Gambling Movies: The Best 30 Titles Ever Made

Movies with gambling plots bring out a natural excitement because, at their core, they’re all about taking chances. It’s not particularly entertaining to see someone always being careful and safe. But when you witness someone repeatedly risking it all, driven by a wild and unreasonable hope for that One Big Score, it’s like those seasoned cops who tackle One Last Case just before retiring. The characters in gambling movies resemble them in various ways. However, their stories usually don’t lead to a peaceful life, sitting somewhere quiet and counting their winnings.

Now, with Paul Schrader’s latest film, The Card Counter, hitting the screens, we thought it would be nice to revisit some of the finest gambling movies. Let me explain our approach: we aimed to highlight the gambling aspect more than the movies themselves. While many might argue that Rounders can’t surpass Casino’s quality, remember that Casino delves deeper into the setting surrounding gambling, while Rounders focuses primarily on the act itself. We leaned towards movies where gambling was at the forefront. Luckily, there are plenty of such movies that happen to be amazing stories in their own right.

30 of 30 Gambling Movies: Vegas Vacation (1997)

Gambling Movies
Warner Bros

Okay, we’ll admit it right off the bat: This movie isn’t exactly a masterpiece. In fact, it’s probably the weakest link in the Vacation movie series, aside from that not-so-great remake with Ed Helms. But, if you could just bear with us for a moment, there’s something special about it. It contains what might just be the most hilarious and absurd casino joke ever told.

Picture this: Clark Griswold, the main character, gets caught up in a gambling frenzy and finds himself at the mercy of a card dealer named Marty, played by the awesome Wallace Shawn. Now, Clark’s gambling skills are, well, not great at all. At one point, he ends up in a “discount” casino and decides to play a game called “Pick a Number Between 1 and 10?” His guess? A solid “4.” And you won’t believe it, but the dealer goes, “Nope, it’s 7,” and casually pockets his money. Frustrated, Clark walks away, grumbling under his breath.

The sheer existence of a game like that pretty much captures the essence of Las Vegas and gambling in a nutshell. It’s like the most brutally honest card game you could imagine.

29 of 30: Killing Them Softly (2012)

Gambling Movies
The Weinstein Company

Brad Pitt, the main guy in the movie, teamed up once again with writer-director Andrew Dominik. You might remember them from their previous work on that movie about Jesse James, you know, the one called “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” back in 2007. Well, their partnership really shone through in this new film, “Killing Them Softly” from 2012. The magic between them is real, you can feel it.

Now, let me break it down for you. The story revolves around what happens after a bunch of folks decided to rob a Mafia poker game. Yep, it’s all there on the screen – the heist and everything. But hold up, things take a twist when Brad Pitt’s character, who’s a hitman named Jackie Cogan, steps into the picture. The movie is all about the exchanges between the characters, and let me tell you, the conversations are smartly written and keep you hooked.

Sure, there might be a few spots where the editing could’ve been better, and the technical camera stuff isn’t exactly mind-blowing. But you know what? Despite those little hiccups, the whole project turns out to be a winner in the end.

28 of 30 Gambling Movies: Casino Royale (2006)

Gambling Movies
Sony Pictures Releasing

Casino Royale” from 2006 is a big deal in the James Bond series, and it’s like the ultimate action-packed movie about gambling. But hey, it’s not just about that – it’s also got a bunch of British secret agents and all the sneaky stuff they do.

Now, here’s the cool part. This movie is extra special because it’s where we first see Daniel Craig stepping into the shoes of the main character. You know, the guy the movie is named after. He went on to play Bond four more times, and his final ride was in “No Time to Die” from 2021, directed by Cari Joji Fukunaga. People who love these movies have really taken a liking to how Craig brings the British secret agent to life. And guess what? It all started right here, with “Casino Royale.”

