Casino movies have been a backdrop for Hollywood cinema for the longest time. Since Gilda (1946), dozens of gambling pictures have entertained the masses. And what better way to cement gambling fantasies than by watching on the big screen?

Let’s look at the best casino movies that have graced our screens.

1. Ocean Eleven
Year: 2001
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Director: Steven Soderbergh

Ocean Eleven is a remake of a 1960 casino movie by the same name. Director Steven Soderbergh takes on this colossal task, and he doesn’t disappoint. His cast is also an addition to the glory of the storyline.

While it’s not exactly a gambling movie, leaving it out would be a crime. Plus, it has enough casino scenes before they start stealing.

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

The film follows Goerge Clooney, who plays Dan Ocean as the lead. He is a gambling aficionado in prison for crossing the wrong people. But he is released and gets to work immediately.

Goerge plans to steal millions, not from one, but three casinos in Vegas. He employs his trusted lieutenant, Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt), to help carry out this plan.

What Rusty doesn’t know is that Ocean is on a revenge mission. He wants to get his girl, Tess Ocean, back from casino mogul Andy Garcia. Dany wants to prove himself to Tess and win her over again.

Rusty and Dany recruit more hands to carry out this job. Matt Damon is a sharp rookie, and Dan Cheadle is part of the new crew. Rusty also calls in a gifted mechanic, Casey Affleck.

With insider information, the crew can break into the safe rooms of the casinos. And mind you, the strong room depicted in the movie is a life-size mockup of the real one.

The casino shots are taken at real casinos: MGM, Bellagio, and The Mirage. What a way to visit Vegas from your couch! If you love fast-paced gambling with a touch of crime, this caper movie is for you.

2. Croupier
Year: 1998
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Director: Mike Hodges

Croupier follows Clive Owen as Jack Manfred in his casino job. He is an aspiring writer with a distant personality and sharp instincts. Throughout the movie, his cold demeanour and calculative approach bring out the “Bond” character.

Director Hodges presents Manfred as a complicated character who has father issues. His dad, played by Nicholas Ball, is an extravagant gambler living in South Africa. And judging by Jack’s skill with the cards, he surely taught his son to gamble.

The movie is a narration where Jack puts us in his shoes as a croupier. His writer’s block pushes him to take a casino job organised by his dad in London. From the onset, Jack impresses the casino manager with his card skills.

When asked whether he gambles, the man says no. But what he does is take an interest in the different punters in the casino. This interest leads him to be in cahoots with Jain De Villers (Alex Kingston).

Jain is an acclaimed South African gambler who has an eye on Jack. Their conversation is fun to watch, as both are exceptional players. You could annotate the tension and play of words as they chat.

If you’d love to see what makes a gambler tick, Croupier Covers that well. It’s not often that we get to see into the mind of a casino dealer.

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

3. Casino Royale
Year: 2006
Genre: Action/Adventure
Director: Martin Campbell

Whenever James Bond is mentioned, guns, cold hearts, and handsomeness come to mind. Danie Craig played Bond in this first 007 book depiction by Ian Flemming. And he doesn’t disappoint.

The movie follows a cold government assassin (Bond) who is out to stop an international criminal, Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen). The two face off in a poker tournament at Casino Royale.

Le Chiffre, alias The Cypher, has a problem of his own. He owes a lot of money to his suppliers, men more dangerous than he. He has to win, even if it means poisoning Bond.

Things take a wild turn after Bond wins the game. Le Chiffre is killed by his debtors, and Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) tries to double-cross Bond. But he is James Bond, so he kills them all.

Casino Royale does a great job of exploring high-stakes poker in a 30-minute sequence. If you enjoy poker, this scene will have you on the edge of your seat.

4. The Card Counter
Year: 2021
Genre: Thriller & Mystery/Drama
Director: Paul Schrader

Paul Schrader is known for his one-man movies, simple budget, and deep storyline. In The Card Counter, he portrays William Tell (Oscar Isaac) as a troubled ex-US Army. He plays poker to calm his mind.

Will was a torturer for the army and served time in jail for war crimes. While in jail, he learned card counting, a skill that was useful when he finished serving his time. He is a believer in small plays and moderate wins.

His favourite game is roulette, where he says he’s got a 50% chance of winning. This shows how intricate his mind is, and a minimalist at that.

He meets La Linda (Tiffany Haddish), a bankroller who he eventually falls for. But it’s Cirk, a son of a vet who served with Will, who would challenge him. The trio is the perfect combo of genius, murderous thoughts, and comic love.

The poker plays in the movie are nothing short of realism. You see the tension as players get whacked by Will’s poker genius.

5. The Gambler
Year: 1974
Genre: Drama/Crime
Director: Karel Reisz

The Gambler follows the addictive gambling life of James Caan as Axel Freed. He is a university literature teacher with a huge betting problem. He amasses debts to the tune of $44,000 to satisfy his cravings.

In the film, Axel is depicted as an outcast who is looked down upon by everyone but his mother. She even lends him money out of fear of the Mafia her son is involved with.

Axel loves risking, and winning isn’t enough for him. He needs to lose, and he has to recover. The movie shows how gambling addiction can affect a person’s life.


High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

Movies on gambling illustrate the different take on risk and reward. You get a brighter view of the game, whether poker or blackjack. And when luck runs out, there’s always the stealing part of it – plus jail.

Out of the shadows of poker rooms and high-end casino bets, Hollywood has outdone itself. Your dose of the Vegas buzz and gamblers’ mindset is a full-on check with these films and a good way to keep you entertained, too.

Similar Posts