Casino games and movies are a match made in heaven. Given that excitement, tension and a chance to become instantly wealthy are all natural parts of casino games; there couldn’t be better subject material for a gripping flick. But which of those films stand apart from the rest, and can be called the best of all time?
We’ve rounded up the 10 best films that are based around casinos and casino games that have received critical and audience acclaim, or otherwise become cult classics. If any inspire you to make your own movie, you can test your skills at an online casino and see if you have what it takes to write a Hollywood-style script!
1. The Gambler
Those who still claim Mark Wahlberg can’t act should have a gander at The Gambler. The Wahlberg remake was released in 2014, though the cult classic original came out in the 1970s. The story, based on the book of the same name, tells of a literature professor who suffers from a gambling addiction. After hitting illegal Blackjack tables in sketchy establishments he finds himself in debt and attempts to find the money any way he possibly can.
2. Hard Eight
Hard Eight was released in 1996, and is not just a classic tale of master and student, but one that happens to revolve around professional gambling. It depicts a young up-and-coming pro gambler, Sydney, played by Philip Baker Hall, who learns the tricks of the trade from a grizzled old professional, John, played by John C. Riley. There is plenty of focus on being a world-class gambler, which will please real life fans of casino games, plus a good old fashion love story thrown in for good measure.
3. Rain Man
Virtually everyone who has ever looked at a top 100 films list of all time has heard of four-time Academy Award winning film Rain Man, released in 1988. The film features a career-defining role for Dustin Hoffman, playing Raymond, an autistic man who happens to be a genius Blackjack player. Both heart-warming and rife with classic comedy moments, Rain Man is a must watch, even for those who aren’t into Blackjack
This 2008 cautionary tale is based on real life events. Telling the fascinating attempts by an MIT Blackjack club that attempted to rob Las Vegas casinos via illegal card counting techniques, the film was controversial upon initial release. Starring Jim Sturgess and Kevin Spacey, 21 is a must watch for real life enthusiasts of the game.
Released in 1998, Rounders features two of Hollywood’s biggest names, Edward Norton and Matt Damon. The pair plays professional high stakes Poker masters who, in an effort to pay off a debt, travel from town to town, looking for the biggest games. The film has gained a massive cult following over the years, though was not highly praised at release.
6. The Sting
An absolute classic released in 1973, The Sting stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford. The two legends of Hollywood play con artists who aim to get revenge for the murder of their friend. They do so by luring the man responsible into various games of chance, including Poker, and robbing him of his money.
7. Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels
This 1998 British comedy starring Jason Statham and Vinnie Jones is one of director Guy Ritchie’s most loved films. The movie revolves around a group of young friends who get into massive debt via an illegal Poker game, and attempt every solution under the sun to get out of hot water. Hilarious and brilliant.
8. Casino Royale
Released in 2006 and seen as a grittier, more realistic take on the legendary British secret agent, Casino Royale is based almost entirely around a plot involving high stakes Poker, and is one of the best gambling-themed movies ever made. The return of Bond, James Bond to the big screen saw yet another actor tackle the role of 007. This time around Daniel Craig took the reins, and he played the role convincingly, gambling his way through high stakes games like a pro.
9. The Cincinnati Kid
Going all the way back to 1965, The Cincinnati Kid stars Steve McQueen, and is still surprisingly excellent despite being over 50 years old. The film is a simple tale of a rising Poker star who grows in skill until taking on the industry legends. The Cincinnati Kid is straightforward in its directing approach and plot, but it helps to keep in mind that this movie was made long before modern movie tropes were solidified.
Last is this 1998 neo-noir film that was largely overlooked upon release. But as with other films on the list, Croupier has gained a cult fan base. Starring the then-unknown Clive Owen, it takes an unexpectedly sombre look at the world of casino games from the point of view of the dealer. Rife with moody monologues in the style of noir detective stories of old, Croupier is a surprisingly intelligent, even educational story that may well catch the viewer off guard.