15 Best Films About Gambling Image

15 Best Films About Gambling

By Film Threat Staff | May 16, 2024

We have gathered a stellar collection of the best films about poker, card games, and the thrilling world of gambling. This list spans adventurous comedies, captivating crime thrillers, intense spy films, and gripping noirs that delve into the lives of gamblers and gambling addicts. For those who appreciate the intricacies of gambling depicted in cinema, visiting Slotozen offers a direct experience of the excitement and suspense found in these films.

“Cards, Money, Two Guns”, 1998

  • Directed by: Guy Ritchie
  • Starring: Jason Fleming, Dexter Fletcher, Nick Moran, Jason Statham.
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Duration: 107 minutes

Guy Ritchie’s must-see debut film, in which his passion for gambling is linked to the intrigues of the underworld (spoiler: the same can be said for half the films on the list!). This low-budget black comedy was a sensation and made Ritchie a star director and Jason Statham just a star.

In the story, four petty criminals entrust a large sum of money to a brilliant hustler who is supposed to win them a big score. However, the cards are tampered with, and as a result of the game the lads owe the mob even more pounds sterling – a situation that kicks off several intricately intertwined storylines at once.

“Ocean’s Eleven”, 2001

  • Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
  • Starring: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts.
  • Country: USA
  • Duration: 116 minutes

This remake of the 1960 film of the same name made much more noise than the original. Not least because of the superstar cast, but the quality on-screen action is also in place.

The protagonist Danny Ocean gathers a team of ten accomplices – the first rate crooks to simultaneously rob three casinos in Las Vegas. Gambling figures in the film, but the heist itself turns out to be like an intriguing game of cards.

“Twenty-One”, 2008

  • Directed by: Robert Luketich
  • Starring: Jim Sturgess, Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, Laurence Fishburne.
  • Country: USA
  • Duration: 117 minutes

One of the most famous films about card games is not really that popular on a global scale, but it is very much loved by the Russian audience: the score is 7.7 on Kinopoisk against 6.8 on IMDb – more often than not, Russian films have similar scores.

The film is inspired by real events: a group of MIT students and alumni set out to win millions of dollars in blackjack (in Russian this game is also called “ochko”) with the help of professional skills in mathematics. And they say that honours students don’t make enough money!

“Casino Royale”, 2006

  • Directed by: Martin Campbell
  • Starring: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench.
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Duration: 139 minutes

Perhaps the most famous of the poker films, and at the same time one of the best in the James Bond series. In the first Bond film with Daniel Craig, Agent 007 not only had to run, shoot and outwit villains, but also play a little poker.

Interestingly, the novel “Casino Royale” was literally the first book by Ian Fleming about a super spy, and it was adapted for the screen twice already – in the 50″s for American TV and in the 60″s in the form of a parody of spy cinema.

“The Big Game”, 2017

  • Director: Aaron Sorkin
  • Starring Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera
  • Country: USA
  • Duration: 140 minutes

The list of films about gambling continues with another film based on real events. Skier Molly Bloom prematurely ended her sports career due to injury and decided to become an organiser of poker tournaments with extremely high stakes. Things went well, except it wasn’t exactly legal.

The film starring Jessica Chastain is the first directorial work of Aaron Sorkin, previously known as a screenwriter (“The Social Network”, “The Man Who Changed Everything”, “Steve Jobs” – also films based on true stories).

“Casino”, 1995

  • Directed by: Martin Scorsese
  • Starring: Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, Joe Pesci
  • Country: USA
  • Duration: 171 minutes

A classic of the genre and Martin Scorsese’s first, but by no means the last film to reach the three-hour time limit. Later would come The Aviator, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Irishman – if you like any of these films, you should definitely check out Casino.

Scorsese likes to make sagas about villains with interesting inner worlds who are prone to self-destruction. “Casino” is about a professional gambler and betting master (Robert De Niro) who is made a casino manager by the big mafia.

“Maverick”, 1994

  • Directed by: Richard Donner
  • Starring: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, James Garner.
  • Country: USA
  • Duration: 127 minutes

The protagonist of the film, played by Mel Gibson, is an avid gambler and a dexterous con man from the Wild West, who needs to get the money needed to participate in a major poker championship. On the way to it awaits him a string of comedy adventures in the spirit of classic westerns.

“Maverick” – a remake-adaptation of the TV series of the same name, which was released in 1957-1962. This is one of many attempts to reboot on the big screen successful series, but one of the few successful: the film with Gibson collected a decent box office, good reviews and received a nomination for an Oscar for best costumes.

“The Affair”, 1973

  • Directed by: George Roy Hill
  • Starring: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw.
  • Country: USA
  • Duration: 129 minutes

Everyone knows the ragtime tune The Entertainer, written by Scott Joplin in 1902. But interestingly, it wasn’t a hit for many decades until it was featured on the soundtrack to the film The Affair.

