You and your pals might enjoy seeing a gambling thriller together. Perhaps you’re preparing for a fun-filled Vegas vacation.
Even if you don’t play any of these games, seeing a movie on gambling can teach you a few things about your favorite game. To find the best gambling movies, you don’t need a long search.
Here are 15 of the best gambling films to help you make the right decision. It’s time to get out the popcorn, gather your buddies, and enjoy!
(1) 21 (Robert Luketic, 2008)
Finding a real tale gambling movie that’s packed with suspense, thrill, and humor can be a little difficult to discover. Robert Luketic’s classic film 21 has all you need and more. Because it’s both serious and comedic, the film’s IMDB rating of 6.8/10 does it no justice.
It’s easy to forget that the movie is loosely based on the true story of six MIT students who were taught how to count cards by their eccentric math professor Micky Rosa (played by Kevin Spacey). They eventually won millions of dollars in blackjack at the Strip casinos after numerous weekend excursions to Sin City.
Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess), a talented student and aspiring medical doctor, is perhaps the most touching story in the film. To pay for Harvard Medical School, Ben joins the card-counting squad because he doesn’t have the $300,000 needed. Their strategy was put in risk when the pupils succumbed to power and greed.
(2) High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story (A. W. Vidmer, 2003)
Stu Ungar is a household name in the world of poker, so he doesn’t require an introduction. He’s a well-known poker guru and the first player to win three World Series of Poker Main Event events. Horse racing proved to be his undoing, as he lost most of his poker profits.
In High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story, Michael Imperioli portrays high roller Stu Ungar, who had an interesting life. Throughout Vidmer’s film, the player’s life is depicted, from the highs and lows of his hedonistic highs to the end of his life. Stu’s spectacular journey to poker’s pinnacle and subsequent demise are depicted in full detail in the film.
(3) The Cincinnati Kid (Normal Jewison, 1965)
When it comes to gambling films, there’s no better choice than The Cincinnati Kid. During the Great Depression, the Kid (played by Steve McQueen) strives to carve out a place for himself in the gambling world. To accomplish this, the Kid must defeat Lancey, one of the greatest poker players of the day.
All of your favorite dramatic classic poker film elements are present in The Cincinnati Kid, including underhanded plays, betrayal and a whole lot of action. In this fast-paced thriller, the world of gambling is slowly but surely dismantled.
Before a high stakes poker game, this clip is exactly what the doctor ordered for a dose of motivation and self-assurance. It’s little wonder it received an astounding IMDb score of 7.3/10.
(4) Rounders (John Darl, 1998)
It’s not easy to discover a gambling film that is both funny and motivational at the same time. There’s something for everyone in Rounders, with its dramatic plot, high score (7.3), and all-star ensemble (with the ranks of Matt Damon as the main star, as well as Edward Norton and John Malkovich). More isn’t needed, is it?
A Russian gambling mogul named Teddy “KGB” must be defeated in a game of high-stakes poker by Matt Damon’s Mike McDermott (the film’s star). McDermott’s girlfriend Jo is pressuring him to stop gambling at home. He’ll have to use the money he makes at poker to pay for college.
Once McDermott’s pal Lester (who owes the KGB money from his time in prison) is released from prison, the couple’s push-and-pull will continue. The final showdown takes place directly in front of your eyes, with plenty of poker table banter and bluffing methods.
(5) The Hangover (Todd Phillips, 2009)
When it comes to gambling, the saying “Whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” is a hilarious (and literal) play on words in The Hangover. Although gambling isn’t a major theme in the film, there are a few sequences in which the action takes place. The Hangover isn’t bad, and movie has a slew of well-known actors in it.
A series of mishaps befall Doug (played by Justin Bartha), Alan (Ed Helms), Stu (Zach Galifianakis), and Phil (played by Zach Galifianakis) in this comedy (Bradley Cooper). For Doug’s bachelor party, the unusual gang chooses to fly into Sin City two days before the wedding.
However, when the three of them awaken the following morning, they have no memory of what occurred the night before. Oddly enough, they’d also misplaced and are unable to locate the groom. Just a moment, please. A few hours before the wedding, the three groomsmen must come up with a plan to track down their friend.
As a result of the great success of the original Hangover film, Warner Bros. followed it up with sequels in 2011 and 2013, respectively. Las Vegas and its intimidating casinos are given an exaggerated image in each of the films in this series. Is there any possibility for a Hangover IV release?
(6) Casino Royale (Martin Campbell, 2006)
Casino Royale features Daniel Craig’s James Bond (or 007) as he battles Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), a notorious funder of terrorist organizations, in one of the most famous gambling films ever made.
When MI6 learns that Le Chiffre plans to generate funds for terrorist activities by playing high stakes poker, they ask the services of Mr. Bond to take on the crook. Le Chiffre’s organization is completely dismantled by Bond’s brilliant deception techniques.
Casino Royale has remained one of the most popular Bond films ever. The film’s 8-star rating on IMDb is a testament to its many high points, which include everything from the slick gaming scenes to the nonstop action.
