From the 1922's “Dr. Mabusethe Gambler” to a modern “Uncut Gems”, Hollywood’s fascination with gambling is nothing new and has in fact been present since the era of the silver screen began. Whether the story reveals the dark side of the casino lifestyle, or is about strategic card counting, the best gambling movies of all time are all filled with the tense atmosphere of casino scenes. Here’s a list of top gambling movies where, by watching, you may even find out some useful tricks. So, browse through our list before you try your luck at online casinos here on AskGamblers!
Best 25 Gambling Movies of All Time
The list of our favourite poker movies and card game movies is right here at your disposal. Different movies may deal with different types of casino games, but the connection line is that all their plots somehow revolve around gambling. We have to admit - our selection is purely biased, but we’ve also taken IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes parameters into account. Ready to find out more? Here... We... Go!
25. Dr. Mabusethe Gambler (1922)
IMDb 7.9 Rotten Tomatoes 88%
A 4+ hour film “Dr. Mabusethe Gambler” is divided into two parts - Der große Spieler: Ein Bild der Zeit and Inferno: Ein Spiel von Menschen unserer Zeit. The movie title itself has three connotations of the German Der Spieler which can be translated and interpreted as the gambler, puppeteer, and/or actor. Being a notorious gambler, Dr. Mabuse - the main character - manipulates people and sets out to make a fortune and control Berlin.
24. Croupier (1998)
IMDb 7.1 Rotten Tomatoes 96%
Jack Manfred (Clive Owen) is a writer, who starts working as a croupier. Driven by the shady casino lifestyle, the main character gets involved in illegal dealings at the casino, which begins to affect his personal life. In comparison to other traditional casino movies,”Croupier” shows a different perspective portraying the cold reality, which is far from the glamourous lights of Las Vegas.
23. The Hangover (2009)
IMDb 7.7 Rotten Tomatoes 78%
The Hangover is the first installment in The Hangover trilogy. Starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis, it tells the story of a few friends who travel to Las Vegas for a bachelor party. All of a sudden, they wake up with the groom missing and no memory whatsoever of the previous night's incidents. All they know is they need to find the groom before the wedding starts.
22. Two for the Money (2005)
IMDb 6.3 Rotten Tomatoes 22%
Now here’s one sports-drama movie released in 2005, “Two for the Money”. After having his career-ending knee injury, an ex-college football legend lines up with one of the most renowned vendors in the sports betting business. What’s more, the movie features renowned actors in the leading roles - Al Pacino, Matthew McConaughey and Rene Russo.
21. House of Games (1987)
IMDb 7.3 Rotten Tomatoes 96%
Moving on to a 1987 American thriller – “House of Games”. The film’s cast includes Lindsay Crouse, Joe Mantegna, Ricky Jay, and J. T. Walsh. It tells a story about a psychiatrist who promises to help her patient, a compulsive gambler, deliberately deceived by fraudsters.
20. Molly’s Game (2017)
IMDb 7.4 Rotten Tomatoes 82%
Next one up – “Molly’s Game”. The film is based on the biography of Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who had to end her career after a terrible accident. Having high expectations from her family, she decides to turn her attention to the world of underground poker. It stars Jessica Chastain as Molly, showing us this prohibited but highly addictive environment as she becomes the goddess of arranging high-stakes games.
19. 21 (2008)
IMDb 6.8 Rotten Tomatoes 35%
"21" is the fact-based drama about six students who join a hand-picked group of gifted individuals that become trained to use their card counting skills and make hundreds of dollars at Vegas casinos. Along the way comes greed and power, so the students end up in a situation where everything they have learned and earned becomes jeopardised.
18. Casino Royale (2006)
IMDb 8.0 Rotten Tomatoes 95%
Being a remake of the same name movie made in 1967, “Casino Royale” has become a favourite among all casino fans. Le Chiffre is a banker to the world’s worst terrorists and is attending a high-stakes game of poker in Casino Royale, where he needs to win his money back if he wants to stay safe amongst the terrorists. Secret agent James Bond is sent on his first mission to play the game and prevent Le Chiffre from winning the money and escaping.
