Gambling is all about the mind games, the manipulation techniques and of pretense to make the opponent believe what will be your next apparent move or rather not make them believe. Gambling itself is a very interesting game and all this drama and mind games playing out in an anime makes it even more exciting, as anime has that ability to make anything, literally anything, ten times more exciting than it really is. Gambling already has high stakes, even more so in anime as sometimes the life of characters depends on the outcome of the game.
If you are ready for an exhilarating ride in the world of anime based on gambling then, here I have brought to you a list of top 15 best gambling anime. So, brush up your tactical and strategy making skills and add these to your watchlist.
15. Rio: Rainbow Gate
Rio: Rainbow Gate is setup in the most western traditional gambling setting, that is, in a proper casino. Rio: Rainbow Gate is about a dealer named Rio Rollins, she just wants to get closer to her mother and there is only one path to do that: to become the best dealer there is. She is a good dealer and battles with other dealers to gather legendary cards called “Gates”, a dealer who has 13 gate cards becomes the most valuable casino dealer. This anime no doubt has a lot of fan service and is not to be taken seriously. Just watch this anime for fun filled episodes and simple plot. Not the audience for fan service anime- don’t watch it.
14. Joker Game
Joker Game is not your typical gambling anime, it focuses more on poker and espionage than gambling. It is about a group of spies who are trained in harsh conditions and are excellent manipulators. They will play the game in favor of a person and that person wouldn’t even know that they were indeed helping him. Poker and Spies well if these two words excite you then you can try this anime.
The anime is set during the time of World War II, so it is gritty and dark. It is quite intense but sometimes unnecessarily thus pulling you out of the anime. Though it’s not something of a masterpiece or the ‘perfect’ anime but it surely not bad and atleast a one-time watch.
13. Mudazumo Naki Kaikaku: The Legend of Koizumi
Until now you would have seen the world leaders play politics against each other and within their own country, but now be ready to see them play Mahjong against each other. World leaders like the Pope, George W. Bush, Kim Jong Il and the Japanese Prime ministers play mahjong against each other to deal with the world problems and the winner gets to make others do what they want.
This anime revolves around the political situation of the past decade and presents it in a very entertaining and quirky way. It is always fun to see these politicians play Mahjong and have mind battles. If you are well versed with the political situation then you will love it, and even if you are not well versed then also you will fully entertain yourself while watching it and learn a little bit something, for sure.
12. C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control
‘Life without money, is no good life’, this is the motto of the people living in a country whose economy is in shambles and people would do anything to fill their stomachs. Kimimaro Yoga, a university economics student understands all this too well and is struggling to make ends meet. But all of this is changed when a stranger named Masasaki knocks his door and invites him to the Financial District for a life-or-death gambling game.
In this game the players bet their future and good fortune for huge sums of cash, the winner gets to keep the cash and the loser has his future pushed into the dark with all the misfortunes knocking at his door. Yoga is unknown to this world and gets immersed in it quite quickly, maybe because of his deperation and thus starts his new life as a gambler.
11. Kengan Ashura
Do you like grittiness and violence? Do you like gladiators fighting? There are no rules to the fight, fight until you die or the opponent dies is the only rule here. Kengan Ashura is in a world where business deals and other confrontations are settled by betting on gladiators, who you think would win. People hire their own gladiators and make them fight with their opponents’ gladiators to settle their business as well as other kinds of dispute.
Betting and violence make for the most dark and grim animes and this is one of them. It is about Ouma Tokita, a.k.a. The Ashura, who wants to prove himself as the strongest and he is thrown into fights facilitated by Kengan Associations, benefitting both Kengan and Ashura. Sometime this anime diverges and has some low points but it will not disappount you and is definitely worth the time.
This anime is about a girl named Saki, who doesn’t like Mahjong because of her childhood traumas, but things change when her friend invites her to the Mahjong club and she starts loving the game, which she was initially hesitant to play. This is a very lighthearted anime; the stakes are not very high for the characters in this and is a pleasant watch.
Saki does an excellent job at creating the drama around the game, the dilemma between the childhood trauma of playing Mahjong with her family and the pleasure of playing it with her friends presented to Saki Miyanaga, is very interesting and exciting to watch. To see someone overcoming their fears and trauma is good to see and heartwarming. If looking for a fun and simple anime, then this is it for you.
9. Kakegurui- Compulsive Gambler
Ever thought of high school kids doing gambling, betting huge sums of money and even other weird stuff like- nails? Well, this anime does it and does it very well. It is about Hyakkaou High School, which is akin to any other regular high school, only it turns into a casino for teenagers by the night, fun isn’t it? But that’s not all, there is a whole hierarchy system setup in the school for the winners and the losers. Those who win at gambling are considered gods while the losers are barely considered humans
. But this hierarchy is challenged when a first-year transfer student, Yumeko Jabami, joins the school and is the best gambler there is, she has many tricks and strategies up her sleeve and the higher ups in the hierarchy are not happy with this. This is a newer anime and no doubt a very fun to watch. It doesn’t have much mind games but what it has is the entertainment you are going to get; you will get immersed in the anime from the first episode and your excitement will only increase after that.
8. Legendary Gambler Tetsuya
This anime is a period piece, not set too far in the history but in the year 1947. It is about a man Tetsuya, who spends most of his time in the Mahjong parlors, testing his luck as well as skills. But when he meets Boushu he starts doubting his skills and thrives to become even better at Mahjong. This anime has many layers to it and doesn’t just scratch the surface. There are many life lessons imparted while the game is going on, many philosophical ideas being shared and the setting is dead serious.
