role the best of his career. In addition, the work has received numerous accolades from movie industry professionals for its excellent editing and camera work. This cautionary tale will show you that some things are worth much more than massive gambling winnings.
Every poker player would like to turn the card hobby into a professional source of income. Rounders will tell you about a man who also shares a passion for poker, dreaming of a successful career and a comfortable life. After a serious loss, this young student, Mike, will leave his gambling hopes behind. However, meeting with a friend makes some updates to his decision. He returns to the poker world and begins to demonstrate his superiority once again. But something goes wrong.
Many players consider this movie to be a classic one when it comes to gambling films. The audience appreciated the acting skills of the talented Edward Norton and Matt Damon duo and thanked the director, John Dahl, with overwhelmingly ecstatic reviews.
Seasoned card players following the professional poker scene will notice a reference to iconic poker player Doyle Brunson in the film. And an interesting fact is that Matt Damon competed with Doyle during the World Championship of Poker, which took place the same year the film was released. As a result, Matt lost to Brunson and left Sin City without any tournament trophies.
California Split (1974)
Gambling often becomes the foundation for friendships, which is what this movie is all about. Although Charlie and Billy approach risky games differently, they have developed friendships and hang out all over Los Angeles together. Charlie is ready to place bets on any event and loves a crazy lifestyle. As for Billy, he tries to live an adequate life and just scratches the surface of his upcoming gambling addiction. This couple will have an incredible gaming experience, and you can find out where it will lead.
Robert Altman diluted this dramatic work with great humour and received high praises for his work. Critics and viewers praised the proposed story for its realistic characters and deep connotation that goes far beyond gambling.
Molly’s Game (2017)
If you are looking for a captivating biopic with excellent lead actors, Molly’s Game is perfect for you. This piece will tell you about Molly, a strong woman who is a promising athlete but has started to organize her underground casinos. This dangerous gaming business has a lot of challenges in store for her, and the director will show you how well she will handle these difficulties.
Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba will give you an exceptional acting performance, and Aaron Sorkin, who is also the movie’s director, will surprise you with a decent adapted script. According to critics, Molly’s Game described the various gambling world’s intricacies in detail while successfully engaging viewers with a believable story.
The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
Would you like to join a gambling adventure that happened over 70 years ago? The Cincinnati Kid invites you to do just that, and be sure it is definitely worth it. You will see the classic story of the confrontation between the ambitious poker player Eric Stoner and the game’s renowned master Lance Howard.
After the movie’s successful release, Norman Jewison, the director, got the green light to direct some more serious dramatic pieces. The audience took his decisions positively, and you should also make sure that Norman showed the poker battles in an extremely authentic and intriguing way.
It is one of the most impressive movies on our list, with two Academy Awards and numerous nominations under its belt. The piece is a gangster biopic starring Warren Beatty and Annette Bening. The narrative revolves around Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel and his obsession with building a casino in Las Vegas. This seemingly promising concept is a huge investment, and big money can easily cause serious trouble.
The film is an authentic representation of the Las Vegas gambling business, as mafia bosses have often funded this city in the past. Whereas Barry Levinson, who directed the piece, took full advantage of the talented cast and got well-deserved awards, you have received a first-class gambling movie that is worthy of repeated viewing.
Eight Men Out (1988)
It is another movie based on a real-life story that revolves around sports betting. The Chicago White Sox baseball team loses the World Series, but it turns out that the match’s results were fictitious after a while.
One may assume that this piece focuses on the White Sox players’ greed. However, they betray their fans for another reason. Eight Men Out will tell you about the conflict between athletes and management, which will remind you that sometimes gambling is extremely harmful to sports events.
The movie’s screenplay foundation was a documentary book by the famous American writer Eliot Asinof specializing in baseball scandals.
The Color of Money (1986)
The film continues Eddie Felson’s story, who retired from the billiard competitions after the events of The Hustler. But a promising newcomer, Vincent, impresses him with his skills one day, and Eddie decides to teach the young player to monetize his unique talent. Vincent agrees, however, showing the veteran that victory means much more to him than money.
