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10 most interesting films about gambling and casinos

Gambling is often the centrepiece of both outstanding literary works and screenplays for brilliant films.

From gambling addiction, mysticism and fortune, described in Pushkin’s The Queen of Spades, to corny crime in the Ocean’s trilogy, gambling can be nothing more than a symbol but, at the same time, play a vital role in the development of the plot.

In many cases, these works create a distorted view of the gambling industry among people.

But there are also many worthy examples that tell about the hidden secrets of gambling, as well as true-life, real stories about casinos that changed the lives of many people.

The gambler (1974)


A cult drama about a literature teacher Axel Freed, who is passionate about sports betting.

Drawing on a few ideas from Dostoyevsky’s novel The Gambler, Freed becomes literally obsessed with his desire to make money on the game and soon loses a huge amount of money.

The former teacher goes to Las Vegas with his last money, with an intense desire to win back, but there he will face even greater disappointments and blows of fate.

After a series of random events, Freed manages to pay back his debt, but his life is changed completely by this adventure.

A remake of the original film with Mark Wahlberg came out in 2014.

Molly’s Game (2017)

A more contemporary drama based on the autobiography of businesswoman Molly Bloom, who was accused of organising illegal poker tournaments with very high stakes.

Due to a serious injury, Bloom is forced to end her skiing career, after which she accidentally ends up in one of the underground casinos of Los Angeles.

She quickly mastered all the intricacies of the gambling business, quarrelled with her management and soon opened her own casino.

The pay for the entrepreneur’s rapid success is her conflicts with the mafia, violence and losing all her assets. Yet, Bloom does not state the names of her enemies and pleads guilty in court.

Lucky You (2007)

This film tells the story of difficult family relationships through, perhaps, the main casino game – poker.

Talented player Hack Cheever wants to get into the prestigious poker tournament, but he needs to get an unbearably high sum of money for this.

Deciding to steal from his lover and drowning in debt, Cheever makes his way to the tournament, but ahead of him is a difficult game at the final table against his father.

The fate of strained family relationships is decided by the last hand, in which the protagonist makes an unexpected decision.

21 (2008)

One of the least famous films starring Kevin Spacey tells the story of the attempt of several students and an MIT teacher to beat the casino.

Once a famous gambler, now a professor of advanced mathematics and probability theory, Micky Rosa is looking for smart students to help him beat the biggest casinos in Las Vegas again, hitting the jackpot at the blackjack table time after time.

At first, the team is successful, and everything goes according to plan for them, but soon serious quarrels and scandals happen between them, and the players betray each other.

One of the key points in the plot is the man in the casino, who has known Micky Rosa for a long time and is hunting for him.

The Cooler (2003)

In this tape, the main character played not against the casino but for it.

The title refers to an unlucky person who works in a casino, and his presence alone makes other players lose.

Having owned a large amount of money to one of the mafia clans that owns a casino in Las Vegas, Bernie Lootz slowly begins to come out of the role of a loser and makes an attempt to get out of the casino.

This is a crime drama with elements of romanticism and comedy, which reveals some things about the little known side of the gambling business at the end of the 20th century.

Croupier (1998)


One more film about the ins and outs of the casino, the main character of which got a job as a croupier and discovered all the charms of behind the scenes gambling.

While not abandoning his career as a writer, croupier Jack Manfred watches other people’s losses and breaks all the rules of the casino.

Out of the desire to help one of the players, Manfred decides to rob a casino, which doesn’t happen at the last moment.

The croupier publishes a book about this story after he has lost everything and continues to work for the casino. Jack soon finds out that his entire career in this position was part of a huge criminal plan that his father came up with.

Runner, Runner (2013)

A modern film, the plot of which revolves around an online casino and online poker.

A student Richie Furst, played by Justin Timberlake, is forced to pay for his studies at Princeton University, and he decides to put all his money into playing online poker to do it.

When he loses, Furst notices something wrong with the online casino and the game statistics of his opponent, to whom he lost.

The student goes for a search of the owner of this casino – Ivan Block (Ben Affleck), hoping to get his money back. As a result, Richie Furst becomes an accomplice and helps him to commit a number of illegal transactions with money.

It all ends with Ivan and Richie setting each other up, but the viewer does not understand until the very end who will end up being victorious.

Mississippi Grind (2015)

A gambling-addicted real estate agent meets a young player who once again gives him hope to raise big money on bets.

Having abandoned everything, the partners go on a tour tournament through the southern states of the United States, but due to addiction and excessive passion for the game, constant quarrels flare up between them, and their debts continue to grow.

Hoping for the success of his younger ally, the protagonist loses everything and is forced to flee from his enemies.

After an unlucky streak, the players decide to bet their last money, pay off their debts and help their families. And this plan is on the verge of failure.

Ocean’s Trilogy (2001-2007)

Of course, in a selection of films about the casino, we couldn’t not mention the remakes of the 1960 film, which bears the same name and has Frank Sinatra playing the main part.

In these films, several criminal elements, played by famous Hollywood stars, come together to rob the largest casinos in Las Vegas.

A well-thought-out plan is always disrupted from the first minutes of its execution, which is why the heroes have to improvise and figure out how to get out of a difficult situation.

There’s a lot of money, FBI agents and constant loyalty checks of each of the players who constantly try to set each other up in these films.

Casino Royale (2006)

And perhaps, the main film about the casino, which is the first one that comes to mind of many film lovers.

Oddly enough, this film is more about the fight of British intelligence agencies with criminals rather than gambling.

At the same time, the key events of the James Bond saga are unfolding at a poker tournament at the Royal Casino in Montenegro.

The main payoff in this game is more than money: if Bond wins, he will force his main antagonist Le Chiffre to cooperate with MI6. But, things don’t go as planned, and Le Chiffre’s bluff leads to Bond losing, and after this, the events unfold as in a classical action film.

Gemma Heathcote
Gemma Heathcote.

Gemma Heathcote – Editor @ Superlenny

Gemma is the Editor of SuperLenny.com, where her main responsibility outside of editing and writing content is overseeing everything published online. She’s also ensures the day to day operations of SuperLenny are kept running smoothly, including keeping Josh and Matt in check!