The 10 Best Gambling Animes – Must Watch Anime TV Shows and Movies about Gambling

Author:

Mike F

Updated:

Jul 29, 2022

Huge casino fan who loves the occasional sports wager. You can usually find me at the blackjack table or playing slots.

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Anime and gambling may seem like an unlikely mix, but for an entertainment genre that depicts everything from deathly holy grail wars to giant humanoid monsters and ghouls, there’s no divide between the conventional and unconventional.

In fact, there are plenty of gambling anime, some of which have been released decades ago.

Top 10 Gambling Anime Series

In descending order, here’s our top 10 list:

  • Kakeguri Compulsive Gambler
  • Kaiji Ultimate Survivor
  • Legendary Gambler Tetsuya
  • Touhai Densetsu Akagi: Yami ni Maiorita Tensai
  • One Outs
  • Saki
  • C – The Money of Soul and Possibility Control
  • Yu Gi Oh
  • Death Parade
  • Rio: Rainbow Gate

1. Kakegurui Compulsive Gambler

Gambling Anime 1

No of episodes: 12

Aired: July 1, 2017 – September 23, 2017

Source: Manga

Writer: Yasuko Kobayashi

Probably the most extreme gambling anime series ever made, Kakegurui takes on a rather delicate theme of gambling addiction. It follows the character Yumeko Jabami, a high school student who transfers to the prestigious Hyakkaou Private Academy. The academy is an elite school for kids of Japan’s wealthiest, but at night it transforms into a high stakes gambling den where the children bet above and beyond to move up the pecking order.

At the Hyakkaou Private Academy, pupils are evaluated solely on their gambling skills, and the school aims to produce future leaders based on these merits. The cruel reality sees winners get treated like royalty and losers as less than humans.

Yumeko doesn’t care for the hierarchy and is merely a compulsive gambler who’d do anything for the thrill of betting. She disrupts the whole system and becomes a threat to the student council, who tries to shut her down. A spinoff light novel titled Kakegurui Joker was released in 2019.

2. Touhai Densetsu Akagi: Yami ni Maiorita Tensai

Gambling Anime 2

No of episodes: 26

Aired: October 5, 2005 – March 9, 2006

Source: Manga

Writer: Hideo Takayashiki

In the birthplace of anime, Japan, gambling is mostly about Mahjong – a tile-based game of strategy, skill, and summation. Mahjong is deeply rooted in Japanese culture and is the main focus of this gambling anime series.

The series picks up with Shigeru Akagi, a teenage miscreant on the run from the police. He stumbles into a Mahjong gambling den and meets Nongou, whose compulsive gambling has him in a debt of over three million yen. With nothing left to bet, Nongou stakes his life in a losing game that’s turned around when Akagi intervenes.

Akagi’s talents quickly come to light, and he begins his journey to becoming a Mahjong legend. Throughout the series, his character is fearless as he competes against the mafia and some of the most dangerous opponents.

The series begins by showing the rough life of a 13-year-old boy surviving in post-world war Japan. However, it delivers the satisfaction of watching that young boy use his gifts to move to the top of the dark underworld of illegal gambling. This growth arc is why many consider it the best gambling anime.

Prior to the series, two live-action movies were released in 1995 and 1997. Subsequently, a live TV drama based on the character aired between 2015 and 2017.

3. Kaiji Ultimate Survivor

Gambing Anime 3

No of episodes: 26

Aired: October 2, 2001 – April 3, 2008

Source: Manga

Writer: Nobuyuki Fukumoto

Kaiji ultimate survivor is an action-filled anime involving a cruise ship, dangerous acquaintances, and high stakes risks.

The eponymous main character is a drunkard who ends up with a huge debt after getting tricked by an ex-colleague. He falls into darkness and despair, and the only way out is gambling at the illicit underground ring of the ship. It’s either that or spend years paying off the loan shark who’s out to get either his money or Kaiji’s life.

This gambling anime was written by the same author behind Akagi, and the show’s massive popularity led the producers to create a spin-off – Kaiji: Against all Rules. Besides the anime television series, Kaiji ultimate survivor has a live-action film trilogy starring Tatsuya Fujiwara as the Kaiji Ito. The first movie aired in 2009, the second in 2011, and the third in 2020. Like most anime, this one was first released as a manga back in the 90s and ran through to 2017.

4. Legendary Gambler Tetsuya

Gambling Anime 4

No of episodes: 20

Aired: October 7, 2000 – March 24, 2001

Source: Manga

Writer: Fumei Sai

Legendary Gambler Tetsuya is one of the few gambling anime based on a real life story, although loosely. As such, the events are closer to life than most. Takehiro Irokawa was a Japanese author and mahjong gambler in the 90s who was nicknamed Hourouki Mahjong. He lived during World War II, and this anime is set precisely during that time.

