There have been no shortage of movies over the decades portraying the glamor, grit and decadence of the casino world, from high-stakes nosebleeds to underground games.
Some of the movies that provide the most honest, hilarious or entertaining looks at the gambling world include Ocean’s Eleven (2001), Owning Mahowny (2003), The Cooler (2003), The Hangover (2009), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) and Uncut Gems (2019).
But none of these great movies made PokerNews’ list of the five best casino movies of all time.
Note: This list deliberately does not include any poker movies, so don’t get angry when you don’t see classics Rounders and Mississippi Grind. PokerNews already made a list of the five best poker movies of all time, which you can read about here.
Check out PokerNews’ picks for the top five poker movies of all time!
Top 5 Casino Movies
Here are our top five best casino movies of all time you must watch, which was made with some help from dozens of members of the poker community through social media.
#5 – Vegas Vacation (1997)
While it’s nowhere near the masterpiece that is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Vegas Vacation is an entertaining tale about trying to have a family-friendly experience in Sin City.
Chevy Chase gives another fine performance as Clark Griswold as he, Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), Audrey (Marisol Nichols) and Russ (Ethan Embry) leave Chicago and find that Vegas isn’t always kind to naive tourists, that is until Russ wins four sports cars with a few slot lucky machine pulls.
The greatest additions to Vegas Vacation come from Wallace Shawn playing Marty, an antagonistic dealer who torments Clark throughout the vacation and a cameo appearance by lounge singer Wayne Newton, who finds himself in love with Ellen.
The film holds a score of 5.9 on IMDb and a 55% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. The critics were less kind and the film has just a 16% score on the Tomatometer.
Is Vegas Vacation realistic?
While it is a comedy clearly meant to be a parody and exaggeration, there are many things Vegas Vacation gets right about the Vegas tourist experience, including the ways a random slot pull can lead to a big win and how some dealers seem to always find a way to win against you.
How can I watch Vegas Vacation?
Vegas Vacation is available to stream on HBO and is also available for purchase on several streaming services, including YouTube, AppleTV and Vudu.
Is Vegas Vacation on Netflix?
No, Vegas Vacation is not currently available on Netflix.
Is Vegas Vacation on Amazon Prime?
Yes, Vegas Vacation can be purchased on Amazon Prime Video for $3.99.
Is Vegas Vacation on Disney+?
No, Vegas Vacation was made by Warner Brothers as is not available on the Disney+ streaming platform.
#4 – 21 (2008)
21, written by Peter Steinfeld and Allan Loeb and directed by Robert Luketic, offers one of the greatest depictions of the game of blackjack on the silver screen to make it one of the finest casino movies out there.
Based on the true story of the MIT Blackjack Team in the 1990s and adapted from Ben Mezrich’s 2002 book Bringing Down the House, the gambling drama stars Jim Sturgess as Ben Campbell, a financially struggling MIT student who stumbles into the world of card counting and becomes the key player of the blackjack team of professor Micky Rosa (Kevin Spacey).
After winning hundreds of thousands on the Las Vegas blackjack tables, Campbell finds himself in over his head and caught in a longstanding cat-and-mouse chase between Rosa and gaming enforcer Cole Williams (Laurence Fishburne).
There are other great roles in this movie, including Kate Bosworth as teammate Jill Taylor and Josh Gad as one of Sturgess’ friends outside of the blackjack team.
Anyone who has ever dreamed of being part of a clandestine blackjack team and taking a casino for millions should check out this movie, even if Spacey’s subsequent sexual misconduct scandal makes it a little difficult to watch.
21 has a score of 6.8 on IMDb and a 66% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, while it has just a 33% on the Tomatometer.
Is 21 realistic?
While there are serious embellishments and fictitious elements in both the movie and the book, 21 and Bringing Down the House are based on true events involving the MIT Blackjack Team in the 1990s.
Sturgess’ character was based on MIT Blackjack Team member Jeff Ma and Spacey’s was based on John Chang, leading some to accuse the movie of “whitewashing” by casting White Americans for the parts of the real-life Asian Americans.
How can I watch 21?
21 is available to stream on Netflix and is also available for purchase on streaming services including YouTube, Vudu and Apple TV.
Is 21 on Netflix?
Yes, 21 is currently available to stream on Netflix.
Is 21 on Amazon Prime?
Yes, 21 is available for purchase on Amazon Prime for $2.79.
Is 21 on Disney+?
No, 21 was made by Columbia and Sony pictures and is unlikely to appear on Disney+.
#3 – Coupier (1998)
The same year that Rounders shed light on the gritty underground poker world, Coupier gave a glimpse into the dark underpinnings of the gambling industry.
Written by Paul Mayersberg and directed by Mike Hodges, the British film stars Clive Owen as Jack Manfre, a struggling writer who takes a job dealing to the “punters” at a British casino. Manfred soon finds inspiration for his next book as he assimilates in the gambling industry and eventually finds himself lured into the middle of a heist.
