10 Best Gambling Movies of All Time


November 19th, 2018   |   Updated on April 15th, 2024

Gambling is a universal fascination across cultures since time immemorial. Human fascination with gambling is rooted in greed, luck, and instant wealth. We love gambling as a human race because it thrills us.

Gambling is not just a game but depictive of human greed that is evident in all spheres of human life.

It has penetrated into the world of celluloid for the wonderful stories surrounding gambling.

Some of the best movies depictive of human frailties and tough emotional tenterhooks on which fate depends are based on gambling.

This game of chance fascinates us precisely because the uncertainty of outcomes hooks us.

It can be dangerous and addictive, the themes the best pot boiler are based off. It is the gambling that brings out the darker side of human personality and thus make for great stories.

Some of the top Hollywood movies on gambling have gone on to rake in hundreds of millions because the audience at large are drawn in hordes to watch these movies.

This article showcases the top gambling movies ever made. You can watch the full movies on gambling on Amazon Prime as well as on other sources like Hulu and Netflix.

1. High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story

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Based on a true story, Michael Imperioli stars as poker legend, Stu Ungar. A gambler by the age of 10, Ungar won millions playing card games.

He was one of two people ever to win the World Series of Poker three times – twice before age 26. But, in spite of his success, a life of excess and addiction left him in tremendous debt and could only end in tragedy.

Movie Review: eFilmCritic

Is it in the nature of every gambler to be a loser? I suppose since if they were winning it wouldn’t be gambling.

But even the professionals never seem to be content with having the edge on everyone.

Knowing more about their opponents then the cards they are holding, but less about the life in general that allows them the opportunity to enjoy it.

The Kid Unger could have just been another in the long line of movie characters following the same sad path in life, but his tale was a real one. Albeit, a pretty familiar one.

For Full Movie Review, Click Here.


2. Seabiscuit

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It’s the Depression, and everyone needs to hold onto a dream to get them through the bad times. Car maker Charles Howard is no different, he who is trying to rebuild his life after the tragic death of his only child and the resulting end of his first marriage.

With second wife Marcela at his side, Charles wants to get into horse racing and ends up with a team of underdogs who are also chasing their own dream. The first is trainer Tom Smith, who has a natural instinct to spot the capabilities of horses.

The second is the horse Tom chooses for Charles, Seabiscuit, an unconventional choice as despite his pedigreed lineage, Seabiscuit is small at fifteen and a half hands tall with a slight limp.

But Tom can see something in Seabiscuit’s nature to make him a winner, if only Seabiscuit can be retrained from his inbred losing ways. And third is the jockey they decide to hire, Johnny “Red” Pollard, so nicknamed because of his hair color.

Movie Review: Newsweek

A lot of people who didn’t give a fig about horse racing–and a lot who did–couldn’t put down Laura Hillenbrand’s “Seabiscuit,” and for good reason. It was a too-good-to-be-true story that was true, with an underdog Thoroughbred and three unforgettable humans at its center: the tenacious, hard-luck jockey Red Pollard, abandoned by his parents at a young age; the taciturn trainer Tom Smith, a Westerner with an almost mystic understanding of the equine psyche, and owner Charles Howard, who built his fortune selling Buicks and used his salesman’s savvy to help turn Seabiscuit into the most popular sports figure, two- or four-legged, of his time. The challenge in adapting this best seller to the screen is that there’s too much good stuff; you could build a whole movie around any one of these guys.

For Full Movie Review, Click Here. 


3. The Cooler

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The unluckiest man in Vegas – a guy whose bad luck is contagious – is used by the last of the old time mob run casinos to kill high rollers’ action. That is, until he falls in love with a cocktail waitress and gets “lady luck,” which throws the situation into reverse. Things turn nasty when the casino director tries to break up the romance.

Movie Review: Entertainment Weekly

The Cooler is a lot of fun early in the evening, when the Rat Pack ambiance is novel, but gets bleary by 4 a.m. in the story. And like a lot of bettors and developing screenwriters, Wayne Kramer — who cowrote the script with Frank Hannah and also makes his personable feature directorial debut — believes in magical Lady Luck as a market force with more insistent conviction than the average lottery-ticket buyer.

Still, Kramer’s sexy, redolently seedy-looking indie is a swell, swingin’, low-stakes card game. And William H. Macy and Alec Baldwin make a couple of terrific headliners. Macy plays Bernie Lootz, whose name telegraphs his fate: Bernie’s a sad sack whose loser vibe is so powerfully contagious that he’s employed to”cool” the luck of hot-streak players at the second-tier casino where he has run up a huge gambling debt.