It depicts the reality of post-war Japan when many people turned to illegal Mahjong parlors in search of a better future. Not the wisest decision considering gambling will easily see players lose than win, but the desperation of the times didn’t offer up much choice.

The main character, Tetsuya, is a genius gambler living in Shinjuku City. However, his talent doesn’t involve mind games that allow him to see through his opponents. Instead, he is depicted as an expert at cheating.

In the show, cheating is considered a skill, as long as you don’t get caught. And the main winning strategy was trying to decipher what cheats your opponents employed. Legendary Gambler Tetsuya involves a popular trope of the student who becomes the master, but this will prove to be the greatest charm of the riveting tale. The original manga series The Legend of the Gambler: Tetsuya ran from 1997-2005.

5. One Outs

Gambling Anime 5

No of episodes: 25

Aired: Oct 8, 2008 – April 1, 2009

Source: Manga

Writer: Shinobu Kaitani

From the creator of Liar Game, One Outs combines two related topics – baseball and gambling – in this high stakes sports anime. Toua Toguchi is a professional baseball pitcher who plays a simplified version of baseball called One Outs – a one-on-one showdown between a pitcher and a batter. He is also a gambling prodigy.

Toua begins to play for the Lycaons, a baseball team that never wins any matches, and is charged with turning their track record around. The team’s manager Tsuneo Saikawa refuses to give him a reasonable salary so he comes up with an odd proposition. For every out Toua pitches, he’ll be paid 5 million yen, and for every run he loses, he’ll have to pay 50 million yen to the management.

The story will follow Toua as he strives to win the gamble every time and outwit his boss. One Outs is a tale of strategy, planning, and mental games and is easily one of the most memorable gambling anime.

6. Saki

Gambling Anime 6

No of episodes: 25

Aired: Apr 6, 2009 – Sept 28, 2009

Source: Manga

Writer: Tatsuhiko Urahata

Saki’s plot bears some semblance to Kakeguri Compulsive Gambler, as both have a high school setting. However, Saki has a much lighter ambiance, and unlike Kakeguri where the main character loves gambling, Saki Minayaga has a bad childhood experience which makes her develop a hatred for Mahjong. Nonetheless, when her friend Kyotaru Suga introduces her to the school’s mahjong club, she slowly lets go of her dislike as she excels at the game.

Saki considers Mahjong as a game of numbers rather than gambling. She’s skilled at seeing patterns and has mastered how to attain a neutral score of 0, which is the best result possible when you play Mahjong. Although she tries to hide her skills, the club’s president notices her unconventional playstyle, and she becomes a threat to the reigning club champion, Nodoka Haramura.

As the series progresses, we see Saki and Nodoka transition from rivals to friends as they work toward winning national competitions.

The show takes a very different route from most of the other works on this list due to its cute concept and lively characters. Granted, cute girls and searing positivity aren’t what you’d expect from a gambling anime, but Saki makes it work.

7. C – The Money of Soul and Possibility Control

Gambling Anime 7

No of episodes: 11

Aired: Apr 15, 2011 – Jun 24, 2011

Source: Original

Writer: Noboru Takagi

The economy is in shambles, and Kimimaru Yoga struggles to make ends meet. His luck changes when, one night, a stranger named Masakaki visits him and extends an invitation to the East Financial District, where money flows in abundance. However, this new world will take more than it gives. The financial district requires players’ futures as collateral.

In this alternate realm, Yoga takes up the mantle of “Entre” and is forced to participate in weekly duels called “Deals.” His character strives to adapt to protect his fortune and future as he faces off against others like himself.

C – The Money of Soul and Possibility Control is a tale of greed and learning the true cost of money and wealth. It’s a blend of action, mystery, thriller, and of course, gambling, and every episode keeps you at the edge of your seat. If you’re not fond of subtitles, the series is also available in English dub.

8. Yu Gi Oh – Season 0

Gambling Anime 8

No of episodes: 27

Aired: Apr 4, 1998 – Oct 10, 1998

Source: Manga

Writer: Kazuki Takahashi

Aired in 1998, Yu Gi Oh is the oldest anime on our list. The very first season is the one we’ll be focusing on, as this has a much more grown-up feel than the subsequent seasons, which are more kid-friendly.

Season 0 follows Yugi Moto, who unlocks the puzzle box handed down by his grandfather. The box holds an ancient Pharaoh who then takes possession of Yugi. With the spirit’s power, he challenges opponents in shadow games and penalty games. Prepare for horror scenes where losers get deathly punishments.

The anime series is just one adaptation of the original manga. There’s also a branded trading card game and numerous video games created out of the novel.

9. Death Parade

Gambling Anime 9

No of episodes: 12

Aired: Jan 10, 2015 – Mar 28, 2015

Source: Original

Writer: Yuzuru Tachikawa

In this dark anime, gambling is literally a matter of life and death, or rather death and the afterlife. Gambling is only an aspect of the storyline which follows a sort of grim reaper, Decim, who discerns people’s true nature by a simple game. Death Parade strays from the traditional Mahjong and employs roulette wheels, darts, poker, and other gambling games. Dead souls have to play these simple games to decide their fate. Winners will be reincarnated, and losers get obliterated from existence.

