Great Gambling Movies Based on Real Events

Who doesn’t like gambling movies that are based on real events, not fiction! I know I do and can’t wait to share some of my favourites with you! You can’t talk about gambling movies without the first on the list as it’s based on all real events and is probably the first movie you think about. The other 2 are more than likely movies you’ve heard of or seen with equally as interesting stories about the gambling industry and based off real events. The final is a less popular movie you may not have seen but tells the story of one of the best gamblers you haven’t heard of.


This is probably the biggest classic gambling movie that’s based on real events. I know it seems crazy to think that these things happened. If you haven’t seen it we will get into a summary of what happened in it now! This movie is based off when the mafia moved to Vegas to take over. If you know anything about the mafia they do as they say and do what they want so in no time they had control over most of Las Vegas. The movie is based on a man named Frank Rosenthal(Robert Deniro) who was placed there by the Chicago mob to run their casinos. The other character the movie is based on is Tony Spilatro(Joe Pesci) and this is the character that epitomized that mob persona. Both of them together is a match made in heaven and maybe the best gambling movie based on real events ever produced. If you haven’t seen this movie yet you better watch it yesterday as it’s sure to keep you glued to the TV the whole time!

Mollys Game

This is the newest movie that I have on the list and was such a great gambling movie that was based on real events. Completely different plot than the previous one but just as intriguing and interesting. This is based on the story of Molly Bloom who was a world-class skier from Colorado. As life does for all of us she was dealt a curve-ball when she was injured ruining her dreams of being an Olympic skier. After moving to California as she grew older she was introduced to the world of high stakes poker. We don’t mean business people with a lot of money to lose we mean a-list celebrities with a lot of money to lose! Molly was a very smart woman and saw a ton of opportunity in the world of high stakes poker. She wound up controlling high stakes poker games on both the west and east coasts which brought the ever-present risk higher and higher each time. Unfortunately for Molly she got a little greedy and made a fateful decision that brought her house of cards toppling down much quicker than she built it! This is again such a great gambling movie that is based on real events you must see right away. 21 Another great movie that you can’t believe is based on real-life events and people. This movie looks at it from a different end the players taking money from the casino, not the other way around. This movie is about a professor and team of students all from MIT. With the guidance of the professor, they have developed a system in which they can count cards at the blackjack table without drawing attention and being caught by the eye in the sky. The movie goes quickly from the team living the high life in Las Vegas to playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse with hotel security. As things usually go in Vegas the house ultimately always wins and it’s no different in this story. You get to watch them go from high rollers to losing it all once the scam gets found out. Do yourself a favour and watch this great gambling movie based on real events today!

High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story

Now here is the movie you probably never heard of but should have! This is based off arguably the greatest poker player of all time. Unfortunately, he was taken to early in his life so was never able to prove that he was the greatest of all time. But while he was here he dominated the poker scene when he played. He wasn’t just known as a great hold’em player he was touted as a great card player as he grew up playing gin rummy. As he got older he supported himself playing gin rummy not poker and had to move around the country as the gin rummy action dried up once they knew how to dominate he was. He then finally found himself in Las Vegas and was introduced to competitive poker. He was such a natural talent at poker that he won the second tournament he ever entered! That tournament was the main event of the world series of poker which is the super bowl of poker tournaments. He won that same tournament the next year and is only one of four people to ever do that. Unfortunately, his drug addiction spiralled out of control and destroyed his life before ultimately taking his life at the age of 46. There are so many other examples of what made him the best you must see this move as this is the great gambling movie based on real events you never heard of. Hopefully, you’re able to enjoy these great gambling movies based on real events otherwise please share them with others who haven’t seen them!

The Best Gambling Movies Of The Decade

If you love the high stakes thrill of gambling on your favorite game or in its many other forms as much as we do, or maybe just love movies depicting the gambling lifestyle, this list is for you. Gambling has been a part of man’s life for as long as he can remember and many a great movie has been made covering various aspects of the heart-pumping action that comes with living on the edge of a high stake bet. We’ve gone in search of the best gambling movies of the last decade and found some real gems. The only criteria were gambling in some form had to be central to the movie’s plot, so movies like the remake of OCEAN’s 8 were not considered, though you may find it on other lists.

