The Top Five Gambling Movies Ever Made

Even though gambling movies usually fall into different categories, there are some films that manage to display all kinds of gambling with unflinching accuracy. These are our five favorite movies that deal with gambling, spanning several centuries, and everything from craps to horse racing. Beyond being a blast to watch, most of these films were also smash hits at the box office, and some are still having a profound impact on modern gambling.

Rounders 1. Rounders (1998)

Though Rounders only grossed $22 million when it was released in theaters, it’s grown a cult following, particularly among poker players, in the years since. This movie was one of the first mainstream representations of Texas Hold’em, and may be considered a contributing factor to rise of Texas Hold’em in the 2000’s. The poker action and the portrayal of the protagonist that (probably) has a gambling problem were both totally realistic and non-judgmental. Vanessa Rousso has said that it’s the best poker movie ever made, due to its ability to capture the energy of poker.

sting 2. The Sting (1973)

With a combination of horse racing and poker, The Sting is actually a caper movie that uses gambling throughout. The complicated story is loosely based on a real life conman who released a book detailing some of his real-life crimes. In this story, he and a partner are pulling a long-con while seeking revenge for the death of a partner. The movie was a huge hit, earning $160 million in theaters, and winning seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

a cincinnati kid norman jewison THE_CINCINNATI_KID-6 3. The Cincinnati Kid (1965)

With Steve McQueen in the leading role, no gambling movie list can ignore The Cincinnati Kid. It follows Eric Stoner, an up-and-coming poker player who’s aiming to establish himself in the gambling world by beating an older and more successful player. When it was released, this movie met mixed reviews (though it was a huge success with $180 million earned in theaters), but it has aged well to become one of the most iconic and well-respected gambling movies of all time.

owningmahownypic 4. Owning Mahowny (2003)

Based on the real life story of a gambling addict who committed the largest known case of one-man bank fraud in Canada, Owning Mahowny takes a look at gambling from the perspective of  a problem gambler, while also briefly looking at the casino gambling world in a larger light. The movie won praise for Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance, and for its down-to-earth point of view. Robert Ebert placed this film in his Top Ten Films of 2003 list but, with a miniscule world-wide gross of $1.1 million, Owning Mahowny was a commercial flop.

csno 5. Casino (1995)

Casino is a mob movie from Martin Scorsese that follows the rise of a casino manager (loosely based on real-life Vegas casino exec Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal). In the process, we see the dark side of the bygone days of mafia-ruled Las Vegas and get a backdoor look at how a major casino operates. From measuring craps dice and observing blackjack dealers, to dealing with inept managers, Casino shows us a much deeper and darker image of the gambling industry than most comparable movies.