Top 10 Gambling Films of All Time

From The Gambler to Casino Royale and The Cincinnati Kid, Top 10 Films takes a look at te great gambling movies.

Cincinnati Kid, How To Win In The Casino According To The Movies

Movie genres are generally divided into comedy, action, horror and drama. However, there are some sub-genres that are so popular that they are famed as genres in their own right. One of them is the gambling, a theme which can be seen in some of the most renowned films. They are made to fit every taste, and can be enjoyed equally on a Friday night and a Tuesday afternoon. Here is a list of ten must-see movies on gambling.

  1. The Gambler (2014)

This movie is a remake of a 1974 classic and stars a literature professor who is convinced that one either has everything, or has nothing at all. He employs the same outlook when he visits casinos. However, this philosophy does not grant him immediate success. Soon, he finds himself in crippling debt which he owes the owner of an underground gambling ring. As every professor does in a time of need, he turns to his students for help.

  1. Casino Royale (2006)

No list of gambling movies is complete without Casino Royale. Daniel Craig does a fantastic job of playing James Bond, and in this movie, the conflict runs deeper than just money matters. The film reveals the beginning of James Bond. Bond has recently gained a reputation as the 007 agent and he is granted a first mission by the MI6. He faces a weapons dealer in a high staked match of casino royale.    

  1. The Cincinnati Kid (1965)

A classic in this genre, the movie stars the indisputable Steve McQueen. It is an All-American drama set in the era of the Great Depression. McQueen’s character is adamant to show the world that he is the best poker player of all time. The idea is that to be the best, you have to beat the best. So, he faces off with a well-known veteran player called Lancey “The Man” Howard, in order to gain the title.

  1. Ocean’s 11 (2001)

A film which can undoubtedly be ranked as one of the best heist movies, Ocean’s 11 recounts the story of Danny Ocean, who violates his parole the minute he is a free man. Not only does he travel to Las Vegas, but with some assistance from his friends, he proceeds to rob The Bellagio, The Mirage, and the MGM Grand Casinos. The film has an outstanding cast of some of the most talented faces in the industry. You can also learn more about their style of playing on casino guides from

  1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

This is a movie adaptation of the book written by Hunter S Thompson. Johnny Depp plays the main character which is unlike his popular quirky ones. He embarks on a journey to Las Vegas with his eccentric lawyer. They fill their trunk with every alcohol and narcotics known to man, making the journey extremely psychedelic. This trip becomes as much physical as it is mental.

  1. Casino (1995)

Directed by Scorsese and starring Robert de Niro and Sharon Stone, this movie is based on real life events. It is one of the highest rated classic gambling-related movies of all time. It portrays gambling on a macro level. It also relies on the concept of voyeurism, often making the spectators uneasy. The movie is one of the most memorable ones directed by Scorsese. He shows that the stakes are really high behind closed doors.

  1. Hard Eight (1996)

Director Paul Thomas Anderson made his debut with this movie. It plays almost like a noir film. It follows a gambler nearing the end of his life that meets a broke young man and decides to take him under his wing. The young man has no money for his mother’s funeral as he is down on his luck. Unlike most gambling movies that put weight on the excitement on gambling, Hard Eight underlines the idea of human empathy.

  1. Croupier (1998)

This is another film which shifts its attention from the obvious. Instead of telling the players’ stories, it stars a dealer. The croupier loves gambling but cannot afford to do it, so he revels in the fact that his job allows him to vicariously live through those that win lots of money. The character Clive Owen, played by Jack Manfred, is a writer who tells the story in third person.

  1. The Hustler (1961)

This movie stands as one of the highest ranked in the list of gambling movies on IMDB, with a rating of 8/10. There are very few movie characters that are as real as the ones portrayed in The Hustler.  It narrates the story about a pool shark who wishes to be the best pool player that has ever lived. It does not end in his victory, but exposes both his defeat and lack of character. In fact, this movie was remade as The Cinncinati Kid about poker.

  1. 21 (2008)

A movie adaptation of the book Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich, it unravels a story about a heist based on true events. A group of students come together to create a blackjack team. They use every trick in the book in order to increase the probabilities of winning. Soon, the students find themselves in considerable profit, but facing plenty of problems as well.

While this list discusses some of the best gambling movies of all time, they are definitely not the only ones worth watching. As a genre, gambling movies is one of the most exciting. Even recent films, such as Now You See Me 2, have incorporated the theme because it is significantly popular.

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    Mark Fraser Reply

    Fear and Loathing a gambling movie?

    I’ve only seen about half of these, but another to consider is Robert Altman’s California Split, which came out in 1974 when the stars George Segal and Elliott Gould were enjoying their box office heyday.

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