Hold ’em, fold’em. Walk away. Run! Needless to say, gambling on casino games and casino gambling movies go hand-in-hand. With Vegas-style movies a few remote clicks away, you never have to leave the couch!
While several famous movies include high-tension thrills based on true stories, others are spoofs and proof that gut-busting laughs await. Below are some of the best movies about gambling.
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21. Vegas Vacation (1997)
Changing five hundred! For a casino funny scene, watch Clark (Chevy Chase). At the Cheapo Casino, he plays Coin Toss, War, Rock, Paper, Scissors, and Heads or Tails. Chasing losses is no good unless your name is Nick Papagiorgio.
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20. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
Groovy, baby! Austin Powers does an excellent job channeling James Bond when up against his rival Number Two (no pun intended) but makes the worst blackjack move by ignoring the dealer’s advice and loses. Oh, behave! The cards are clearly not in his favor.
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19. Swingers (1996)
Always double down. If only Trent’s advice (Vince Vaughn) to Mike (Jon Favreau) was always accurate in Vegas. Mike boldly bets $300 at the blackjack table. As he and Trent argue over whether to double down on 11, Mike loses. New best quote: Always go with your gut instinct.
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18. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Talk about swagger. The movie starts as a friendly game among friends but if your friends are Danny (George Clooney) and Rusty (Brad Pitt), buckle up! Pitt calls Clooney’s bluff and sets the tone for stealing $150M and splitting it 11 ways. The roller coaster ride is just starting!
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17. The Parent Trap (1998)
Reunited twins (played by Lindsay Lohan) deal with squabbling parents (deja vu?). At a summer camp poker game face-off, Hallie wins with a royal flush. Annie, however, loses (straight in diamonds) and jumps NAKED into the lake. And on Wednesdays, mean girls wear pink.
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16. Goodfellas (1990)
Talk about unhinged. Tommy (Joe Pesci) takes the tension up a few notches in a high-stakes card game. The fuss was about a squabble with Spider (Michael Imperioli), who is not even in the game. Spider will never forget Tommy’s drink again. Bottom’s up!
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15. Rain Man (1988)
Hit me, hit me, hit me. Autistic Ray (Dustin Hoffman) leaves the casino with a record payday. While brother Charlie (Tom Cruise) is stunned, the joy in this 80’s flick is the club music, the matching beige suits, and all kinds of brotherly bonding and bickering. Only in Vegas!
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14. The Hangover (2009)
The Hangover spoofs the iconic Rain Man classic right down to the escalator ride. A well-suited Alan (Zach Galifianakis) shows his comic genius during the Blackjack scene. Alan fluidly counts cards as overly excited pal Phil (played by Bradley Cooper) yells out, “He can’t lose!” Security!
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13. Rounders (1998)
Pay dat man his money. With cool gambling moments, you could slice the tension during the Texas Hold’Em showdown with Michael (Matt Damon) and Teddy (John Malkovich). Michael borrowed $10,000 to help a friend but won. How about them apples!
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12. Casino Royale (2006)
The Bond remake has a tense Montenegro card game. Bond (Daniel Craig) initially messes up, while Vesper (Eva Green) nervously starts praying. With accurate bluffs and tells, Bond (15-years as 007) scores a MEGA win worth over $100 million. Let the church say Amen!
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11. 21 (2008)
Let’s go make a killing. If you look up the best movies based on gambling, 21 will come up. After joining an exclusive blackjack team for MIT students and learning hand gestures and code talks, Ben (Jim Sturgess) learns that counting cards do not pay off.
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10. Lost in America (1985)
Among the unforgettable movie poker scenes are Lost in America. LA yuppies David (Albert Brooks) and Linda (Julie Hagerty) ditch their jobs, hop in a Winnebago, and head to Vegas with $100,000. The must-watch moment is Linda’s roulette meltdown over 22.
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9. Casino (1995)
Classic gambling movies often include memorable mobster Nicky (Joe Pesci). The gangster is vicious, tough-talking, and quite unpredictable. Among his most famous lines: You shit-kicking, stinky horse manure smelling motherfucker you.
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8. Run Lola, Run (1998)
If you look up what is the most iconic scene of all time, you might find Lola’s casino scream. The tense German thriller has Lola (Franka Potente) with only 20 minutes to score 100,000 Deutschmarks ($60,000) and save a friend. Talk about time-sensitive.
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7. California Split (1974)
When it comes to movies about gambling, California Split is among the best. Charlie (Elliott Gould) and Bill (George Segal) head to Reno for high-stakes poker. Bill wins $82,000 before calling it quits as he and Charlie split their winnings and part ways. Game over!
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6. The Cooler (2004)
If you search online for the best movies based on gambling, The Cooler will come up. Bernie (William H. Macy) Vegas’s unluckiest man stops high roller action. His luck changes when he falls for a cocktail waitress, throwing everything in reverse, and the house is NOT happy.
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5. The Gambler (2014)
Jim (Mark Wahlberg) is a professor and gambler who wants to go clean. He can’t stop gambling when he bets $20,000, then $40,000, and then $80,000. “Fuck my protection. Deal the cards.” Laying it all on black (roulette), he loses it all. Love me some spending money.
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4. Mississippi Grind (2015)
Bet it all. Gerry (Ben Mendelsohn) is an unlucky gambler who relies on Curtis (Ryan Reynolds), a young poker player, for good luck. Chasing wins, this is a must-watch, especially when they bet $285,000 and repeatedly say to each other We can’t lose. No sick ponies here!
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3. Cincinnati Kid (1965)
A stud poker player, Eric (Steve McQueen), tries proving himself in an exclusive poker game against the reigning poker champ, The Man, Lancey Howard. Famous last words: You’re good, Kid. But as long as I’m around, you’re second best. And you might as well learn to live with it.
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2. High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story (2003)
Wh it comes to Texas Hold’Em movies, the documentary is about Stu Ungar, who died in 1998 after heart complications from drug abuse. The youngest expert World Series of Poker winner, players continue to copy his aggressive no-limit techniques.
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1. Molly’s Game (2018)
TheOlympic skier ran a high-end poker game for years before an FBI raid. Gamblers love MG for the tense action, quick wit, and going full tilt scene. Talk about playing tight and running the odds. Watch as Harlan triples a $50,000 buy-in but gets bluffed off a win by Bad Brad.
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Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!
When the chips are down, it never fails. From heists and heartache to hilarious laughs, gambling movies in movies do not disappoint. The good news is the top gambling movies listed above are all streamable.