(7) Casino (Martin Scorsese, 1995)
It all comes down to the name. Martin Scorsese’s first feature-length epic film. This star-studded film adaptation of Nicholas Pileggi’s outstanding nonfiction work, Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas, is based on the book of the same name. Joe Pesci, Sharon Stone, and none other than Robert de Niro were among the notable attendees.
It shows the two sides of Las Vegas gambling: the glitz, ritz, and glamour that the media portrays, and the savage dealings that take place behind the scenes.
Casino owner Ace (de Niro) appears to have a regular and respectable life in Las Vegas with his wife and two children. Then, when Santoro (Pesci) arrives, everything changes for Ace. Santoro, a boyhood acquaintance who is now a well-known mafia lynch-baron, is an interesting coincidence.
For a casino film filled with murder, power, wealth, and deception, look no farther than Casino. It will blow your mind.
(8) Honeymoon in Vegas (Andrew Bergman, 1992)
Jack Singer (Nicolas Cage) learns the hard way that Vegas is definitely not the best destination for a honeymoon. In order to save his fiancee Betsy (Sarah Jessica Parker) from being conned by Tommy Korman, Jack, who is due to wed Betsy, is compelled to hand over his life savings of $65,000 to Korman (James Caan).
Con artist Korman develops affections for Betsy, a woman who bears a striking resemblance to Korman’s deceased wife. When the “couple” is in Hawaii, Jack has to find them swiftly. Who is going to marry Betsy?
(9) Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (Guy Ritchie, 1998)
Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels is a great example of a fantastic gambling film that combines crime, mystery, and comedy. It’s one of the highest-rated films about gambling on IMDb, with 8.2 stars, and it more than lives up to the hype.
Three-card brag (UK’s version of poker) is the crux of the film, which centres around four English friends who pool their money to take on a mobster named Hatchet Harry. Sadly, Eddy (the group’s leader) loses everything to Harry, who, it should be noted, cheated.
The quartet has to raise £500,000 to pay off Harry’s gambling debt after they lost the bungled poker game, or Eddy would lose his dad’s bar. It’s best to see this movie to appreciate the brutality, heists, and comedy these characters must put up with as they try to avoid Harry’s wrath..
Most importantly, never bet more money than you can afford, and choose your poker allies wisely.
(10) Ocean’s Eleven (Steven Soderbergh, 2001)
If you’re a fan of casino heist movies, there’s a decent chance you’ve seen Ocean’s Eleven, the director’s magnum opus.
Danny Ocean (George Clooney), the ringleader, leads a crew of high-risk gamblers who plan to pull off one of the greatest casino heists in history.
There are three major casinos in Las Vegas that are being targeted by Ocean’s 11: the MGM Grand, the Mirage, and the Bellagio. Terry Benedict, a scumbag businessman, owns and operates the three casinos in this film (Andy Garcia).
Ocean and his crew have a well-thought-out strategy, but the heist will take several detours and surprises along the way. Is the tycoon’s money going to fall into the hands of the Ocean’s 11? One hour and fifty-seven minutes of your life is all that’s required to see this casino heist movie.
(11) Croupier (Mike Hodges, 1998)
Jack Manfred, played by a young Clive Owen, is a struggling writer. He is forced to work as a croupier (dealer) in a London high-street casino due to his financial predicament. Soon, he is involved in shady gaming transactions with a fellow player, and his life takes a turn for the worst.
Croupier shows a different side of the gambling industry than what is typically seen in conventional films about the subject. It’s a story that’s both sad and happy, full of poverty and plenty.
(12) Owning Mahowny (Richard Kwietniowski, 2003)
The sad truth is that many problem gamblers are willing to go to great lengths to feed their habit. Richard Kwietniowski’s Owning Mahowny is the first gambling film to depict this in such detail.
Following the life of Dan Mahowny, a bank employee in Toronto, this film tells the narrative of one of Canada’s largest one-man bank frauds. As if it were a script, this story is almost ready to go.
Mahony is a banker who has a problem with compulsive wagering. Worse, he has unrestricted access to accounts containing hundreds of thousands of dollars. The rest of the story is rather self-explanatory.
(13) The Gambler (Karel Reisz, 1974)
The following is yet another gambling classic.
Axel Freed (James Caan), a professor of English in New York, has gambling problems, and the story focuses around him. He has an issue with gambling. After exhausting his savings, he turns to his girlfriend for a loan. As soon as the dust settles, he gets $44k from the bank to pay off his bet on the NBA basketball game. Crooks and loan sharks were bound to come after him eventually. When is he going to put an end to his gambling?
(14) The Good Thief (Neil Jordan, 2002)
The Good Thief, despite its lack of action, is a classic gambling picture with a twist. As a gambler, Bob (Nick Nolte) does not have the luxury of time on his side. It was Bob’s plan to rob the Monte Carlo casino, but an informer had already alerted the authorities. Is it possible for Bob to pull off a casino heist?
(15) Casino Jack (George Hickenlooper, 2010)
This is one of Kevin Spacey’s casino movies that deserves more recognition. Jack Abramoff, a powerful DC lobbyist, is played by Kevin Spacey in the film. The attempt to influence that Abramoff and his protégé Michael Scanlon make evolves into murder and corruption, and the two of them fail miserably.