10 Best Gambling Movies of All Time

If you’re a poker player and/or regularly find yourself at the casino, chances are you’re a big fan of gambling movies. We’re here to break down our top-10 list of the best gambling movies and where you can watch them.

This list of gambling movies has been curated based on various user ratings online, responses to Twitter polls, and my own personal opinion since I’m a poker player and a movie buff myself.

Uncut Gems movie
Image: Uncut Gems

1. Uncut Gems (2019)

Uncut Gems is a recent Adam Sandler film that was an unexpected masterpiece due to its incredible non-stop action. You never get a chance to breathe as Sandler’s character, Howard Ratner, is constantly involved in stressful situations that get your adrenaline pumping.

Sandler releases himself from his comedic roles to play as a New York City jeweler and all-around con artist with a crippling gambling habit who constantly cheats on his wife.

As he continuously struggles to pay off his debts, he purchases a rare Ethiopian black opal that he believes will finally get him out of the hole.

NBA star Kevin Garnett, who delivers a phenomenal acting performance of his own, falls in love with the opal as it arrives at the store. Ratner begrudgingly allows Garnett to borrow it, which leads him on a wild goose chase across the country attempting to get it back.

Ratner eventually puts virtually his entire life on a three-leg parlay that involves Garnett, as his loan shark brother-in-law and his henchmen close in on him.

Uncut Gems is an instant classic and is already one of the best gambling movies of all time. You can watch Uncut Gems and other gambling movies on Netflix.

2. Rounders (1998)

Any poker player will tell you that Rounders is, without a doubt, the best movie about gambling. Rounders features the extremely smart New York City law student and poker player Mike McDermott (Matt Damon), who teams up with a good friend and ex-con Lester “Worm” Murphy (Edward Norton).

Murphy owes a ton of money to loan sharks and convinces McDermott to play underground high-stakes poker to get himself out of debt.

All the while, McDermott must balance his dangerous poker lifestyle with his demanding law studies and his girlfriend Jo (Gretchen Mol). Damon’s ultimate poker confrontations take place with Russian mobster Teddy “KGB”, played by John Malkovich.

Rounders does play into the overtly masculine high-stakes poker angle a little much. Despite this, the brilliant acting and intense drama is enough to make Rounders a film held with the highest regard by both poker players and inexperienced gamblers alike.

Rounders is currently streaming on Paramount Plus.

3. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

This remake of the 1960 Rat Pack heist film blew audiences away due to its star-studded cast and fast-paced action. This film is the epitome of cool and rightfully deserves a high place on our list of the best gambling movies.

I mean come on, it’s George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia, Elliott Gould, Casey Affleck, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, and Carl Reiner in a movie about pulling off the biggest heist of all time. 

It also puts Las Vegas in a time capsule and makes you root for the gang as they look to steal from the casino, owned by the lover of Danny Ocean’s (the main character, played by Clooney) ex-wife.

While Ocean’s Eleven isn’t available on streaming services, you can rent it for $3.99 on Apple TV.

4. Casino (1995)

Money. Power. Passion. Martin Scorsese’s Casino is a crime-drama that takes place in Vegas during the 1970s.

The movie centers around Sam “Ace” Rothstein (Robert De Niro), who is assigned to run casinos for the mob due to his world-class ability to skim money. His character is based on Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal, who created the first ever casino-operated sportsbook.

He falls in love with an expensive Las Vegas call girl (Sharon Stone) who doesn’t want to give up her job, which begins the character’s downfall.

Rothstein’s childhood friend, thief, and killer Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) comes to Vegas and starts wreaking havoc all over town, mixing Ace into his business and causing a huge mess.

As Scorsese typically does, nearly every minute detail in the movie is historically accurate. From the fashion to the decor to the small details regarding Rosenthal’s life, this three-hour movie is a beautiful spectacle highlighting 1970s Vegas both on the surface and behind the scenes.

Casino is now streaming on Peacock.

5. Croupier (2000)

Croupier is a casino-based thriller that isn’t remembered all that well but quietly remains one of the better gambling movies that have ever been produced and helped launch Clive Owen’s career.

Owen’s character Jack Manfred, a South African living in England, is an aspiring writer still looking for his first big break. He then gets a call from his father, setting him up for a job at a local casino to be a croupier. 

Manfred becomes addicted to his work and it takes over his entire life, despite constantly breaking casino rules. Manfred gets lost in the casino as his relationship deteriorates, he gets in fights with cheats, he sleeps with a coworker, and finds himself enjoying watching gamblers lose.

Although Manfred is slowly losing control, he finds inspiration in the madness and makes his life the subject of his newest book.

Not all goes to plan as Manfred then befriends one of the gamblers, played by Alex Kingston, who then asks Manfred to be the inside man for a robbery at the casino. He begrudgingly accepts but the plan gets foiled by his girlfriend, a former police officer.

While accurately representing life in a British casino, Croupier is a true hidden gem that does an extraordinary job of giving each character its own personality.

Croupier is now streaming on Tubi, Crackle, and Paramount Plus.

6. National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation (1997)

National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation was the movie that introduced me to the glitz and glamor of Las Vegas, which makes it a quintessential inclusion on this best gambling movies list.

