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The Best Gambling Movies

Posted by THEPOGG on Mar 04, 2020

Cinema and gambling have been a match made in heaven (or hell) for as long we have been heading to the pictures. From comedies to thrillers, gambling has formed the backdrop to countless numbers of movies, but the question that we want to know the answer to is what gambling movies are the best?

To work this out we first made a long list of gambling movies and then took ourselves over to IMDB to see which ones were rated the highest. We then narrowed it down to a rather satisfying list of 21, to mark the most significant number in one of the most popular casino games.

In the event of a tie, and there were a few, we then referred to Rotten Tomatoes to decide what order those tied movies should be placed in.

So here it is, a list of the 21 most popular gambling films according to the ratings on IMDB.

21. Mississippi Grind (2015)

IMDB Rating 6.4

Genre – Comedy/Drama

Starring – Ben Mendelsohn, Ryan Reynolds and Yvonne Landry

Director – Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck

Summary – Gerry (Ben Mendelsohn) is a gambling addict with enemies all over town. During a poker game he meets Curtis (Ryan Reynolds), someone he begins to believe brings him good luck, and the two become friends. The film tracks the pair as they head to New Orleans in search of a high-stakes poker tournament that Gerry believes will be answer to all of his problems. Traversing the line between comedy and tragedy, Mississippi Grind is movie that will make you laugh and cry in equal measures.

20. The Good Thief (2002)

IMDB Rating 6.5

Genre – Action/Crime/Drama

Starring – Nick Nolte, Ralph Fiennes, and Nutsa Kukhianidze

Director – Neil Jordan

Summary – The Good Thief is a remake of a French black and white film called “Bob le flambeur” that tells the story of a heroin addict called Bob Montagnet (Nick Nolte) who is liked by everyone other than his nemesis and chief of police, Tony Angel (Ralph Fiennes). Montagnet has one last big play left in him and heads to Monte Carlo, determined to take down one of the biggest casinos in the principality. More of a heist movie than a gambling one, much of the action takes place in the casino with table games forming the backdrop to many of the film’s key scenes.

19. Let it Ride (1989)

IMDB Rating 6.8

Genre – Comedy/Action

Starring – Richard Dreyfuss, Teri Garr and David Johansen

Director – Joe Pytka

Summary – Let is Ride is an 80s comedy about a down on his luck gambler called Jay Trotter (Richard Dreyfuss) who spends a lot of his time at the racetrack. One day Trotter’s luck changes for the better, in a series of events that are filled with thrills and spills.

18. 21 (2008)

IMDB Rating 6.8

Genre – Crime/Drama/History

Starring – Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth and Kevin Spacey

Director – Robert Luketic

Summary – 21 is the film adaptation of the Ben Mezrich novel “Bringing Down the House”, a book loosely based on the real life card counting exploits of six MIT Students who took Vegas by storm back in the 90s. Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) is a brilliant young mathematician at MIT needing to find a way to pay off his hefty college bills. Campbell joins a team of like-minded maths geeks, who under the tutelage of Mikey Rose (Kevin Spacey) take on odds that are much higher than any of them anticipated.

17. Maverick (1994)

IMDB Rating 7

Genre – Action/Adventure/Comedy

Starring – Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, James Garner

Director – Richard Donner

Summary – Mel Gibson’s Maverick is a 90s remake of a much-loved 50/60s American TV show. The film sees sharp-shooter and card-shark Bret Maverick (Mel Gibson) scam his way to the prize fund needed to enter a poker tournament with a hugely impressive jackpot. The film is a comedy western, during which Gibson’s central character both charms and infuriates his rivals in equal measures.

16. The Cooler (2003)

IMDB Rating 7

Genre – Drama/Romance

Starring – William H. Macy, Maria Bello and Alec Baldwin

Director – Wayne Kramer

Summary – Out of luck Bernie Lootz (William H. Macy) works at a Las Vegas casino where he is employed to spread his bad luck onto punters in attempts to jinx them with his own misfortune. In a twist of good fortune, Bernie begins to date an attractive waitress called Natalie Belisario (Maria Bello) and his luck begins to change, much to the annoyance of his imposing boss, Shelly Kaplow (Alec Baldwin).

15. The Color of Money (1986)

IMDB Rating 7

Genre – Drama

Starring – Paul Newman, Tom Cruise and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

Director – Martin Scorsese

Summary – “Fast Eddie” Felson (Paul Newman), a former pool hustler (see the movie Hustler) decides he wants to return to the game by training a young protégée called Vincent Lauria (Tom Cruise). The two get on well to begin with as Eddie passes on the tricks of the trade and the two fleece money from hapless opponents. Their relationship deteriorates as Vincent’s ego begins to cause them problems, setting up a meeting between the pair in the movie’s climax.

