10 Best Gambling Movies

Article by stephen abiola
10 Best Gambling Movies
Last Updated: May 23rd, 2024 Share On Your Network:

The movies on the silver screen about the gambling world often focus on the glitz and glamour of a Las Vegas casino, letting us see the rollercoaster of emotions the players feel as they place their stakes and await the outcome.

At Betsquare, we’re experienced in providing numerous casino reviews for players to find new platforms to use. Still, here, we want to focus on the best gambling movies of all time for a different kind of look at the industry.

There are so many classic gambling movies from over the years that have been blockbuster hits. We know, as fans of the casino tables, that you’ll want to discover the ten films that have made it onto our list as gambling movies with the best storylines, superior acting, and interesting scenarios related to the actual betting world.

We won’t focus on a particular era; instead, we will look at films from across several generations that have successfully captivated audiences for decades.

Casino (1995)

This Martin Scorsese movie, with its star-studded cast including huge names like Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Sharon Stone, is widely considered one of the great movies centred around the casino world.

This gambling movie has a sinister undertone despite the perception of glamour presented on the surface. When a mobster and a casino executive make their presence known in Las Vegas, their power and wealth increase. However, a love interest and a tendency to become deeply involved in criminality jeopardise what the pair try to achieve. 

Interestingly, Marting Scorsese allowed Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci to go off-piste with their lines and improvise much of the dialogue between the pair, generating an air of authenticity and a relaxed structure to the film.

Many viewers globally rank this as the best casino movie ever, as the mid-90s production has stood the test of time. However, the way the film displays the horrors of corruption in the industry during the 70s and 80s is harrowing; it’s a movie that can’t be missed if you’re a lover of casinos.

It’s a long film, but we feel it’s worth setting aside some time to immerse yourself in one of the great gambling movies.

The Hustler (1961)

Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason are an iconic duo that electrified in the roles of low-level hustler ‘Fast’ Eddie Felson and pool champion Minnesota Fats in The Hustler movie.

The pair tussle in a long-winded pool match that ends disastrously for ‘Fast’ Eddie, who has spent time hustling people out of money on a small scale. He’s determined to improve and win back a large part of his life when he loses everything.

When a new manager, Bert Gordon, details precisely what is required from him, Eddie has a decision to make regarding whether everything that’s being explained to him is worth it and what the sacrifices are.

Did you know that this gambling movie, about a confident hustler taking on an experienced player, manifested on set between Newman and Gleason? Newman lost and had to pay $50 as a forfeit but decided to do so in the lowest coin denomination. The Hustler was directed by Robert Rossen, who honed the arrogance and despairing dynamics of Newman’s character extremely well.

Not all gambling films need to be set in a casino, and Rossen felt that this path had been tread a lot already, so instead opted to explore the world of staking money on playing pool.

Tricheurs (1984)

Barbet Schroeder perfectly encapsulates addiction in this intriguing look into the gambling lives of Elric and Suzie, played by Jacques Dutronc and Bulle Ogier. Tricheurs tackles the serious subjects regarding gambling, including what effects addiction can have and chasing losses; this is done in such a powerful and tragic way as the pair eventually turn to a life of crime as a result.

Set on the island of Madeira, what was meant to be a tropical escape turned into anything but. It’s a French-language film that is increasingly important in the modern age of gambling.

The Tricheurs movie vividly expresses desperation in its lowest form and how people can trick their minds into believing their issues aren’t problematic. This movie has a different edge to many others, and we admire the powerful message the director and writers convey during the creative process.

French cinema is known for its emotional focus on character interaction and how bonds develop between people in an otherwise confusing setting. Tricheurs masters the complexity of addiction and how others are vulnerable if they are not cautious.

Uncut Gems (2019)

As chaotic as it is entertaining, Uncut Gems is an angst-inducing portrayal of a man addicted to gambling, which costs him so much of his personal life. As this gambling movie progresses, you can feel the tension build for a man who’d had success in the world of rare gem dealing before. Unable to control the aspects of his life that have led to his demise, he is forced to encounter nefarious characters out for revenge. 