This anime is really about the mind games and the strategies on how to play Mahjong and be better at gambling. If you are a Mahjong or gambling enthusiast then you are going to love this anime. The art style surely is dated and feels old, so it may not suit everyone’s taste. This anime is worth watching in this genre.
In the world of illegal gambling there is no such thing as morals. People do anything to win the gamble on which their lives depend, quite literally. They can stoop down to any level and win the gamble by hook or by crook, so an independent organization Kagerou controls the referees who judge the matches to prevent any foul play or cheating. There is an excellent gambler Baku Madarame a.k.a. Usogui- the lie eater. He is extremely intelligent in gambling but he has an ulterior motive, to keep the Kagerou in his back-pocket and take control over all the referees.
This is a short 40 minutes OVA based on the manga by the same name- Usogui. The OVA being short is not able to do justice to the very well-illustrated manga. The world building done in the manga is excellent and the art is also very well illustrated. So, if you are into reading manga, I will recommend reading it but the OVA also don’t disappoint.
6. No Game, No Life
This is not your typical gambling anime. No Game, No Life follows the life and adventure of two pro gamer siblings, Sora and Shiro, as they accept an E-mail and are transferred to another world. In this world, everything, from little squabbles to full nationwide wars are fought, not through guns and machines but by high stake games and bets.
Now the siblings have found new meaning to their life, which is to unite all the sixteen races of Disboard, defeat Tet, the God, and become gods of this new world. The show presents the way of paying bets in games instead of waging wars in a very interesting and unique manner. The ending of the anime in no way disappoints you and justifies the whole story. If you are not bothered by fanservice, then this is the show for you.
There are people who are gamblers, then there is Nangou who is a compulsive gambler and even after losing consistently and having a debt of over three million yen he doesn’t stop to play Mahjong and digs up his own grave. He starts playing against a mafia and this time with his life at stake and as always he is losing, but there comes a young boy named Akagi, on the run from police, and Nangou desperately hands him over his game after explaining him a few rules.
And as luck had it, he turns out to be pretty amazing at Mahjong and saves Nangou’s life. This anime is about Akagi, whose journey now begins in the world of Mahjong and gambling. This anime is dark, with criminals, mafias participating in the gambling and with stakes way too high for players like Akagi and Nangou but all of this is definitely worth your time.
4. Death Parade
Till now you would have watched gambling take place on earth, but in this anime, gambling takes place in the afterlife. The stakes are way too high for the players, as the game decides whether the players are going to be reincarnated or to oblivion. Doesn’t matter the player wins or loses, what matters is the way they played, did they play with morals and dignity or did they let lose their morals in order to win. Decim is in charge of judging people’s behavior and their morals and then deciding whether they get to be reincarnated or just get obliterated into nothingness.
Exciting, isn’t it? This anime digs deep into the psychological, philosophical and the moral aspects of gambling and it makes this anime even much more fun and thrilling to watch. It truly is a unique anime and takes on a very different approach to the regular gambling animes, the stakes are as high as life and death and the outcome depends not on the results but how you played.
3. Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor
Cruise and Gambling, words that are a dream for many but this anime brings it to life. This anime is about a nobody Kaiji Itou, who spends his days drinking beer and stealing hubcaps, until the day his life changes when he is offered an illegal deal of participating in an underground gambling taking place on a cruise. This begins his new life of deceit, mind games, psych attacks and manipulating. He is now immersed in the world of gambling, doing his best to survive in this cruel world full of people who are ready to take advantage of you.
You might think what game do they play to gamble, maybe poker, maybe pool, but no they play ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’, sounds funny? Well, it isn’t. The rules and the gameplay are different and the drama makes it even more intense. This surely is an intense anime, involving criminals and every shady stuff you can think of.
2. One Outs
One Outs is not just any other gambling anime, it involves baseball, one of the most loved sports in Japan. This is the anime about an unsuccessful baseball team Lycaons whose only hope is their new member, a pitcher named Toua Toguchi. But the team’s manager doesn’t care about the success of the team and puts the team into a gambling battle, in which they play much simpler version of baseball- One Outs. For every out the pitcher gets five million yen and for every run he gives up he loses fifty million.
Seems reckless, doesn’t it? But our mc Toua believes in his baseball as well as gambling skill. He has a natural talent for gambling. This anime really involves the intense mind games, the sly tactics and the strategy making and makes for an interesting and thrilling anime. This is an anime loved by many but hated by none, well maybe a few.
1. Alice in Borderland
In this anime the lives of the main characters are really on stake. After a colorful array or enormous and beautiful fireworks Ryouhei Arisu is transported to another world called Borderland, where they have to play mini games and gamble in order to survive, one wrong decision, one wrong step can make them dead instantly.
Arisu wants more from his life, he is bored of his normal high school life and wants something even more challenging and the challenge presents itself in this intriguing way, but Arisu is feeling alive for the first time in his life and is enjoying the world of Borderland while safely and carefully traversing through it. While this anime focuses on Arisu but his friends and other side characters are in no way ignored and will make you root for them even more. It’s a very suspenseful and fun anime and will take you on a thrilling ride.
These were the best gambling anime according to me, let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.
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So aptly put.