27 of 30: House of Games (1987)

Gambling Movies
Orion Pictures

House of games, directed by David Mamet, is all about a heist, you see? The story revolves around a woman named Dr. Margaret Ford, played by Lindsay Crouse. She’s a psychiatrist, someone who helps people with their minds, and she’s just finished writing a book about a condition called obsessive-compulsive disorder. But things get interesting when she crosses paths with a guy named Mike Mancuso, played by the talented Joe Mantegna. He’s a bit of a crook, but he’s got this charm that’s hard to resist.

Now, here’s where it gets real. One of Dr. Ford’s patients is in trouble with Mike, owing him money and all that. So, they arrange a meeting at a place called the House of Games, which is also the movie’s title. It’s a place that’s not real, but it’s important in the story. During this meeting, Dr. Ford ends up getting to know Mike in a deeper way, especially after she catches him trying to trick her. They both go through the ups and downs of gambling, and it’s like nothing you’ve seen before.

This tale is so gripping, you won’t want to look away. Even after all these years, the movie still has that special something that makes it totally worth watching.

26 of 30 Gambling Movies: Lucky You (2007)

During the exciting times of the World Series of Poker frenzy, the talented filmmaker Curtis Hanson decided to take a break from his successful streak of making movies like L.A. Confidential, Wonder Boys, 8 Mile, and In Her Shoes. He introduced a new movie during this period, which didn’t quite live up to his previous works. The movie revolves around a famous poker player (played by Eric Bana) who has a complex relationship with his even more famous poker-player father (played by Robert Duvall).

Now, we’ve all seen this type of story countless times in many other sports movies that were way better. This movie even ends with a climactic Big Game, just like we’re used to. However, despite the well-worn plot, both Bana and Duvall manage to bring some genuine emotion to their roles. They make their characters feel real, even in the midst of a story we’ve seen before.

Unfortunately, this movie didn’t do well at the box office. It didn’t connect with audiences as Hanson’s previous films did, and it marked the end of his impressive winning streak in the film industry.

25 of 30: 21 (2008)

Imagine a story that’s actually true, although the author Ben Mezrich might have added some extra flair. It’s about a clever group called the MIT Blackjack Team, who managed to outsmart the casino for almost ten years. Now, this tale, which involves a lot of numbers and smart thinking, gets turned into a kind of silly heist movie in “21”. You’ll see a bunch of young and good-looking actors like Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth, Aaron Yoo, Jacob Pitts, and even Josh Gad, trying to outwit Kevin Spacey’s character.

Honestly, Kevin Spacey doesn’t seem all that into it here. Some people even thought the movie was unfair in its choices for actors, as it replaced the mostly Asian-American real-life players with ordinary white characters. But there’s a short moment, just before Spacey’s character gets kidnapped and roughed up in a hotel room, when you can glimpse the intriguing world of using math to gamble smartly. Sadly, this moment doesn’t last long, but it’s there.

24 of 30: Let It Ride (1989)

Gambling Movies
Paramount Pictures

Picture a quirky and unusual comedy where we meet a guy named Richard Dreyfuss. He’s always been on the losing side and can’t resist gambling, even though it’s causing problems. Then, one day, something incredible happens – he wins every single bet at the horse races! You’d think this would make him happy, right? But no, it only makes him want to gamble even more. Now, in a different kind of movie like Uncut Gems, this would probably lead to chaos, but here, it’s all part of a crazy comedy from the ’80s.

The movie, called Let It Ride, takes us on a journey through Dreyfuss’s wild enthusiasm and keeps us laughing along the way. The fun doesn’t stop there – we also get to enjoy fantastic performances from Teri Garr, Jennifer Tilly, and David Johansen. They add a lot of humor and excitement to the mix.

Just so you know, this isn’t the kind of movie they’d show at meetings for people trying to overcome gambling problems. It’s a hilarious ride that might not be the best example for responsible gambling, but it sure brings a lot of laughs.