Benny and Josh Safdie direct this New York City-based epic starring Adam Sandler as the troubled jeweller who has risked so much in trying to compensate for his career losses through questionable gambling choices.

The Safdie brothers were inspired by childhood memories of their father working in the diamond industry, even naming some characters after real people.

It’s a contemporary spectacle and cautionary tale of what happens when people don’t step away from placing bets to counter personal losses and the horrifying consequences it can have. 

Adam Sandler perhaps isn’t as known for his serious roles as he is for his comedic ones. Still, he plays this role exceptionally, demonstrating the desperation of a man losing it all.

If you are affected by the details of the Uncut Gems movie or any movie we are reviewing in this article; we implore you to read through Betsquare’s responsible gambling articles to ensure your experience stays safe and doesn’t threaten your well-being.

Casino Royale (2006)

Everybody has heard of James Bond; it’s one of the most renowned movie franchises to have ever been created. Ian Fleming’s novels about the MI6 spy were brought to life on movie screens, and the world has adored them ever since.


The 21st instalment of the James Bond movie franchise is many people’s favourite. Daniel Craig plays British secret agent 007 in Casino Royale, a gambling movie focusing on a poker game with many wider consequences.

To defeat a banker (played by Mads Mikkelsen) with ties to international terrorist organisations, Bond must beat him at the poker table, and the stakes have never been higher.

Regarded as a success in the James Bond series of films, Martin Campbell directed the hit, which also starred Judi Dench and Eva Green. To get a 007 right is not easy, particularly with the weight of expectation on each release in the franchise, but it’s fair to say this one was produced and directed excellently.

Credit goes to Daniel Craig too, who read every one of Ian Fleming’s iconic Bond books to prepare fully for the role. The Casino Royale movie received numerous BAFTA nominations, winning one for Best Sound.

Molly’s Game (2017)

We love movies based on real-life accounts, and this depiction of Olympic skier Molly Bloom establishing a secretive and lucrative poker event has her being chased by the long arm of the law.

A modern-day star-studded cast of Jessica Chastain (whom Molly Bloom asked to be cast as her), Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, and others make Molly’s Game a new gambling movie to add to your watchlist. According to Molly Bloom, she once witnessed a player losing $100m in real life in a single evening.

The planet’s wealthiest and sometimes most dangerous people got involved with the poker game during the Molly’s Game movie. 

The story behind this talented Olympian’s choices and motivations is such an interesting watch, particularly when you consider how somebody in that field could get involved with Russian mafia members, for instance. This was Aaron Sorkin’s debut as a director, making it even more impressive that he managed to turn this into a truly enticing story with a gripping narrative.

As the world has become more aware of help avenues for gambling abuse or addiction, there is perhaps less exposure to gambling films these days than there once was. However, Sorkin has created an insightful biopic regarding a woman who managed to get in deeper than she ever thought possible.

Hard Eight (1996)

John is down on his luck, and Sydney lends a helping hand to change that with advice on gambling and the tricks of the trade.

All is going well, and John starts to win before meeting Clementine, a waitress who changes everything for the young gambler. Hard Eight’s cast is recognisable, with the likes of John C. Reilly, Gwyneth Paltrow, Philip Baker Hall, Samuel L. Jackson, and Philip Seymour Hoffman all appearing in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 90s gambling movie, a tale of high stakes on the table and in John’s love life.

Younger cinema fans might only know John C. Reilly from his comedy roles, which he undoubtedly is adept at, but while he adds some funny moments to this film, this isn’t a slapstick portrayal of a wacky man; it’s instead more about curiosity and perhaps naivety.

As greater risks are taken in the main characters’ personal lives and the story starts to unfold, a sinister criminal domino effect occurs, leaving everybody in jeopardy. Clementine’s other job isn’t an obstacle for John, but undesirable consequences exist.