For Full Movie Review, Click Here.


4. The Gambler

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Jim Bennett is a risk taker. Both an English professor and a high-stakes gambler, Bennett bets it all when he borrows from a gangster and offers his own life as collateral.

Always one step ahead, Bennett pits his creditor against the operator of a gambling ring and leaves his dysfunctional relationship with his wealthy mother in his wake.

He plays both sides, immersing himself in an illicit, underground world while garnering the attention of Frank, a loan shark with a paternal interest in Bennett’s future. As his relationship with a student deepens, Bennett must take the ultimate risk for a second chance.

Movie Review: Grantland

Mark Wahlberg’s grown so much in the last 15 years that you forget his limitations. He still can’t show you what’s happening inside a character. He needs dialogue. He needs somewhere to run.

The Gambler gives him both, but they’re both terrible.

The dialogue never leaves the surface and the running across Los Angeles that happens in the last sequence is supposed to thrill you, but it’s such a cliché that your embarrassment extends to the crew member who has to follow with the camera as Wahlberg chugs along.

Wahlberg plays a casino rat named Jim Bennett. Jim owes more than a quarter of a million dollars to an assortment of dangerous men – including the owner of an underground gambling operation and the two loan sharks whom he asks, separately, to bail him out.

For Full Movie Review, Click Here. 


5. The Cincinnati Kid

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In 1930s New Orleans, the Cincinnati Kid, a young stud poker player who travels from one big game to the next, stopping along the way up with various girls, is pitted against the legendary champion card-sharp Lancey Howard in a high-stakes poker game.

Movie Review: TIME

The Cincinnati Kid is Steve McQueen, cast as a cool, professional poker player with his eye on the long chance.

Under a circle of light in a smoke-clogged New Orleans hotel room, The Kid sweats it out with a full house while The Man (Edward G. Robinson) ups the stakes on what may or may not be a straight flush. The pot runs to thousands, but this game means more than money.

The Man is Lancey Howard, undisputed king of stud poker for more than 30 years, and he knows that the crusty young challenger across the baize.

For Full Movie Review, Click Here. 


6. The Hustler

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“Fast” Eddie Felson is a small-time pool hustler with a lot of talent but a self-destructive attitude. His bravado causes him to challenge the legendary “Minnesota Fats” to a high-stakes match, but he loses in a heartbreaking marathon.

Now broke and without his long-time manager, Felson faces an uphill battle to regain his confidence and his game. It isn’t until he hits rock bottom that he agrees to join up with ruthless and cutthroat manager Bert Gordon.

Gordon agrees to take him on the road to learn the ropes. But Felson soon realizes that making it to the top could cost him his soul, and perhaps his girlfriend. Will he decide that this is too steep a price to pay in time to save himself?

Movie Review: Hollywood Reporter

The Hustler, the black-and-white actuality of life, including some of its seamier and more brutal aspects. Paul Newman plays the title role, a crack pool player who makes his living hustling unsuspecting locals.

It is his ambition to beat the uncrowned champion, Jackie Gleason. In his first match with him he loses, because — according to Gleason’s shadowy entrepreneur, George C. Scott — he is a compulsive loser. Scott, in a frightfully brutalizing education, makes him a murderous winner. He beats Gleason and discovers the prize is not worth the race.

For Full Movie Review, Click Here. 


7. 21

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Ben Campbell is a young, highly intelligent, student at M.I.T. in Boston who strives to succeed.

Wanting a scholarship to transfer to Harvard School of Medicine with the desire to become a doctor, Ben learns that he cannot afford the $300,000 for the four to five years of schooling as he comes from a poor, working-class background.

But one evening, Ben is introduced by his unorthodox math professor Micky Rosa into a small but secretive club of five. Students Jill, Choi, Kianna, and Fisher, who are being trained by Professor Rosa of the skill of card counting at blackjack.

Intrigued by the desire to make money, Ben joins his new friends on secret weekend trips to Las Vegas where, using their skills of code talk and hand signals, they have Ben make hundreds of thousands of dollars in winning blackjack at casino after casino. Ben only wants to make enough money for the tuition to Harvard and then back out.

