There’s something about the human drama of gambling that lends itself to the silver screen. A close-up of a bead of sweat forming on the hero’s forehead as he stakes everything on the turn of a card, the spin of the roulette wheel or the roll of a dice is as dramatic a movie trope as any movie gunfight.
With this in mind, we have compiled five of the best movies featuring the excitement of gambling (in our opinion) that we bet you will love!
Robert De Nero stars in this Golden Globe-winning film by Martin Scorsese following Sam Rothstein, a mob-connected casino boss operating in Las Vegas. The film is based on a true story, which is told in the novel Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas, and follows the life of Frank Rosenthal, who is portrayed as Rothstein in the film.
Casino Royale (2006)
Daniel Craig’s 007 squares off against notorious villain, Le Chiffre, in a high-stakes game of Texas hold ‘em in a Montenegro casino. It’s a classic case of high stakes brinkmanship.
Rain Man (1988)
Tom Cruise plays hustler Charlie who has an autistic brother, Ray Babbitt.
Ray, played by Dustin Hoffman, is the brains behind the duo and gets Charlie out of a $80,000 pickle by using his remarkable talent for numbers on the blackjack table.
The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
Steve McQueen portrays the exciting and nervous nature of a poker match in this 1965 drama. During the depression, a poker play called Eric “the kid” Stoner, played by McQueen, seeks to establish himself as a poker player. His quest leads him to take on Lancey Howard, an experienced player widely considered to be the best, ending in a climactic final poker match between the two.
Featuring a youthful Matt Damon, Rounders is the tale of an entrepreneur who pays for his university fees by winning at the poker table. The film is full of famous faces, with John Malkovich and Edward Norton also making appearances. The movie’s showdown culminates in a dazzling high stakes game, with Malkovich playing the irrepressible poker baron that Damon must try and defeat. The film is carried along by brilliant performances – Norton, in particular, is spectacular – and authentic depictions of poker strategy and table banter that few other gambling movies render so successfully.