Popcorn in a Bag

The Best Gambling-Inspired Movies from the Past 20 Years

If you love the adrenaline rush of a high-stakes card game or want to watch a movie that’s filled with drama and excitement, there are fantastic films inspired by poker games, blackjack and more.

If you have had your fill of the likes of Rain Man and Rounders and want to watch a more modern, action-packed flick that will keep you on the edge of your seat, check out the best poker-inspired movies from the past 20 years.

The Hangover (2009)

The Hangover

Before Bradley Cooper was nominated for multiple Oscars, he was best known for starring in the hit movie The Hangover, which is the embodiment of the saying “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”

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The Todd Phillips-directed film focuses on four friends who are visiting Vegas to enjoy a fun bachelor party. However, they wake up with no memory of the night before, and their fear is amplified when the bridegroom is missing, and there’s a real tiger in their hotel bathroom. With only a few hours to spare, they must retrace their steps to find their friend Doug to ensure he makes it to his wedding on time.

Casino Royale (2006)

Casino Royale is a remake of the 1967 movie of the same name, which delighted passionate 007 fans from across the world. The story revolves around Le Chiffre, a banker for the biggest criminals in the world, who is forced to embark on a high-stakes game of Texas hold ’em poker to win back his money and remain safe.

James Bond is then sent to participate in the game, alongside foreign liaison agent Vesper Lynd, to prevent Le Chiffre from winning back the sum. 007 will, therefore, need to play the biggest poker game of his life to protect international security.

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Critics praised the 2006 spy movie, the first to star Daniel Craig as 007, who was commended for his reinvention of the fictional MI6 agent.

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

For a movie that has more drama than a high-stakes game of Texas hold’em, you should add Ocean’s Eleven onto your movie bucket list.

The film tells the story of Danny Ocean (George Clooney) who attempts to embark on the biggest heist in history. However, to do so, he needs to recruit a team of skilled and cunning individuals to walk away with a substantial amount of money.

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Once he has compiled his team, they set about stealing from the three most prominent casinos in all of Las Vegas: The Bellagio, The Mirage and the MGM Grand.

Movie lovers can expect many plot twists throughout the film and will be on the edge of their seat, wondering if the team will manage to walk away with their target of $150 million.

Ocean’s Eleven was an enormous success, as it took home $450 million at the box office and received positive reviews from both movie critics and the public.

21 (2008)

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21 Movie

21 is centered around Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess), a gifted MIT student who has dreams of becoming a doctor but doesn’t have $300,000 tuition fees to pay for a transfer to Harvard School of Medicine.

Aware of his affinity for numbers, his math professor (Kevin Spacey) invites Ben to join him and a group of other talented students for a weekend trip to Vegas, where they will use their math gifts to win hundreds of thousands of dollars at various blackjack tables across Sin City. However, power and greed soon consume the teacher and students, who could lose everything they have earned.

21, which is based on a true story, wasn’t a hit with critics, but it most definitely was a massive success with movie lovers, as it was the number one film in both the United States and Canada during the first two weeks of its release.

Ocean’s Twelve (2004)

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Ocean's Twelve
After the huge success of Ocean’s Eleven, which was the fifth highest-grossing film of 2001, Stephen Soderbergh returned to film the next installment Ocean’s Twelve, which once again brought George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, and Matt Damon back to the big screen for the hit movie trilogy.

However, rather than focusing on Las Vegas casinos, Clooney’s Danny Ocean hires a recruit to help pull off three major European heists, intending to repay the $150 million they stole from the Sin City casinos in the last film installment.

Despite receiving mixed reviews from critics, the movie was a big hit at the box office, generating a gross of $435 million.

Ocean’s Thirteen (2007)

Ocean's Thirteen
While Julia Roberts and Catherine-Zeta Jones failed to appear in the third installment of the Ocean’s Trilogy, Ocean’s Thirteen was still a big hit. The all-male team of conmen embarks on their third heist, intending to ruin the fortunes of Willy Bank, who has double-crossed Danny’ Ocean’s friend and casino owner Reuben Tishkoff.

While it wasn’t as big a success as the other installments of the trilogy, the flick still managed to generate $398 million worldwide and was the sixteenth highest-grossing movie of 2007.

Molly’s Game (2017)

Molly’s Game tells the true story of Molly Bloom (played by Jessica Chastain), who is a promising Olympic-class skier who goes on to run one of the most exclusive and high-stakes poker games in America.

While she made a large fortune from running an underground poker empire for A-list Hollywood celebrities, business tycoons, athletes, and even the Russian mafia, Molly soon becomes a target of an FBI investigation.

It’s an ideal movie for those who appreciate the thrill and drama of a poker game. Jessica Chastain was also nominated for Best Actress – Drama at the Golden Globes, while Aaron Sorkin secured an Academy Award nomination for the Best Adapted Screenplay.

So, if you want to watch a good movie that will keep you glued to the screen, and might even help you to learn a strategy or two, you should add the above poker-inspired movies onto your to-watch list.

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