Ante Up: My Favorite POKER MOVIES
There have been countless movies made about poker; there’s a machine in Hollywood just making movies about the game and its players. Poker tournaments are now on par with major sporting events, it’s a part of the mainstream now more than ever. We cheer for the heroes and even the degenerates from time to time; it’s a great game that can make for a great film. Here are my favorite movies to feature the game, sound off in the comments below and share your own.
Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels
The Game: Three Card Brag
Synopsis: Four London working class stiffs pool their money to put one in a high stakes card game, but things go wrong and they end up owing half a million pounds and having one week to come up with the cash.
The Deal: The poker in the film isn’t really the main course of action, there’s a lot of violent fun paced action involved too. Guy Ritchie is known for making great ‘guy movies’, this is arguably his best. It has a killer soundtrack too. Check out the trailer.
Quotable: If the milk turns out to be sour, I ain’t the kinda pussy to drink it.
The Game: Texas Hold’em
Synopsis: A young man is a reformed gambler who must return to playing big stakes poker to help a friend pay off loan sharks.
The Deal: It’s become something of a cult hit since its modest opening almost 15 years ago, Rounders you could say was ahead its time as Poker exploded shortly after its release. A great script and outstanding performances by Matt Damon and Ed Norton. Check out the trailer.
Quotable: We can’t run from who we are. Our destiny chooses us.
The Game: Five-card draw
Synopsis: Bret Maverick, needing money for a poker tournament, faces various comic mishaps and challenges, including a charming woman thief.
The Deal: A great family western with laughs and action, what else can you ask for? Oh yes, there is plenty of poker too. Mel Gibson reteams with director Richard Donner (Lethal Weapon) in my favorite card movie hands down. Check out the trailer.
Quotable: From the moment I slapped eyes on this hombre, I smelled trouble. And re-fried beans.
The Cincinnati Kid
The Game: 5 Card Stud
Synopsis: An up-and-coming poker player tries to prove himself in a high-stakes match against a long-time master of the game.
The Deal: Steve McQueen, that’s really all I have to say isn’t it? He’s a mean poker player here in the 1965 classic that even if you know nothing about the game, you will love this. A suspenseful back alley backdrop and great action on top of that, it’s a must see. Check out the trailer.
Quotable: You’re good, kid, but as long as I’m around, you’re only second best.
The Game: Poker/ Off-track Betting
Synopsis: In 1930s Chicago, a young con man seeking revenge for his murdered partner teams up with a master of the big con to win a fortune from a criminal banker.
The Deal: It’s not strictly a poker movie sure, but it involves poker, cheating and a caper the likes you have never seen in the movies before. A big hit in 1973, The Sting won seven Oscars, including Best Picture. It won’t take you long to be hooked and you will likely want to watch it again and again, it’s that fun. Check out the trailer.
Quotable: If I didn’t know you better, I’d swear you had some class!
High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story
The Game: Poker/Gin
Synopsis: A biopic focusing on the life of American professional poker and gin player Stu Ungar.
The Deal: An inside look at the things that can take a three-time World Series of Poker champion to rock bottom. Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos) gives a career defining performance in a movie that isn’t so much about the game but the human condition. Check out the trailer.
Quotable: … these donkeys never figured out that the game wasn’t about cards. It was about people.
The Game: Gambling (Craps, Blackjack, Roulette and more)
Synopsis: Based on Axel Freed, a New York City English professor whose addiction to gambling spirals out of control.
The Deal: The Gambler is slow in pace, but builds as Axel Freed (James Cann) falls deeper and deeper into trouble. The last act of the movie is questionable but doesn’t ruin the movie, a great drama worth seeing. Here’s a scene.
Quotable: The only thing that’s standing between your skull and a baseball bat is my word.
Casino Royale – I would say only a handful of Bond movies are actually great, here is one of them. It has one of the most exciting games of Texas Hold’em you might see in a movie. There are ridiculous hands here but it was still a great scene. Watch it here.
Casino – The second best Martin Scorsese film ever made in my opinion (Goodfellas remains in the top spot) that depicts Las Vegas in a hypnotic, brutal and cruel fashion. One of the best scenes here.