The greatest casino movies of all time

casino movies

The tension of waiting to see if a number comes up or if a player has the best card hand switches perfectly onto the silver screen.

Gambling movies have undoubtedly played a major role in popularising the industry, helping sites such as Cafe Casino attract a massive audience in recent years.

With that in mind, read on as we look at what we believe are the greatest casino movies of all time, starting with a genuine classic.

The Cincinnati Kid

The 1960s were a golden era for Steve McQueen, with the American actor starring in numerous hit movies including The Cincinnati Kid.

His portrayal of Eric ‘The Kid’ Stoner perfectly highlighted the roller-coaster ride that most casino players endure at some point in their lives.

McQueen sparkles throughout a film that builds towards an inevitable poker showdown with Lancey ‘The Man’ Howard (Edward G Robinson).

Director Norman Jewison did a superb job in capturing the drama of playing high-stakes casino games and The Cincinnati Kid is a truly unmissable film.

Rain Man

The decision to cast Dustin Hoffman in the 1988 classic Rain Man proved to be inspired, with the American actor delivering the performance of a lifetime.

Hoffman played Raymond Babbit, a highly intellectual autistic man who turns out to have a penchant for instantly counting hundreds of objects at once.

His debt-laden brother Charlie (Tom Cruise) takes advantage of this by using his brother to count cards at the blackjack tables in Las Vegas.

While the film has casino games at its core, it is ultimately a story of redemption as Charlie finally wises up to what matters most in life.

The Sting

Having teamed up successfully in the 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Paul Newman and Robert Redford rekindled their magic four years later in The Sting.

Henry ‘Shaw’ Gondorff (Newman) and Johnny ‘Kelly’ Hooker (Redford) join forces to pull off the ultimate con job on vicious crime boss Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw).

The movie encompasses casino games and sports betting, with the lead characters using these to swindle Lonnegan out of $500,000.

The Sting received widespread critical acclaim and is still rated as one of the greatest gambling-themed films ever made.


Numerous movies have focused on the crime element often associated with gambling and that was certainly the case with 1995 film Casino.

Robert de Niro plays a mafia-linked casino owner (Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein) who turns around the venue’s fortunes with a series of underhanded tactics.

His Chicago bosses send mob enforcer Nick Santoro (Joe Pesci) to look after Rothstein, but his deranged antics draw attention from the police.

Sharon Stone delivers a superb performance as former prostitute Ginger McKenna, winning a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture.


Accusations of sexual assault dating back to the 1980s have cast a shadow over the career of American actor Kevin Spacey.

This undoubtedly makes casino-themed movie 21 an uncomfortable watch at times, despite it giving a reasonably accurate portrayal of a true story.

It is based around the exploits of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Blackjack Team, who used several innovative blackjack techniques to beat the casinos.

Their strategies included card counting, which is not illegal but is often frowned upon by casino operators as it tips the odds in favour of the player.

Molly’s Game

Based on Molly Bloom’s memoirs, this excellent 2017 movies tells the story of her exclusive underground poker club for wealthy high rollers.

The film marked the directorial debut of Aaron Sorkin, who had famously written the screen plays for A Few Good Men, The West Wing and Moneyball.

Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba are superb in the lead roles, while Kevin Costner, Michael Cera and Chris O’Dowd are among a strong support cast.

Bloom protected the identities of many of the players at her games, but Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Affleck are the leading names known to have played.

High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story

If you are a fan of poker, you will most likely be familiar with Stuey Ungar – a talented but flawed individual who was a superb exponent of the game.

He won three World Series of Poker Main Event tournaments and is the only person ever to win Amarillo Slim’s Super Bowl of Poker on three occasions.

However, he was heavily addicted to cocaine and it came as no surprise when he was found dead in a budget motel room in Vegas in November 1998.

While High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story is an entertaining film, it is also a stark reminder of the dangers of addictions.