17. The Color of Money (1986)
IMDb 7.0 Rotten Tomatoes 89%
Directed by Martin Scorsese, “The Color of Money” is an American drama released in 1986. Playing the character of Fast Eddie Felson, Paul Newman won Oscar for "The Color of Money", repeating a role he played in 1961’s “The Hustler”. This sequel tells a story about an old pool shark who teaches a cocky but talented guy the ropes of pool hustling, which, in turn, inspires Fast Eddie Felson to make an unbelievable comeback.
16. Owning Mahowny (2003)
IMDb 7.1 Rotten Tomatoes 79%
If you take away all that glamour and elegance of gambling you see on the screen and observe this activity as an oppressive addiction, you’ll get "Owning Mahowny" – a movie based on the true story of a Canadian banker who, being a manager, stole money from his bank to make a series of extremely risky bets in Atlantic City. Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Minnie Driver, John Hurt, and Maury Chaykin, “Owning Mahowny” tells the story of one of the largest one-man bank frauds in Canadian history.
15. Uncut Gems (2019)
IMDb 7.4 Rotten Tomatoes 92%
Our next choice for the day is “Uncut Gems”, an incredibly intense thriller about a hopeless gambling addict who just can’t stop trying until he destroys himself completely. Having his debts rising, a stuttering New York City jeweller risks everything in hope of staying in business and alive. As we watch the movie, it makes us believe that, even for a moment, the main character Howard (played by Adam Sandler) might be able to pull off this irrational quest he’s created and win his money back.
14. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
IMDb 7.6 Rotten Tomatoes 49%
Based on the novel, the popular movie “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” describes Raoul Duke’s (Johnny Depp) psychedelic road trip across the US, with his attorney Dr Gonzo (Benicio del Toro). In an attempt to cover a motorcycle race, Thompson and Samoan head to Las Vegas, blowing the money on an enormous amount of drugs they set out in the search of the American Dream.
13. Rounders (1998)
IMDb 7.3 Rotten Tomatoes 98%
Starring Matt Damon as a poker player Mike McDermott, “Rounders” is undoubtedly one of the best poker movies of all time. After losing all his money to a Russian mobster Teddy KGB (John Malkovich), Mike promises to quit gambling and focus on studying. However, he manages to keep his word only until his childhood friend Lester “Worm” Murphy gets released from prison.
12. Hard Eight (1996)
IMDb 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes 83%
Next one up – “Hard Eight”. It’s a deeply moving story of a sad, lonely man who had to survive in the underworld of Las Vegas by being quiet and humble until he met people who might in fact need his help. In particular, a professional gambler Sydney (Philip Baker Hall) teaches John (John C. Reilly) various tips and tricks of the trade, until the poor thing falls for a waitress played by Gwyneth Paltrow.
11. Atlantic City (1980)
IMDb 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes 100%
Our next choice is “Atlantic City” released in 1980. A small-calibre gangster and the separated wife of a drug dealer end up together in an unusual adventure followed by romance, danger, a large amount of money, and drugs.
10. McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)
IMDb 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes 87%
The next movie on our list - an American Anti-Western from 1971, “McCabe & Mrs. Miller” is a movie based on the 1959 novel McCabe by Edmund Naughton. The story is about a gambler and a prostitute who team up to become business partners in a small Old West mining town, as their firm flourishes until a large corporation appears on the scene.
9. Maverick (1994)
IMDb 7.0 Rotten Tomatoes 66%
“Maverick” is a 1994 American western comedy film starring Mel Gibson as Bret Maverick, a card player and con artist who needs money to enter a high-stakes poker tournament. The movie is based on the television series from the 1950s of the same name.
8. California Split (1974)
IMDb 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes 88%
Released in 1974, “California Split” was the first non-Cinerama film to use 8-track stereo sound. It features a pair of gamblers getting deeper and deeper into the shady gambling world where the stakes keep getting higher. Some say this is the greatest gambling-themed film ever made, so we didn’t want to skip it.
7. Ocean's Eleven (2001)
IMDb 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes 82%
“Ocean’s Eleven” is another must-watch gambling-themed movie that found itself on our list. Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his eleven talented, risk-taking, partners plan to rob three Las Vegas casinos in one night all owned by the same person – Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) who had Danny Ocean locked up. Unsurprisingly, the group encounters several twists and turns along the way. “Ocean’s Eleven” is the first installment of the Ocean's franchise (Ocean's Twelve (2004), Ocean's Thirteen (2007), Ocean's 8 (2018)), as well as a remake of the 1960 Rat Pack film of the same name.
