If you’re an avid gambler who appreciates a good anime — you’re in the right place.
We’ve curated a list of the best gambling anime that are just as (if not more) thrilling than playing games of chance yourself. From a Mahjong showdown between two brilliant minds to games where stakes are the protagonists’ lives, each of the titles below features a plot that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
14. Joker Game
Studio: Production I.G
Plot: Joker Game tells a tale of eight extraordinary spies who have undergone special training in order to effectively combat both foreign and domestic powers. Using poker as an excellent analogy, the show perfectly illustrates the fine line these master manipulators have to walk day in and day out.
Joker Game takes place in 1937, only a few years before World War II officially began. This gives it a distinct, dark tone and makes the stakes much higher than just the faith of the “D Agency.”
13. The Money of Soul and Possibility Control
Studio: Tatsunoko Production
Plot: This anime thoroughly explores the notion that money is the centerpiece of our lives. Appropriately, it takes place in a fictional Financial District, where residents have the opportunity to wager their future in hopes of winning a better present. The focus is definitely on the darker side of gambling, where despair forces people to play games with the highest stakes.
Apart from being “heavy,” The Money of Soul and Possibility Control requires a keen mind to completely understand the plot. So, it’s definitely not for everyone and not something you should watch if you’re looking to relax and unwind.
12. No Game No Life
Plot: Step-siblings Shiro and Sora are unnaturally gifted gamblers, but they’ve had trouble fitting into society for the better part of their lives. As word of their incredible talent spreads, it finally reaches the God of Games. The two are promptly brought into the world of Disboard, where they have to utilize their talents to resolve a myriad of political conflicts. The show features intense gambling tournaments and plenty of high-stakes games with unpredictable twists.
11. Death Parade
Plot: Another masterpiece from Madhouse, Death Parade is a sensational gambling anime with the highest possible stakes you can imagine. However, we’re not talking just about a person’s life. This show goes even further, with the only two possible outcomes of the games being eternal damnation and guaranteed reincarnation.
After death, the people in this anime appear in a bar run by a mysterious Decim, who invites them to spin a roulette wheel and determine their fate. Rather than numbers, the wheel features various games which put a unique challenge before each character. However, the show makes you ask the question of whether the outcome is truly based on luck or is perhaps determined by each individual’s choices in life.
10. Imawa no Kuni no Alice (Alice in Borderland)
Studio: Silver Link., Connect
Plot: Alice in Borderland blends gambling and RPG video games to bring you unique viewing experience. The protagonist, Alice Ryouhei, along with two high school buddies, wakes up in a strange new world. However, they quickly discover that the rules in “Borderland” aren’t something to take lightly. Their only choices are to either play games with potentially deadly outcomes or die on the spot. Watch as the trio struggles to beat impossible odds, all the while trying to figure out a way back home.
Studio: Gonzo, Picture Magic
Plot: If you’re looking for a bit of lighthearted fun, Saki is the number one choice. The theme of this gambling anime revolves around Mahjong. Saki Miyanaga is a high school student who hates the popular Chinese game with her whole being, mostly due to traumas from her childhood that are directly related to the game.
However, she gives in to peer pressure and eventually decides to join the school’s Mahjong club. It is then that her whole world hilariously shifts for 180 degrees. She becomes invested and is determined to lead the team to victory in the National Mahjong tournament.
Episodes: 1 (OVA)
Plot: Usogui explores the concept of illegal gambling by pushing it to the extreme. Here, illegal gambling has reached the point where people often put their lives on the line. So, to prevent disastrous outcomes, an agency by the name of Kagerou takes charge of keeping the players in check.
The 40-minute OVA tells the story of Baku Madarame, the infamous Usogui — Lie Eater. Madarame leverages his unrivaled gambling skills to win his way into the organization and eventually take the helm. Admittedly, 40 minutes isn’t enough time to fully explore the vast world of the manga. So, if you get drawn in by the OVA, you can read the books by Toshio Sako to see how the rest of Madarame’s story unfolds.
7. Stardust Crusaders (D’Arby The Gambler Story Arc)
Episodes: 2 + OVA
Studio: Studio A.P.P.P.
Plot: The twenty-second story arc of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures, Stardust Crusaders introduces a rather unique villain. Daniel J. D’Arby is a gambler and a known cheat who utilizes the power of Osiris to steal the soul of anyone he defeats in one of his games. The show’s protagonist challenges D’Arby to his best game — poker, with not just his own but two more souls on the line.