Movie Review: Chicago Sun-Times

“Inspired by” the real-life story of the M.I.T. students who took Las Vegas casinos for millions, “21” has been reshaped to fit a simple movie template and it’s nearly as much fun as watching an insurance professional compute actuarial tables. In “21,” directed by Robert Luketic, the worst thing a gamester can be accused of is gambling.

“Don’t give in to your emotions,” M.I.T. professor Micky Rosa tells his blackjack students. “Play the system.”

Good advice for a card-counting scheme. Bad advice for a movie. If you want to see how a formatted screenplay looks when it’s actually on the screen, “21” may provide a practical lesson: How to follow all the “rules” and end up with zero.

For Full Movie Review, Click Here. 


8. Casino

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This Martin Scorsese film depicts the Janus-like quality of Las Vegas–it has a glittering, glamorous face, as well as a brutal, cruel one. Ace Rothstein and Nicky Santoro, mobsters who move to Las Vegas to make their mark, live and work in this paradoxical world.

Seen through their eyes, each as a foil to the other, the details of mob involvement in the casinos of the 1970’s and ’80’s are revealed. Ace is the smooth operator of the Tangiers casino, while Nicky is his boyhood friend and tough strongman, robbing and shaking down the locals.

However, they each have a tragic flaw–Ace falls in love with a hustler, Ginger, and Nicky falls into an ever-deepening spiral of drugs and violence.

Movie Review: Newsweek

“Casino” is conceived on a grand scale, as a gangster’s paradise lost. Paradise was Las Vegas in the 1970s, a Wild West town ruled by the mob, where guys from the street like “Ace” Rothstein (Roberr De Niro) and Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) could reign in gaudy splendor as long as the skim money from the casinos kept flowing back to the mob bosses in Kansas City.

In an unholy alliance with the corrupt local politicians and the Teamsters, the mob had Vegas in its fist.

But it all came crashing down, the sinners expelled from their gold-leaf Eden, the Mafia casinos replaced by the new corporate-owned, junk-bond-financed pleasure palaces of the ’80s and ’90s.

For Full Movie Review, Click Here.


9. The Sting

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Johnny Hooker, a small time grifter, unknowingly steals from Doyle Lonnegan, a big time crime boss, when he pulls a standard street con. Lonnegan demands satisfaction for the insult. After his partner, Luther, is killed, Hooker flees, and seeks the help of Henry Gondorff, one of Luther’s contacts, who is a master of the long con.

Hooker wants to use Gondorff’s expertise to take Lonnegan for an enormous sum of money to even the score, since he admits he “doesn’t know enough about killing to kill him.” They devise a complicated scheme and amass a talented group of other con artists who want their share of the reparations.

The stakes are high in this game, and our heroes must not only deal with Lonnegan’s murderous tendencies, but also other side players who want a piece of the action. To win, Hooker and Gondorff will need all their skills…and a fair amount of confidence.

Movie Review: New York Daily News

The movie is about “the big con,” an intricate scheme devised by Newman (as a resourceful old pro in the confidence business who teaches Redford, a small-time “grifter,” how to survive in the big time) to fleece a much-hated racketeer (Shaw). First, the victim is hooked in a wonderfully testy poker-playing session which becomes a cheating contest with Newman pretending to be a drunken easy mark.

For Full Movie Review, Click Here. 


10. Casino Royale

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James Bond goes on his first ever mission as a 00. Le Chiffre is a banker to the world’s terrorists. He is participating in a poker game at Montenegro, where he must win back his money, in order to stay safe among the terrorist market.

The boss of MI6, known simply as M sends Bond, along with Vesper Lynd to attend this game and prevent Le Chiffre from winning.

Bond, using help from Felix Leiter, Mathis and having Vesper pose as his partner, enters the most important poker game in his already dangerous career. But if Bond defeats Le Chiffre, will he and Vesper Lynd remain safe?

Movie Review: NPR

Daniel Craig brings us a new James Bond in Casino Royale. He’s not only rugged, fearless and — when the chips are down, as they often are in this poker-faced thriller — a lethal weapon. He’s also vulnerable.

This blond 007 falls in love, and wonders whether that might not be better for him than being a globe-trotting killer.

This not only shakes him up, it shakes up the franchise in its 21st official outing. Bond as a human being? Who’d’a’thunk? Of course, this Bond wasn’t even born by the time Sean Connery had churned out five double-oh epics.

The series already had turned silly by that time, with motorboats flying over bridges and car tailpipes turning into machine guns.

For Full Movie Review, Click Here.

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