In modern cinema, sports movies are some of the most beloved and popular films. They can transcend demographics and connect with people ranging from hardcore sports fans to casual watchers to even those who have only a passing curiosity about sports. (See: Moneyball and the stats nerds who love it.)
And within the overarching genre of sports movies, there are sports betting movies that have shaped how a lot of people see sports betting as a profession, a passion and an industry.
We’re going to break down the top 10 sports betting movies, and some of our favorite quotes from each.
10. Eight Men Out
Coming in at No. 10 on our list is “Eight Men Out,” a fictionalized telling of the true story of the 1919 Black Sox scandal that shook the baseball world and altered the climate of sports in America early in their time in the collective consciousness.
While it didn’t dominate the box office (despite a star-studded cast that included John Cusack, Michael Rooker and Charlie Sheen), it was widely praised by both critics and audiences for giving in-depth look into one of American’s earliest sports scandals.
Notable Quote: “You get out there, and the stands are full and everybody’s cheerin’. It’s like everybody in the world come to see you. And inside of that there’s the players, they’re yakkin’ it up. The pitcher throws and you look for that pill … suddenly there’s nothing else in the ballpark but you and it.” – John Cusack as George Weaver
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At No. 9 on our list is “Bookies,” a comedy from the early 2000s starring John Galecki (later of “The Big Bang Theory”). A dramedy about a group of college students turned unofficial bookies, it was relatively well-received by critics and audiences despite a fairly small budget.
The movie isn’t as much an insightful look into the world of sports betting as it is a comedic play on the rough and rowdy world of an industry that wasn’t particularly well-regulated until recently.
Notable Quote: “I wonder all the time, is there any significance to the people we meet in our lives? Does our life follow fate, or chance?” – Nick Stahl as Toby
8. Two for the Money
Featuring an absolutely loaded cast led by Matthew McConaughey and Al Pacino, “Two for the Money” might not have crushed it at the box office or with critics, but it’s still a highly entertaining film about the sports betting industry.
The charisma of McConaughey and Pacino is the true selling point of this film, focused on a sports consulting agency that makes highly successful recommendations until they start phoning it in and not doing their homework, instead relying on random choice and gut instincts.
Notable Quote: “Know what you know, and know what you don’t know. And know that I gotta know everything you know as soon as you know it or sooner.” – Al Pacino as Walter
7. The Hustler
Starring Paul Newman in his breakout role, “The Hustler” is one of the most famous and iconic sports betting movies in history, from a time when sports betting was the Wild West of gambling.
While the premise is a bit dated and it’s from an entirely different age of film, having been made in the early 60s, “The Hustler” is one of the most influential films on this list and is genuinely an important piece of media, both as a cultural touch point and as the precursor to its much later sequel “The Color of Money.”
Notable Quote: “You know, I got a hunch, fat man. I got a hunch it’s me from here on in. One ball, corner pocket. I mean, that ever happen to you? You know, all of a sudden you feel like you can’t miss? ‘Cause I dreamed about this game, fat man. I dreamed about this game every night on the road. Five ball. You know, this is my table, man. I own it.” – Paul Newman as Fast Eddie
This early 90s film starring James Woods is one that treads the line between comedy and drama and treads it well. While critics found it to be an above-average film, “Diggstown” bombed at the box office, making only $5 million on a $17 million budget.
That said, this tale of a city obsessed with boxing and the con men who tried to take it for all it was worth is enjoyable throughout, and is worth a watch if you’re not looking for a highly serious look at the world of sports betting.
Notable Quote: “You remember what I told you downstairs about his mind? About capturing his mind? Well, right now his mind is in a whole different place. What I need you to do is walk out there, step up to the apron, look him right in the eye and walk out. Then, we got him.” Bruce Dern as John Gillon
One of Keanu Reeve’s most famous roles, “Hardball” is based on a novel of the same name. It features a down-on-his-luck gambler and ticket scalper who runs into legal trouble and has to help a local baseball team from the projects avoid a life surrounded by gangs, drugs and violence.
