One of the most underappreciated genres of film throughout history has been those set at casinos or involving gambling. They depict suspense, excitement, blissful moments, depressing ones, comedic ones, and so much more.
Casino-related movies have been entertaining people for decades, and they continue to do so today. They've helped open up people's minds to the exciting world of casinos and created some of the best movies ever made.
The Myth Around Casinos Inspires Hollywood
Casino movies are usually realistic depictions of casino life with dramatic plots and story lines that depict various dilemmas faced by gamblers. You can use these movies to inspire yourself to play better games.
Casino scenes are often used by filmmakers to create suspense, mystery, and drama. They're often used in films, so they lend themselves well to cinema.
Here are the ten best casino movies to watch!
#1 Casino Royale (2006)
Casino Royale is one of the most-loved casino movies of all time. It’s essentially one long casino game sequence with James Bond. So, what are the main ingredients which made this film so successful?
The story: After receiving his 007 license, British secret service agent James Bond goes to Madagascar, where he learns about a link to Le Chifre, a man who funds terror organizations. He then finds out that he plans to get his hands on $100 million by playing poker in the Monte Carlo Casino to be able to pay back debts to the boss of a terror organization. MI6 decides to send James Bond there, hoping he can beat the odds and win enough money to take down Le Chiffre’s organization.
It has an IMDb rating of eight out of ten, and a 94% Rotten Tomatoes rating, so it isn't surprising that Casino Royale consistently ranks at the top of most James Bond lists worldwide.
#2 Casino (1995)
Casino is often regarded as one of the greats of all time, and should definitely be on your watch list if you enjoy casino movies!
Directed by Marty Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro and Sharon Stone, this epic crime drama follows the career of an American gangster named Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein.
In the beginning of the film, Ace is working as a high roller at the Monte Carlo casino, where he meets his future partner Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci). The two men then join forces and set out to make money by running illegal casinos across America.
The movie is set in the 1970s and is a classic movie with the right dose of everything. It’s a gambling movie that has it all; suspense, action, drama, romance, and comedy.
Casino was released in 1995 and became a huge success. It won five Oscars including Best Picture, Director, Actor and Screenplay, and received three nominations for Supporting Actress and Supporting Actor.
#3 The Gambler (2014)
Casino movies often feature many gambling scenes, and The Gambler is just one of them. Mark Wahlberg plays the lead character of a college professor who enjoys playing blackjack as a pastime.
Gambling doesn't always hurt people, but Jim makes things go too far. It seems as though everyone has something bad to say about him.
After playing roulette for hours, Jim ends up owing over $200,000 to some gangsters. He then spends the rest of the film trying to figure out how he can get out of his debt and survive.
The intense action leads to one last roulette spin that determines Jim's fate and provides spectators with an adrenaline-filled moment.
This casino film is a good way to spend an evening if you love casino action and adrenaline. It also has some valuable lessons for people who play blackjack a lot.
#4 The Sting (1973)
Robert Redford and his partner Paul Newman play con artists who try to trick a wealthy man into believing they can help him out of financial trouble.
They pretend they're a pair of an amateur and a pro, and convince him to gamble with them. But things go wrong when the scammer loses big.
Full of surprises at every turn, The Sting has lots of action packed scenes you won't want to miss. With solid acting by Paul Newman, Shirley MacLaine, Robert Redford, plus an amazing soundtrack, The Sting is one of the greatest gambling films ever made.
#5 The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
The Cincinnati Kid tells the story of an intense, dramatic game of poker between a young upstart player (Steve McQueen) and a seasoned veteran (Edward G. Robinson). The two players play against each other, probing for weaknesses and looking for any advantage.
Both characters are excellent. The opening sequence is brilliant, and although the female characters are a bit too glamorous for reality, the ending of The Cincinnati Kid is so unexpected and unpredictable that it makes up for everything else.
This is a great movie which shows that to win, you need to learn as you go along.
