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Best Gambling Documentaries

Gambling is exciting but learning about the origins and great moments of the gambling scene can be just as entertaining as spinning the reels on video slots. Luckily, there are a ton of informative and thoroughly amusing documentaries that chronicle the most culturally relevant aspects of the gambling scene.

What’s even more, all of these documentaries are available in full for free online.

Drawing Dead, The Highs & Lows of Online Poker (2013)

Drawing Dead not only has an awesome name, but it does a great job of illustrating gambling addiction through contrast. It focuses on two men, Dusty Shmidt and Micheal Korpi Jr. They both discover online gambling early in life, but Schmidt becomes a successful high-roller while Korpi succumbs to addiction and failure. The story is as emotional as it is enthralling.

KaChing! Pokie Nation (2015)

This documentary dives deep into the world of slot machines, also known as pokies. It includes interviews with mathematicians, neuroscientists, casino owners, slots developers, and gamblers, all of whom bring their own perspective as to why the games are so popular and what they can do for the human mind. The breadth of the research done for this film is pretty astounding, and it may be the most underrated entry on this list.

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Bet Raise Fold (2013)

Professional poker has been big business for ages, but Bet Raise Fold examines how taking the game online caused a revolution that changed the game forever. Interviews with overnight poker stars and scholars who study the game make for an exciting narrative. Even more so than most entries on this list, Bet Raise Fold will appeal to everyone, regardless of their familiarity with online gambling. For that reason, it makes a great film for a get-together with friends or a family movie night.

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Best Sports Gambling Documentaries

The two best sports gambling documentaries out there are both great and both earned a spot on this list. The first may be the best-made gambling documentary ever made, but it paints sports gambling in a pretty negative light. The second isn’t quite as well-made, but it makes some fascinating points and is decidedly more biased towards gamblers.

Fantasy Sports Gambling (2016)

Paid Fantasy Sports take in billions of dollars a year, and this doc shows how they became so lucrative through a small legal loophole.

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The documentary is made by PBS Frontline in partnership with the New York Times, so the production quality is top-notch. The beautifully scripted reporting is interspersed with colorful interviews with the gamblers who helped transform the industry and the lawmakers that watched them do it.

NOTE: Fantasy Sports Gambling takes a pretty negative stance on the pastime. While seasoned gamblers will be able to understand it critically, it’s probably not the best thing to show someone new to the hobby.

Now Place Your Bets (2017)

Now Place Your Bets is a more positive take on the rise of Sports Betting, especially in terms of its ascension to the Las Vegas Casino scene. It takes a more intellectual look at sports betting than almost any other documentary out there by including heady interviews with oddsmakers, bookkeepers, and journalists. It also has talks with gamblers and really gets into their motivations and obsessions that led them to sports betting. 

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