Netflix has become a key source of home entertainment in this modern age of live streaming video subscription services and it provides fans of gambling movies with a massive catalogue of classic titles. Here is our list of the best gambling movies that UK viewers will find on Netflix.
Matt Damon broke into the main stream with his turn as a high stakes professional poker player in this hit movie by director John Dahl. Damon plays Mike McDermott who loses a large amount of money to Russian gangster Teddy, played by John Malkovich.
McDermott quits playing poker for money after this loss for the sake of his relationship with his girlfriend until he has to help out a friend, Lester “Worm” Murphy played by Edward Norton, to pay an old debt by playing poker.
The movie is a classic thriller with the atmosphere and intensity of high stakes poker being fully communicated. It was praised for its noir vibe and managed to rake in $22.9 million at the box office in the US alone.
A number of professional poker players including Brian Rast, Gavin Griffin, and Hevad Khan have stated that the film played an influential role in getting them into poker in the first place. All three of them started out playing online poker at sites like 888 and Hevad Khan is even known for playing in 26 online poker tournaments simultaneously.
The Gambler (1974)
This Karel Reisz-directed movie is considered to be the title that made James Caan a star. It was a role that received critical acclaim and saw Caan nominated for a Golden Globe award for his performance.
The movie tells the story of a New York City lecturer called Axel Freed who is Harvard educated and hides the shame of a secret gambling addiction whilst at the same time also trying to encourage his students to act and live their lives in a responsible and mature manner.
The movie has long been deemed a firm classic in the gambling genre and has been praised and criticised in equal measure for its grim yet realistic portrayal of gambling addiction.
A re-make was released in 2014 starring Mark Wahlberg and Brie Larson but it did not receive the same plaudits as the original.
Hard Eight (1996)
Director Paul Thomas Anderson has been responsible for a number of classic movies over the years such as There Will Be Blood, Magnolia, and Boogie Nights. Another one of his more prolific projects was the gritty Hard Eight starring Philip Baker Hall, John C. Reilly, and Gwyneth Paltrow along with cameos from Samuel L. Jackson and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
The plot centres around Hall’s professional gambler character Sydney showing Reilly’s John the tricks of the gambling trade.
Everything appears to be going smoothly and it seems to be a match made in heaven until John falls for a Reno cocktail waitress played by Paltrow. The movie did not take the box office by storm but it was praised by critics and has since become a cult classic with film buffs.
Five Card Stud (1968)
If you had to mix the combination of Rat Pack icon Dean Martin, gambling, and the background of the western genre then it surely cannot fail, right? Damn right. Directed by Henry Hathaway, this mystery classic revolves around an ongoing poker game where the players involved at the table are being killed off one-by-one.
Set in 1880, the movie follows Martin’s gambler Van Morgan who tries to solve the case of people being killed off in the town of Rincon, just 100 miles outside Denver, Colorado, in what appears to be an act of revenge against a lynch mob that executed an alleged cheater from a poker game.
The movie also stars the cool Robert Mitchum as a Colt .45-owning Reverend Rudd. Movies just simply were not meant to be this edge back in the 1960s.
Bad Lieutenant (1992)
If you want to watch a movie that explores the darker side of gambling addiction, then you need to look no further than this crime drama starring Harvey Keitel and directed by Abel Ferrera. Ferrera’s other projects include King of New York, Body Snatchers, and The Funeral which shows he has a track record of producing dark movies and this is no different.
Keitel’s corrupt New York City police detective sets about investigating the rape of a young nun. As he delves deeper into the horrific criminal investigation he begins to change his lifestyle of being addicted to drugs and gambling in an effort to find forgiveness and start a new and clean life.
Its content was so graphic that it was initially one of only a few films ever to be rated NC-17 due to its sexual violence and graphic drug use. However, it was a smash with critics and was even screened in the Un Certain Regard section of the 1992 Cannes Film Festival.