If you can find time between handicapping games, watching games, and counting your winnings to watch a good movie, it may as well be one based around sports betting, right?
So here are the 10 best sports betting movies ever made. Each entertaining, but also filled with useful lessons for any gambler willing to learn.
Mark Wahlberg stars in this remake of the 1974 classic which follows the tale of a literature professor with a simple outlook on life; you either have everything, or nothing at all, a philosophy that he takes with him to the betting scene. His gambling addiction leads to him owing a massive debt to the owner of an underground gambling ring as well as a notorious loan shark.
Fed up with his excuses, the gambling ring owner gives him a week to pay off his debt with cash or his life. Desperate to keep living, he enlists the services of a few of his students, including the schools lottery pick star, to help him find the money.
The Sting is a timeless classic. Starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman, it won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture in 1973. It's the story of a small group of grifters in Chicago during the Depression who pull off an elaborate hoax on an underworld boss. They manage to hire a crew and pull off the best con jobs in movie history which uses a now-familiar past-posting technique in relation to the reporting of horse racing results.
The Farley Brothers ode to the world of underground high stakes bowling. Starring Woody Harelson as a one handed ex bowler looking to stake his way back to the top. A hilarious must see movie.
Paul Newman plays a brassy young pool shark who desires to be the very best at the game. To prove that, he's got but one man left to beat- the legendary Minnesota Fats. The movie opens with an overnight pool showdown between "Fast Eddie Felson" and "Minnesota Fats." The outcome of the game sets up the remainder of the movie and another game of revenge. In one scene Newman is told it's not talent that matters- one's character is far more important. That might be the single most poignant message to remember for any gambler.
Bradley Cooper plays a struggling young man who has lost a lot, including his wife and house. After a stint in a mental institution he is back living with his parents. Here enters the first inkling of betting, as the father played by Robert DeNiro, runs a bookmaking operation whilst also being a faithful supporter of the Philadelphia Eagles. Jennifer Lawrence is the love interest thrown into the mix. Spoilable things ensue, and the culmination event, in good bet related fashion, revolves around wagers made on the outcomes of a football game, and a dance contest. Well worth the price of a ticket.
Alright, this isn't a sports betting movie, but any gambler can appreciate this classic. Steve McQueen plays the "Cincinnati Kid." Edward G. Robinson is cast as "Lancey Howard"- also known as "The Man" in poker circles. McQueen's goal is to beat the man, but he wants to do it honestly and on his own terms. The Cincinnati Kid is a boldly accurate portrayal what the high-stakes gambling subculture must have resembled during the 1930's. It also shows poker as a respectable (and even noble) pursuit. The movie is helped by a cast of brilliant supporting actors- Karl Malden, Tuesday Weld, Rip Torn, Jack Weston, Cab Callaway, and Ann Margaret.
The final scene is one of the most memorable in movie history. Pacing. Texture. Timing. Intensity. It begins slowly- just as real poker hands do. As each card is dealt, the room full of people- each linked to the outcome in different ways- becomes more intense. Those watching begin projecting their own hopes, desires, and suspicions upon the hand and the game. Any serious gambler will instantly feel a connection to the entire situation being played out. This stands as the best poker movie of all time and perhaps the single best scene ever filmed.
Greed, deception, money, power, and murder occur between two best friends, a mafia underboss, a casino owner, and a trophy wife over a gambling empire. Director Martin Scorcese is here with his usual ensemble cast of badasses, which includes Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci. Based on the true story of sports bettor "Lefty" Rosenthal and the Argent Corporation scandal which engulfed the now demolished Stardust Casino back during the late 1970's, the plot essentially depicts the decline of organized crime in Las Vegas.
Centers on four college friends who become small-time bookies, only to find their world spinning dangerously out of control when their greed attracts the attention of organized crime.
The true story of the 1919 Chicago White Sox (Black Sox) and their dealings with underworld figures to throw the World Series. Not sure how closely it follows the actual facts revolving the scandal, but we'll buy it. "Say it ain't so Joe. Say it ain't so"
This is James Caan at his very best. Often overlooked and largely forgotten by the critics and the public alike, Caan plays a NYU professor hopelessly hooked by the thrill of living on the edge. He engages in all forms of gambling, but gets into his deepest trouble by sports betting.
The film shows his gradual self-destruction and psychological deterioration to the lowest depths of depravity. Every frown, grimace, and fist-pump is performed with just the right volume. The film shows an astonishingly powerful and accurate depiction of the pitfalls of compulsive gambling. It also includes a number of humorous moments, where Caan goes to ridiculous extremes to get the latest sports scores (this was long before ESPN, the Internet, and cell phones when scores were harder to come by). Everything in this movie rings true. It's probably the most realistic movie about (the downside of) gambling ever made.