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There have been many movies with gambling as a theme for years and each has its own unique take on the thrilling world of casinos and high-stakes betting. Here are some of the best gambling movies that have gained both popularity and critical acclaim.
10. The Cooler (2003)
This film stars William H. Macy as Bernie who is known as a “cooler”. This is a person with bad luck – whose job is to bring bad luck to gamblers on winning streaks in a Las Vegas casino. The story takes a turn when he meets a waitress who brings him good luck. One of the casino games we see played in the film is craps and alongside the Las Vegas casino backdrop we follow the Bernie’s trajectory and possible love interest and Shelley played by Alec Baldwin who is resistant to newer casino and maintains a preference for more classic casino establishments.
9. Croupier (1998)
This British film stars Clive Owen as a struggling writer called Jack who takes a job as a croupier in a casino. The movie provides a behind-the-scenes look at the world of casinos and the people who work there. In film, casinos are either portrayed as glamourous, 5-star hotel, champagne filled, and celebratory, or dingy, crime filled, and corrupt, underworlds. This film falls into the latter and takes us on a rocky downward spiral of the main character who falls on desperate times.
8. Molly’s Game (2017)
Based on a true story, marks scriptwriter Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut. The film follows the life of Molly Bloom played by Jessica Chastain, who ran exclusive high-stakes poker games for celebrities and wealthy individuals. In the seemingly male dominated world of gambling, this film successfully shows how a woman navigated this intense world, alongside various mob factions, sports and celebrities.
6. Uncut Gems (2019)
This film is one of the most recent on the list and it’s place is well deserved as it is considered as one of the best movies about gambling in the last 10 years thanks to its flawless pace and tension filled atmosphere.
Adam Sandler stars as Howard Ratner in an atypical role, as New York City jeweler with an extreme gambling habit. This film captures the not so nice side of the New York gambling world and takes us along for an intense ride as Ratner gets himself into the bet of a lifetime.
5. The Gambler (1974)
James Caan stars in this drama about a college professor (Axel Freed) with a gambling addiction who gets in over his head with the mob. Although this film was remade in 2014 with Mark Wahlberg, it is unable to repeat the same atmosphere as the original. With seedy 1970s New York as the backdrop, one of Freed’s go to casino games is roulette and we clearly see the affects a gambling addiction can have.
6. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
This modern heist film, directed by Steven Soderbergh, features an all-star cast led by George Clooney and Brad Pitt. While the focus is on robbing a casino, the movie still captures the glitzy casino atmosphere of Las Vegas which counts when we talk about casino/gambling related films. There’s a lot fast, witty dialogue between the main characters and on-screen chemistry between Clooney and Julia Roberts which both make this film a must see.
4. The Sting (1973)
While not exclusively about gambling, this classic film which is set during the Great Depression involves a complex con job that centers around a high-stakes poker game. Paul Newman and Robert Redford deliver memorable performances in this Academy Award-winning movie that is full of charm, laughs and some unforeseen twists throughout.
3. Casino Royale (2006)
This is the third adaptation of Ian Fleming’s novel of the same name, and arguably the most entertaining. Daniel Craig stars in his first outing as James Bond and is sent to thwart the plans of a wealthy and ruthless terrorist financier named Le Chiffre (played by Mads Mikkelsen). Le Chiffre uses high-stakes poker games at the Casino Royale in Montenegro to replenish his financial losses. Bond’s mission is to bankrupt Le Chiffre and disrupt his criminal activities.
2. Rounders (1998)
Starring Matt Damon and Edward Norton, this film follows a reformed gambler who returns to the world of high-stakes poker to help a friend pay off his debts. The movie delves into the psychology of poker and the complex dynamics of the gambling scene. Compared to the popularity of a James Bond film, Rounders is a relatively small film, that gained most of its popularity some years after its release.
1. Casino (1995)
Directed by Martin Scorsese, this crime drama explores the rise and fall of a mob-controlled casino in Las Vegas, highlighting the glitz and glamour as well as the dark underbelly of the gambling world. True to most Scorsese films there is a large dose of violence and excellent performances from Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci. Casino is a must see for those who appreciate a highly stylized and sometimes extreme portrayal of casinos in the 1970s and organized crime.
These movies offer a mix of drama, suspense, and insight into the world of gambling and casinos, making them favorites among moviegoers who enjoy the thrill of high-stakes betting and the psychology behind it.