23 of 30 Gambling Movies: Maverick (1994)

Gambling Movies
Warner Bros

Once upon a time, people saw Mel Gibson as a cheerful and spirited leading man. His charm alone could carry a big-budget movie where he played a skilled card player and a tricky trickster. This movie, called “Maverick,” was based on a popular TV show from the ’50s. They even brought in James Garner, who was the star of that show, to join the fun.

Now, I must admit, “Maverick” is a bit of a chunky machine. It’s too long and tries to do too much, adding unnecessary Western flair thanks to Richard Donner. However, hidden among all that excess, the film still manages to offer some enjoyable moments. And one of those joys is Mel Gibson’s buddy, Jodie Foster. She seems to be having an absolute blast, stepping into a role that’s quite different from the ones she usually took in her career. She’s playing a damsel in distress with a twist, and it’s pure joy to see her so genuinely excited and playful on screen.

22 of 30: The Hangover (2009)

“The Hangover” from 2009 is the only outright comedy on the entire list, although a few others have a touch of humor in the background. But let’s focus on this modern hit, which is definitely a movie of high quality. Critics liked it, and it even won a Golden Globe for Best Musical or Comedy.

And you know what’s amazing? It didn’t just make people laugh, it made a ton of money too. On a budget of $35 million, it pulled in a whopping $469.3 million at the box office. The story revolves around Phil, Alan, Stu, and Doug as they head to Las Vegas for Doug’s bachelor party. These characters are played by some really talented actors, and most of them shine brilliantly in their comedic roles. Just look at Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, and Heather Graham, for instance. Oh, and don’t forget Bradley Cooper – his presence here helped establish him as a true powerhouse in the movie industry.

21 of 30: The Cooler (2003)

Gambling Movies

Here’s a movie that might not be as well-known nowadays, but that doesn’t mean “The Cooler” (2003) was a flop when it came out. It might not have raked in millions at the box office, but its performances were truly remarkable. You’ve got Alec Baldwin and Maria Bello, who both earned nominations from some respected award groups – Baldwin for Best Supporting Actor and Bello for Best Supporting Actress.

Actually, these honors say more about the movie’s true value than the opinions of critics or the number of tickets sold. The star here is William H. Macy, who plays Bernie Lootz. He’s the “cooler” in a casino, a person who brings bad luck to gamblers. The casino uses him like a charm to turn the luck around. The movie goes beyond the surface, digging deep into the characters and giving us a meaningful story. It also takes us behind the scenes of the glitzy Vegas world, showing us how things really work there.

20 of 30 Gambling Movies: Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Gambling Movies
Warner Bros

Usually, in movies, characters who gamble are shown as serious lessons about what not to do. But Steven Soderbergh had a different idea. He took an old Rat Pack movie and gave it a fresh, lively spin. His remake became a snazzy, quick-paced delight.

Right from the start, where George Clooney and Brad Pitt’s super-cool characters face off at the card table, you can tell this version of “Ocean’s Eleven” will capture the modern, slick vibe of Vegas. This Vegas is all about fancy adult fun, not the reckless behavior you might expect. Soderbergh’s cast looks perfect in their stylish outfits, effortlessly carrying themselves with the kind of confidence real gamblers dream of having.

Soderbergh isn’t concerned with explaining the ins and outs of gambling, and he finds the comparisons to life’s ups and downs kind of silly. You’ll see this in one of the movie’s best scenes.

19 of 30: Molly’s Game (2017)

Gambling Movies
STX Entertainment

Molly’s Game” (2017) was written and directed by Aaron Sorkin. This film is like the gambling version of “The Social Network” (2010), which makes sense since Sorkin also wrote that movie about the creator of Facebook. This time, Sorkin decided to tell the story of Molly Bloom, who used to be an Olympic skier.

Molly’s life took a big turn after she suffered a serious injury to her spine, ending her skiing dreams. But she didn’t give up. Instead, she ended up running an underground poker game at the Viper Room in Los Angeles. The movie stars Jessica Chastain as Molly herself, with great support from actors like Idris Elba and Michael Cera. They all deliver Sorkin’s famous dialogues so well that critics loved it.

