One of the most convenient aspects of playing online casino games is the ability to multitask. And what better way to spend an evening than watching a fascinating show about your favorite pastime while enjoying a flutter?
In this blog, we’ll run through some of the most interesting gambling programs and documentaries ever produced. If you’re a serious player, you won’t want to miss these essential shows.
Louis Theroux: Gambling in Las Vegas
Investigative journalist Louis Theroux is known for immersing himself in unusual situations, delivering fascinating insights into some of society’s most intriguing communities. In “Louis Theroux: Gambling in Las Vegas,” the Brit spends a long weekend at the Hilton getting to know a number of high rollers.
Watch as he tries to play casino games for the first time, sharing highs and lows with his new friends along the way. Never one to shy away from the tough questions, this 2007 documentary offers a window into the minds of players with million-dollar habits — for example, a retired doctor who’s lost more than $4 million in seven years.
Bet Raise Fold: The Story of Online Poker
The next gambling documentary on our list traces the historical evolution of the online poker scene. It covers the years leading up to the Chris Moneymaker-inspired boom right through to the aftermath of “Black Friday.” The narrative is built around the activities of three professional players, including WPT champion and two-time WSOP bracelet winner Tony Dunst.
Produced in 2013, plenty has occurred in the industry since the release of “Bet Raise Fold: The Story of Online Poker,” but it still remains a fascinating watch, documenting a significant period of gambling history in a compelling 101 minutes.
The Player: Secrets of a Vegas Whale
Join Trish Regan to learn all about Don Johnson, a regular Joe who managed to beat three different casinos for millions of dollars. This 46-minute documentary reveals the tactics he employed to earn a fortune from some of the biggest venues in Vegas — the Tropicana, Caesars and Borgata.
As you’ll discover, much of Johnson’s success came down to exploiting promotions and comps — so much so that the industry was forced to change forever its approach to handling VIP players, known colloquially as ‘whales.’
Cheating Las Vegas
This fascinating hour-long production details some of the most audacious and extreme con tricks ever seen in Las Vegas. Produced in 2000, some of the “high-tech” scams might now seem a little dated. Nevertheless, these real-life tales are intriguing to hear.
Narrated by actor-turned-poker-player James Woods, “Cheating Las Vegas” features real footage from casino security cameras. One fascinating story documents how a jeweler successfully minted fake coins to trick the slot machines. This documentary is ideal if you’re looking for something to enjoy while playing your favorite casino games online.
Gambling Addiction and Me – The Real Hustler
Actor and poker player Alexis Conran is best known in the UK for co-presenting a television program called “The Real Hustle.” The show exposes magic tricks and various practices employed by pickpockets, confidence tricksters and other fraudsters. However, in this brilliant 2012 documentary, Conran talks intimately about the role of scams and gambling in his own life.
He details his father’s struggle with addiction and subsequent life of crime and how he eventually served a prison sentence for fraud. The documentary also features interviews with other problem gamblers and experts as Conran seeks to understand the causes of addiction — a must-watch for anyone with an interest in gambling.
Now Place Your Bets
First aired in 2017, this documentary charts the rise of sports betting in Las Vegas. Discover the key developments in the industry’s growth, from its early underground origins to what it is today, a legal billion-dollar business.
“Now Place Your Bets” is extremely informative and includes insightful interviews with pioneering bookies, full-time gamblers, journalists and other industry insiders. It’s particularly interesting if you enjoy documentaries about organized crime. After all, without that, the sports betting scene in Vegas would never have developed.
Out of Luck
This 2015 documentary offers an eye-opening insight into the world of lotteries. With a run-time of an hour and 35 minutes, the production focuses primarily on the tragic story of a convenience store owner who developed an addiction to lottery tickets. His million-dollar gambling problem would eventually cost him everything he owned.
The show also details the history of lottery games and highlights some interesting statistics, such as the chances of actually winning. But above all, it provides the viewer with several hard-hitting facts that raise important moral questions.
Inside Underground Poker
Take a trip to the murky underground world of New York’s poker scene with this 2012 documentary. “Inside Underground Poker” producer Jon Bulette takes us on a rollercoaster ride during which we meet a colorful cast of characters. Follow the progress of John ‘the Banker’ and Mikey Tats as they participate in illegal games for thousands of dollars.
Fending off the long arm of the law is Brad ‘the Conductor,’ a man who goes to the most extreme lengths to ensure these games go ahead — and not always without a hitch, as you’ll discover.
The Best of It
Compared to many of the documentaries in this list, “The Best of It” offers a much lighter take on the world of gambling. Join four sports betting fans — Dink, Boston, Banker and The Shrink — as they try to make it big as professional gamblers.
The 2016 production does touch on the darker elements of the gambling world, allowing us to experience both the highs and lows as we follow the stories of these big characters. At a little under two hours long, you’ll need to set a little time aside to watch. But it’s certainly worth it, as indicated by the 7.1/10 rating on IMDB.
Frontline: The Fantasy Sports Gamble
PBS and the New York Times combined to produce this critically-acclaimed investigation into the world of fantasy sports betting. Produced in 2016, the 53-minute show tracks the growth of this relatively new industry, penetrating the operations of two of the market’s biggest players.
“The Fantasy Sports Gamble” reveals how such businesses manage to succeed in unregulated jurisdictions, exploiting legal loopholes and avoiding taxes — not to mention making a whole lot of money along the way.
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So there you have it — a comprehensive rundown of the most compelling gambling documentaries. Informative, insightful and, at times, emotional, these shows are a must for the playlist of every gambler.