Seth Davis (Giovanni Ribisi) is a college dropout who runs a casino out of his Queens apartment. Of course, when his authoritarian father (Ron Rifkin), a stern judge, finds out about it, he blows his stack. Seth decides to up the ante in his attempt to win his father's approval — he joins J.T. Marlin, a hotshot brokerage firm on Long Island.

All of the other trainees are as money-hungry as he is. Marlin's high energy recruiter, Jim Young (Ben Affleck), promises them they'll all be millionaires shortly, able to afford Ferraris like the one he drives. Seth desperately wants to be a player in this high-stakes game and so he applies himself diligently. Chris (Vin Diesel) and Greg (Nicky Katt), two brokers in the firm, take him under their wings and teach him all the tricks of the trade, including high-pressure telephone tactics. Soon Seth is feeling the adrenaline rush of closing a deal. He gets so caught up in the game that when a subscription telemarketer from the Daily News blows his pitch, he offers to give him tips on how to improve his presentation.

Writer and director Ben Younger vividly conveys the cut-throat milieu of this male subculture where "don't pitch the bitch" (don't sell stock to women) is one of the mottoes. For a while Seth revels in being part of the inner circle at J.T. Marlin but eventually he learns the truth about the ways the firm is scamming investors.

The heart and soul of Boiler Room really deals with one unhappy young man's efforts to win the love of his father. This is a hard road that many sons have traveled. Seth finds his own way and, in the end, adds a new defining moment to his relationship with his father.