An absolutely heart-wrenching film, “Hardball” is iconic in the pantheon of sports movies and sports betting movies, both for Reeves playing one of his most abrasive characters and for the journey that his team goes on as they struggle to find a love for a sport that doesn’t seem to want them.
While sports betting is largely in the background throughout the film, it’s the driving force that pushes Reeves’ character into a guardian role for his young players, and is integral to him finding what matters to him as a person.
Notable Quote: “I want you guys to take a good look at yourselves and feel proud. We made it here. We’re here. What I’ve learned from you is that really one of the most important things in life is showing up. I’m blown away by your ability to show up through everything that’s gone on. The league never wanted you to play this game, but you showed up.” – Keanu Reeves as Conor O’Neill
While “Snatch” may not be known as a sports betting film, the subplot of Brad Pitt’s character Mickey and the underground boxing matches he participated in are one of the high points of an exceptional film.
Another one on this list that shows an exaggerated version of the seedy underbelly of sports betting and the gambling industry as a whole, Mickey’s character is wrapped up in a world of thrown fights and violent bare-knuckle boxing matches.
As a Guy Ritchie film, it’s superbly directed and incredibly fast-paced with a multitude of interesting, charismatic characters and it’s a worthwhile watch for anyone, whether they have a genuine interest in the world of sports betting or not.
Notable Quote: “You should never underestimate the predictability of stupidity.” – Vinnie Jones as Bullet Tooth Tony
3. Uncut Gems
This one could have fallen anywhere in the top three, but as probably the most stressful of the bunch, we’re putting this one at No. 3 as it’s not for everyone.
“Uncut Gems” is the story of Howard Ratner, played by Adam Sandler, who is a jeweler and gambling addict. While not a particularly positive portrayal of the gambling or sports betting industry, it’s arguably Sandler’s best film and one of the top films of the past decade.
“Uncut Gems” is lent some extra credibility with the inclusion of Kevin Garnett (playing an exaggerated version of himself) and is a sobering look into the world of those for whom gambling and sports betting are more than a hobby or passion, but a genuine obsession and addiction.
Notable Quote: “I made a crazy risk, a gamble, and it’s about to pay off.” Adam Sandler as Howard Ratner
2. Silver Linings Playbook
Coming in just below the top spot on our list is “Silver Linings Playbook,” the Oscar-winning romantic drama starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.
While sports betting is only a subplot within the film, the sports obsession shared by Philadelphians is a fundamental part of the plot, and the sports betting of Cooper’s character’s father (played by the inimitable Robert De Niro) is a major factor in driving the story and expressing who the central characters are and why they are the way they are.
Not only is “Silver Linings Playbook” an enjoyable film for sports fans and sports bettors alike, but it’s one of the films on this list that transcends all genre-specific fans, and one that can be enjoyed by any adult audience.
Notable Quote: “What, are you kidding me? Sundays? I love Sundays. I live for Sundays. The whole family’s together. Mom makes braciole. Dad puts the jersey on. We’re all watching the game. Yeah, it drives me crazy, and yes, I was negative. You didn’t even know that I loved it, Nikki, but I did. I just didn’t appreciate it, or you, before.” – Bradley Cooper as Pat
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1. The Color of Money
One of the best movies on this list, and an iconic movie in its own right, “The Color of Movie” is coming in at No. 1 on this list of sports gambling movies.
While the idea of sports betting has changed significantly since the 1980s and is no longer associated with illegal activity the way it once was, it’s still a hobby and profession that is often about more than money to those who are involved with it.
It’s a way to take part in something and add stakes to things, to scratch an itch that many people have for making things that can be just entertainment (like sports) into something more.
One of Tom Cruise’s best early roles and featuring Paul Newman at the top of his game, “The Color of Money” is an insight into the world of gambling that draws you in long past when the credits roll.
Notable Quote: “Money won is twice as sweet as money earned.” – Paul Newman as Eddie Felson