Gambling is an essential part of pop culture and you can see it in many movies. Even heroes like James Bond are often involved in some action at the casino tables.
Most of the stories in the films are fictional but that’s not always true. There are some gambling movies that are based on true stories. Forget about the modern gamblers who are more likely to use gambling sites, the characters in these movies were involved in “real world” gambling.
Let’s take a look at some of them.
“High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story”
If you are a passionate poker player, you most certainly know who Stu Ungar is. The man won the World Series of Poker’s Main Event three times which is a record. Many believe he is the most talented player in the history of both poker and gin rummy.
That would be enough for a movie but his story adds even more to the legend of Kid Poker. Stu Ungar had a crazy life that involved a lot of booze, drugs, gambling, and parties. He made some bad decisions and died young, but his story will likely live forever.
It’s no surprise that director A.W. Vidmer was inspired to create “High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story” and share the tale of the iconic player.
This movie is based on the non-fictional book “Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions” by Ben Mezrich. As the title suggests, it’s about blackjack and a group of MIT students that terrorize the biggest Vegas casinos.
They learn how to count cards and destroy the tables before the gambling operators strike back. It’s a fascinating story that certainly deserved to reach Hollywood.
In fact, there have been other attempts to make a movie based on the same book, but “21” is the most successful.
Part of the reason is the excellent cast that features Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, and Jim Sturgess. While the film is not 100% accurate from a factual point of view, it’s close enough to the real-life events to make the list.
One of the more recent entries here is “Molly’s Game”. It was released in 2017 and based on a book of the same name. The story revolves former Olympic hopeful Molly Bloom. An injury ends her ski career early and makes her life a mess.
Molly soon ends up as the person who organizes the biggest underground poker games in LA. She runs into some trouble that forces a move to New York where she quickly builds a name and runs some of the biggest games in the Big Apple.
The story is interesting enough, but throw the FBI and some Russian mobsters in there, and you will understand why Aaron Sorkin wanted to make a movie out of it.
The most critically acclaimed movie to make this list is “Owning Mahowny”. It’s a Canadian production that features proven stars like Philip Seymour Hoffman and Minnie Driver.
The former plays the role of Dan Mahowny, an assistant manager of a bank branch with access to customer funds and a strong gambling addiction. This sounds like the perfect combination for a complete disaster.
If you want the whole story, watch the movie as it’s totally worth it. “Owning Mahowny” is a brilliant example of the damage done by gambling addictions and its effects on not only the person involved but everyone around him.