10 of the Best Films Based on Casino Games
Meta: Take a look back in time at some of the best films inspired by casino games!
Red or Black?
If you want a taste of the good ‘ole days, remembering the times of in-person casino visits, or forays into the online gambling world – why not get that nostalgia with a movie?
Whether you like the atmosphere of a brick-and-mortar establishment or are more into the online casino experience, we have no doubts that you have been or will be captivated by the performances and storylines in these iconic movies that have stood the test of time.
From riveting biographical journeys of famous gamblers to high-octane thrillers about theft, card counting, and the seedy underworld behind the glitz and glam, these are our top movies based on casino games.
The Top Ten
- 21 – 2008
Loosely based on the true story of the MIT Blackjack Team that beat the house for almost a decade, 21 combines a business and math story in the form of a heist movie. It features actors such as Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth, Aaron Yoo, Jacob Pitts, and even Josh Gad, who are trying to pull one over on Kevin Spacey. It is a brief science around why people decide to take themselves to the casino.
- The Sting – 1973
Starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, these con men decide to take down a no-good r leader (Robert Shaw) with an elaborate plan of card games and horse racing. Understanding the machinations of Shaw and Kelly’s plan doesn’t matter — it’s just a delight to watch the characters (and director George Roy Hill) turn The Sting into one big, electric narrative sport. These are some winners who are easy to root for.
- Maverick – 1994
This film is an update on the Maverick series, and finds the title character (Mel Gibson) hoping to join a poker contest with an impressive payoff. In order to enter, he has to give up a considerable cash sum. He scams hopeful contestants, namely Angel (Alfred Molina) and Annabelle (Jodie Foster). To get the money he needs, he has to make enemies of both card players.
- Ocean’s Eleven – 2001
Danny Ocean (George Clooney) is the man of action. Less than 24 hours after parole, he is on to his next plan. His plan must stick to the following rules: no hurting anyone, no stealing from people who don’t deserve it, and play the game like you’ve got nothing to lose. With these rules in mind, Danny orchestrates the most sophisticated, elaborate casino heist in history.
- Molly’s Game – 2017
Based on the true story of Molly Bloom, who was an Olympic-class skier that ran one of the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker games for a decade. Her players included Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans, and finally, unbeknown to her, the Russian spies. She was later arrested by the FBI. In a world full of deception, one of her closest allies happened to be defense lawyer Charlie Jaffey. He learns there’s more to Molly than meets the eye.
- The Hustler – 1961
This tale follows the story of a pool shark’s travels from one pool hall to another, which ultimately leads him to a life-changing showdown with some of the biggest groups in the business, like the Minnesota Fats. This is a story about someone who fears losing, wafting from one smoke-filled hall to the next.
- Uncut Gems – 2019
Howard, who is played by Adam Sandler, is a man on a mission. In a precarious high-wire act, he must balance business, family, and adversaries on all sides in pursuit of the ultimate win. How? By making a high-stakes bet that could lead to the windfall of a lifetime.
- Casino – 1995
In 1970s Las Vegas, Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein (played by Robert De Niro) gets the word from his boss to head to Tangiers Casino. He tries to do a good job but runs into problems with several characters in his life. His colleague Nicky (played by Joe Pesci), and his ex-wife Ginger (played by Sharon Stone), amongst others, mean that Sam is constantly in danger. A thrilling movie adapted from Nicholas Pileggi’s best-selling book.
- The Cooler – 2003
Down on his luck, a lonely singleton called Bernie Lootz (played by William H. Macy) works at a casino in Las Vegas. The man who runs the casino, Shelly (played by Alec Baldwin), seems to enjoy the arrangement. The tables suddenly turn when Bernie finds unexpected happiness in Natalie Belisario (played by Maria Bello) when they start to date. This new love begins to get in the way of his job when Shelly seeks to end this new blossoming romance.
- What Happens in Vegas – 2008
A vacation in Las Vegas sees businesswoman Joy McNally (played by Cameron Diaz) and free-timer playboy Jack Fuller (Ashton Kutcher) coming to the sober realization that they’ve woken up married to each other after a night of casino playing in Vegas. After placing various bets, they realize a huge jackpot is theirs. However, in order for them to see a dime of it, they have to remain married as a judge refuses to grant them an annulment. The movie follows how one night in Vegas leads to two strangers having to make a marriage work.