3 Gambling Movies Based on a True Story

Gambling movies are extremely popular in Hollywood, and this does not come as a surprise considering they include everything that makes a good movie, thrill and suspense, and of course compelling storylines. There is definitely something very attractive about watching people engaging in high-stakes gambling activities, especially if you are a casino player.

Watching a great gambling movie is also an excellent opportunity to learn more about casino games you enjoy. Gambling movies also make great options for fans of thriller, crime, and drama genres, as often they explore the underground world of mafia bosses. Other times, they show regular people’s lives as they experience the ultimate casino thrill. Fiction-based gambling movies are great, but even greater are gambling movies inspired by true stories.

The Top Gambling Movies of Our time

Further, we take a look at three awesome gambling movies inspired by real people and real stories you must see. If you want to start your iGaming adventure, on you can check for the best websites to play on and start your own story. The top three gambling movies with non-fiction storylines we recommend you watch are:

  • 21 (2008)
  • High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story (2003)
  • Casino (1995)

21 Directed by Robert Luketic

When discussing awesome gambling-inspired movies based on real events and real people, we cannot fail to mention 21. 21 is an exciting heist drama movie directed by Robert Luketic and starring Kevin Spacey, Laurence Fishbourne, Kate Bosworth, and Jim Sturgess. The movie takes inspiration from the Bringing Down the House book by Ben Mezrich and the true story of students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who used various card counting techniques and strategies to cheat gambling venues in Atlantic City.

The movie follows young Ben, who is a mathematics major at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and strives to become a doctor. At the beginning of the movie, Ben gets accepted into prestigious Harvard Medical School, but since he comes from a working-class family, he cannot afford to study there without a scholarship. To solve his financial issues, Ben decides to join a group of students involved in cheating casinos.

The group of students was coached by their professor Micky Rosa who is played by Kevin Spacey. The real story of the MIT Blackjack team that inspired the movie is not very much different from what is depicted in the movie. The MIT Blackjack team operated successfully for over two decades, starting in the late 80s. The team proved that the most iconic casino game could be beaten, and the movie’s amazing cast made the impressive true story equally captivating on the small screen.

High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story Directed by A.W. Vidmer

If you are looking for an amazing gambling movie inspired by real stories, make sure you check out A.W. Vidmer’s High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story movie. Released in 2003, the movie centers around the life of professional gin rummy and poker player Stu Ungar. Stuart Errol Ungar was born in 1953. From a very early age, Stuart learned about bookmaking as his father run a successful gambling establishment for years. Even though Stuart’s father wanted to keep him away from gambling, Stuart immersed himself into the world of gin rummy as a teenager.

As talented as he was, Stuart quickly made a name for himself, and the movie perfectly depicts his early childhood and the amazing achievements that came later in his life. Stuart is one of only two people who have won the biggest WSOP Main Event three times. Stuart is also the only person who has won the Super Bowl of Poker held by Amarillo Slim three times as well. Filled with professional achievements, Stuart’s life was also filled with drugs and many bad decisions. The movie’s amazing cast had done an excellent job of portraying Stuart, the people closest to him, and his enemies.

Casino Directed by Martin Scorsese

The Casino movie directed by Martin Scorsese is another must-watch gambling movie inspired by real events. It tells a compelling story of a casino executive and a mafia boss as the two compete to gain power over a gambling empire. While many people believe the movie is purely fiction, the truth is it is heavily inspired by the life of Frank Rosenthal. Lefty, as he was called, was a known organized crime associate, professional sports bettor, and one of the most influential casino executives in Las Vegas.

Frank Rosenthal was the one who exposed Las Vegas to sports betting back in the 70s. In the movie, the greatest expert on sports betting as Frank Rosenthal was called is portrayed by Robert De Niro, and needless to say, De Niro has done an amazing job with portraying Frank. Like in his other movies, Martin Scorsese mixed real-life events with fiction with the main storyline inspired by what happened as Frank and his associates operated one of the biggest criminal underground operations in Las Vegas.

With his friend Nicky, the main character in the movie Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein, inspired by Frank, ran unlicensed and illegal casinos. However, everything comes crashing down as Nicky falls into a vicious cycle of violence and drugs and Ace becomes involved with pretty Ginger, played by Sharon Stone. If you are interested in learning more about the foundation and origins of the gambling capital, Casino by Martin Scorsese should be on your watch list.

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About the author

Jimmy Rustling

Born at an early age, Jimmy Rustling has found solace and comfort knowing that his humble actions have made this multiverse a better place for every man, woman and child ever known to exist. Dr. Jimmy Rustling has won many awards for excellence in writing including fourteen Peabody awards and a handful of Pulitzer Prizes. When Jimmies are not being Rustled the kind Dr. enjoys being an amazing husband to his beautiful, soulmate; Anastasia, a Russian mail order bride of almost 2 months. Dr. Rustling also spends 12-15 hours each day teaching their adopted 8-year-old Syrian refugee daughter how to read and write.