There are two things that a gambler enjoys the most: playing real money Australian online pokies and enjoying a good story while playing with friends. While a good gambling movie cannot give you a full gambling experience, it can satisfy the latter, the need for a good story to be told. If you’re yearning for such stories, here are the ten best movies about casinos and gambling in no particular order.

California Split

California Split doesn’t have the octane-fuelled action that a flick like Ocean’s Eleven has, nor was it well-accepted in the box office. However, for many, it’s the ultimate gambling movie. It follows a story of a compulsive gambler who tries to win big to absolve his previous debts. As we follow him and his partner through the gambling dens of Las Vegas and Reno, we meet colorful characters and overhear banter – something that is a crucial part of a casino experience.

It’s this banter and talks between friends about the nature of gambling that made this 1970s flick a cult classic among gamblers, with many reviews saying it’s the most underrated gambling movie.


This Scorsese movie starring Robert DeNiro is a gambler’s classic. The spin is, it’s not a movie about a gambler, but about the casino owner. In case you haven’t seen it yet, it follows an episode in the life of a Jewish-American mobster who takes over a Las Vegas casino. This criminal drama will take you through the ups and downs of being a mobster to a soundtrack of classic jazz.


The director of this flick, Barry Levinson, mostly directed comedies, but to little recognition. It’s his drama films that we know him for. Rain Man gave Barry the Academy Award, Good Morning Vietnam gather a cult following, and this film, Bugsy, brought home a Golden Globe.

It’s a crime drama that tells a story of a mobster and his love interest, both running a casino together and going through the hardships and euphoric moments one could expect from this line of job. The most intriguing part is that it’s based on a real story of a gangster Bugsy Siegel.

Casino Royale

While Casino Royale is not a strictly gambling movie, it contains what is probably the most well-known poker scene in cinema. Instead of being sneaky with his craft of spying, James Bond does a ballsy move and comes into a casino to confront his rival. As tension rises, the spy orders a dry Martini, goes all in, and — the rest you’ll learn after watching a movie. Let’s just say, the action isn’t limited to the poker table.

The Gambler

It would be a grave mistake to compile a list of the top ten best gambling movies without the movie called The Gambler. But not the modern remake starring Mark Wahlberg, the 1974 original with the western star James Caan. It’s not just a drama that shows the ups and downs of a gambling addict’s fun, it’s also speculation on what drives people to gamble. As the main character reveals, it’s not the money, it’s the risk. This is why the character portrayed by Caan wins exorbitant sums only to lose them in the next scene — all why enjoying it!


This 2008 movie appeals to modern problems. It tells a story about Ben, an MIT student who gathers a team of blackjack players because he needs money to pay for his exorbitant tuition fees. Their secret weapon is not luck, but IQ. The team knows how to count cards and play together to make sure they walk out with a fat check to split.

These guys and gals know an awful lot about blackjack, but what they don’t know is who’s going to betray them and whether it’s better to stay in the MIT or drop out of the university to pursue a career in professional gambling.


Maverick is a gambling movie, through and through. But for some reason, it feels like a classic adventure film, despite being shot in 1994. It follows two characters, Bret Maverick portrayed by Mel Gibson, and Annabelle Bransford portrayed by Jodie Foster. The two have a love-hate relationship trying to balance on the verge of being in love and conning each other. This dynamic alone can get you through the movie without being bored for a minute.

But that’s not the main plot point. It’s the final showdown, the high-stakes poker tournament with $500,000 as the main prize. In the Old West where Maverick is set, this amount of money would last a lifetime. Will the conman win the once-in-a-lifetime prize or will he get conned himself? 

The Cooler

Not every gambling movie is about a lucky guy getting his well-deserved win, or a group of mathematicians acing their way though a casino. The main hero of this movie who is brilliantly portrayed by William Macy is a “cooler” — a guy who brings bad luck by just being in a casino.

He’s so unlucky that he actually holds a job at a casino where he’s getting paid to hang around and share his unluckiness with the winning table (this practice is actually used in Vegas) But after falling in love with a charming woman, the cooler loses his abilities, leaving the mobster running the casino very, very unhappy.

Ocean’s Eleven

They say, the house always wins. But not in the case of Ocean’s Eleven, a motley crew gathered by Danny Ocean to rob not one, but three casinos at once. With such a sure way to get a payout from a casino, the team only lacks the plan, and that plan is going to elaborate.

You, the viewer, will be left guessing what Ocean has in mind as the new details are revealed throughout the movie. To add a bit of spice to the action, the man’s ex-wife is now the girlfriend of the guy he’s trying to rob.


This movie had the right plot at the right time, and combined with great writing and cinematography, it made it a cult classic. It was made in 1998, right when the poker scene was becoming mainstream, and cinema-goers were very much hyped about it. It tells the story of two friends, Mike and Lester who goes by Worm, who try to get out of their debts by winning high-stakes poker tournaments.

Mike is a law student and a gifted poker player. Worm is a felon and a known cheat. Together, they play a game where not only their money, their lives are at stake as their opponents turn out to be gangsters. Will they walk out with a win or with a bullet in the head? Give it a watch if you want to find out, you won’t regret it as the movie is loved by millions to this day.

Disclaimer: Play responsibly. Players must be over 18. For help visit

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us