6. The Gambler (1974)
IMDb 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes 78%
On the surface, Axel Freed (James Caan) is an inspiring English literature professor, but deep inside, he is a troubled man with a serious gambling addiction and debts. After losing all his money, he borrows the money from his girlfriend, then steals from his mother, heading straight to Vegas hoping to win it all back. “The Gambler” gives us a powerful story about an addiction, isolation and how far one can go when his stakes are high.
5. The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
IMDb 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes 81%
Moving on to the next movie about poker "The Cincinnati Kid", released in 1965. While making good progress as a poker player, the main character Eric "The Kid" Stoner strives to establish his reputation by being a part of a high-stakes match against an eternal game master. In this adventure The Kid challenges an older player who is considered to be the best, which ends with a final poker game between the two.
4. Casino (1995)
IMDb 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes 80%
An old classic “Casino” takes us back to a romantic time way before there were any online casinos on offer or any types of virtual games available. It is a story about Sam “Ace” Rothstein (Robert De Niro), who is a low-level mobster, living a decent life with his wife in Las Vegas. Once his best friend from childhood and mafia underboss Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) arrives in town, it disturbs Ace’s life.
3. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
IMDb 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes 75%
Directed by Guy Ritchie, “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” is a famous English crime comedy movie showcasing four friends, hooligans, loan sharks, drug dealers, and debt collectors. They all crash into each other in a series of shocking incidents, all happening because of weed, a lost bet of £500,000, and two smoking barrels.
2. The Hustler (1961)
IMDb 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes 98%
Next one up – “The Hustler”. A mix of comedy and crime, the movie is quite engaging – it’s all about a pool player (Fast) Eddie Felson who has an incredible desire to break into the professional hustling league with some high stakes involved, bet by high rollers. It’s one of those American movies where the main character – the hero – wins by surrendering, and also accepting reality, giving up on his dreams completely.
1. The Sting (1973)
IMDb 8.3, Rotten Tomatoes 94%
And we’ve made it to the number one gambling movie on our list - “The Sting”. It is a must-watch movie with a complicated plot featuring two con men - Henry (Paul Newman) and Johnny (Robert Redford) – who decide to take down a gangster (Robert Shaw). Of course, their mission involves card games and horse racing, as well as unexpected circumstances, which all make this movie so sensational. Not to mention, the movie being nominated for ten Oscars and winning seven.
Most Memorable Gambling Quotes from Movies
Of course, we cannot talk about the list of gambling movies without emphasising at least a few memorable gambling quotes. So, buckle up, here we go:
5. Fast Eddie Felson (Played by Paul Newman) in “The Color of Money”
Paul Newman expressed an exceptional gambling thought when he played Fast Eddie Felson in “The Color of Money”:
Money won is twice as sweet as money earned.
4. Danny Ocean (Played by George Clooney) in “Ocean’s Eleven”
To start off, here’s one of the coolest gambling-themed movies in which George Clooney, playing Danny Ocean in Ocean’s Eleven" (from 2001), ready to regain his losses, says:
Cause the house always wins. Play long enough, you never change the stakes. The house takes you. Unless, when that perfect hand comes along. You bet and you bet big, then you take the house.
3. Mike McDermott (Played by Matt Damon) in “Rounders”
Getting caught up in the dark side of the game, Matt Damon - playing Mike McDermott in "Rounders" - still manages to keep his sense of humour by making an emotional observation:
I’ve often seen these people, these squares at the table, short stack and long odds against them. All their outs gone. One last card in the deck that can help them. I used to wonder how they could let themselves get into such bad shape and how the hell they thought they could turn it around.
2. Rene Mathis (played by Giancarlo Giannini) in “Casino Royale”
Now here’s a quote from one of the greatest movies about gambling made in the last decade. We’re talking about “Casino Royale” (2006). While watching the chief of police getting arrested for evidence he falsified, Rene Mathis says:
I think your odds are improving, Mr. Bond.
1. Ace Rothstein (Played by Robert DeNiro) in “Casino”
Moving on to a crime-drama, “Casino” that tells the story of Sam Rothstein whose issues with his wife and his unstable enforcer (Nicky Santoro) gradually become the reasons for his downfall. He says:
Nicky’s methods of betting weren’t scientific, but they worked. When he won, he collected. When he lost, he told the bookies to go f**k themselves. I mean, what were they going to do, muscle Nicky? Nicky was the muscle.
