I got 5 bucks says you love this list. I also got 5 bucks says you may not like it. It’s not the smart way to gamble but I never lose any money so is that really a bad thing?

I really wanted to do a Top 5 Poker Movies list but there aren’t many out there and, of the ones that are out there, I don’t feel like watching them all. My apologies to Kenny Roger’s The Gambler… and his chicken establishment. They’re no KFC!

So, I’ve widened the field to include all forms of gambling. Here’s my Top 10 (in order):


Swingers only comes in at #10 because, technically, it is not a gambling movie. However, it does feature one of the greatest and most comical gambling scenes ever caught on film. It also taught me what Double Down meant and made the phrase “Vegas, Baby! VEGAS!” legendary.


Ocean’s is one of my favorite films but only comes in at #9 since it’s more of a con movie than a gambling movie. However, gambling and Vegas play such a big part in the film that I think it’s inclusion is justified.


Rebooting the famous James Bond character turned out to be a pretty sweet idea. And updating the story to feature the very popular high stakes No-Limit Poker game made this film that much more enjoyable.


The Cooler is a great little Indie that features William H. Macy as a “Cooler” or someone who can suck the luck out of any gambler on a hot streak. The film also features Alec Baldwin, right before he made the jump to pop culture phenomenon, and Maria Bello’s ass!


Scorcese kills this follow-up to the 1960’s classic The Hustler where an aging Fast Eddie Felson takes on a protege (played by Tom Cruise) and teaches him the ropes of pool hall hustling.


Speaking of The Hustler… this film completely gets by on the charm of a young Paul Newman which would make someone a billion dollars if they could figure out how to bottle and sell it. Newman, again, plays Fast Eddie Felson, a small time pool hustler, pursuing his dream of taking down the legendary Minnesota Fats on the felt and hustling all the way there!


Some would argue that Casino is more gangster movie than gambling film. I would argue that it’s both! This film dives into the story behind how legalized gambling got it’s start and the roll the mob played in setting it up. It’s arguably also Scorcese’s best gangster film… which is a pretty big statement!


GOD, I LOVE ROUNDERS! How can you not? This film took us all into the world of high stakes poker and taught everyone what the hell Texas Hold ‘Em was before they figured out putting cameras on the table might get people interested in the game. It also features awesome performances from a young Matt Damon and Ed Norton and a crazy, Russian John Malkovich.


NOTE: This is not a sequel to Top Gun!
Remember when everyone not only liked Mel Gibson but downright loved him. Maverick features Gibson at his best, channeling a bit of his own Paul Newman, to deliver this hilarious tale of a con man trying to earn his way into a big high stakes poker game.


Anyone that knows me knows that I think Steve McQueen is the coolest thing to ever walk this Earth. Well, this is the film that introduced me to him. While many would say he’s done better movies, this is still my favorite of his filmography. It’s also a damn good poker movie too!

So, what do you think?

21 Responses to “MY TOP 10 GAMBLING MOVIES”

  1. Bruce Wayne Says:

    As I was reading I never expected to see The Cincinatti Kid on the list; it is older than me! Great film.

    How about The Sting? Great poker scene with Paul Newman and Robert Shaw.
    Lock stock and two smocking barrels, Eight men out, Big hand for a little lady, croupier, the gambler, bugsy, wall street.

    • See that’s the thing. I think that Casino Royale shouldn’t be in this list for the same reason (that I hope) The Sting and Lock Stock aren’t in the list. Those movies aren’t about gambling. They just have one huge scene at a poker table. Casino Royale is a action movie, and it happens to have a scene in a poker game… not a gambling movie.

      • Yes, but the scene is very pivotal to the plot in Royale. So, I count it. Swingers and Oceans is a stretch. I didn’t do the Sting because I consider that a straight conman flick but would make my favorite con lists for shizzle.

      • Bruce Wayne Says:

        The gambling in The Sting is far more important to the story than in Casino Royale, Swingers, or Oceans 11. Without the betting on the horses, there is no sting!

      • Guess I need to rewatch that. Don’t remember it that well. It was a great flick though.

  2. Paragraph Film Reviews Says:

    Nice list dude, and if you dig films about luck and gambling check out the Spanish flick “Intacto”, would probably come in around number 2 or 3.

    Loved The Cooler, if only to see William H Macy get laid!!!

  3. I have actually seen everything on this list except The Cincinatti Kid. I should check that one out. However… Rounders > Maverick. Malkovich > Molina. Damon + Norton > Gibson + Hunt.

    Great list though… would’ve hoped that Casino would be higher though.

    • Maverick actually inspired this list. I was watching it again and can’t believe how funny and likeable that film is. I LOVE Rounders but I think Maverick holds up a bit better over time. Though it lacks Teddy KGB.


    One hell of a list, man. Never even heard of Cincinatti Kid, I’m embarrassed, but this is really making want to watch The Hustler and The Cooler again. Why can’t Baldwin be badass anymore like he was then? Shame.

  5. yeah ‘lock, stock and two smoking barrells’ should be in there … but, if we count betting on illegal punch-ups, then ‘snatch’ maybe?

    Great list!

  6. Nice list Kai. Personally I’m always a bit lukewarm to gambling films (give me James Caan and Las Vegas on TV any day). I enjoy them, but they seldom inspire much out of me. However, I do love Cincinnati Kid (McQueen + Malden + Robsinon + young Rip Torn = an ultimate ‘guys’ group).

    If I was to do this list I would probably do a lot of shuffling around, and end up bumping Swingers for something like The Sting.

  7. Great list. I actually prefer The Colour of Money to the hustler and would also have included The Sting.

    Another couple of suggestions for you: David Mamet’s House of Games and Paul Thomas Anderson’s Hard Eight AKA Sydney

  8. I love Ocean’s 11, but this list needs to be amended RIGHT FUCKING NOW. Dump Ocean’s and put Vegas Vacation on here right this second. Clark plays fucking War, for chrissakes, and there’s also a heavy dose of Wallace Shawn. If any Ocean’s film were to make the list, it should have been Thirteen, as that one features a lot more actual gambling.

    Haven’t seen #1, but love love love yer 2-4 picks. Maverick isn’t a great film, but I’ve always thought that it was a ton of fun and was pretty well-written – probably one of the better TV adaptations ever made (I say that having never seen the original TV shows, just basing it off the quality of the film).

  9. charliebrown Says:

    A little-noticed film called “Yonkers Joe” (produced by Phil Ivey) came out a couple years ago. It stars Chaz Palmineri and Christine Lahti. About a small time hustler with a handicapped kid. This one should definitely be on the list.

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