The thrill and appeal of gambling is difficult to overstate which is why it resonates with millions of people across the world. Whether it’s in the form of a simple gentleman’s agreement over who’ll win the next UFC fight or it consists of a weekend out to Vegas or Atlantic City, gambling is an activity which is beloved in many forms.
Some enjoy late night poker games in their basement with friends and HBO on in the background, while others prefer the thrill of online gambling; whether it’s playing bingo at Bet Fair or risking cash on Internet poker tournaments. Then there are those who’d rather be a spectator and appreciate watching others do the gambling, luckily for them there are several great movies about gambling. It can be argued that these films have helped keep interest in gambling growing strong, so for anyone who’s enjoyed the excitement of winning a bet, here’s a rundown of what I feel are the 5 best gambling movies of all time!
Casino is often unfairly seen as Goodfellas-lite but I think that’s a unfair assessment. Sure there are similarities but this Martin Scorsese film has plenty of its own charm. While it’s more of a mafia movie than one specifically about gambling, as its name sake suggestions it’s centered on a Casino, so close enough. “Ace” Rothstein, played by Robert de Niro, is charged by the Chicago mob to run a the Tangiers casino in Las Vegas. It’s not a bad gig, at least not until Nicky Santoro, played by Joe Pesci, shows up and turns things on their head.
21 is based on the true story of an MIT Blackjack club. Micky Rosa, played by Kevin Spacey, is an ambitious MIT professor who gathers his top math students, teaches them how to count cards, and then jets them off to Vegas on weekends to make massive amounts of money. I honestly think this movie should be shown as a response whenever anyone in a math class questions what applicable purpose what they’re learning has. Ben Campbell, by Jim Sturgess is the most talented of Rosa’s students and joins the club into order to pay the $300,000 fee to get into Harvard. As you can imagine, what started innocently enough for Strugess is soon morphed by the allure of his newly acquired luxurious lifestyle.
3. The Color Of Money
The Color of Money is another classic directed by Martin Scorsese, and an Oscar-winning movie at that. This time around Scorsese is bringing the best out of Paul Newman, who plays as Fast Eddie Felson, a veteran pool hustler and a young Tom Cruise, who plays Vincent Lauria. Felson becomes something of a mentor to Lauria who ultimately gets drawn back into the world of pool hustling himself. Of course, there can only one person can be the best, so Felson and Lauria inevitable wind up pitted against each other in an ultimate showdown.
2. Casino Royale
People were very skeptical when Daniel Craig was first announced to be taking over the Bond franchise, but Craig quickly put skeptics to rest with his gritty portrayal of 007 in Casino Royale. While Casino Royale is more a James Bond movie then strictly a gambling one; there’s actually quite a bit of card playing and gambling involved. Casino Royale was an excellent film to kick start Daniel Craig’s tenure as Bond and is definitely worthy of the number two spot. Seriously, I can’t think of any of other movie where the protagonist steps away from the card table to kill a spy or two, freshen up a bit and then resume playing high stakes poker.
Starring two of the best actors in Hollywood, Matt Damon and Edward Norton, it’s not difficult for Rounders to top the list. Toss John Malkovich into the mix, with his superb Russian accent, and you have all the ingredients for the best gambling movie. Released back in 1998, Rounders still holds up. Rounders is the story of Mike McDermott, played by Matt Damon, who’s drug back into the world of high stakes, underground poker when his friend buddy Worm, played by Edward Norton, shows up in urgent need of cash. Not to spoil the movie, but if you have a friend who goes by the name of Worm, you know there’s going to be trouble.