Step into the thrilling world of high stakes, risk, and the unpredictable allure of lady luck with our curated list of the best galing movies on Netflix. From the glitzy casinos of Las Vegas to the smoky back rooms where poker legends are born, these cinematic masterpieces capture the essence of the gambling experience like never before. Whether you’re a seasoned gambler or just a casual observer, these films offer a riveting glimpse into the highs and lows of games of chance. Join charismatic cardsharps, poker prodigies, and daring gamblers as they navigate through the treacherous terrain of bets, bluffs, and life-changing wagers. Get ready for a rollercoaster of emotions as we delve into the world of cinema that skillfully combines the thrill of gambling with the art of storytelling. Grab your popcorn, place your bets, and let the cinematic dice roll!
|James Caan, Paul Sorvino, Lauren Hutton
|Jami Gertz, Mariska Hargitay
|High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story
|Michael Imperioli, Renee Faia
|Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner
|The Card Counter
|Oscar Isaac, Tiffany Haddish, Willem Dafoe
1. The Gambler – 1974
Embark on a cinematic journey into the heart of risk and reward with ‘The Gambler,’ a timeless classic that takes center stage in our roundup of our article. Released in 1974 and directed by Karel Reisz, this gripping film follows Axel Freed, a literature professor played by James Caan, whose life unravels in the seductive grip of gambling. As Axel succumbs to the allure of high-stakes bets and dangerous debts, ‘The Gambler’ delves into the psychology of addiction and the consequences of pushing one’s luck to the limit. James Caan’s powerful performance and the film’s exploration of the thin line between exhilaration and destruction make ‘The Gambler’ an essential watch for anyone fascinated by the thrilling world of gambling on and off the casino floor.
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2. Cheaters – 1984
Cheaters, originally called Tricheurs in its native France, is about a gambling addict named Elric who falls in love with Suzie and entangles her in his addiction. When they run out of money, they are forced to consort with a shady con artist. The film, directed by European Barbet Schroeder – who is best known in the United States for her work on Single White Female – examines addiction and compulsive behavior in addition to themes of love and sexual power struggles.
Cheaters cut between different casino settings, showcasing opulent settings and high-stakes roulette games against the backdrop of Elric and Suzie’s deep desperation in every scene.
3. High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story – 2003
Unveil the tumultuous life of a poker prodigy in ‘High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story,’ a compelling feature that secures its place among the best new gambling movies.’ Directed by A.W. Vidmer in 2003, this biographical drama recounts the extraordinary rise and tragic fall of Stu Ungar, portrayed by Michael Imperioli. As the film navigates Ungar’s journey from poker prodigy to the depths of addiction and despair, viewers witness the captivating highs of his success and the heartbreaking lows of his personal struggles. ‘High Roller’ immerses audiences in the intense world of high-stakes poker, offering a poignant exploration of the consequences that accompany genius. With stellar performances and a riveting narrative, this film stands as a poignant testament to the unpredictable allure of the cards and the human spirit.”
4. Molly’s Game – 2017
With Molly’s Game, renowned screenwriter Aaron Sorkin—best known for his work on The West Wing, A Few Good Men, and Moneyball—made a strong directorial debut. This fast-moving 2017 film, which is based on her memoirs, tells the real story of Molly Bloom’s elite underground poker club for high rollers who are wealthy.
The main character in this film is a woman in the male-dominated gambling industry, which sets it apart from the others on the list. However, Jessica Chastain’s portrayal of Bloom is one of the best. In addition to Idris Elba’s outstanding performance as a supporting cast member, Chris O’Dowd and Joe Keery’s cameos from Stranger Things offer a much-needed sense of humor.
You’ll be left wondering in the movie which famous poker players Bloom really hosted in Los Angeles and New York in the late 2000s, and this piece by The Ringer helps you figure out who the “Poker Princess” had in her phone book.
5. The Card Counter – 2021
In the revenge thriller The Card Counter, a former military interrogator who is haunted by his past takes up gambling.
When the World Series of Poker turns into a lifeline for the main characters and poker becomes the poison of the protagonist’s choice, the movie shifts from casino to casino. The Card Counter is a dark and intense journey through the concepts of redemption and the tight grip of the past, directed by Paul Schrader, the writer of Taxi Driver.
In the captivating realm of high stakes and chance, these cinematic masterpieces have dealt us a winning hand of entertainment. From the psychological depths explored in ‘The Gambler’ to the turbulent life of a poker legend in ‘High Roller,’ these films showcase the thrill and peril of the gambling world. As the credits roll, we’re left with more than just suspenseful narratives; we’ve experienced the intricate dance between risk and reward. Whether you’re a seasoned gambler or just a casual observer, you can find an unforgettable cinematic journey into the thrilling universe of chance. And, speaking of transformation, it’s worth noting the incredible efforts the actors made to embody their roles (read here more about it), undergoing intense training to capture the essence of the high-stakes environment and the complex psychology behind the characters they portrayed.