Remember, loving a good movie is largely based on opinion. So while meeting the demand of many different perspectives, we’ve considered this. And after all, choosing a good movie is much like a roll of the dice, isn’t it? Maybe with this comprehensive list, we’ve stacked the deck and the odds will be in your favor. Enjoy!

In no particular order:


We begin our list with a documentary on perhaps the most infamous, loved and common form of contemporary gambling: Poker. This movie is great if you want to learn the history of poker, including how the game became popular to watch on T.V. The run time for this flick is about 100 minutes. So if you are a card shark with a penchant for the history of poker, this is your play.


This movie is pure gambling Americana. With stellar casting, the plot follows your typical gambler’s story. A down on his luck gambler who feels the big break he’s been waiting for is on the horizon. What does he need? Why a partner (Ryan Reynolds). Two is better than one against house odds. Do they win? Watch and see.

Available on Amazon Prime.


Though this movie is a rebooted version of the original 1974 version, Mark Whalberg shows us in this film there’s nothing like high stakes when the pot includes your life. With a title like this, you know you’ve picked the right movie. This flick keeps your heart pumping as the stakes keep getting higher and every choice is a gamble with everything to lose, or win. This movie has it all, a degenerate gambler who looks like every man (only Mark Whalberg), loan shark gangsters, an illicit love affair, and gambling, gambling, gambling.


This South Korean action film follows a Baduk player who finds himself surrounded by the seedier side of the gambling lifestyle, which eventually leads him to being framed for murdering his brother and locked away in prison. Then the film quickly escalates into a revenge quest. The title itself refers to what professional gamblers call the “once in a lifetime” move that wins it all at a crucial moment. This award-winning international film is a quick pick win.


Another documentary film, this one covers sports bettors in that mecca of gambling, Vegas. Showing both sides of a coin toss, this film lays out the agony of losing and the joys of winning, all the while retaining the real grittiness of professional gambling. If you enjoy sports betting, this is your film.

MOLLY’s GAME (2017)

One of the more recent films on this list, this true story is sure to go down in history as one of the best gambling movies of all time. The story follows a woman, played by the beautiful Jessica Chastain, who opens an underground gambling operation in her basement, catering to celebrities who love to play, namely poker. Incredibly written and awesome for the fact it’s a true story, this one is a fan favorite and surefire bet.

COLD DECK (2015)

This Canadian thriller has us meet Bobby, a degenerate gambler whose life leaves a lot to be desired. But as with most gamblers, who dream of the big win that can change it all, Bobby is relentless. With plot twists and betrayal, gambling becomes robbery as the money pot keeps rising. Good acting, great story and plenty of gambling. Don’t scratch it off your list till you watch. It’s a winner!

FLUTTER (2011)

Not every game is cards and slots as this film proves. The game takes a whole different approach to gambling, but as ever the stakes remain high. Life and death kind of high. This movie should be on every gambling addict’s wish list if for nothing else because it’s a dark comedy with a hot blonde for a bookie.


Ok, I’m sure most gamblers would not want to participate in this type of game, but still, it’s all about the money and all about making the big play when winning would change your life. Players in this movie are invited to dinner where the question is asked, “would you rather”. Then, a task is given and if accomplished before the clock runs out, cash is doled out. But, is it worth the risk? This movie is.

THE ODDS (2011)

Oh, sweet! A murder mystery and gambling! Win, win, winning! This movie invites us into the world of teenagers who gamble on everything and still do their homework. This crime thriller explores the possibilities of what someone losing a lot of money might do with their back against the wall. Or maybe not. It’s a case of I owe you, you owe them that makes this plot thicken. Watch and bet on who done it.

Well, there’s your top ten picks. Before we go, here are a few honorable mentions you might want to watch as a warm-up before your next card game.

WIN IT ALL (2017)





Now, we call. Play your hand.

