There are too many films that incorporate gambling as their central theme or as part of their storyline to list. The range of options starts as early as the olden days of cinema that create a category of classics to modern-day releases that continue to riddle the entertainment business. We have sifted through the collection of gambling movies to create a list of the best of all time. The laid-out choices are not definite, but their superior nature rings true with most that have watched and reviewed the films.
No list of the best gambling movies is complete without Casino. This 1995 classic tells a tale of greed, power, murder, and other deceptive pillars that stood firm back when the Las Vegas casino business was centred on meeting the needs of mafia bosses. Robert De Niro plays the role of a casino owner who ranks high in the mob alongside Joe Pesci as an enforcer with psychotic habits. The alluring performance of these artists is given an even bigger punch by the sexy charm of Sharon Stone that makes it a recipe for royalty in the niche.
- High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story
High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story is told more like a biographical movie than fictional adventure. The main character in the story, Stu Ungar, is played by Michael Imperioli. The film earns a place among the best for taking viewers on a rollercoaster of devastating and entertaining events. Stu Unger is depicted as a star poker player and the only one to ever win three WSOP tournaments in the Main Event. Viewers are invited to see the highs and lows that eventually lead to the collapse of a talented gambler. In the end, Stu ends up losing a significant amount of his winnings in horse races.
21 is one of the few gambling films that are inspired by real-life events that have achieved mainstream success. Maybe, the name of the film inspired popular 21 Dukes Casino. The movie is described as a modern classic set in the age before online gambling was a well-established niche. The tale focuses on Kevin Spacey, a math professor, who trains a couple of his students the skill of card counting. The movie follows the teacher and his protegees as they use trickery and deceit to collect big wins in casinos along the Vegas Strip. The story takes such wild turns that it would be hard to believe they happened in reality.
- Mississippi Grind
Ryan Reynolds may be renown the world over for his character as Deadpool, but before he featured regenerating superpowers, he starred in the blockbuster film The Mississippi Grind. The film focuses on two gambler buddies that take a road trip across the country to New Orleans to try their luck in casinos. Gerry, one of the two characters, is not a lucky gambler, even though he is a huge poker enthusiast. On the bright side, Curtis, the second member of the duo, brings Gerry luck, which makes them the perfect combo to hit up casinos and take a couple of shots at life-changing payouts.
- The Gambler
The Gambler is one of those films that were so good they had to create a remake that gives a modern point of view of the story. The first release was in 1974, and Mark Wahlberg starred in the 2014 remake. Both stories are about a professor that runs his life on the policy that you either have everything or nothing at all. This motto drives him straight into casinos where he acquires not only an addiction but also debts up to his neck. The owed underground gambling ring offers the professor a week to pay his dues with money or his life. Viewers see his desperate attempts at staying alive for the given week, which involves working with some of his students to get the money.
- The Cincinnati Kid
The Cincinnati Kid is a dramatic film about a young poker player set to prove that he is the best in the world. Set during the great depression, viewers are given an inside look at not only the challenges that were faced at the time but also see two great players go head to head to determine who walks away with the champion title.
Most gambling films tell their tale through the eyes of gamblers. Croupier takes a different approach by inviting viewers into the casino through the eyes of a dealer. The story is told by an aspiring writer who ends up taking a job as a croupier. He soon realises that the gambling world serves as a source for a best-selling novel and begins his journey of telling tales of the tables on paper.
Numerous other gambling films can be ranked high among these such as Ocean’s Eleven, God of Gamblers, and The Cooler. You may agree or disagree with some of the choices on this list, but there may be a couple that are sure to entertain.