6. Legendary Gambler Tetsuya
Studio: Toei Animation
Plot: This gambling anime takes place in post-WWII Japan. The consequences of the war are catastrophic, and the only way to live a decent life is by playing illegal Mahjong games. Viewers follow the story of Tetsuya, a skillful and successful Mahjong player.
After losing a match to a cheat, Tetsuya must learn how to bend the rules himself if he wants to survive in this harsh world. However, each game he plays is more intense and carries with it an important life lesson that will shape Tetsuya’s future.
5. Akagi: Yami ni Oritatta Tensai
Plot: Akagi is a mysterious boy who appears seemingly out of nowhere to save the life of a man who’s one game away from losing his life to the yakuza. Although this is Akagi’s first interaction with Mahjong, he quickly realizes he has a knack for the game. Things quickly spiral out of control, and the show’s protagonist finds himself playing intense games with stakes as high as life and death.
The great thing about this gambling anime series is that you can enjoy it even if you have no clue what Mahjong is. The show perfectly explains the rules of this popular game, so viewers can follow even if they’ve never played.
Additionally, although the show features a distinct, arguably outdated Japanese animation, it doesn’t include forced comedy, the typical exaggerated facial expressions, or unnecessary filler episodes.
4. One Outs
Plot: One Outs isn’t your typical gambling anime. In fact, it combines gambling and spots to create a very distinct setting which borrows elements from both worlds. Namely, the story follows Toua Tokuchi, a skilled pitcher who earns a living playing a simplified version of baseball the show dubs “One Outs.”
After he joins a struggling team called Lycaons, he’s approached by the team’s manager with a rather strange, yet irresistible offer. Rather than playing for a fixed salary, each time he wins a game, he will receive 5 million yen. However, one loss would set him back ten games since he’d have to pay the manager ¥50 million.
Although the show doesn’t focus on a particular game of chance, it does highlight the importance of strategy, planning, decision-making, and mind games. So, if you’re a gambler leaning towards games of skill, particularly poker, you might learn a thing or two from this gambling-themed anime that will help you outwit your opponents in the future.
3. Rio: Rainbow Gate
Plot: In case you’re not too fond of animes with a darker tone that made it onto the list, Rio: Rainbow Gate is the ideal lighthearted watch. The show adopts an idealistic view of gambling, with every episode featuring unlikely, yet incredibly satisfying wins.
The story follows the career of a renowned Howard Resort Hotel casino dealer Rio Rollins. Her fame stems from the fact that, for some strange and unexplainable reason, she brings fortune to every player who sits down at her table. Although in reality, most casinos (regardless of whether we’re talking about real money online casinos or brick-and-mortar venues) wouldn’t look too kindly on a luck-bestowing dealer, the show dubs Rio “Goddess of Victory.”
Plot: Kakegurui is a unique high school anime with a focus on the dark, twisted side of gambling. The plot is set in the Hyakkaou Private Academy, where the children of wealthy, politically influential families gamble everything from their social status to their lives. Moreover, the school’s student council determines the value of every person’s life, with the only chance to improve your standing being through consistently winning.
fer student Yumeko Jabami enters this strange environment, she feels an irresistible urge to dismantle the current hierarchy through the use of her gambling abilities. That said, the highlight of the show isn’t on the games themselves but rather the psychological battle between the students. Everyone wants to avoid the cruel fate of becoming house pets (the equivalent of slaves), but there can only be one winner.
One thing to keep in mind is that Kakegurui is very graphic. The show is rated R for profanity, violence, and slight nudity.
1. Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor
Plot: The Madhouse studio has delivered several masterpieces to anime fans throughout the years, but Kaiji definitely takes the cake. Every aspect of this gambling anime is flawless, from pacing and character development to animation and the story. So, it’s no surprise anime fans all over the world consider it to be the best gambling anime of all time.
What Kaiji does so well is it thoroughly explores the psychological aspect of gambling. It pits the protagonist Kaiji Ito against brutal challenges and impossible odds, which require both luck and an ingenious strategy to beat.
The comedic aspect of the show comes from the fact that Kaiji is just an ordinary man thrown into a maelstrom of chaos. He plunges into the gambling world unwillingly, after a loan shark gives him an ultimatum — either pay off his coworker’s debt or face the consequences.