2 of the Best Classic Gambling Movies of All Time

We can’t talk about the best gambling movies of all time without mentioning some legendary Hollywood classics.

The Hustler, 1961

The Hustler is an absolute cinema classic. The immortal Paul Newman plays Eddie Felson, a player with an attitude that certainly doesn’t please everyone.

He is invested in putting his pool skills to test against the legendary Minnesota Fats.

Soon enough, Felson is out of luck and out of money. That’s when the ruthless Bert Gordon starts mentoring him. Only Gordon can get Felson to return to form.

As a 1961 picture, the story and the action of The Hustler are deeply rooted in the origins of the gambling backrooms on which the incomparable American casino industry was built.

The Sting, 1973

Curiously enough, The Sting is another fantastic gambling movie starring the great Paul Newman. This time, he is accompanied by another Hollywood royal, Robert Redford.

Newman and Redford play con men. One is a beginner, while the other is already a professional. Their new target is a crime boss who loves to lay some bets. The criminal is after Redford’s character because of a previous scam he pulled on him.

The Sting is one of the gambling movies with the most twists, surprises and complexities in the plot. The con gets increasingly dangerous and complicated, which puts in risk the lives of both central characters.

The finale is masterful, dramatic and suspenseful. Expect to find yourself on the edge of your seat.

While it could be fun to delve into one of these classics, perhaps you want some more ideas on what to watch while you take a break from gambling.

Next, we list other fantastic gambling movies that are definitely worth watching.


Based on a remarkable real story, Casino is a brilliant movie focused on the world of mafia-controlled gambling in Las Vegas.

Casino Royale

A James Bond classic packed with action, high stake games, strong performances and masterful twists.


Croupier is a raw depiction of how the gambling lifestyle can also deeply affect the lives of casino workers.

Hard Eight

An amazing story of how gambling can lead players in an unstoppable and unpredictable roller coaster of highs and lows.

Ocean’s 11

A casino heist movie with all the elements that make up a perfect and nuanced piece of entertainment.

The Cincinnati Kid

The exciting story of a young man getting into expert-level gambling with huge stakes.

The Cooler

The Cooler is a fun and unique movie that navigates the concepts of luck and superstition.

The Gambler

Probably the rawest and emotional movie in the list, The Gambler honestly portrays an addict’s descent into destruction.

And that’s a wrap! Now that you have plenty of ideas of what gambling movies to watch, you are probably eager to get started. Whether you start off with one of the classics, or some from the turn of the century, we can guarantee a fantastic viewing experience.

Top 5 Casino Games inspired by Movies and TV

Here at Tropfest, we love the Movies. It might sound a bit old school but there is something special about picking up a large popcorn and soda and settling down for 2 hours of pure escapism at the movies. The only problem with a movie is that you can only watch it so many times but when you combine your favourite movie with the thrill of the casino, there is no end to the excitement.

We have therefore selected the top 5 online pokies that you can play at home that are inspired by some of our favourite movies. If you are looking to play any of these great pokies you can find a list of the top nz online casinos by clicking here.

So enough with the chit chat and let’s see the list of the Top 5 Casino Casino Games inspired by the big screen. This list has been updated for 2022, with new pokies added to the great games we have listed previously.


1 – Planet of the Apes

NetEnt’s slot game is a fun and exciting way to relive the magic of the Planet of the Apes franchise. The slot game offers a twin reel format which allows players to enjoy two different slot games in one — each has its own set of reels and bonuses, with a small number of crossover symbols that give you access to both sets. As well as the reels, the slot boasts an interactive bonus game and a unique free spin feature. Once you’ve unlocked the free spin feature, three free spins will be awarded every time you achieve a full set of monkey symbols on the reels.

The bonus game is triggered when you get three or more scatters on the reels. This is a great game for 2022 with rumours of a new Planet of the Apes movie on the horizon.

planet of the apes pokie

2 – Bridesmaids Pokie

This slot machine was inspired by the 2011 comedy starring Kristen Wiig. The movie itself is one of our favourite girl power comedies of all time. The 6.8 rating on IMDB does not do this hilarious movie justice but the 5 reels 40 pay-line pokie certainly does.

