For people who love poker, it can be quite the challenge to find a film that not only accurately portrays the game of poker but also provides good entertainment value. We have combed through the pantheon of poker movies, both old and new, and put together a comprehensive list of the best poker movies that will make you laugh, have you on the edge of your seat, make you cry, and possibly even teach you something about the game of poker.
Best Poker Movies That Will Make You Laugh
Maverick – 1994
The plot of the movie Maverick revolves around Mel Gibson’s titular character. In the updated version, Maverick is a cardsharp who puts up a large sum of money to enter a poker contest. Maverick scams the hopeful contestants out of their money, and wins the game, but not before making enemies with Annabelle and a cunning marshal. Ultimately, he must choose between the two women and face the cunning marshal.
Maverick is a poker champion who has to deal with his opponents. In the movie, Maverick’s opponents are a Russian Grand Duke and a Chinese aristocrat. However, Maverick is not a pro at poker and his opponents blackmail him. His opponent, John Wesley Hardin, is also an Indian, so the Commodore wants him dead or at least captured. The two men have an argument, and Maverick backs down to make him lose the poker tournament. Maverick is a skilled quick-drawer and can shoot a man before his gun is out of his holster.
In the movie, Maverick is a desperate conman. His opponents want him to pay them $5,000 so that they can buy him a ticket to the world series of poker. Maverick is a master of deception and faking incompetence, foolhardiness, and stupidity. The plot of the movie Maverick is an entertaining western that has something for everyone.
Honeymoon in Vegas – 1992
Honeymoon in Vegas centers on the story of Johnny and Betsy, a young couple who are planning on getting married in Vegas after a long relationship because Johnny’s mother made him promise on her deathbed that he would never marry. While in Vegas they run into Tommy, a high roller who realizes that Betsy shares a striking resemblance with his beloved deceased wife.
Tommy tricks Johnny into losing a very high stakes hand ($65,000) but allows him to trade a weekend with Betsy in lieu of handing over the cash. Hijinks ensue as Tommy whisks Betsy off to his home in Hawaii and Johnny chases after to win back his fiance and defeat Tommy in the process.
The Mississippi Grind – 2015
The movie tells the story of a gambling addict who takes his newfound friend to a high-stakes poker game in New Orleans. When the friend loses all his money, the addict goes to New Orleans in search of revenge. This is where the plot of Mississippi Grind takes a turn.
Mississippi Grind is one of the most realistic movies about gambling. The film flips back and forth between humanizing the gamblers and romanticizing their lifestyle. Ryan Reynolds’ character, Curtis, is less addicted to the fast money than he is to the pleasure of gambling. Gerry, the self-destructive kid, is a complete loser and is owing everyone money. The movie is filled with realism and a sense of the danger that comes with being an outsider.
While Mississippi Grind is not a love story, there is a certain charm to the ne’er-do-well character. It’s not exactly a romance movie, but it is a buddy comedy. The two characters, Gerry and Curtis, have very different personalities. While both are haunted by memories of women from their past, they both have a lot in common. The movie makes many viewers want to watch it more than once.
Best Poker Movies about Crime
Bugsy – 1991
The Oscar nominated poker movie Bugsy revolves around a former associate of the mob, Benjamin Bugsy Siegel. He has run out of money and leaves New York to set up a syndicate gambling operation. After meeting the beautiful actress Virginia Hill, Bugsy is swept away by her and starts courting her. A heist drama based on true events, the plot centers on the time spent by Bugsy working and scheming to fulfill his dreams of creating a high-rolling casino in Nevada. Sadly, his dream was crushed and he died tragically before he could complete the famous Flamingo Hilton.
Cool Hand Luke – 1967
The plot of Cool Hand Luke revolves around a young petty criminal named Luke Jackson, who is sentenced to two years in a prison farm in Florida. But Luke doesn’t play by the rules, and the warden and resident heavy Dragline admire his unbreakable will and uncontrollable temper. While the prison officers love to put Luke behind bars, he is a constant thorn in their sides.
The story follows a man named Luke Dawson, who is serving a prison sentence after losing his job. He is a decorated veteran who is bored with life. He takes the extreme step of decapitating parking meters with a pipe cutter, earning himself two years in a chain gang. The police are appalled by his stoicism, but the guards are determined to find him and make him suffer.
