Poker continues to be one of the most popular games around the world, and has increased in popularity amid the pandemic, growing by 43%. This is because poker is very accessible, with players able to play both physically and remotely. However, it is also very challenging to master, making it an entertaining and thrilling a game. And because of this the popular card game has been portrayed countless times on the silver screen. Poker scenes showing the tension and adrenaline found within the game, have inspired many to learn the game too. And while there’s no better way to learn about poker than playing it in real life, films that display the excitement of poker can still awaken your inner poker player.
With that said, we list down five scenes in popular films that show the excitement of poker.
This 2001 heist film stars Brad Pitt and George Clooney as friends who plan to steal $160 million from a casino owner. In one of the opening scenes, Brad Pitt’s character teaches poker rules to a group of teen idols, including Topher Grace, of That 70s Show fame, and Joshua Jackson from the hit show Dawson’s Creek. This iconic sequence is made more entertaining as George Clooney’s character joins the game, hits four nines, and takes home a sizable sum of cash from the celebrities on the table.
Everybody loves a good James Bond film. Aside from being the film that cemented Daniel Craig as the iconic new James Bond, Casino Royale also features one of the most famous poker bluffs in cinema history. A bluff is a poker term that means betting with a hand that has a low chance of winning, unless your opponent folds. In one scene, James Bond catches the tell of the main villain, alerting him that his opponent is bluffing and all he needs to do to win is to play his hand. Unfortunately it was 007 who was being played, resulting in him losing his hand and temporarily his place at the table. While some poker scenes were criticized for their inaccuracy, this film is loved by many for combining the intensity of poker with the fearlessness of a spy thriller.
A Big Hand for the Little Lady
Set in the Wild Wild West, this film tells the story of a poor farmer who risks his family’s fortune in a poker game. Despite being dealt a great hand, the farmer is struck by tragedy and dies at the poker table. This pushes his wife to take over the game he left and do her best to win for her family’s sake. A clever comedy with a strong cast, this 1966 movie is definitely a treat for all poker fans.
Starring Matt Damon, Rounders is a film about underground high-stakes poker games. It focuses on the story of pro poker player Mike McDermott, who made the mistake of challenging a Russian mob boss and lost all of his money. The final game is a suspenseful exchange between a determined guy who has lost everything and the crime boss who tries to throw his opponent off by talking smack. Not only did the film show many different poker moves, it also revealed the hidden poker world of America. Rounders was the film that arguably introduced poker to the wider public and paved the way for it to become the global game it is today.
Silver screen legend Paul Newman plays con-artist Johnny Hooker in this 70s caper film. The poker game set on the train is, without a doubt, one of the dirtiest poker scenes in movie history. Throwing aside every poker rule imaginable, both players cheat to win the pot. Hooker comes out on top after he outwits his opponent who thinks he has a duff hand.
If you’re in the mood to see poker films that are filled with suspense, wit, and interesting characters, be sure to add the movies above to your list of must-watch films. For more insightful lists and articles, be sure to read our other posts.