When life throws you a good poker movie, you watch it. Whether poker is foreign territory to you, or it’s your favorite card game at party-related events, the best poker movies will always teach you something about life.
Maybe your poker face could use more nuance, or your shades aren’t quite the right color to evade suspicion. Admit it; you could use the help.
Poker movies are fantastic because you know that they are totally unrealistic, yet it all seems entirely possible somehow.
After watching good poker movies, you might call up six of your friends and beg them to reenact the whole film with you, or you’ll go to sleep satisfied with how you spent the previous two hours of your life.
For these reasons, we created a list of five of the greatest poker movies to watch at least once in your lifetime. If you want to check out even more gambling related movies, read this article from GamblersDailyDigest.
- Casino Royale
Daniel Craig, in the film Casino Royale (2006), makes smoke-filled poker halls look more enjoyable than they are. Casino Royale is the perfect combination between fun and seriousness, with a touch of poker history as well.
According to Mike Tan at Online Casino Gems, Casino Royale made gambling fun again. “Casino Royale did a great service to the casino industry. It framed the conversation in such a way that gambling was no longer something to be ashamed off. As Bond plays poker with criminals, you, the audience, feel like you want to go and check out the closest casino right after the movie is over. It was the best form of gambling advertising EVER even if, of course, it was unintentional.”
This action/thriller follows the story of James Bond and his role in the British Secret Service. When Agent Bond gets a license to kill, he flies out to Madagascar to play a round of poker with a criminal who finances terrorist organizations.
Not only is Bond decked out in his usual attire: black tuxedo, suede tie, and a gun holstered to his fly leather belt, he also plays a damn good hand of poker. Casino Royale is a classic that feeds the audience with suspense and adrenaline, all while creating a brilliantly versed dialogue.
This film has been commended for its ability to build a story with complex meaning and good laughs. It is ranked number four on a list of “The Ten Best Poker Movies Ever,” and it certainly deserves that honor.
You won’t regret watching Daniel Craig play fantastically in yet another James Bond film; it will be two hours well spent.
- Lucky You
Aside from the fact that this 2008 film has some amazing poker scenes with detailed showings of how the game works, there is also a steamy love affair to spice up the storyline a bit. Poker and romance in the flashy casinos of Las Vegas make for an incredible narrative.
Huck Cheever indulges in a forbidden love while trying to stay focused on his poker playing. He must win a spot in the world championship game in Las Vegas. If he makes it to the table, he may have to play against his father, a poker legend who abandoned his mother.
The subtle parallels in this movie are undeniably brilliant. Huck Cheever loses his lover’s affection over and over again, just as he loses his money. In a New York Times Movie Review, they mention this idea of parallels throughout the movie. The NYTimes praises Lucky You for creating a story with many convincing storylines.
This film is more focused on the action rather than the significant risks of casino life. This is a nice change of pace in the pool of poker films, most of which are filled with high wagers and crazy suspense. Each interaction is filled with subtlety and entertainment, with the hype of enemy run-ins, bluffing, and forbidden love.
When you have two hours and four minutes to spare (precisely), turn Lucky You on and immerse yourself in the story of Huck Cheever.
- The Grand
Casino legends, world champion poker tournaments, and sassy dialogue are all significant components of this 2007 comedy/parody based on a poker player’s lifestyle.
Woody Harrelson plays Jack Faro, a former poker champ and grandson of a casino legend. With high bets and massive losses, The Grand covers all the madness of world champion poker players.
Jack Faro wants to get back in the game, and also win back the casino he inherited, but then lost. To do so, he must enter the upcoming World Championship of Poker, where he will face some of the best poker players in the world.
Through hardships and grief, Faro fights his way back to the top with breathtaking moments of intimacy and action. The Grand offers insight into the risks of careless gambling, as well as the strategic, number savvy ways of professionals in the game.
This movie will have you holding your stomach from laughter, as it parodies the poker life. The satire is witty, and the laughs all genuine.
The Grand is a film that you must see at least once. It is wildly entertaining, and it lends some humor to an otherwise dangerous plot.
Rounders, a Drama/Crime film released in September 1998 is a documentary on the highs and lows of gambling. Mostly the lows. This film is a crude testimony to the horrors of addiction and overly ambitious risk-taking.
Mike McDermott, played by Matt Damon, suffers from gambling addiction and cannot stay away from the betting table. When he loses his money in a poker game against a Russian gangster, his girlfriend pressures him to stop gambling. In the depths of his sorrow, he continues betting but fights to stop.
This impeccable performance by Matt Damon is one for the books. He perfectly represents the battle of addiction; the entire movie has an inner struggle with itself to further expand that theme.
The inner gears of this movie are a work of art. It manages to incorporate all things poker: Well-dressed men who women lust after, relentless battles at the table, chases through the casino and, of course, high winnings and losses.
Rounders gives the audience a lively game, full of bets and high-end entertainment making people want to gamble right away, even if for small amounts of money. Great article on why people gamble here.
Maverick is a film that makes you want to be a part of the poker world.
Maverick, more than any other poker film, is packed with action throughout every scene. It is fast and electric. It’s also a feel-good movie.
Mel Gibson. Need I say more?
In this 1994 thriller, Gibson plays the main character, Maverick. Maverick is hoping to join a big poker contest, but to enter (of course, there’s a catch), he has to put up a considerable sum of cash. He cheats people to get the money he needs, making tons of enemies along the way. Now, this sounds like a poker movie.
While he continues to play, he tries to evade his enemies at all costs. With a marshal on the hunt for him, this movie gets more convoluted. All of the filth and foul acts of desperation lend light to this film in just the right way.
If you haven’t watched any of the films mentioned above, you need to plan a movie night soon.