This film is incredibly smart, and it’s perfect if you’re a poker enthusiast searching for a true-to-life gambling movie. And you can credit Sorkin’s clever writing for making it all come to life.

18 of 30: Casino (1995)

Gambling Movies
Universal Pictures

Martin Scorsese’s “Casino” is without a doubt one of the greatest movies ever made. It’s like a masterpiece. The story comes from a book by Nicholas Pileggi, called “Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas.” Pileggi even joined forces with the incredible Scorsese to write the screenplay. The whole movie revolves around this guy named Sam “Ace” Rothstein, played by Robert De Niro. Ace knows all about gambling, and he’s in charge of the Tangiers Casino – that’s a big deal Las Vegas hotel and casino.

There’s more to the story, too. You’ve got Nicky Santoro, played by Joe Pesci – he’s a real big shot. And then there’s Ginger McKenna, played by Sharon Stone. She ends up marrying Sam. This movie captures the vibe of Las Vegas so perfectly, you’ll feel like you’re back in the ’70s and ’80s. From the clothes people wear to the way places look inside and out, it’s all there. And you’ll get to see how the city went through a bunch of changes during that time.

In the end, “Casino” is like a huge love letter to Las Vegas, while also taking a deep dive into what makes it tick. It’s a real tribute to that famous ‘sin city’ we all know.

17 of 30: The Hustler (1961)

Movies with Gambling
wentieth Century–Fox Film Corp

Next to The Sting, this is another movie on the list that stands out when you really think about it. It’s directed by Robert Rossen and has Paul Newman playing “Fast Eddie” Felson. This is the movie that inspired Scorsese and his team to make The Color of Money later on. The Color of Money got a lot of praise, but The Hustler (1961) is almost like a classic.

At the 34th Academy Awards, it got nominated for nine awards and managed to win two. Even after all this time, it’s still remembered. The Library of Congress even picked it to be in the National Film Registry because it’s so special. The story follows Fast Eddie as he goes up against the pro player “Minnesota Flats” to show his pool hustling skills. The stars of the movie, Paul Newman and George C. Scott, really make it something amazing. That’s why people still love and remember this movie so much.

16 of 30 Gambling Movies: Bugsy (1991)

Gambling Movies

This movie stars Warren Beatty in the main role and it’s all about gangsters. Barry Levinson was the one leading the way, and he did such a good job that he got nominated for an Oscar for Best Director. Bugsy (1991) got a lot of attention at the Oscars, with ten nominations in total. Even though Levinson didn’t win (Jonathan Demme did for Silence of the Lambs), the movie itself managed to win two awards for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design.

In case you’re not familiar with the story, it’s set in the 1920s and follows Bugsy Siegel, a real-life gangster who played a big part in creating what we now call the Las Vegas Strip. You know, that super famous place known for entertainment all around the world. Bugsy was a big deal in making that happen. The movie is also pretty cool when it comes to gambling stuff, so you’ll definitely enjoy it. Give it a shot!

15 of 30: Atlantic City (1980)

Gambling Movies
International Cinema Corporation

Nowadays, allowing gambling to be legal is like a big, desperate move for cities that are struggling with money problems, like Detroit and St. Louis. But guess who did it first? Atlantic City took that step. Louis Malle made a really touching and still charming movie called Atlantic City. It’s like a glimpse into the sadness of Atlantic City that made them say, “Hey, let’s make gambling legal here!” And it also shows the folks who are still hoping for better days, even though they’re really struggling.

John Guare wrote the story, and the movie stars Burt Lancaster, who gives a really honest and classic performance. Then there’s Susan Sarandon, who’s young but amazing, playing a casino waitress who wants to be a dealer. She’s dealing with her past, though, in the form of an ex-husband she can’t get away from. This movie feels like it belongs to the past but also feels like it could be happening right now. It captures a special moment in time that’s like a legend.

