Throughout the years, various gambling-related titles have enjoyed global success. To date, the genre is proving to be one of the most popular among viewers, with an increasing number of cinematic productions captivating audiences. Interestingly, within the category, there’s an array of subgenres, and that diversity is at the core of its modern-day triumphs. With so much choice, it’s troublesome to know which movies to make time for, so here are two of the best gambling films to watch.
Two for the Money – 2005
Perhaps one of the lesser-known gambling movies of the 21st century, Two for the Money is undoubtedly one for the sports fans. Directed by D.J. Caruso, the 2005 title centres around baseball and the injury misfortunes of its protagonist, Brandon Lang. Played by Matthew McConaughey, IMDb states that the plot follows Lang’s post-baseball life after suffering a career-ending injury. Fascinatingly, the film embodies the expression “when one door closes, another one opens”.
Following his injury, the protagonist occupies himself with handicapping matches. This means assigning advantage through scoring compensation. In this role, Lang catches the eye of Al Pacino’s character, Walter Abrahams, who hosts his own sports advice show. Because of his knowledge, the former player grows central to Abrahams’ operations, becoming his personal expert in gambling practices. As the title progresses, things take a turn for the worst for McConaughey’s character. That said, by the end, he reverts to using his knowledge following a string of incorrect, hunch-driven decisions.
Following its release, Two for the Money was a nominee for various awards, including the Golden Fleece at the Golden Trailer Awards in 2006. One of the main reasons that the Caruso-produced title is a must-watch within the gambling genre concerns how it has seemingly inspired real-world gambling operations. This influence is evident from the nature of sports betting platforms like Asiabet. Similarly to McConaughey’s character, the digital platform uses a knowledge-based approach to provide bettors with guides and match predictions for live cricket events. For example, the comparison site lists the top cricket events to be on, such as the Cricket World Cup, Indian Premier League, Test matches, and much more. Through their advice and guides, prospective bettors can use their new-found wisdom to place informed bets, much like what happens in the opening stages of Two for the Money.
Rounders – 1998
Away from the sports aspect of gambling films, poker movies have long dominated the genre. Of course, there are many on the market to enjoy, but few feature the same star-studded cast as Rounders. The 1978 title is directed by the award-winning John Dahl, who also worked on titles like Kill Me Again, The Last Seduction, and Unforgettable. Although Rounders didn’t reach an accolade-winning level of success, it was well-received by audiences.
Matt Damon, who also played a leading role in The Martian, is cast as Mike McDermott. The character is a young gambler returning to the high-stakes world of poker to help an in-need friend. In many ways, the movie’s plot centres around setting targets and striving to achieve them through a mixture of bravery, dedication, and skill. Early on, viewers learn of McDermott’s desire to compete in the World Series of Poker, which is the leading event on the poker calendar.
Despite the hardship surrounding Damon’s character, the film’s plot builds towards a positive conclusion, which Robert Ebert describes as being in the mould of a Rocky movie. Like others in the subgenre have done in the past, Dahl adopts a glamourous approach to portraying gambling, although his protagonist doesn’t let the weight of expectation bring him down. Throughout, McDermott retains his happy-go-lucky personality, allowing his poker skills to get him through financial adversity. Not only that, but he faces a race against time to succeed in his mission, having just five days to win around $31,000.
Poker or Sports, There’s Something to Everyone!
As touched on above, diversity has drastically impacted the growth of gambling-related films. Now, they’re no longer limited to a traditional casino backdrop. Instead, directors embrace the ever-changing nature of real-world gambling and strive to explore the depth that’s become central to the market’s success. Moreover, such films are no longer purely about the thrill of winning, with overcoming hardship a now prominent theme.