The crime drama was a success in Britain and has gone on to become a gambling cult classic. Crouper holds a 7.0 rating on IMDb and an impressive 95% on the Tomatometer to go along with a 79% audience score.
Is Coupier realistic?
Croupier has been credited for its realistic portrayal of the gritty, gloomy world lived by casino employees, including toxic workplace environments and dealing with violent cheats.
Overall, it provides an honest look at the casino industry, offering a detailed and realistic portrayal of the industry’s uglier sides.
How can I watch Coupier?
Croupier is available to stream on Netflix and can be purchased on several streaming platforms, including Google Play, Apple TV and Vudu.
Is Coupier on Netflix?
Yes, Croupier is currently available to watch on Netflix.
Is Coupier on Amazon Prime?
Yes, Croupier is available to watch with an Amazon Prime subscription.
Is Coupier on Disney+?
No, Coupier was made by Channel Four Films and is unlikely to ever reach the Disney+ platform.
#2 – The Gambler (1974)
Four and a half decades before Uncut Gems, 1974’s The Gambler depicted the dangerous swings of a gambling addict.
The great James Caan stars as Axel Freed, a gambling-addicted English professor who draws inspiration from Fyodor Dostoevsky, who himself suffered a life of poverty due to gambling. “I’m not going to lose it, I’m going to gamble it,” Axel tells Billie (Lauren Hutton) before placing a risky bet.
The crime drama is directed by Karel Reisz and written by James Toback and co-stars Paul Sorvino as Hips, a bookie who is fond of Axel but also loses patience as the protagonist gets further in the hole. The film also features James Woods, himself a member of the poker community, as a bank officer.
A remake of The Gambler was released in 2014 and stars Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman and Brie Larson and was met with lukewarm reviews.
The Gambler holds a score of 7.1 on IMDb and a 77% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes to go with an 80% Tomatometer score.
Is The Gambler realistic?
Much like Rounders and Uncut Gems, The Gambler doesn’t hold back in showing the downsides to gambling and the bad situations addicts can find themselves in. In that sense, The Gambler is a realistic depiction of the horrors that many gamblers find themselves in.
How can I watch The Gambler?
The Gambler is available to purchase on several streaming services, including Google Play Movies and Vudu.
Is The Gambler on Netflix?
No, The Gambler is not currently available to stream on Netflix.
Is The Gambler on Amazon Prime?
Yes, The Gambler is available to rent on Amazon Prime for $3.99.
Is The Gambler on Disney+?
No, The Gambler was distributed by Paramount Pictures and is unlikely to ever reach Disney+.
#1 – Casino (1995)
Martin Scorsese had already established himself as the master of mafia drama before 1995’s Casino, and his work with longtime collaborators Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci delivers on all levels to make it PokerNews’ greatest casino movie of all time.
An adaptation of the book Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas by Nicholas Pileggi, Casino follows Chicago mobster Sam “Ace” Rothstein, played by De Niro, who is sent to run the Tangiers Casino before his relationship with enforcer Nicky Santoro (played by Pesci) takes things off the rails.
Pileggi’s book is based on the lives of Frank Rosenthal and Tony Spilotro and looks at the period in the 1980s when the mob ran Las Vegas casinos.
Like another Scorsese mob classic, Goodfellas, De Niro and Pesci both play compelling roles to make for a captivating and gripping watching experience. Pesci is particular gives a stunning performance of the explosive and unpredictable Santoro.
Casino holds an IMDb score of 8.2 and a Rotten Tomatoes audience score of 93% to go with a 79% rating on the Tomatometer.
Is Casino realistic?
Casino is similar to Scorsese’s other mob films that offer a gruesome look at the mob lifestyle while also embellishing some things for the big screen. And while the characters in the movie are fictional, they are based on real people and real events of the mob-ran Vegas in the 1980s.
How can I watch Casino?
Casino is available to stream on Peacock for purchase on several streaming purchases, including Google Play Movies, YouTube TV, Vudu and Apple TV.
Is Casino on Netflix?
No, Casino is not currently available to stream on Netflix.
Is Casino on Amazon Prime?
Yes, Casino is available with a premium Amazon Prime subscription.
Is Casino on Disney+?
No, Casino was made by Universal Pictures and is unlikely to ever appear on Disney+.
Other Casino Movies Worth Checking Out
PokerNews asked the poker community to help out coming up with a list of the greatest casino movies. Check out some of the other great casino movies that didn’t make the top five.
Question for the poker community: what are the best CASINO movies of all time?
— Connor Richards (@crichards1995)
|Ocean’s Eleven (2001)||Casino Royale (2006)|
|The Card Counter (2021)||Owning Mahowny (2003)|
|Uncut Gems (2019)||Hard Eight (1996)|
|The Hangover (2009)||The Cooler (2003)|
|Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)||Lucky You (2007)|