14 of 30: Eight Men Out (1988)

Movies with Gambling
Orion Pictures

In a movie by John Sayles, he tells the story of something that happened a long time ago – the Black Sox scandal of 1919. Back then, some players from the Chicago White Sox, even the famous Shoeless Joe Jackson, did something bad. They threw the World Series on purpose so that gamblers could win. It’s a history lesson that’s important for today. See, nowadays, professional sports are all about making money from gambling. But this story, Eight Men Out, shows us that we’re not really learning from the past.

The movie doesn’t focus so much on how the players were bad, but it’s more about how there was a fight between the players and the people who managed them. The players messed up the series not because they were greedy, but because they were desperate. Their boss didn’t want to give them a fair reward even though they had a fantastic season. We might not remember how bad gambling can be for sports these days, but Eight Men Out makes sure we don’t forget how dangerous it can be.

13 of 30: The Color of Money (1986)

Movies with Gambling
Touchstone Pictures.

Here’s a movie about sports made by Martin Scorsese. In it, Paul Newman is back, playing the same character “Fast Eddie” Felson, who we first met in The Hustler back in 1961. We’ll talk more about that later, though. Let’s focus on The Color of Money from 1986. Well, some people might say it’s not as good as the first one when you look at it from a critic’s point of view, but it definitely did better in the theaters.

One big reason for its success was the great cast. Besides Newman, you’ve got Tom Cruise, John Turturro, and Forest Whitaker. And you know what else is cool? The story itself. This time, Newman’s character is done hustling pool and he’s helping out a new player, Vincent Lauria, played by Tom Cruise. The whole thing turns out to be really interesting and enjoyable. It’s a story that brings these characters to life in a wonderful way.

12 of 30 Gambling Movies: The Sting (1973)

Movies with Gambling
Universal Pictures

Among all the films on the list, The Sting (1973) stands out as probably the most praised one, winning seven awards at the Academy Awards out of ten nominations. People really love it, and it has a super high score of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. Even the Library of Congress thought it was special and decided to keep it in the National Film Registry forever.

You know what’s really cool? A big part of why this movie is loved so much comes from how well the actors work together. Paul Newman and Robert Redford, the main actors, had already teamed up with director George Roy Hill before in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). They all have this amazing connection, and you can really feel it when you watch the movie. The story is about two smart tricksters who team up to outsmart a mob boss and get back at him for what he did to their friend. It’s a story that really pulls you in.

11 of 30: Owning Mahowny (2003)

Movies with Gambling

When you look past all the flashy stuff that people think is cool about gambling and really focus on how it can totally take over your life, you arrive at Owning Mahowny. This movie tells the real story of a Canadian bank manager named Philip Seymour Hoffman who did something really wrong. He took money from the bank he worked at and started making really risky bets in Atlantic City. And you know what? Hoffman is amazing in this role. He’s like a puzzle – sometimes he’s hard to understand, sometimes he’s really sad, and you just feel bad for him. He’s a guy who can’t stop himself, even though he’s hanging on as best as he can.

The movie is so connected to Hoffman’s character that it’s almost like he’s far away from us. His character is so trapped in his own thoughts that we can’t really get inside his head. But you know what? That’s probably the closest a movie can come to showing us how terrifying it is to be addicted to gambling.

10 of 30 Gambling Movies: Rounders (1998)

Movies with Gambling

This movie, directed by John Dahl, is special because it’s the only one on the list that became a true cult classic. When it first came out, critics didn’t go crazy for it, and it didn’t even make twice the amount it cost to make, which was $12 million, when it was shown in theaters around the world. It’s surprising, especially considering it had Matt Damon, who was riding high after his awesome work in Good Will Hunting (1997), and Edward Norton, who had been in some really great movies just a few years earlier, like Primal Fear (1996), where he even got an Oscar nomination.

