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Best Gambling Movies of All Time

by Jason Smith

If you’ve experienced the allure of casinos or the excitement that comes with the clinking of chips and shuffling of cards and you think you’ve seen it all, wait until you watch a thrilling gambling movie. You don’t need to be a professional gambler;  these films reveal the reasons behind people’s choices, especially those with the potential of great loss or gain.

See how people stare intensely at the poker table and how the neon lights in Las Vegas shine innocently on night brawlers returning from the tables. Gambling movies transport you into the realm where you can see how people win or lose fortunes by just playing a card or rolling a dice.

Sit back as we travel in history to unearth ten of the best casino movies ever.

 The 10 Best Gambling Movies of All Time

Before we look at the greatest gambling movies ever, it’s important to state that they are more about the people who play the games than the games themselves. As such, the films are not out to teach anyone the art of gambling. Instead, they explore the human condition and emotions behind their actions.

With that clarification made, let’s roll up our sleeves and review those movies.

Casino (1995)

First on this list is a 1995 movie directed by Martin Scorsese. It was an adapted story from an earlier book by Nicholas Pileggi, who also co-wrote the movie’s screenplay alongside Scorsese. Robert De Niro collaborated with Scorsese to produce this work, which was their eighth. Alongside De Niro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone also starred in this movie.

The setting was in the 1970s, bringing to the fore the ordeal of a Jewish American specializing in handicapping gamblers. Employed by Chicago Outfit, Sam’s job was to supervise daily activities at the Tangiers Casino in Las Vegas. This task called into question the skills of the Jewish American who had to deal with Mafians and his personal relationships as he strove to discharge his duty.

Will the casino business under Sam’s watch flourish or fall? You may want to see this star-studded movie to find out.

Rounders (1998)

Have you ever wondered what drives the high stakers at poker tables? Watch this movie and find out. It stars Edward Norton and Matt Damon, projecting the tales of friendship and the heights a person will go to stay afloat.

Rounders is about Mike McDermott, a gifted law student and poker player. He lost all his $30,000 bankroll to Teddy ‘KGB,’ a Russian mobster in one of their gaming episodes. After this huge loss, Mike vowed to his girlfriend, Jo, never again to venture into poker but to face his law studies squarely.

Everything was going well until Mike’s old friend, skilled in card playing, was released from prison. Worm had gotten into a huge debt before his incarceration, and his attempt to offset his bills drew Mike back into poker. Mike’s law studies suffered, and his relationship with Jo never remained the same.

Molly’s Game (2017)

This gambling movie is based on a true story. Jessica Chastain plays Molly Bloom, who runs one of the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker games. Unfortunately, the complication of running an illegal gambling outfit opens Molly up to the prying eye of the FBI. Christian’s performance in this film earned her critical acclaim, and the direction and screenplay, too, got tongue-wagging.

Croupier (2000)

Jack Manfred was an aspiring writer who worked as a croupier in a London Casino. He posted as a casino observer, embodying the cool demeanor of a man who knows almost everything about card dealings but next to nothing about his life’s complexities.

The film weaves a narrative in which Jack’s casino’s foreboding allows viewers to experience the best of aristocrat entertainment. His gambling life eventually got him entangled in the web of love and crime, showing that, much like gambling, life is also a mix of chance and skill.

Ocean’s Eleven(2001)

Acclaimed as one of the best gambling films with a modern touch, Ocean’s Eleven is a heist movie that combines the thrills and frills of the gamble with the precision of a well-planned robbery. Some of its popular cast members include Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and Julia Roberts.

Aside from the fact that this film was star-studded, it’s brilliant plot twists and glamorous backdrop of the Las Vegas casino endeared it to the hearts of many.

21 (2008)

Like Ocean’s Eleven, 21 is a heist movie that has been a box-office success. The story reflects the experience of the MIT Blackjack Team, as narrated in Ben Mezrich’s award-winning book Bringing Down The House. It’s an exposition of a group of six MIT students who have received training to become card-counting experts. They subsequently took over Las Vegas casinos in exchange for winning millions.

Ben Campbell, the movie’s protagonist, was an MIT student struggling to raise $300,000 to enroll in Harvard Medical School. He decided to join the Blackjack team to raise this fund, using his covert signaling and math skills to shoot up their odds at casino games.

 Mississippi Grind (2015)

The main characters in this movie are Ben Mendelsohn, who played the role of Gerry, and Ryan Reynolds, who acted as Curtis, the charismatic drifter. Both characters traversed the entire American South, betting on anything with the hope that they would reclaim what’s been lost and restore their version of the American Dream. Talk about addiction desperation and the human yearning for connection, and this movie is a dealer next to none.

The Gambler (2014)

This movie is about existentialism. And it is fucking genius. The fact that it is rated so low depresses me about today’s movie culture. People would rather watch Spider Man 22 or any other shitty brainless superhero movie than have to think for 2 hours.”

The above opinion of a Reddit user represents the divergent views about this movie, a remake of a 1974 movie. Those who love mainstream entertainment opine that it lacks depth, while reviewers like this Reddit critic believe it’s a perfect movie that truly reveals life’s realities.

The central theme of this Netflix movie is a professor’s endeavor to use high-stakes gambling to settle his huge debts. In doing this, the professor finds himself borrowing from individuals with questionable characters.

God of Gamblers

And what do you think the God of Gamblers will be as per this movie’s title? Well, a nice time at the cinema or behind a large-screen TV would be the best place to find out. God of Gamblers portrays Ko Chun as a gambling guru with a supernatural power to win predictions at will.  As the storyline continues, Ko Chun has an accident that severely affects his cognitive ability. But despite this, he still retains his prediction prowess.

Fact: This film is different from others on the list because it’s from the Asian continent and combines action, music, and violence.

California Split

Last on our list of the best gambling movies of all time is California Split. It’s the oldest, filmed in 1974 and directed by Robert Altman. Two of the star actors who played the leading roles were George Segal and Elliot Gould. The movie received wide acclaim for realistically portraying gambling scenes and the emotions that ensue from them.

Bill and Charlie had one thing in common: their obsession with gambling. They did this to the best of their abilities, moving from poker parlors to bars and Vegas. It’s a splendid treat to the suspense and excitement that greet the actual casino royale.


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