However, they are unaware that the games are only a guise. Decim is actually testing the darkness of their hearts and the decisions they make when everything is on line.

10. Rio: Rainbow Gate

Gambling Anime 10

No of episodes: 13 + 1 bonus

Aired: Jan 4, 2011 – Mar 29, 2011

Source: Pachinko games

Writer: Mayori Sekijima

Rio Rollins is a casino dealer at Howard Resort Hotel. She is famously called the “Goddess of Victory” as she brings luck to gamblers just by walking past them. Her primary goal is to one day become a top-ranked female dealer like her mother. In order to achieve this, she sets out to gather the “gates,” a group of 13 cards that will allow her the title of MVCD (most valuable casino dealer). She and other Gate Holders participate in “Gate Battles” to decide who becomes the most valuable casino dealer in the world.

The series is quite outlandish in its portrayal of gambling fortunes and winning strategies. Several tips mentioned in the anime do not work in real life. Nonetheless, it’s a great anime and a must-watch if you love the gambling genre.

Notable Mentions

Although less relevant to gambling anime fans, the following are also worth mentioning in this gambling anime feature.

Usogui – The Lie Eater

Bak Madarame also known as Usogui is a talented gambler who makes a habit of putting his life on the line in deadly psychological games. The world of gambling depicted is full of cheats and liars, so a powerful organization called ‘Kakerou’ exists to guarantee as much fairness as possible. The plot sees Usogui challenge the lying gamblers as well as the Kakerou.

This gambling anime can be described in two words – high stakes and psychotic. Here, characters will have everything to gain but just as much to lose. The only reason it doesn’t make our main list is because the manga was only adapted into a single episode of 40 minutes which aired on Oct 19, 2012.

One Piece film: Gold

If you’re a fan of One Piece, that quirky pirate anime with extreme characters and crazy adventures, you’ll enjoy this 2016 movie released as part of the story. At first glance, the movie oozes luxury, wealth and lots of gold. It sees Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates take on Gild Tesoro, the captain of the massive entertainment island called “moving country of dreams.”

The characters gamble away at the casino ship before they run into trouble with the owner and are given an ultimatum to pay their debt. The rest of it involves scheming plans, dangerous missions, and the unnerving discovery of child slavery on the island.

One Piece is popular for being the highest-selling manga of all time and one of the longest-running anime. This movie was released in 2016 and produced by Toei Animation. It aired for the first time on July 15, 2016, in Abu Dhabi and premiered in Japan on July 23, 2016.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure – Stardust Crusaders (D’Arby the Gambler story arc)

This is a 40-minute story arc in Stardust Crusaders, which sees Jotaro challenge D’Arby the Gambler (a soul-stealer) at a game of poker. D’Arby has stolen the soul of Joseph Joestar, and Jotaro tries to win it back along with the souls of everyone else who’s lost to D’Arby.

During the heated match, Jotaro is at a disadvantage when he realizes that everyone is on the soul stealer’s side, and he loses the first hand. Jotaro resorts to bluffing, raising the stakes ridiculously high and mounting pressure on D’Arby. His confidence and sharp wits enable him to win the game, releasing all the trapped souls.

These events take place across episodes 34 and 35 and aired from March 13 to March 20, 2015. The high tension throughout the two episodes will leave you at the edge of your seats before ending in pure ecstasy when Jotaro eventually defeats his challenger.

Joker Game

Rather than a gambling anime, Joker Game is better classified as an anime with gambling elements. The show features several stints of the poker card game, but the central plot is about a group of spies, known as ‘D Agency,’ trained under rigorous circumstances to become valuable assets to the Japanese government during World War II.

D Agency consists of 8 agents who infiltrate powerful countries to learn vital intel using the greatest discipline they’ve been taught – manipulation. The 12-episode series aired in the Spring of 2016.

Note: If you make it through all these and are looking for more. Plenty of other interesting picks like No Game No Life, Kengan Ashura, and Hikaru No Go are also available to watch.

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Conclusion

Series like Death Note, Naruto, Bleach, and Dragon Ball opened up most of the globe to the world of anime. Although not as popular, the best gambling anime are just as exciting. With gambling anime, you don’t have to be the one who plays Mahjong or other gambling games to enjoy the thrill. You just sit back and take in the experience. They’re also quite short, so you can easily binge-watch in one sitting.

While gambling is the major theme in most of these anime, there’s a lot more depth to it than that. They depict real human lives, struggles, successes, and failures. Backed by thrilling storylines that extend beyond the betting table, the audience gets to experience an emotional rollercoaster. Some of the best gambling anime take the psychology of it all to new extremes.