Microgaming managed to capture the fun-filled nature of Annie, Lillian, Helen, Megan, Rita and Becca. The symbols representing the ladies jump into life when you catch a big win or active one of the fabulous 4 bonus features available.

The slot itself is available on both mobile and desktop machines allowing you to take the girls out on the town with you as you go about your raucous adventures. The combination of high-quality graphics, the representation of the actual actresses and the massive wins on offer have made Bridesmaids our number one pokies inspired by the big screen.
Bridesmaids Pokie

3 – Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park is a cult classic. The thought of those terrifying lizards coming to life and how we would deal with them has ignited the imagination of both children and adults for over 20 years since the original movie was released in 1993. The online pokie is sure to keep those imaginative juices flowing with high-quality graphics, immersive gameplay and an incredible 243 ways to win.

This pokie was also developed by those passionate developers over at the Microgaming development studio bringing those prehistoric behemoths into our world of gambling entertainment. This game also runs across 5 reels with a minimum coin size of just 1c meaning that you can take advantage of those $10 deposit bonus casinos at
Jurassic Park Slot

4 – Game of Thrones (GOT) Pokie

Game of Thrones, now that has been epic. The series has played with our emotions, killing off much-loved characters and leaving us on the edge of our seats since the premier on the 17th of April 2011. The last 8 years have given us the highs of Daenerys emerging from a raging fire clutching her baby dragons to the shock of the Red Wedding.

Is it possible to make pokies that can deliver us a similar rollercoaster of emotions? The answer is that they gave it a good try but there are some features we feel detract from what could have been the best casino game New Zealand has ever had. The symbols are based purely around the house sigils with no reference to the actual characters or famous scenes from the series.

The pokies itself offers 243 ways to win which do mean that there are lots of minor wins available on your quest for the big win. The game offers numerous free spins bonuses that are unlocked via the major houses of Westeros. The game on the whole feels like a remake of Thunderstruck II which is still one of our favourite pokies but it has already been done.

This is why we had to place Game of Thrones in the middle of the pack. We love the series but are only warm on the casino game.
Game of Thrones Online casino

5 – King Kong

There are several great online pokies based off of the classic King Kong movie. There might even be more slot machine versions than movie remakes. Our favourite version of this classic movie-themed slot is the one developed by NextGen gaming.

This version of the game is based off of the first rendition of King Kong and holds to the original vision of Merian C. Cooper who both produced and directed the 1933 blockbuster.

The game takes its symbols from that era of phylum production with old-school cameras, WW2 bomber planes and a highly animated and aggressive King Kong. Our favourite bonus feature is the King Kong Smash where you get to be Kong and smash planes for bonus cash.

6 – Agent Jane Blonde Slot

Agent Jane Blonde is a comedic take on the slick James Bond character from the films by the same name. The casino game is a fairly basic 9 pay-line slot machine with cartoon-based symbols that do not quite catch the cinematic brilliance of the James Bond films.

James Bond has managed to capture our attention for the last 60 years with his dry martinis and expensive gadgets. It is unlikely that Agent Blonde will manage to do that.
AJB New Zealand Casino

5 Real Events the Movie Casino is Based on

The Martin Scorsese-directed masterpiece Casino makes our list of the top 10 gambling movies in history. The production is widely considered to be the best movie of its kind. It is a true Hollywood classic.

Surprisingly, Casino is based on real events revolving around the control of the mafia over gambling in Las Vegas. Here are five of the most important ones.

The main characters were real

Every main character in the movie is based on a real individual. And the similarities to their real-life stories go way beyond their traits.

Sam Rothstein is based on Frank Rosenthal. Santoro is based on Anthony Spilotro. And Ginger is based on Geri McGee, just to name a few.

Frank Rosenthal didn’t have a gambling license

As Rosenthal had ties to the mob, it would be unnecessarily risky to apply for a gambling license.

To work around the laws, the mafia gave Rosenthal low-profile titles, such as entertainment director or food manager. However, he was still the one running the casinos.