How well can you know somebody before diving headfirst into their world? A fun fact about the film is that Philip Seymour Hoffman decided to improvise many of his lines, showcasing his acting ability. You should check out the Hard Eight movie if you haven’t already seen it.

The Cincinnati Kid (1965)

Norman Jewison’s vision to have Steve McQueen portray a young buck looking to cause a stir among the gambling elite was a stroke of genius. As one of Hollywood’s most revered actors, McQueen convinced the 60s cinema-goers that he was a true gambler, using his legendary charm and wit to a tee.

Set in the 1930s, the Cincinnati Kid moves from town to town, entering poker tournaments and building his reputation. He eventually faces off against Lancey Howard, an experienced pro in the industry. Can the Cincinnati Kid overcome the odds of taking home a lucrative prize versus the best?

Interestingly, Sam Peckinpah was co-director, to begin with, but was removed from his role only a week into shooting the film.

Jewison felt it was crucial to have croupier accuracy when casting the roles, so they brought in professional help from experts in the gambling industry.

Therefore, you can guarantee that the Cincinnati Kid movie has a meticulous feel to what the casino experience was like in the early 20th century.

Ann-Margret and Edward G. Robinson have starring roles alongside McQueen in a black-and-white gambling movie that generally harks back to another age of casino play and gambling.

The Gambler (1974)

The Gambler sends out an important message regarding the trials and tribulations of gambling beyond your means to the point where it destroys every relationship you have and gets you into a great deal of trouble, too.

The legendary James Caan plays Axel Freed, a troubled young player who can’t seem to shake his obsession, thus leading to his demise. Lauren Hutton, Paul Sorvino, and Morris Carnovsky complement the excellent display that Caan projects brilliantly.

Karel Reisz is a Czech director who shows a man on the run from his debts as a dangerous group of people who want their money after Axel Freed loses it all. How does Caan’s character escape or find the money to pay them? The life of a man unravels before your very eyes as you watch The Gambler movie because he’s addicted to betting his money away, and nothing can stop him.

It’s not every day that a director turns down the chance to cast Robert De Niro, but this is reportedly what happened when the lead writer, James Toback, pushed for De Niro to get the lead role, only to be dismissed by Reisz, who preferred James Caan for the position.

This gambling movie is another cautionary tale of the risks involved when it is unaffordable or irresponsibly done.

California Split (1974)

To finish our list of the ten best gambling movies over the years, we present California Split, a dramatic comedy revolving around a pair thinking big, but can they handle the repercussions of their habit when the stakes are high?


George Segal and Elliot Gould are cast as Bill Denny and Charlie Waters, an amateur and a professional looking to win a fortune. Set across Reno and Mexico, the irresponsible behaviour of one gambler sets them down a path of destruction, not to mention their partying lifestyle getting in the way of their desires.


Did you know that Barbara Ruick was an actress early on in the film before she died on set? You’ll spot her as the Reno barmaid, and there’s a dedication to her at the end of this gambling movie as a tribute. Robert Altman is the directive mind behind the California Split movie, a casino adventure and gambling movie that will make you laugh as much as it does excite you.


Many films regarding casinos focus more on the seedy underground status that Vegas casinos supposedly had back in the day, while others shine the light on the behaviours of the protagonists and how they got themselves into the mess; this film is undoubtedly the latter.

Final Thoughts

The consistent message throughout our analysis of the best gambling movies ever is that irresponsible gambling and not knowing when to stop can be problematic for your personal life. With all the glamour of Vegas casinos and the anticipation of a spinning roulette wheel, there’s an essential reminder of only betting within your means.


Still, the top gambling movies are meant to be enjoyed, and we believe every generation can enjoy our list of the aforementioned all-time classics. Getting a gambling film right and achieving success that resonates with a large audience isn’t easily done, but we feel that each of the above films managed to do just that.


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