14. Owning Mahowny (2003)

IMDB Rating 7.1

Genre –Crime/Drama/Thriller

Starring – Philip Seymour Hoffman, Minnie Driver and John Hurt

Director – Richard Kwietniowski

Summary – Dan Mahowny (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a gambling addict who has somehow managed to hide his problem from the world and, most importantly, his girlfriend Belinda (Minnie Driver). Dan also happens to be a bank manager with access to millions of dollars. Before long he is dipping into accounts to pay off bookies to continue feeding his habit.

13. Croupier (1998)

IMDB Rating 7.1

Genre – Crime/Drama

Starring – Clive Owen, Nick Reding and Alex Kingston

Director – Richard Kwietniowski

Summary – Jack Manfred (Clive Owen) is a writer who is struggling to find the big break he needs, and because of this he works as a croupier in a casino at night. His girlfriend Marion (Alex Kingston) becomes increasingly frustrated at his lack of direction and forms a relationship with a stylish South African high-roller. Before long their lives have become entwined and nothing is quite as it seems.

12. The Gambler (1974)

IMDB Rating 7.2

Genre – Crime/Drama

Starring – James Caan, Paul Sorvino and Lauren Hutton

Director – Karel Reisz

Summary – Axel Freed (James Caan) is an English professor at a New York City college. On the surface he is an upstanding citizen, respected by his students and colleagues. However, what most do not know about Freed is that he has a severe gambling addiction that is threatening to ruin him. After losing big betting at basketball game, Freed is forced to beg family to bail him out, before he descends further into his self-made nightmare.

11. Hard Eight (1996)

IMDB Rating 7.2

Genre – Crime/Drama

Starring – Philip Baker Hall, John C. Reilly and Gwyneth Paltrow

Director – Paul Thomas Anderson

Summary – Sydney (Philip Baker Hall) is a professional gambler. John (John C. Reilly) is a regular guy, down on his luck and desperate for cash to pay for his mother’s funeral. Sydney finds John one night in a diner and takes him under his wing. In one night he provides him with a glimpse into the future, as the two take advantage of VIP benefits in a Vegas casino. Years later John has learned the tricks of the trade, making a comfortable living exploiting casinos in Reno. All that is before he meets a hooker called Clementine (Gwyneth Paltrow) and his life begins to change again.

10. Tazza: The High Rollers (1996)

IMDB Rating 7.2

Genre – Comedy/Crime

Starring – Seung-woo Cho, Yun-shik Baek and Hye-su Kim

Director – Dong-hoon Choi

Summary – This South Korean thriller sees Go-ni (Jo Seung-woo), a professional gambler, fall short on his luck one night during a card game that leaves him without so much as the shirt on his back. Later on he discovers that he has been stitched up and with some help he sets off to avenge his enemies and win back the money that was wrongly taken from him.

9. California Split (1996)

IMDB Rating 7.2

Genre – Comedy/Drama

Starring – George Segal, Elliott Gould and Ann Prentiss

Director – Robert Altman

Summary – Charlie Waters (Elliott Gould) is nice guy who lives with two equally likeable prostitutes, Barbara Miller (Ann Prentiss) and Susan Peters (Gwen Welles). He is a gambler who gives everything he has to the hustle and along with his somewhat morose friend, Bill Denny (George Segal), Charlie sets off on a massive gambling adventure, in search of that ever-elusive big payday. This is a story filled with highs and lows as Charlie and Bill experience the wins and the loses that a life of gambling can bring.

8. The Cincinnati Kid (1965)

IMDB Rating 7.3

Genre – Drama

Starring – Steve McQueen, Ann-Margret and Edward G. Robinson

Director – Norman Jewison

Summary – Eric Stoner (Steve McQueen) is a young, up and coming poker player known as the “Cincinnati Kid,”. Eric has one goal, to become the best and to manage this he will need to take on and beat Lancey “The Man” Howard (Edward G. Robinson). A match is arranged but a squabble between Lancey and the organiser means that that cards are stacked too heavily in Eric’s favour.

7. A Big Hand for the Little Lady (1966)

IMDB Rating 7.3

Genre – Comedy/Western

Starring – Henry Fonda, Joanne Woodward and Jason Robards

Director – Fielder Cook

Summary – The action takes place in a town in Texas, where the 5 richest men around sit down for their annual high stakes poker game. The town turns out in vast numbers to watch what appears to have become the highlight of the year. Meredith (Henry Fonda) is a recovering gambling addict who just happens to be passing through on his way to San Antonio. He cannot resist the urge to return to the table but as he does so the pressure of the event becomes too much for him and his objecting wife, Mary (Joanne Woodward) is forced to take his seat and play in his place.

