If you’re looking for the pulse-pounding thrill and blood-pumping exhilaration that can be found on the casino floor but prefer to stay in the comfortable confines of your home and experience it from your couch, there are literally hundreds of gambling-themed movies you can choose from. Hollywood has churned out a number of great films that centre round the protagonist throwing caution to the wind, laying it all on the line and letting Lady Luck decide their fate.
Some films have become cult classics, etching their way into our collective consciousness and becoming part of pop culture. While other films rely on the fast and flashy atmosphere of casinos and the seductive allure of gambling to provide their story with an interesting background from which to play out.
Below, we’ve gathered five of the greatest gambling movies ever to be made. They are well worth a watch, even if you’ve seen a few of the classics already. You never know, you might just pick up a few lucky tips or winning strategies that you can put into practice in real life.
Who doesn’t love the high-stakes action and adventure of a good Bond film? The most recent version of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale stars the dashing Daniel Craig as James Bond. Released in 2006, the film is accomplished director Martin Campbell’s take on Bond’s action-packed escapades and poker-playing prowess. In the film, Bond has to play poker against a terrorist banker known as Le Chiffre in an all or nothing game. The villainous Le Chiffre must win big in order to reclaim his clients lost money or suffer the consequences. The unforgettable showdown takes place in the iconic Monte Carlo, creating one of the greatest movie scenes in recent history. Casino Royal boasts some jaw-dropping poker, high intensity action and an all-star cast that includes the likes of Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen and Judi Dench.
21 has become the modern classic of the gambling-themed movie genre. Released in 2008, 21 is based on a remarkable true story about a group of six talented MIT students who were trained to become card counting experts under the leadership of their unorthodox professor. The maverick maths professor, Mickey Rosa, is deftly played by Kevin Spacey, who teaches them how to use their maths skills to take on the major casinos on the Las Vegas strip and rake in millions. 21 is a great gambling-themed film that delivers a thrilling tale of adrenaline fuelled trickery, gut-wrenching betrayal, greed and hedonism that will appeal to anyone who has an interest in blackjack, playing at a casino online, or who just loves high stakes gambling.
Directed by celebrated film icon Martin Scorsese, Casino is perhaps the most famous gambling movie of all time. This sweeping classic is an epic crime film that involves a mob-controlled casino, mafia enforcers, violence and seduction. Released in 1995, the film boasts a talented cast starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone. Casino delivers superb performances and memorable scenes that make for an excellent viewing experience.
Released in 1998, Rounders stars a youthful Matt Damon alongside the famous faces of acting heavyweights John Malkovich and Edward Norton. This drama, directed by John Dahl explores the underground world of high-stakes poker. It follows Damon’s character as he attempts to pay for his university fees by winning a dazzling high-stakes poker game against the irrepressible poker baron, played by Malkovich. The film is at times chaotic, edgy and grim but creates the authentic atmosphere of underground gambling, the associated danger involved and a somewhat realistic picture of the popular Texas Hold’em poker games. The movie is bolstered by incredible performances, as well as authentic depictions of table banter and poker strategy that other gambling-themed movies haven’t been able to do justice.
Starring William H. Macy, The Cooler takes an interesting approach to the world of gambling, giving the viewer an insider’s look at all the measures taken to bring an end to winning streaks. In Vegas, a “cooler” refers to an unlucky person, usually a casino employee, whose mere presence at the gambling tables brings misfortune and bad luck to those around him. Macy plays the main role of Bernie Lootz, a down on his luck, ex-gambling addict who is employed by the Shangri-La casino to jinx gamblers into losing.