Gambling and poker have captured the imagination of Canadian audiences for decades. If you’re looking for a great Canadian movie about gambling and poker, you’ve come to the right place. This comprehensive list includes some of the best movies ever made about gambling, poker, and other related topics. Whether you’re looking for a heartwarming story or an edge-of-your-seat thriller, there’s something on this list for everyone!
The Last Casino (2004)
The movie focuses on three professors – Bill (Philip Baker Hall), Jack (Charles Martin Smith), and Sam (Nicky Guadagni). The three were once students together at university studying mathematics, which later translates into their plan to use their mathematical skills to help them win against the odds at a casino in Montreal. Try your odds on our recommended online casinos in Canada.
For months, they study the game of blackjack and hone their skills until they eventually become excellent card counters. After months of practice and preparation, the trio enters the casino with an elaborate plan to win big money with their card-counting strategy.
With a big bankroll built up from reckless gambles, deception starts to blossom between Jack and Bill as each attempts to stake out his own piece of the pie for himself. As betting becomes more reckless and desperate in an attempt to gain more than what’s fair from the group’s coffers, all hope of escaping goes down with it as the rogue gambler resorts to consistent cheating in the pursuit of gain. As secrets start getting revealed during crucial gambling moments, tension begins to seep into even the most tight-knit friendships, as greed can sometimes tear people apart.
Eventually, it gets too hot for them inside the casino until they are forced out by security without any real gain from their elaborate plan -except the knowledge that they have become excellent players in their own right. In some respects, they’re forced out less with money but ultimately more, taking away a much greater understanding of life’s greatest game: gambling.
Owning Mahowny (2003)
Owning Mahowny is a 2003 Canadian-British film based on the true story of Toronto assistant bank manager Brian Molony. The movie follows Molony as he ventures into a small-time gambling problem that quickly spirals out of control.
Molony is an ambitious accountant who has all but reached his lifelong dream of climbing the corporate ladder, only to find himself set back due to being promoted too fast and pushed into a role for which he isn’t qualified. To compensate for these feelings of inadequacy and insignificance, Molony turns to gambling, betting thousands of dollars on one die roll or blackjack hand each weekend. Though initially successful at keeping his growing problem under wraps, Molony’s newfound luck attracts the attention of several people who soon seek to exploit him.
Eventually, with his newfound fame comes success — and temptation — in the form of Dan Mahowny (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman), a compulsive gambler working at the same bank as Molony. With endless amounts of money available to them both, the two men’s addictive personalities lead them down further and further paths until their lives are completely consumed by their passionate pursuit for “the big win” without regard for consequence.
High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story (2003)
High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story is a 2003 Canadian-American biographical drama that follows the life of world-renowned professional poker player, Stu Ungar. Starting off at age 8 in the Brooklyn gambling scene, Stu quickly develops an affinity for playing cards, leading to a sharp rise to fame and fortune. As he participates in higher stakes games and wins bigger prizes, Stu soon earns the title ‘the king of Poker’.
The film chronicles efforts by friends and family to keep him out of trouble as his reckless lifestyle threatens his health and well-being. His biggest challenge, though, comes when he must compete against one of the most famed card sharks in Vegas: Johnny Moss. High Roller paints a vivid picture of Stu’s life and the many highs and lows that come along with his intrepid journey to become one of the world’s best poker players.
The Cooler (2003)
The Cooler follows Bernie Lootz (William H. Macy), a luckless loser who has been relegated to “cooling down” hot streaks in Las Vegas casinos by cooling off their luck. He is hired by Shelly Kaplow (Alec Baldwin), the owner of the Shangri-La casino, to perform his sordid job and is warned to leave town after he gambles away $50,000 of Shelly’s money in a high-stakes game of poker.
Meanwhile, Bernie falls in love with Natalie Belisario (Maria Bello), an employee at the casino and they start seeing each other regularly despite her working for Shelly. Although Bernie’s presence affects all around him, no matter where he goes, helping to turn luck into bad luck for those near him and vice versa, suddenly, his “cooling” powers are shifted when love enters the frame.
As Shelly moves more dangerously into debt with his gambling debts and Natalie begins to distance herself from Bernie for fear of becoming a target of revenge from anyone feeling cheated out of their winning streak losses due to Bernie’s application efforts – it looks as if luck may finally work in favor for both Bernie and Natalie as they look for an escape from the dangerous Vegas Games industry.
Lucky Number Slevin (2006)
Lucky Number Slevin, directed by Paul McGuigan and released in 2006, is a sleek and mysterious thriller that brings the world of gambling and poker to life. The story follows Slevin Kelevra (Josh Hartnett), a low-level mob fixer who finds himself mixed up in a dangerous turf war between two rival gangs. As he attempts to stay ahead of the game, Slevin soon discovers that he must use his wits and skills as a gambler in order to avoid becoming another casualty of the power struggle.
Along the way, he runs into Elijah Wood’s eponymous character Mr. Goodkat who is both an ally and a force to be reckoned with. With an all-star cast including Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Lucy Liu, and Ben Kingsley, ‘Lucky Number Slevin’ is an inventive film noir full of wit, twists, and turns that are sure to keep you at the edge of your seat.
A thrilling tale of love, betrayal, power, and redemption awaits you!
We hope that our ranking of the best Canadian movies about gambling and poker has helped you find some great films to watch. Whether you’re looking for a serious drama or a light-hearted comedy, there are plenty of titles to choose from.
These films all offer unique perspectives on the highs and lows of gambling and poker in Canada, showcasing the characters’ diverse views and strategies. From the realistic portrayal of small-town gambling culture in The Last Casino to the suspenseful nail-biter Bad Blood, these movies have something to entertain everyone.