Most Memorable Gambling-movie Characters
When it comes to the most brilliant gambling characters, here’s our selection:
5. Dan Mahowny (Played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) in "Owning Mahowny"
Some feel “Owning Mahowny” is one of the most underestimated gambling movies of all time and, appropriately, the main character Dan Mahowny is played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. He has never been stated as one of the greatest actors of his generation but deserves to be mentioned as one of the most memorable gambling-movie characters.
4. Eddie Felson (Played by Paul Newman) in "The Hustler"
Not everybody knows that at first Paul Newman refused the chance to act in the 1961’s “The Hustler”, as he had already decided to star in another movie with Elizabeth Taylor. However, when Taylor decided not to play in that movie, Newman was asked again about "The Hustler" and this time he accepted the role.
3. Axel Freed (Played by James Caan) in "The Gambler"
This is another film among the best gambling movies that deserves to be mentioned and it’s all because of the appearance of James Caan who nailed his role as Axel Freed, especially the scene in the bathtub. He is also famous for his line, "It's only insane if I lose and I'm not going to lose."
2. Charlie Waters (Played by Elliott Gould) in “California Split”
Playing Walters' amigo and partner in crime, Charlie Waters (Elliott Gould) went to the edge. Besides the incredible acting, what’s authentic about this movie is the fact that it used real betting halls, real casinos with dealers, with gamblers and bartenders too.
1. Teddy KGB (Played by John Malkovich) in “Rounders”
And we’re moving on to an amazing character Teddy KGB - a creepy gambler who looks like he has a heart of a stone-cold killer. Not to mention, Brian Koppelman and David Levien, the screenwriters who created Teddy KGB, went on to create the fashionable series “Billions” which has so far produced five seasons for a total of 55 episodes.
Most Famous Gambling Scenes in Movies
As for the most famous scenes in gambling movies, our selection goes from some gut-busting comedies to a combination of crime and drama films. We bet you know them all; some of these scenes may even inspire people to play. So, here we present you the best gambling scenes of our choice.
5. Austin Powers - Blackjack Scene
If searching for the real meaning of the film in action, just take a close look at the famous blackjack scene to find out why certain types of viewers like Austin Powers so much. To be more precise, Austin Powers is a series of spy action comedy movies including the one we’re talking about - “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.”Mocking some scenes from the Bond movie series, this one shows that weird sense of self-confidence that some gamblers seem to show off.
4. The Hangover - Blackjack Scene
What’s so special about the Blackjack scene in “The Hangover” movie is the moment when Alan (Zach Galifianakis) shows unexpected talent as he starts counting cards and his buddy Phil (Bradley Cooper) screams - “Hey, come on - he can’t lose!”
3. Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels - Poker Scene
There’s this scene in “Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” when once the game commences, Eddy places a £20,000 bet, then Harry raises to £30,000. Right after, Eddy re-raises to £50,000, which is when Harry makes it to £80,000, then Eddy comes back with £100,000, and Harry raises the bar up to £250,000. Eddy doesn’t have the cash to raise it any higher, so Harry offers him a loan, saying “It’ll be an additional £250,000 to see the cards—£500,000 all day!”
2. Rain Man - Casino Blackjack Scene
There’s a part of the phenomenal Rain Man movie (which everyone needs to see) where the two main characters start to get along and even bond, while at the same time, one is undoubtedly being played on. As a gambling scene, it is portraying all the glamor of casino establishments while exposing extraordinary math skills one needs to possess in order to win the game.
1. Cool Hand Luke - Poker Scene
And we’ve made it to the number one gambling scene on our list – the poker scene from “Cool Hand Luke”. Being a classic, this part of the movie is perhaps one of the reasons why some poker players work hard to learn how to bluff. Plus, it’s almost impossible to surpass Paul Newman’s acting and the character’s gambling talent, which is why this iconic poker scene will remain as a goal for most poker players.
To sum up, these are some of our favourite casino movies of all time, as well as catchy gambling quotes, brilliantgambling characters, and unforgettable gambling scenes . Do you have any other suggestions that you think we should add to the list? If so, let us know in our forum!