The heist film, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, is considered a classic of the genre. In the story, two professional crooks plot how to scam a criminal boss out of money with the help of a poker game. And then… However, we shouldn’t talk about the plot in too much detail, because “The Affair” is an example of an intricate story with a clever plot twist.

“Uncut Gems”, 2019

  • Directed by Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie.
  • Starring Adam Sandler, Julia Fox, Idina Menzel, Lakit Stanfield
  • Country: USA
  • Duration: 135 minutes

Adam Sandler’s character is the owner of a jewellery shop, selling, among other things, the rarest expensive stones. He is also addicted to sports betting. He is also divorcing his wife, whose brother owes a huge amount of money. A dozen problems are woven into a ghastly knot that is almost impossible to untie.

“Uncut Diamonds” is so far the major work of the Safdie brothers, young directors with a flamboyant and madcap style: fast and chaotic narrative, shot on a handheld camera and creating a sense of real-time action. Plus a morally dubious protagonist who is spinning like a squirrel in a wheel just to survive, and can’t relax for a second, as if he’s running up an escalator going down.

“Cheats”, 1998

  • Directed by: John Dahl
  • Starring Matt Damon, Edward Norton, Gretchen Mol, John Turturro, John Malkovich.
  • Country: USA
  • Duration: 121 minutes

Vanessa Russo, one of the most famous poker players ever, once called this film “the best poker film ever made”. According to her, “Cheaters” fully reflects the energy and tension of the game.

In the story, childhood friends Mike and Lester become a team of poker players, only one of them plays honestly, and the other cheats. In the film there is a standard set: large sums of money, formidable gangsters and the main character’s girlfriend, who opposes his hobby. What distinguishes the film from its analogues is the authors’ concentration on the very process of the game.

“Katala”, 1989

  • Directed by: Sergei Bodrov – Sr., Alexander Buravsky
  • Starring: Valery Garkalin, Elena Safonova
  • Country: USSR
  • Duration: 80 minutes

Probably the first Soviet film that reflected the “industry” of professional gamblers that existed in the country. It is surprising how much the plot of “Katala” resembles many films from this list, including those made later.

Valery Garkalin’s character is a hustler who is drawn into a criminal intrigue because of someone else’s card debt. In order to survive and leave with the money, he must beat a big shot nicknamed the Director.

“Fatal Eight”, 1996

  • Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Starring: Philip Baker Hall, John C. Reilly, Gwyneth Paltrow, Samuel L. Jackson.
  • Country: USA
  • Duration: 102 minutes

The debut film of the outstanding director Paul Thomas Anderson (“Oil”, “The Master”, “Licorice Pizza”). The heroes of the film – an elderly gambler Sidney and young John, whom he took under his wing and taught the subtleties of gambling.

Here the lights of Las Vegas are just a backdrop for a curious criminal intrigue, but the film is well suited to feel the atmosphere of the gambling world. Paul Thomas Anderson is a master of creating a mood.

“Intacto”, 2001

  • Directed by: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo.
  • In the lead roles: Leonardo Sbaralla, Eusebio Ponsela, Monica Lopez, Max von Sydow.
  • Country: Spain
  • Duration: 108 minutes

“Intacto” – a bizarre hybrid of “gambling” cinema and magical realism. According to the authors’ idea, people who have miraculously escaped from death have a special luck in which they can compete.

In Spain, an industry of underground competitions in the field of luck emerges. The main tournament is Russian roulette, and the main task of the young player is to try to outplay the elderly Samuel (Max von Sydow), who has been winning for decades.

“The Croupier”, 1998

  • Directed by Mike Hodges
  • Starring: Clive Owen, Kate Hardy, Alex Kingston, Gina McKee.
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Duration: 94 minutes

The late work of Brit Mike Hodges, who once debuted with the acclaimed crime thriller “Take Carter Out”. In “The Croupier” he mixes the world of the casino with classic noir, supplying the character’s dark voiceover musings.

Clive Owen has his first successful role here – he plays a writer who seeks inspiration (and easy money) by working in a dingy casino. He is simultaneously writing a book about the establishment’s regulars and getting involved in their dangerous intrigues.

“God of Gamblers”, 1989

  • Directed by: Won Jing
  • Starring: Chow Yun-Fat, Andy Lau
  • Country: Hong Kong
  • Duration: 126 minutes

A Hong Kong comedy about a man named Ko Chug who has almost supernatural abilities as a gambler. As a result of a criminal intrigue, the hero loses his memory but retains his gambling skills – becoming something of a child who is able to bring in huge sums of money.

The film is a legend in Asian cinema, having made local stars of several of its actors, as well as spawning an entire franchise: it has seven sequels and several spin-offs, partly connected to the main storyline. In short, by betting on a successful plot, director Won Jing and actor Andy Lau won themselves a job for a good 30 years.

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