Vegas Vacation is a hilarious comedy starring Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold, who ends up having the cliché terrible time in Vegas, losing every penny to his name. His back-and-forth with the evil blackjack dealer at The Mirage Hotel & Casino is worth the watch alone.

Meanwhile, his wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) is spending all her time with Mr. Las Vegas himself, Wayne Newton, who is madly in love with her.

His daughter, Audrey, explores her wild side in Sin City while his son, Rusty, gets a fake ID, becoming Nick Pappagiorgio. Rusty goes on an all-time Las Vegas heater while the rest of his family is going through chaos.

National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation is available to stream on Apple TV+.

7. Casino Royale (2006)

Casino Royale became the 21st edition of the official James Bond series and was the first Daniel Craig Bond film. It’s wildly popular amongst James Bond fans and is considered to be one of the best Bond movies of all time.

Bond’s mission is to bankrupt poker player Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), who uses his money to fund terrorism. Le Chiffre’s client just lost $101M due to a failed operation and Le Chiffre attempts to win it all back by organizing a high-stakes poker tournament at the Casino Royale in Montenegro.

Of course, in an attempt to thwart any significant future terrorist activity, James Bond enters the $10M buy-in poker tournament.

Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), a British Treasury agent, goes to Montenegro with Bond, being tasked to protect the $10M buy-in while in transport. Of course, she ends up doing a lot more than she’s asked for in typical Bond fashion.

Casino Royale is rated as an 8.0 on IMDb and 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, both of which make it one of the best gambling movies. You can stream Casino Royale on Amazon Prime Video.

8. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

While Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is not exactly a gambling movie, it takes place in Las Vegas in the early 1970s and depicts the landscape in the most stylish way possible. It’s based on Hunter S. Thompson’s 1971 novel of the same name. 

Journalist Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) and his attorney Dr. Gonzo (Benicio del Toro) take a rented red Chevy Impala convertible and a huge suitcase packed with an assortment of drugs across the Mojave Desert to Las Vegas. Duke has been assigned to cover the Mint 400 motorcycle race, though the pair get wildly off-track as they go on one of the craziest benders anyone has ever imagined.

The film will bring some nostalgia to those who have visited Vegas in the distant past as many scenes were filmed at the old Riviera as well as the Plaza Hotel & Casino in its heyday. 

The movie has a cult following and it’s personally one of my favorite movies ever, which makes it impossible to not include on this list.

While Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas isn’t available on streaming services, you can rent it for $3.99 on Apple TV.

9. The Color of Money (1986)

Another Martin Scorsese flick makes our list of the 10 best gambling movies as Paul Newman and Tom Cruise star in this pool hustler film.

Newman plays former hustler “Fast Eddie” Felson who wants to get back in the action and does so by taking on Vincent Lauria (Cruise) as his protégé. They team up and go from pool hall to pool hall as Fast Eddie teaches Vincent how to refine his game as well as the art of the scam. The two eventually fall out due to Vincent’s eccentric antics and multiple disagreements.

Eventually, Fast Eddie gets his appetite for playing again while Vincent goes his own career path. Sure enough, the two run into one another on the tournament circuit and are matched up against one another in the ultimate showdown.

Many critics do say it’s not Scorsese’s best work, saying it’s an unnecessary sequel to The Hustler (also starring Newman). Regardless, this film allowed Newman to win his first and only Oscar, taking home the famed Best Actor award. 

While The Color of Money isn’t available on streaming services, you can rent it for $3.99 on Apple TV.

10. The Cincinnati Kid (1965)

Steve McQueen stars as poker player Eric Stoner, a.k.a. “The Kid,” in this classic five-card stud poker movie. The Kid, who attracts women and everyone around him with his luck, goes from one room to another winning every poker game he plays.

One day, he gets the urge to challenge “The Man”, legendary poker player Lancey Howard (Edward G. Robinson).

Nearly 60 years later, it’s still considered to be one of the best poker movies of all time as the film is very tense and strictly centers itself around the game of poker. Stars Ann-Margret, Karl Malden, Tuesday Weld, and Joan Blondell make up part of a cast that delivers a phenomenal acting performance.

If you can get past the not-so-believable hands that pop up in the film, you’ll thoroughly enjoy The Cincinnati Kid, especially the ending.

The Cincinnati Kid is streaming for free on Tubi.

Conclusion

Whether you’re a novice gambler or a seasoned veteran, these movies about gambling will almost certainly bring you some joy.

If you’re like me and love taking part in some gambling action and your significant other does not, watching some of the best gambling movies can be a wonderful way to bridge the gap. 

Resources

Blaise Bourgeois

Blaise is an Expert Gambling Writer and a professional poker player in Brazil. He has traveled throughout Latin America for the last four years. He received his Master's in Sport Management and Sports Analytics from St. John's University. Blaise also holds a Mathematics and Computer Science degree from SUNY Purchase, where he still holds the school's Men's Soccer record for goals in a season. Blaise has worked for Catena Media, OddsSeeker, WSOP, PokerNews, and Poker.Org in various capacities. He has a passion for extensive research and aims to provide accurate and insightful knowledge about whatever topic is thrown his way.…