Despite his obvious disadvantage in the fight, Luke does not back down. He wins the poker game with nothing. His hardened team call him Cool Hand Luke and he becomes the unofficial leader. In the end, his persistence earns him the respect of his peers. It is a great film and one that should be seen by all aspiring actors. But don’t expect it to be as good as its original.
The Sting – 1973
The Sting is a classic heist movie with a poker plot. The two con men, played by Paul Newman and Robert Redford, pull off a huge sting, called “the wire,” on crime boss Doyle Lonnegan. The con men convince Lonnegan that a horse race is rigged, and they win the $500,000 bet by betting on Lucky Dan.
If you’re a fan of the game of poker, you may be interested in the poker hands that are part of the plan orchestrated by the con men. The Sting focuses on a high-stakes game, where two players compete against each other. The amount of money on the table is huge, so the climax of the movie revolves around the final hand. The movie is very realistic, and the final scene has some of the most breathtaking moments in poker movies.
Best Poker Movies that Bring the Drama
Molly’s Game – 2017
Molly’s Game is a poker movie based on the autobiography of Molly Bloom. In this film, actress Jessica Chastain plays a waitress who becomes obsessed with the world of high-stakes poker. After suffering a severe skiing accident that ends her professional skiing career, Molly decides to take matters into her own hands. She takes on the role of a nightclub manager for the shady members of a wealthy Russian mob family.
The movie tells the story of Molly, who is a successful game runner but isn’t very knowledgeable about poker. However, she quickly learns how to appeal to other players in order to gain tips. Her goal is to please the biggest player at the club and entice new players. Molly starts her own games and rents a penthouse in a hotel to run them.
In the movie, Molly’s character is very close with Player X, who is a celebrity poker player who is trying to gain power in the game. When Molly and Player X disagree, Molly becomes suspicious of Player X’s intentions and ends up losing her poker game. In the book, the author mentions Ben Affleck and Leonardo de Caprio. In the film, the two actors play similar roles to their real-life personas.
Casino Royale – 2006
The final hand of poker in the James Bond movie, “Casino Royale,” is arguably one of the most unrealistic ever filmed. Director Martin Campbell hired a professional poker player to perform the scene, but the film was criticized for making one major mistake. According to Polygon, Campbell has admitted to making this mistake but is still proud of the final outcome. He also said that the scene was the most fun to shoot, as it featured both actors and the poker dealer in a memorable way.
The poker scene in “Casino Royale” is a classic example of the importance of establishing games in poker movies. This is a great way to build anticipation for the movie’s climactic showdown, and it also gives viewers an idea of what the characters will do for a high-stakes game. In addition to highlighting the role of skill, it also makes for a thrilling scene in the film. In this scene, Bond’s skills at poker are demonstrated to be far more than a mere gimmick.
The Poker Club – 2005
The Poker Club is a noir crime thriller with a small cast and a high murder rate. The film is directed by Tim McCann, whose other works include the acclaimed “Desolation Angels” and “Runaway.” Despite the low budget and wide festival exposure, “The Poker Room” has a solid cast and a well-made mystery. The only downside to the movie is the predictable premise.
This movie tells the story of Aaron, a lifelong friend, who beats a burglar to death while playing poker. His friends, Bill, Curtis, and Neal, are also lifelong friends. During the evening, Detective Patterson and his partner, Neal, investigate the body in a river, and Aaron is thrown into a terrorizing situation by a mysterious potential witness. This movie is the perfect escape from the daily grind and can be enjoyed by anyone with an appreciation for the game.
Best Poker Movie Ever
Rounders – 1998
If you want to know the best poker movie ever made, then you need to watch Rounders. It is one of the best movies about the game of poker, and the cast of the film is terrific. The story of the film takes place during the 1980s, but the story is still timeless. It is the true story of the life of a professional poker player, and it shows how complicated human nature can be. Despite its simplicity, the movie is enjoyable even for people who have never played the game.
The story revolves around a pair of poker players who are attempting to win back their money, despite the fact that they are playing a game that is rife with danger. While many of the scenes are set in New York City, the Rutgers School of Law served as the setting for some of the scenes. The B.P.O. Elks Lodge in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey was the location of the State Trooper poker game.
Aside from the storyline, the best part of Rounders is that it introduced audiences to the world of poker and showed the tension and excitement that surrounds the game. It sold the game better than most other movies do. And the script, which was based on the writers’ experiences, included real-life poker jargon and realistic depictions of the game, making the film more authentic and believable to the audience.