Scenes involving poker have been featured as huge plot points, part of a setting, or breakout scenes to shake things up — in either case, one of the most exciting games in the world has been used to get the viewer really engaged in a storyline.
With so many great poker movies, we’ve compiled a list of 8 we think are great. Ones that are suitable for both poker and non-poker fans alike.
All In: The Poker Movie
Unlike the rest of the films on this list, All In: The Poker Movie is a documentary. An award-winning one at that!
Directed by Douglas Tirola, the film tells the story of poker from the start of its history, through Chris Moneymaker’s win in 2003 at the Main Event at the World Series of Poker to the infamous Black Friday.
With some familiar faces of the poker world including Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, Annie Duke, Antonio Esfandiari and more, it’s an incredible account of how poker became one of the biggest casino games in the world.
One of the best poker movies out there, 1998 classic Rounders stars Matt Damon, Edward Norton, John Malkovich, and Gretchen Mol. It is one of the first films with serious references to Texas Hold’em.
The story tells the tale of Mike McDermott, who dreams of becoming a professional poker player. With the help of his friend Worm, he tries his luck in Las Vegas. This is a fantastic film and inspired many players (both novice and professional) to get into Texas Hold’em, a game variation that became extremely popular after the film’s release.
No top poker film list can exclude Rounders; it’s definitely one to watch.
A 2007 improv comedy directed by Zak Penn, this film is about a group of players gathering together to play in a 10,000,000 poker tournament.
With an open-ended script, Penn utilised the skills of actors like Ray Romano, Woody Harrelson, Jason Alexander and Chris Parnell to drive the story forward.
The actors played real poker, there was no predetermined winner and it is a unique concept. Definitely one to watch if you’re looking for something a bit different — and comedic!
Deal is a decent poker flick starring Burt Reynolds and Bret Harrison with quite a few poker scenes.
Aimed at hardcore poker fans, Deal was released in 2008, with a plot revolving around the main character Tommy, an ex-player who decides to teach a young apprentice strategy and tricks to take on the poker world. Great for casual watching.
With some mixed criticism, 2007’s Lucky You is still a fun poker movie with loads of scenes featuring one of the world’s most favourite games.
Featuring the incredible Eric Bana and Robert Duvell, Lucky You tells the story of Huck Cheever and L.C. Cheever — a father and son trying to make it in the poker world.
The film follows Huck and L.C. traveling to Las Vegas to compete in the World Series of Poker, of which L.C. is a two-time champion. There’s lots of poker in the mix, and some familiar faces appearing at the tables including Jen Harman, Berry Greenstein and Sammy Farha.
A classic ‘90s film, Maverick stars some big stars like Mel Gibson, James Garner and Jodie Foster. This lighthearted flick revolves around poker, but also has some incredible performances.
And while it’s not as poker-heavy as some of the other films on the list it’s a great choice for Sunday afternoon viewing and perfect for both casino game fans and regular viewers.
Released in 1974, California Split is an old school film about poker and the gambling life. The main characters Charlie and Bill (played by Elliott Gould and George Segal), meet at a table over a game of poker and decide to become professional gamblers.
Great acting, as well as directing, means that this film was an instant classic. It’s one any poker fan should watch at some point and depicts the highs and lows of the gambling lifestyle.
One of the most recent poker films to hit the big screen is Molly’s Game. Based on the true story of Molly Bloom and released in 2017, the story follows the “Poker Queen’s” career running private high-stakes games for some of the biggest known celebrities, professional players and businessmen.
Starring Jessica Chastain, Kevin Costner and Idris Elba, this is a fascinating glimpse into Molly’s life. It charts her life from her aspirations of being an Olympic-class skier to the downfall that occurs from running illegal poker games (for the Hollywood elite, no doubt).
There’s a lot of money, lots of glitz, many high profile figures and while the film itself is fictional, it’s based on a true story. Which makes it all the more exciting to watch.