Top 5 Poker Movies

Posted on by RTR Rachel

Hollywood isn’t exactly known for making dynamite poker movies. In fact, when it comes to poker films, there’s Rounders, and then there is….well, the rest. But this isn’t to say that there aren’t still some good movies about poker, so let’s take a moment to sort out the rest.

1. Rounders – As mentioned before, there’s not much competition between Rounders and the rest of the movies on this list. The 1998 film starring Matt Damon and Edward Norton Jr. took a fictional look at law school dropout Mike McDermott’s (Damon) foray into the New York underground poker scene. The excellent acting and solid storyline transcended the casino poker world, and inspired a mainstream audience to take up the game. 2003 WSOP Main Event champion Chris Moneymaker, who is credited for catalyzing the Poker Boom, said that Rounders motivated him to start playing.

2. The Cincinnati Kid – If it weren’t for Rounders, the Cincinnati Kid would certainly be deserving of the top spot since it’s powered by a masterful performance by Steve McQueen. The 1965 film follows Eric “The Kid” Stoner (McQueen) through the gritty 1930’s New Orleans poker scene as he attempts to uproot Lancey Howard as the top dog. What really drives this movie home is the climatic final scene involving The Kid and Howard playing for glory.

3. Maverick – Made in 1994, this movie takes a much more lighthearted approach from the Cincinnati Kid and Rounders. Mel Gibson’s charm and wit (before all of the anti-Semitic rants) exude through card shark James Garner, and perfectly fits this film’s comedic, old Western theme. Don’t expect any hard-hitting drama with Maverick – just plenty of cowboys, Indians, drinking and holdem poker.

4. California Split – Continuing with the comedies, California Split (1974) is another fun poker movie that stars George Segal and Elliot Gould. These two drunken degenerates epitomize the up-and-down lifestyle of gambling through their various casino adventures. And in the end, they need to sell all of their possessions in order to fund a Reno poker trip that will make or break them.

5. Casino Royale – Sure this 2006 film isn’t exactly a beacon of poker realism – especially when you consider the holdem tournament’s last hand, where an ace-high flush, two full houses, and a straight flush are all dealt. However, Casino Royale does a solid job of blending the poker table action in with all of the classic elements that make James Bond movies so much fun to watch.

Tip of the Day: While poker movies are fun to watch and definitely entertaining, you should never try to pick up poker strategy from films. After all, these movies are made with entertainment in mind first, rather than teaching people anything about how to play the game.

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