But guess what? Rounders (1998) is looked at really well nowadays, even though it didn’t do great in the beginning. That’s how these cult classics usually end up working, you know. The story is about these two friends, played by Matt Damon and Edward Norton, who travel around playing poker to try to pay off a debt. They’re really great together, and that makes the movie even better. It’s a movie that still feels good even today.

9 of 30: The Card Counter (2021)

Paul Schrader made a really cool, kind of dark movie that’s all about feelings and struggles. It’s about this guy who’s really good at playing cards, played by the amazing Oscar Isaac. He goes from casino to casino, and it’s like his way of taking charge of his life quietly and trying to forget about the bad stuff in his past. The movie is more exciting than most of the stuff Schrader usually does, but it still has that deep feeling he’s known for. It’s clear he really loves showing this world of casinos and how it all works, all the tiny details and special things about it.

Sometimes, the parts with gambling might feel a bit out of place when you think about Schrader’s usual themes of guilt and pain. But you know what? They also add a spark to him and the movie. Out of all the cool gamblers we’ve seen in movies, Oscar Isaac’s character is up there with the best. We might not be gamblers, but if we were, we’d want to be like him: smart, careful, and always in charge.

8 of 30 Gambling Movies: Mississippi Grind (2015)

Movies with Gambling
Sycamore Pictures

You’ve got Ryan Reynolds and Ben Mendelsohn as the main guys in this movie, and it’s both funny and serious. The movie was made by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, who are filmmakers from the US, and it was released by A24. It’s kind of like a road trip story, where Mendelsohn’s character, Gerry, who can’t stop gambling, becomes friends with Gosling’s character, Curtis. Gerry thinks Curtis brings him good luck, so he takes him on a long trip to New Orleans to play in a really big poker game.

At times, the movie gets a bit dark, but there are also some really touching moments. All the way through Mississippi Grind (2015), you’ll find yourself laughing at how strange the characters are and the not-so-smart choices they make. The two main guys become real friends in the movie, and it feels just like the actors themselves get along well. If you haven’t seen this yet, I promise it’s worth it just to watch them act.

7 of 30: Croupier (1998)

Croupier (1998)
Channel Four Films

Let’s start off by saying that this project does something really interesting right from the beginning. They use inner thoughts of the characters to make it feel like one of those old detective movies or neo-noir films. The screenwriter, Paul Mayersburg, and the director, Mike Hodges, got their inspiration from those kinds of movies. But there’s more to Croupier (1998) than that. It’s like a little window into how casinos work, filled with all these technical words and phrases, especially since it’s set in a British gambling place.

Now, what comes out of this cool style and smart writing is an amazing performance by Clive Owen, an English actor. He goes really deep into understanding what makes people tick. The story is so interesting that it’s like looking closely at a character, trying to figure out how they work. The main character, Jack Manfred, is so well done that he might just be the most interesting lead in any gambling movie. And believe me, there’s so much more to why Croupier is such a fantastic movie.

6 of 30: The Cincinnati Kid (1965)

The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
Filmways Pictures

Norman Jewison directed this movie, and you’ll find many big movie fans saying it’s the best gambling movie ever. Well, some parts of it might not feel as smooth as they used to, but don’t let that bother you. Even though Norman Jewison didn’t come in first place with The Cincinnati Kid (1965), being at number five is pretty awesome. He definitely played his cards right.

Steve McQueen takes the main role here as Eric “The Kid” Stoner, a young poker player in New Orleans. The story happens during The Great Depression, and it’s all about The Kid challenging an experienced card player named Lancey “The Man” Howard, played by Edward G. Robinson. The writing is really smart, and the characters are played so well by the actors. It’s like they’re really in the game. This movie still gets a lot of respect, and there’s a good reason for that.

5 of 30: Tricheurs (1984)

Tricheurs (1984)
Les Films du Losange

You might not have heard of this, but it’s one of the best gambling movies out there. Before Barbet Schroeder gave us Barfly, Reversal of Fortune, and Single White Female, he created this wild, totally captivating thriller. It’s all about this charming guy, played by French rock star Jacques Dutronc, who’s so deep into gambling that he’s not even bothered if he wins or loses anymore. Things get even crazier when he crosses paths with a guy who drags him into a tricky cheating scheme that just makes everything way more risky.