6. Rounders (1998)

IMDB Rating 7.3

Genre – Crime/Drama

Starring – Matt Damon, Edward Norton and Gretchen Mol

Director – John Dahl

Summary – In a high-stakes poker game Mike McDermott (Matt Damon) loses everything he has to a Russian gangster called Teddy “KGB” (John Malkovich). Following his heavy loss Mike agrees to quit gambling in order to placate his girlfriend Jo (Gretchen Mol). The plots twists as his friend and seriously bad influence, Lester “Worm” Murphy (Edward Norton) is released from prison and needs to find a way to pay off an old debt. They are caught trying to cheat their way to a win before one final gamble rears its head in a roll of the dice that could not only see them win big but avenge earlier losses in the film.

5. Uncut Gems (2019)

IMDB Rating 7.7

Genre – Drama/Thriller

Starring – Adam Sandler, Julia Fox and Liang Wei-Hui-Duncan

Director – Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie

Summary – Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) is a loud but distinctly charismatic jewelry salesman from New York. He also has a serious gambling problem, something we are made aware of early on in the film as the loan sharks begin to circle. With the help of an Ethiopian, uncut opal and an NBA basketball player’s superstitious belief in its magical powers, Ratner makes a litany of high-stakes bets, never knowing when to quit, in a life that appears to have been spent perpetually living on the edge.

4. Casino Royale (2006)

IMDB Rating 8

Genre – Action/Adventure/Thriller

Starring – Daniel Craig, Eva Green and Judi Dench

Director – Martin Campbell

Summary – Casino Royale sees Bond (Daniel Craig) taken back to the very beginning, when he had just earned himself the stripes that come to define him as agent 007. In a thrilling reprise Bond is both thrust into high-octane modern cinema and brought back to his roots. This re-imagining of the role sees Bond take on a private banker funding terrorists in a high-stakes game of poker at Casino Royale, Montenegro.

3. The Hustler (1961)

IMDB Rating 8.1

Genre – Drama

Starring – Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason and Piper Laurie

Director – Robert Rossen

Summary – “Fast Eddie” Felson (Paul Newman) is a pool hustler, someone constantly living on the edge in order to make a living. He moves from one grimy pool hall to another betting big on his own skills, whilst luring in unsuspecting victims to his hustle. Expect highs and lows as Eddie is forced to confront his demons and himself in this grim morality tale.

2. Casino (1995)

IMDB Rating 8.2

Genre – Crime/Drama

Starring – Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci

Director – Martin Scorsese

Summary – In a story that spans decades we begin in the early-1970s in Las Vegas. At this point Sam “Ace” Rothstein (Robert De Niro) is a small player in the Mob who ends up forced into running a Vegas hotel for his crime lord bosses. At first, everything runs according to plan, with Sam bringing in stacks of cash for him and his bosses but before long his unpredictable friend and enforcer, Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci), his ex-hustler wife Ginger (Sharon Stone) and her con-artist ex, Lester Diamond (James Woods) begin to throw an increasing number of spanners into the works. As the worlds of organised crime and politics begin to merge life becomes more and more precarious for Sam.

1. The Sting (1973)

IMDB Rating 8.3

Genre – Comedy/Crime/Drama

Starring – Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw

Director – George Roy Hill

Summary – Wannabe con-man Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) gets together with old stalwart Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman) to take revenge on Mob boss Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw) for the killing of a good friend. Hooker and Gondorff develop a mad-capped scheme filled with twists and turns, high stakes poker and big money bets. The plan does not go accordingly and the two friends are forced to improvise their way to the finish line.

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The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland sits to the north-west of mainland Europe. The United Kingdom shares a border with The Republic of Ireland and has coasts on the Atlantic Ocean, Celtic Sea, North Sea, Irish Sea and English Channel. The population of the UK is approaching the 67.6 million mark leading to a fairly densely populated land mass. The gambling sector in the United Kingdom is entirely regulated and licensed by the UKGC – the United Kingdom Gambling Commission. Should players resident In the UK wish to gamble with foreign based operators there is no history of this being treated as a criminal offence, but high levels of protection exist for UK residents playing with UK licensed operators.


The above information is what we believe to be the the legal status of online gambling, however information on this topic is limited and hard to find. We accept no liability for any errors or ommissions. It is the reader’s responsibility to ensure that they know the legality of online gambling in their country before engaging with any online gambling service.