#6 The Hangover (2007)
The Hangover has four main characters: One is a bachelor, the other one a sarcastic elementary school teacher. Then we have a dentist and lastly an eccentric uncle. Everything goes wrong for this funny group in the movie.
The best hangover gambling scene is when they wake up in Las Vegas. They are drunk, high and don't know where they are or what day it actually is. What a shock!
They also have a child who was conceived by someone else, and one of the guys got married to an escort while he was drunk. Sounds funny, right?
The focus of this film is the glamorous world of high stakes gambling, but it succeeds at entertaining us thoroughly.
#7 21 (2008)
21 is a Blackjack movie based on the book Bring Down the House by Ben Mezrich.
Jim Sturgess plays the lead role in the film. He is a highly intellectual MIT graduate who has a strong desire to be a successful entrepreneur. After being rejected by Harvard Business School, an opportunity presents itself after he was invited into the prestigious MIT Blackjack team.
A college mathematics professor trains his students to be professional blackjack players and gain an unfair advantage by counting cards. Through their training, they pull off one of the biggest card counting heists ever witnessed in Las Vegas.
They soon get into trouble when they start playing their own games against casinos and win Millions.
#8 Rounders (1998)
It’s not easy at all to find a gambling film offering lots of comedy and heartwarming drama at once. Rounders does just that, with an exciting script, great rating (7.3), and an excellent cast (including Hollywood stars Matt Damon and Edward Norton).
It tells the story of Mike McDemott, a college student who is forced into illegal gambling in order to pay for his tuition at MIT.
The confrontation takes place right before your eyes, and there's plenty of table talk and poker bluffing tactics.
Rounders was certainly not one of the best movies ever made, but it did play an important role in bringing casino gambling to the mainstream and thus helped pave the way for future movies like 21.
#9 Oceans Eleven (2001)
This movie made heist movies popular again! After leaving prison, professional thief Danny Ocean decides that the best thing he could do is rob casinos!
The film focuses on famous criminal Danny Ocean recruiting ten criminal specialists to steal $150 million from three Las Vegas casinos.
In order to pull off one of the greatest casino robberies ever, Danny recruits 10 people who specialize in various fields. Each person has a specific task. George Clooney plays the role of Danny Ocean, Brad Pitt plays his partner, and Matt Damon plays his friend Brian. All together they make up a great team.
So even though gambling isn't an integral aspect of "Ocean's Eleven," it's still a fun experience and plays in famous Vegas casinos.
#10 Rain Man (1988)
Rain Man isn't just about gambling; there's so much more to it.
Rain Man begins when Charlie receives the news of his father's death. After leaving his troublesome business, he heads to receive the family's estate. Then comes the second blow -- the will executor informing him that the entire estate is left to a brother Charlie didn't know he had!
Raymond is an autistic. When Charlie finds out about Raymond’s condition, he decides to kidnap him and take him to LA, where he plans to get the money himself. But very soon, he starts to love his brother and plans change!
It was the card counting scenes from the movie that made Rain Man an iconic film and helped create a major myth about American casinos.
In fact, Rain Man was one of Hollywood’s earliest films shot inside a casino. But none of that detracted from the fact that Rain Man is an excellent movie full of depth and a compelling story!
This completes our list of the ten best casino movies, with Casino Royale taking the number one position. What is your all time best casino movie?
Casino movies tend to portray extremes, from high highs to low lows, with everything in between.
In fact, most of the iconic movies in the last few decades have had a gambling scene. There is a range of reasons for this. Gambling and casinos are associated with excitement and adventure. This is the reason why they are often the setting of movies.
Casinos have a special place in our hearts. For many people, casinos are the place of good times and big wins, so it's no surprise that there are so many casino movies.
Casinos and gambling have been the theme of many movies, and we ranked the 10 best of them. All these gambling movies are perfect for a great movie night. Enjoy!