Professional gambler Sydney teaches John the tricks of the trade. John does well until he falls for cocktail waitress Clementine.
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2 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Philip Baker Hall ... Sydney
John C. Reilly ... John
Gwyneth Paltrow ... Clementine
Samuel L. Jackson ... Jimmy
F. William Parker ... Hostage
Philip Seymour Hoffman ... Young Craps Player (as Phillip Seymour Hoffman)
Nathanael Cooper Nathanael Cooper ... Restroom Attendant
Wynn White Wynn White ... Waitress
Robert Ridgely ... Keno Bar Manager
Kathleen Campbell Kathleen Campbell ... Keno Girl
Michael J. Rowe Michael J. Rowe ... Pit Boss
Peter D'Allesandro Peter D'Allesandro ... Bartender
Steve Blane Steve Blane ... Stickman
Xaleese Xaleese ... Cocktail Waitress
Melora Walters ... Jimmy's Girl


John has lost all his money. He sits outside a diner in the desert when Sydney happens along, buys him coffee, then takes him to Reno and shows him how to get a free room without losing much money. Under Sydney's fatherly tutelage, John becomes a successful small-time professional gambler, and all is well, until he falls for Clementine, a cocktail waitress and sometimes hooker. Written by Jon Reeves <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


If you stay in the game long enough, you'll see everything, win everything, and lose everything. See more »


Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong language, some violence and sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Paul Thomas Anderson has rarely commented on the movie since its release, and it remains his least known film. By 2015, DVD copies were selling for over one hundred dollars online. See more »


Camera operator's shadow visible on the ground during the first scene where Sydney meets John (full-frame version only). See more »


[first lines]
Sydney: Hey. Hey!
John: [raises his head] What?
Sydney: You want a cup of coffee? You want a cigarette?
John: [groggily] What?
Sydney: I'm a guy that's offering to give you a cigarette... buy you a cup of coffee.
See more »


References Stop Making Sense (1984) See more »


Christmas Medley
(The First Noel / O Little Town of Bethlehem / Silent Night)
Written by traditional / Phillips Brooks and Lewis H. Redner / Franz Xaver Gruber and Joseph Mohr
Performed by Frankie Avalon
Courtesy of Chancellor Records, Inc.
By Arrangement with Celebrity Licensing Inc.
See more »

User Reviews

Somewhere between Casino and Swingers lies "Sydney"
19 June 2000 | by srbeldenSee all my reviews

"Sydney" is the first film from director Paul Thomas Anderson better known as the director of "Boogie Nights", this years loathed and loved "Magnolia" and several Fiona Apple videos. This film is essentially about a man who seems to pick up kids off the street (John C. Reilly, Gwyneth Paltrow) and teach them the ways of the casino and gambling and helps them out. Sydney knows everything about everything, the man is flawless, or is he? Paltrow is good as a waitress who just can't stop prostituing herself. Reilly is funny and sweet as John the serrogant son of Sydney. Jackson is slimey, sleazy and somehow likeable as only Jackson can be. And of course Philip Baker Hall as Sydney is amazing. "Sydney" is merely a taste of what was to come from this young director. There are some long steadicam shots and there is the funny, Tarantinoish (minus much of the swearing and less pop culture references) dialogue. Anderson knows how to use a camera and editing to their full effect and make a scene that could be boring if directed by anyone else, exciting. Look for cameos from many future Andersonites (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robert Ridgely) The film is a cut above most crime thrillers, this one is more light hearted (for a crime movie, it's not light hearted for say a romantic comedy, no no :), funny and even touching in some parts. If you are a fan of Anderson rent this, see how he has increased his creativity and grown on his talents since this film. If you are not a fan of Anderson rent this, cause if the things you didn't like about Magnolia were the long running time and some pointless steadicam shots, you'll be happy to see this one is little over 1 hour 40 min and only has several long steadicam shots that are used for a reason. Listen for the great score by "Boogie Nights" composer Michael Penn and "Magnolia" composer Jon Brion and a Christmas song at the end credits by Penn and his wife, "Magnolia" soundtrack star Aimee Mann.

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Release Date:

28 February 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hard Eight See more »

Filming Locations:

Sparks, Nevada, USA See more »


Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$69,486, 2 March 1997

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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