Hollywood isn't always generous with its depictions of sports betting, often preferring to dwell on the negative aspects. Not surprising when you consider that those are the types of stories that tend to translate more easily to on-screen drama. After all, there isn't much suspense involved in describing the adventures of someone who enjoys the occasional bet on a big game every now and again! That being said, there have been some absolutely fantastic sports betting movies released over the years. We want to point you in the direction of five of the best of all time.
On this page you will:
1. The Hustler (1961): Director: Robert Rossen. Stars: Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott. IMDB Score: 8.0.
This is the original sports betting movie, and arguably the best of the lot. Newman gives a riveting performance as Fast Eddie Felson, a young hustler who wants to make it into the big leagues of professional hustling and high rolling pool players. How much will Eddie be willing to sacrifice as he tries to defeat pool legend Minnesota Fats (Gleason), and is the price worth the candle? Don't be put off by the fact this is a black and white movie, as that only adds to the atmosphere of this gripping drama.
2. The Color of Money (1986): Director: Martin Scorsese. Stars: Paul Newman, Tom Cruise, Mary Elizabeth Mastratonio. IMDB Score: 7.0.
This movie is a follow-up of sorts, to the classic 1961 movie The Hustler. The older movie also starred Newman as Fast Eddie Felson when he was a younger man taking on the legendary Minnesota Fats in a winner-takes all game of pool. Fast Eddie is back in The Color of Money, this time with cocky Tom Cruise as his protégée. Fast Eddie takes Vincent (Cruise) under his wing and teaches him how to succeed as a pool hustler.
3. Let it Ride (1989): Director: Joe Pytka. Stars: Richard Dreyfuss, Teri Garr, David Johansen. IMDB Score: 6.9.
Dreyfuss plays a cab driver who hits it big on the race track when it seems that he just can't lose. Now the only problem is that he can't seem to walk away. Teri Garr as Pam is his long-suffering wife, who sticks with her man through various trials and tribulations. Meanwhile David Johansen provides comic relief as fellow cabbie and best pal Looney.
4. Big Shot: Confessions of a Campus Bookmaker (2002): Director Ernest R. Dickerson. Stars: David Krumholtz, Toy Ktles, Carmine Giovinazzo, Jennifer Morrison, Nicholas Turturro. IMDB Score: 6.1.
Good boy Benny (Krumholz) goes to the University of Arizona and becomes a sports bookmaker, which turns out to be a very lucrative past-time. Things start to get a little bit out of hand as the stakes get higher and the FBI get involved. The story is based on a real-life case involving rigged games of college basketball, although the movie version plays the story for laughs.
5. bookmakers (2003): Director: Mark Illsley. Stars: Nick Stahl, Johnny Galecki, Lukas Haas, Rachel Lee Cook. IMDB Score: 6.0.
Four college student friends become minor league bookmakers, but things go a little haywire when they attract the attention of the local mafia. It all comes down to a boxing match where the outcome has been rigged, encouraging the young bookmakers to bet everything on the result in the hope of being able to get the Italian mobsters off their backs. Throw in the ups and downs of a romance between Toby (Stahl) and Hunter (Cook) and this movie has it all. This fast-paced comedy drama hits the ground running and doesn't pause for breath throughout its snappy 90-minute running time.
So next time you plan to sit down in front of a flick, be sure to check out one of these fantastic sports betting movies. Although they're all different in tone, each one is guaranteed to have you gripped from start to finish, and all manage to capture the fun, energy and excitement that only sports betting can generate. Whether you prefer comedy, drama or thrillers, you're sure to find something to enjoy from our selection. We suggest starting off with the Oscar-winning The Hustler - it's worth re-visiting even if you've seen it before - and work through the others from there.