When some loose ends of his deception started becoming public, Rosenthal was involved in a court case. In the movie, the character goes on a rant about the corruption of the legal process. In real life, the event was very similar.

Rosenthal survived a car bombing

The scene in which the character Rothstein comes out alive of a car bombing is factually based on a real event that happened to Frank Rosenthal.

Over the following years, Rosenthal used to love talking about this incident and his survival at his dinner parties. It was a plate located under the seat for stabilization that saved his life.

Spilotro and Geri had an affair

Yes, movies often resort to love triangles for romantic dramatization. But actually, Geri McGee and Anthony Spilotro had an affair.

The only thing uncertain is whether that relationship brought consequences so terrible as in the movie.

Spilotro and his brother were killed and buried in a cornfield


This event makes up for one of the best scenes ever in casino movies. The two brothers were caught after it was alleged that Spilotro was the architect of the car bombing. They are buried alive in a cornfield in Indiana.

When you see the movie once again, you will have a whole new outlook on the action.

3 of the Most Unique Gambling Movies of All Time

The three amazing gambling movies we bring you here have one thing in common. They all have interesting and unique premises that make them stand out.

The Cincinnati Kid, 1965

The Cincinnati Kid flaunts fantastic performances. It stars the iconic Steve McQueen and follows his character, Eric Stoner, as a newcomer to the stake games who is willing to go up against Lancey Howard.

Howard is the best poker player around and he knows that the kid has made a name playing backroom games. He agrees on the challenge since he feels like it’s finally time for Eric to take on some serious competition.

However, several distractions, including a charming girl and a blackmailer, hinder the chances of the young promising gambler to win the poker game. At the exciting climax of the movie, the two players raise their stakes. One will come out victorious.

The Cooler, 2003

In this original and accomplished movie by Wayne Kramer, William H. Macy plays a very interesting character.

Macy is the cooler, a gambler whose luck has been so poor that casinos hire him to stand by the tables on high streaks. Curiously, the cooler always prevents players to hit big payouts and continuously restores the house edge.

Eventually, though, the luck changes for the cooler. And he ends up becoming the lucky charm for countless gamblers in Las Vegas. You can imagine how that affects the temper of the casino operators. Will his new luck cost him his job?

The creative premise of The Cooler makes up for an interesting dive in the world of casino superstitions. Throughout the movie, the director and the cast know how to masterfully play with the perception of luck.

The Gambler, 1974

With its straightforward title, The Gambler follows the journey of addiction of Alex Freed, a university professor, portrayed by the fascinating James Caan.

His gambling addiction leads him in a spiral of self-destruction and mental instability. His life has simply fallen apart. The depiction of how the mind of a gambling addict works is incredibly raw and heart-wrenching.

However, the gambler can’t seem to stop increasing his debt and prevent his dangerous need for the gambling thrill. The movie builds in a crescendo to a spectacularly memorable climax.

Anyone who has had gambling problems will immediately connect with the story. Those who have not encountered addiction in their lifetime will be given a powerful reminder of why they should never let that happen.

As an extra suggestion, Tropfest would like to present you an amazing gambling documentary you can watch on Netflix.

Life on the Line, 2013

Life on the Line is a fabulous documentary filmed in Las Vegas over the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.

The feature analyzes the daily activities of players who gamble professionally for a living. As the documentary moves along, their successes and failures are tracked.

You will get a spectacular inside look on how professional bettors lay out massive bankrolls and put their personal and family lives on the line, all to win big on Super Bowl Sunday.

Life on the Line is as fun and exciting as it is educational and thought-provoking.

Come back to Tropfest as more of our fantastic picks will be revealed!

2 Great Gambling Movies from the Turning of the Century

The late 90s and the early 2000s have brought us some of the best gambling movies of all time. It’s time to check out two of them.

Hard Eight, 1996

Hard Eight is a brilliantly crafted tale created and directed by the gifted Paul Thomas Anderson. It stars Philip Baker Hall, Gwyneth Paltrow and John C. Riley.

Hard Eight hit more than 220,000 dollars in the box office.

