It’s the year 2020. Currently, there are millions upon millions of hours of movies that can be found online. As anyone knows, the basic film genres remain action, comedy, drama, fantasy, and horror. But with high demand, genres are oftentimes combined to meet the audience’s expectation.
Today we will have a look at a few motion pictures which feature gambling as a key part of their plots. But why are gambling movies so interesting you might ask? To answer simply, we can say that gambling adds just an extra spice to movies, making them more intriguing. As after all in gambling, there is a risk and chance.
Here is a selection of the 7 best gambling movies of all times we have watched, analyzed, and ultimately featured on our list. These movies cover both poker and casino-style games, so there is a bit for everyone to enjoy.
#7. Uncut Gems (2019)
- Directors: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie
- Writers: Ronald Bronstein, Josh Safdie
- Stars: Adam Sandler, Julia Fox, Idina Menzel
Uncut Gems is a gambling crime drama where Adam Sandler plays the role of Howard Ratner, a successful New York gems dealer. Despite his successful career, Howard has a gambling addiction. The character’s addiction ultimately pushes him to make riskier bets. Howard decides that he is finally going big after lending a precious gemstone to a very high-profile buyer. But the closer he gets to his goal, the more he hears the lines: “Howard where is the money right now?” and “Got my money?” Without spoiling the movie any further, we would like to add that this is one of the new gambling movies, which will keep your attention to the very end.
- Box Office Budget: $19,000,000 (estimated)
- Opening Weekend USA: $537,242, 15 December 2019
- Gross USA: $50,023,780
- Cumulative Worldwide Gross: $50,023,780
Uncut Gems is undoubtedly one of the good gambling movies. Yes, the movie is loud and Adam Sandler is seen in a different light than the usual comedy roles. But here is what one of the users wrote in a positive review on IMDB: “An Intense Roller-Coaster.”
And here is a memorable quote by Howard Ratner: “This is me! This is how I win.”
#6. Maverick (1994)
- Director: Richard Donner
- Writers: Roy Huggins (television series Maverick), William Goldman
- Stars: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, James Garner
The movie was directed by the famous Richard Donner, who directed the iconic movies Lethal Weapon series as well as the masterpiece Conspiracy Theory. But here is why Maverick is one of those interesting gambling movies. The movie tells the story of a gambler named Bret Maverick, who prefers not to challenge people in duels but rather beat them at poker.
- Box Office Budget: $75,000,000 (estimated)
- Opening Weekend USA: $17,248,545, 22 May 1994
- Gross USA: $101,631,272
- Cumulative Worldwide Gross: $183,031,272
Taking place in the Wild West, the character is trying to raise money to enter a Winner Take All poker tournament. We find this flick to be one of the best movies about gambling because it is entertaining, yet keeps your attention. Furthermore, as an adventure-comedy, this is one of those movies which you can watch over and over again and not get tired of it. One of the many positive reviews about the movie Maverick on IMDB reads: “A Western That’s Really A Pleasing Comedy”
“Well, now, I bring all sorts of pluses to the table. I hardly ever bluff and I never ever cheat,” reads a memorable quote by Bret Maverick.
#5. Rounders (1998)
- Director: John Dahl
- Writers: David Levien, Brian Koppelman
- Stars: Matt Damon, Edward Norton, Gretchen Mol
Rounders is one of those casino movies that reveal the private and underground poker rooms of New York. Directed by John Dahl, the movie tells the story of an up-and-coming poker player Mike McDermott (Matt Damon). Mike enters a game of Texas hold’em against a Russian mobster Teddy “KGB” (John Malkovich) and in less than 5 minutes loses his entire life savings and tuition of $30,000.
- Box office: Budget: $12,000,000 (estimated)
- Opening Weekend USA: $8,459,126, 13 September 1998
- Gross USA: $22,912,409
- Cumulative Worldwide Gross: $22,912,409
This event proves to be life-changing for the main character and he decides to quit playing cards for good. Mike decides to concentrate on law school and to spend more time with his girlfriend Jo (Gretchen Mol). Why do we hold this to be one of the best movies about gambling?
