Hollywood is no stranger to gambling movies, whether gambling is the main focus or just a background interest of one of the characters. From living the high life to sinking to all-time lows, gambling has taken on a number of roles in some of our favorite films. Most films have shown real, in-person gambling: bachelor parties spent in Vegas, visiting bookies or playing poker at a table with other people. Before iPhones hit the market and gambling apps made a splash, most people got their fix in an actual, land-based casino. One of the first movies to show the world of online gambling was “Runner Runner.” Here are a few other movies that highlighted the world of gambling:
No list about gambling would be complete with “Casino” on it. This movie is about the business of gambling, namely from the viewpoints of real life mobsters Frank Rosenthal and Tony Spilotro. This is a typical Scorses film, with a lot of blood and interesting camera work.
“Casino Royale,” which is noted to have rebooted the “007” movie franchise, is a film about Text Hold’em and high-stakes bets. The final hand is a nail-biter, featuring four poker players who all have pretty great cards.
This 2003 film features William H. Macy as the casino’s jinx, trotted out to ruin a player who’s striking gold. Mario Bello plays a feisty cocktail waitress with a few secrets of her own. Alec Baldwin is the casino boss and practically steals every scene he’s in. This is a great movie for anyone who loves Las Vegas but wants to see it’s darker side.
Eight Men Out
The movie “Eight Men Out” came out in the 1980s and told the real life story of the 1919 Black Sox Scandal. During the scandal, eight White Sox players joined up with a group of gamblers and deliberately threw that year’s World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. When it was discovered that the players threw the game, the case went to court. Though the players were acquitted, they weren’t allowed to ever play baseball in the major leagues again. The movie has some of Hollywood’s hottest actors (from that time) playing the roles of the true life players.
This 1989 film starring Richard Dreyfuss as Jay Trotter followed the character through one fantastic day of betting at the races. Trotter, a cab driver who only ever had bad luck at the racetrack, got a tip from a pal and follow cabbie. The tip was about a certain horse that was sure to win. Though Pam, Trotter’s wife, had told him he couldn’t bet anymore, he decided to take one more chance with his tip. Trotter wins a lot and the movie follows him through this one great day at the track.
“Maverick” starring Mel Gibson is about the life of gamblers and one major poker tournament that takes place on a river boat. Gibson’s character plays poker with the hopes of winning half a million dollars. While there are other running plots throughout the entire movie, they ultimately lead to this one big game and the final hand.
One of the more current and most popular movies about gambling is “Oceans 11” starring George Clooney, a remake of the 1960 Frank Sinatra film. “Oceans 11” is followed by two sequels, both of which are also about gambling. This funny heist movie was a box office splash and showed the glamorous casino lifestyle. There’s an especially good gambling choice to be made at the end of the film.
This 1998 movie starring Matt Damon and Ed Norton showed several sides of gambling: addiction, breaking the habit, getting swayed by old triggers and the many ways in which gambling, while exciting, can change a life. The movie is almost strictly about gambling, following Damon and Norton’s characters as they bounce around from card game to card game, always trying to win bigger than before and to get out of trouble they’ve gotten in from past games. True gambling movie lovers never leave “Rounders” off their list.
Silver Linings Playbook
“Silver Linings Playbook” is about a lot of things: family, mental disease, healing, love and even dance. It’s also about gambling, as Robert De Niro’s character routinely bets on the Philadelphia Eagles games. De Niro’s character is a somewhat troublesome gambler, taking risk after risk, never satisfied until he actually wins. The end of the movie culminates in a double bet: in order for De Niro to come out on top, the Eagles have to win and Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence’s characters also have to get a certain score at a dance competition.
This movie stars Robert Redford, Paul Newman and Robert Shaw. It’s a movie about gambling, cons and thieves. Set in Chicago during the Great Depression, “The Sting” follows Redford’s character as he hustles a courier of Shaw’s. Shaw gets revenge by killing a partner of Redford’s and then connects with Newman to setup a scheme that will rob Shaw of everything he has.