The Best Gambling Scenes in Movies

Taryn Davies
Published: January 24, 2019

There are few ways of cranking up the tension in a movie that work better than a gambling scene. This is a clever approach that immediately puts the viewer on edge and also offers a glimpse into the true personalities of the players.

Which movies contain the very best gambling scenes? There are some terrific ones to choose and the following are a few of the very best.

Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

This is a great example of how the stakes can rocket sky-high when you get a couple of serious players around a table. Fast Eddie and Hatchet Harry start off their game of three-card brag with a decent size of bet, but the whole thing soon spirals out of control.

Eddie runs out of money to meet the stakes and Harry offers to loan him the cash to carry on. As with the rest of the movie, it is an atmospheric scene featuring some intimidating characters. This film was made in 1998 and can count Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise among its biggest fans, according to Mental Floss.


As it's widely regarded as the best poker movie around, it's no surprise that there's an excellent gambling scene in Rounders. The characters played by Matt Damon and John Malkovich go head to head in a thrilling game of Texas Hold’em.

Damon is a keen poker player in real life, too. In fact, this game has attracted many new players recently. Newcomers can choose from a number of sites to play on, such as Paddy Power, where a month of free poker is included in the welcome offer. And don't worry, the stakes needn't be quite so terrifyingly high as in Rounders.

Ocean’s Eleven

This is more of a light-hearted gambling scene than those we have looked at so far. The movie begins with a scene where Brad Pitt teaches some actors how to play poker. They play it for laughs and it's a smooth start to the film.

While it perhaps wasn’t a major scene in terms of the plot, some people insist that it set up the whole premise and feel of the movie very nicely. Interestingly, the stars of Ocean’s Eleven later set up their own exclusive poker tournament on a private yacht in the French Riviera.

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

Another humorous gambling scene came courtesy of Mike Myers’ outlandish secret agent character. Austin Powers takes part in a high-stakes game of blackjack against Number Two but clearly doesn’t know much about the game, so he makes one terrible decision after another.

This is a clever James Bond parody and it is worth noting that there is a real-life roulette strategy based on 007’s typical tactics, but the agent has also been known to use the Labouchère system in his books too.

There is no doubt that a good gambling scene can add greatly to a movie’s atmosphere and tension. However, it has been interesting to note that it can be also be used for comedic effect in the right circumstances, too.