This piece earned Paul Newman his long-awaited Best Actor Oscar. Besides that, the audience took The Color of Money pretty warmly, which contributed to its high commercial success.
Lucky You (2007)
You can look at numerous things through a gambling lens, including the deep and uneasy relationship between father and son. This age-old theme has inspired thousands of creators for songs, poems, books, and the director, Curtis Hanson, also decided to rely on this relatable storyline. In the movie, an aspiring poker player, Huck Cheever, tries to achieve his first significant gaming success at a major Las Vegas tournament. However, he will have to face not only various opponents but also his father, who is also a poker virtuoso.
The work has a solid cast, including charismatic actors like Drew Barrymore and Eric Bana. And even though it did not receive any notable cinematic awards, the film touches on interesting life aspects and puts the characters in a memorable gambling setting.
Vegas Vacation (1997)
This film is the fourth part of Griswolds’ family comedy saga and their crazy hilarious adventures. They have already gotten their European and Christmas vacations and are ready for their new journey to the world’s gambling capital. This time, Clark decided to celebrate his unexpected award with the whole family in Las Vegas. The adventurous team will experience Sin City’s unpredictable nature, which will lead to tons of fun situations.
In the movie, Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo will return to their legendary parenting roles and show you how to spend your vacation time once again.
This comedy western’s plot revolves around a professional card player who wants to participate in a significant poker tournament. His name is Brat Maverick, and he lacks $3000 to raise $25000 and pay for his participation. However, he decides that he can get the missing money along the way and go on the tournament’s long journey. Little did he know but he was about to face some dangerous and sometimes hilarious obstacles.
Most critics praised Richard Donner’s film and noted the harmonious combination of playful moments with action scenes. And from the acting perspective, the main actors (Gibson, Foster) and the supporting actors performed their roles admirably. The piece does not have any notable awards, but its Oscar nomination for Best Costumes says a lot about its excellent art style.
No matter how smart you think you are, a casino will still win if you do not cheat. With this in mind, the main characters approached gambling in the dramatic movie. It tells you a love story that intersects with the world of risky bets and decisions. The film’s heroes will rely on a clever scam system to generate roulette winnings. But will they be able to leave the gambling establishment with their pockets full of money?
Viewers and critics have reacted positively to the Tricheurs. The director, Barbet Schroeder, has managed to show an elegant love story set in a gambling environment, and it is surely worth a place in your media library.
The Sting (1973)
The Sting is a gambling-themed revenge spectacular showcase. When Johnny Hooker’s partner falls victim to the bandits, he decides to take revenge on the mafia boss they work for. Johnny joins forces with his murdered friend’s old buddy, and they develop a terrific plan to punish the mobster who loves to play poker.
This piece by George Roy Hill is an undeniable classic when it comes to films featuring sophisticated robberies or scams. The Sting has got 7 Oscars, and there are not too many films that have received such an honour.
The Hustler (1961)
It is another gem of cinematic history. Many film critics call it one of the most significant sports films of all time. It focuses on the talented billiards player Eddie Felson, who makes a living by offering the regular amateurs to play pool for money. He enjoys victories, but at the same time, wants to play with higher bets against an equal opponent. The movie tells you about his game against another billiard virtuoso, Minnesota Fats, and dilutes this story with relatable human episodes about love, friendship, partnership, deception and other things.
The piece has a solid list of awards under its belt, including two Oscar nominations. The leading actor, Paul Newman, will charm you with his performance, and the director Robert Rossen will prove to you that gambling was relevant even in the early 60s.
The Cooler (2003)
Who would have thought that someone’s poor luck could be a pretty useful and in-demand skill? The movie will tell you about such a gambling loser named Bernie. The fact of the matter is that this guy is the direct opposite of luck, and gamblers tend to call these players “coolers.” Bernie has already shown his incredibly bad luck on himself and is now working for an influential casino manager to pay back his massive debt. He intentionally joins the winning players and inexplicably destroys their luck.
Although the film has a solid dramatic foundation, it also holds true for the humorous scenes. Even the mere thought of being a professional loser should strike you as hilarious, so you will almost certainly find something to laugh about while watching.