Well, there is a plot twist, just like any good game of poker, in fact. Although Mike tries to focus on school and work he soon meets his childhood friend Lester Murphy (Edward Norton) also known as “Worm”. Worm was just released from prison and he quickly pushes Mike into a furious race of gambling to repay a debt. But how will this gambling drama play out? We encourage you to see for yourself. It’s definitely one of the best poker movies you will see at all, so worth a watch.
This is what Mike McDermott said in the movie about poker: “No limit Texas Hold’em is the Cadillac of poker.”
#4. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
- Director: Steven Soderbergh
- Writers: George Clayton Johnson, Jack Golden Russell
- Stars: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia
Ocean’s Eleven is one of the casino movies that tell the story of a well-planned robbery. In the movie, George Clooney plays Danny Ocean who puts together a team to rob three of the biggest casinos in Las Vegas shortly after being released from prison. And what is the reward you might ask? That would be $150 million in cash. Danny Ocean targets The Bellagio, the Mirage, and the MGM Grand. All casinos are owned by Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) who happens to be the new lover of Danny’s ex-girlfriend Tess (Julia Roberts). Despite the hefty cash reward, Danny’s ultimate reward is the opportunity to get revenge on Terry.
- Budget: $85,000,000 (estimated)
- Opening Weekend USA: $38,107,822, 9 December 2001
- Gross USA: $183,417,150
- Cumulative Worldwide Gross: $450,717,150
But how did Ocean’s Eleven made it to our list of some of the best gambling movies? To start with, the flick takes place in the gambling capital of the world – Las Vegas. The crew of heisters put together by Danny is unique. Each member has a specific skillset which puts him in the right place at the right time. The crew has an electronics genius, explosive expert, and even an acrobatics player who was labeled by Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) as “the little Chinese guy”.
And here are some interesting facts about this masterpiece. Upon filming Ocean’s Eleven, the filming crew was let in to tap into the security camera feed of The Bellagio, thus obtaining real surveillance footage. The movie cast gambled after hours. And while no one can be certain of who won most of the games, it is known that George Clooney lost 25 consecutive hands of Blackjack.
Memorable quote by Danny Ocean: “Because 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 big, and then you take the house.”
#3. Casino (1995)
- Director: Martin Scorsese
- Writers: Nicholas Pileggi (book), Nicholas Pileggi
- Stars: Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, Joe Pesci
Casino is a movie directed by the admirable Martin Scorsese. Scorsese directed Mean Streets, The Color Of Money, Goodfellas and Casino do not fell short. We found this movie as one of the top gambling movies because of its intriguing plot and unique representation of Scorsese’s view of Las Vegas – showing a Janus-like face which is both shiny and cruel.
- Budget: $52,000,000 (estimated)
- Opening Weekend USA: $9,946,480, 26 November 1995
- Gross USA: $42,512,375
- Cumulative Worldwide Gross: $116,112,375
Casino takes place in the 1970 and 1980’s Las Vegas. The picture tells the story of two mobsters who happen to be best friends – Sam “Ace” Rothstein (Robert De Niro) and Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci). Ace, who happens to be an experienced gambler, runs the casino for the mob. On the other hand, we have Nicky, who makes sure that everyone is in line. But soon enough everything changes as Ace falls in love with an escort named Ginger (Sharon Stone) and marries her. In contrast, Ace’s friend Nicky goes down the road of drug use and unstoppable violence.
Currently rated 8.2 out of 10 on IMDB, we can honestly say that the crime-drama “Casino” is one of the best movies about gambling. One of the many positive reviews of Casino on IDMB reads: “A complex, multilayered, beautifully directed film, Martin Scorsese’s Casino is a masterpiece of destruction and betrayal. Few films take so many chances and succeed so wonderfully.”
Here is a quote by Sam “Ace” Rothstein: “I was so good that when I bet, I can change the odds for every bookmaker in the country. I’m serious. I had it down so cold that I was given paradise on earth.”