The movie follows Sydney, a man in his sixties who spends his days at casinos and has been gambling for decades. At one casino, he meets John, a broke gambler who Sydney starts seeing as a son.

Sydney begins mentoring John on all the best gambling tactics and moves. He even helps him find a girlfriend, Clementine, who curiously works at the casino.

John’s life finally seems to get back on track when something unexpected happens that can damage all characters.

Ocean’s 11, 2001

Who hasn’t heard about the Ocean’s franchise, and particularly the fabulous Ocean’s 11? The movie is directed by Steven Soderbergh and stars Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Julia Roberts, among several other Hollywood heavyweights.

The storyline pulls you in immediately. Before being released from prison, Daniel Ocean had already designed the plan for a new hit. On his target list are three massive casinos operated by Terry Benedict.

However, Ocean won’t do it all by himself. And so, he starts recruiting professional thieves from across the country, as well as other helpers with useful skills.

Reuben Tishkoff enters the story as the man who offers the money for the operation. Tishkoff lost a casino to Benedict and is naturally happy to contribute to his downfall.

Finally, Daniel Ocean gets employed at the casino where he starts observing every routine. Ocean’s 11 has it all to be a perfect gambling movie. Amazing cast, intriguing plot, extravagant scenes, lively action and even romance.

You know the drill! Catch up on these masterpieces. You won’t be disappointed.

3 of the Most Iconic Gambling Movies of All Time

Over the past decades, the cinematic world has given us tremendous depictions of the ins and outs of gambling. Some are raw and realistic, while others are more romanticized.

We believe there are certain movies that all gambling enthusiasts should watch in their lifetime. That is why we decided to curate our own selection of the best gambling movies ever in history.

This article focuses on some of the most popular ones of the kind. These were acclaimed by critics and the fans. They are considered by many to be the best of the best.

Casino, 1995

We kick off our list with the cream of the crop. The casino is considered by most fans and experts as the absolute best gambling movie of all time. It even features in many overall lists of the best movies ever.

The casino tells the fascinating real story of the Las Vegas gambling scene controlled by the mafia. The legendary Robert De Niro stars as a casino owner with ties to the mob, while the great Joe Pesci plays the role of a thief whose unreliable behaviour becomes a threat to the lives of both characters.

Sharon Stone also stars in the film. Stone and the remaining actors deliver equally fantastic supporting performances. The magnificent cast and the brilliant story make up for some of the most memorable and awe-inspiring scenes in cinema history.

Directed by Martin Scorsese, you wouldn’t expect less than a masterpiece.

Casino Royale, 2006

The Martin Campbell take on the Ian Fleming story starring Daniel Craig is undoubtedly an extremely accomplished cinematic gambling adventure. The story develops at high speed for non-stop excitement.

It features in every list of the best Bond movies of all time. And in many instances, it takes the top spot.

It tells the tale of James Bond (yet again) taking on a heinous character. This time it is Le Chiffre, a poker player with a taste for torture and terrorism.

Arguably the best scene in the movie and possibly one of the best in recent history is the ultimate showdown. James Bond and his enemy go head to head in a game where the stakes are all or nothing.

For the biggest poker enthusiasts, the high-stake games shown throughout the movie simply put them on the edge of their seat. The plot is packed with unexpected twists, which only adds to the pulsating experience.

Daniel Craig and Eva Green deliver jaw-dropping performances. Casino Royale made almost 600 million dollars in the box office.

Croupier, 1998

This Mike Hodges-directed movie starring Clive Owen focuses on the perspective of the dealers. Owen plays Jack Manfred, a struggling writer who sees himself forced to find another job. He starts working as a croupier or a dealer.

Quickly, though, Jack is drawn to the gambling world. The job that he so reluctantly took ends up consuming his entire life. All of his relationships are affected by his new immoderate lifestyle.

Eventually, the character starts being romantically attracted to a gambler called Jani. Because of her own gambling problems, Jani is in terrible debt and plans to rob the casino.

You have to see the movie to find out whether Jack will join Jani on the heist or not.

Go ahead and catch up on these three gems!