The movie, Tricheurs, doesn’t judge these gamblers and cheaters. It just follows them on their journey to a not-so-happy ending. But don’t think it’s all gloomy – this trip is a dark and exciting ride that you won’t forget.

4 of 30 Gambling Movies: Hard Eight (1996)

Hard Eight (1996)
Green Parrot 

If we were to talk about the most overlooked gambling movies ever, Hard Eight (1996) by Paul Thomas Anderson would definitely be at the top. It’s got Phillip Baker Hall in the lead role, and there’s also an amazing group of actors like John C. Reilly, Gwyneth Paltrow, Samuel L. Jackson, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who all add something special to the story. Well, except for Hoffman – but his one scene in the movie almost stole the spotlight.

In the film, we follow Sydney, played by Hall, as he takes John, played by Reilly, under his wing and teaches him the ins and outs of being a professional gambler in Las Vegas. John meets a waitress named Clementine, played by Paltrow, and things take a turn toward a kind of crime thriller. The three of them end up in a really tough situation that could land them all in jail, and that’s where the real drama unfolds.

3 of 30: Uncut Gems (2019)

Uncut Gems (2019)

Josh and Benny Safdie wrote and directed this movie, and what’s really cool about it is that it’s known for giving Adam Sandler’s acting career a big boost. People all around really liked him as Howard Ratner, a guy who’s addicted to gambling and owns a jewelry store in New York City’s Diamond District.

The whole movie, Uncut Gems (2019), did pretty well in theaters. Actually, it was the movie that made the most money for A24, the company that made it, when it first came out. Critics also had really good things to say about it. The movie has this way of making you feel really anxious because of how it’s shot and the sounds they use, and that’s something fans still talk about. If you haven’t seen this movie from a few years ago that everyone loved, you should definitely give it a shot. It’s totally worth it!

2 of 30: The Gambler (1974)

The Gambler (1974)
paramount pictures

When it comes to showing what it’s like to really struggle with gambling addiction, James Caan’s character in The Gambler (1974) does it so well that it might just be one of the most real depictions ever in movies. This guy, the main character, doesn’t hold back. He’s willing to bet a lot of money on poker games in Las Vegas, on big football games with his pals, or even on a casual basketball match he comes across during his walk in the park.

Axel Freed, that’s his name. He’s not just into gambling, he’s also a writer and an English teacher. But let’s be real, his heart truly belongs to gambling in this crime movie. The way James Caan played him got a lot of praise. Actually, this well-known American actor even got nominated for a Golden Globe Award for this role. He really carried the movie in so many ways. This should definitely be remembered as one of his finest performances and one of the best gambling movies ever made.

1 of 30 Gambling Movies: California Split (1974)

California Split (1974)
Spelling Goldberg

The story behind California Split is pretty interesting. Robert Altman sent the script to Elliot Gould, hoping he’d take on the role of Charlie, a gambler who becomes friends with another gambler named Bill, played by George Segal. When Gould got the script, he said to Altman, “I’ve always wanted to play this guy.” Altman told him, “You are this guy.” Well, let’s hope not, because Charlie’s addiction is really tough. But Gould brought his own easygoing charm to the role, and it worked really well when he teamed up with Segal, who wasn’t really into gambling. These two guys had this cool, confident vibe that’s a highlight of 1970s hangout movies. It’s not just about being buddies; it’s about the kind of friendship that guys tend to have. Plus, there’s a whole lot of gambling in the movie, and Altman films it so naturally. You get to listen in on the conversations of the odd and dangerous characters in that world. California Split is probably one of Altman’s most underrated classics, and the ending hits you softly but perfectly. It is one of the best gambling movies.

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