#2. Casino Royale (2006)
- Director: Martin Campbell
- Writers: Neal Purvis (screenplay), Robert Wade (screenplay)
- Stars: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Judi Dench
Reviewing some of the best gambling movies we cannot miss to add Casino Royale. But the movie is not just one of the many James Bond movies inspired by Ian Fleming’s novel. In the movie, James Bond (Daniel Craig) proves that besides being strong, intelligent, and fearless, he is also a great gambler. Right after Bond earns his 00 status and is granted a license to kill, he is given his first official mission as an MI6 agent.
- Box Office Budget: $150,000,000 (estimated)
- Opening Weekend USA: $40,833,156, 19 November 2006
- Gross USA: $167,445,960
- Cumulative Worldwide Gross: $616,501,619
Bond’s boss, known as “M” (Judi Dench) sends him on a mission along with Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) against a well-known terrorist banker under the name Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen). After losing a significant amount of his terrorist client’s money Le Chiffre participates in an exclusive poker game at Casino Royale in Montenegro to win at all costs and recover the money which he previously lost. And what is Bond’s mission – to ensure the failure of Le Chiffre.
Without revealing more of the plot, we can honestly say that Casino Royale is a must-see motion picture. We found that the movie is one of the best gambling movies because aside from gambling at the poker table, Bond also takes risky decisions when progressing his mission, which represents gambling-like decisions. But after all, Bond always comes out a winner.
We have all heard the famous line by Bond “The name is Bond, James Bond,” so here is a memorable quote by James Bond from Casino Royale: (Bond, sarcastically to Le Chiffre and, after nearly dying from poisoning) “I’m sorry. That last hand… nearly killed me.”
- Director: Robert Luketic
- Writers: Peter Steinfeld (screenplay), Allan Loeb (screenplay)
- Stars: Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey
Counting cards in blackjack is a controversial gambling activity that is not illegal but it’s also not allowed by casinos. By counting cards, many people with strong mathematical skills can make a living. The movie 21 is precisely one of those casino movies that tell the story of Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess). He is a highly intelligent M.I.T. student in Boston with a dream to become a doctor and transfer to Harvard School of Medicine. Given that he is from a working-class family, Ben soon finds that he cannot afford the $300,000 needed for the four or five years of schooling. While still at M.I.T. Ben finds that there is a secret club of students led by Professor Micky Rosa (Kevin Spacey).
- Box Office Budget: $35,000,000 (estimated)
- Opening Weekend USA: $24,105,943, 30 March 2008
- Gross USA: $81,159,365
- Cumulative Worldwide Gross: $159,808,370
Micky proves to be an unorthodox professor, as he teaches the club to count cards and has even created a whole system that allows him to make millions of dollars, all with the help of his students. Despite that Ben initially refuses to join the club, thinking of medical school pushes him to make that decision. He joins Jill (Kate Bosworth), Choi (Aaron Yoo), Kianna (Liza Lapira), Fisher (Jacob Pitts), and Micky and goes on a trip to the gambling capital of the world – Las Vegas. And while Ben is cautious at first, he soon gets a hand of his talent and becomes unstoppable. That is until he meets Cole Williams (Laurence Fishburne) who knows Professor Rosa and has a personal grudge against him.
We won’t volunteer more details, but we can add that the movie 21 is one of the best movies about gambling as it outlines the glamour of Las Vegas and the unlimited potential of people with strong mathematical skills. We positioned the movie as number one because of its unique plot and modern view of the well-known idea about counting Blackjack cards. We cannot miss saying that the movie 21 is based on the book Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich. It’s also one of the best gambling movies on Netflix, so don’t miss out.
And here is what the genius student Ben Campbell said:” I was becoming a pro on all levels. I made more money in one trip to Vegas than I would have in 5 years, 9 months, 12 days, and 6 hours at J. Press Menswear. In Boston, I was just Ben Campbell. But in Vegas, I could be anyone I wanted.”