Poker has been used in film for a long time in order to add drama and high stakes to the lives of its characters. When it’s done right, these films showcase the technical aspects of the game well, but also tap into the important psychological elements of poker.
The game of poker has always been a niche game that exists somewhere off the beaten path in society and, despite having a more global appeal, it attracts a certain type of character. A great poker movie portrays those characters well with a good back story and the effects that the game has on their lives.
The big poker films have usually been set in non-UK casinos as the game was played by a very small amount of players until the boom in online poker.
We’ll start with Rounders, which is the common choice for the best poker film ever.
Released in 1998, the film had a big name cast with Matt Damon, Edward Norton, John Turturro, John Malkovich, and Famke Janssen all starring.
The plot of Rounders revolves around the classic script of a reformed protagonist who has to step back into his old world one last time to pull a financial gain, while risking his new-found stability and relationships.
John Dahl directed the film which explores that underground world within private New York betting clubs devoted to high-stakes poker, with. Mike McDermott (Matt Damon) loses his entire savings to the Russian club owner Teddy KGB (John Malkovich). After turning his back on cards to focus on his law studies and his new girlfriend Jo (Gretchen Mol). Mike is soon drawn back to the world of poker for one last sting after his old buddy Worm (Edward Norton) is released from prison.
The next film to feature poker was the modern James Bond classic Casino Royale. Daniel Craig’s Bond travels to Montenegro to square up to French mathematician and smuggler Le Chiffre, played by Mads Mikkelson.
The film is set in a beautiful location complete with tuxedos, cocktails and classic cars, which shows poker at the other end of the scale and is usually only be found in casinos not in the UK like those found on https://non-gamstop-casinos.com.
Along with Treasury Agent Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) and an MI6 colleague in Montenegro, Bond takes his seat in the high stakes, high class poker game set up by Le Chiffre. The film also features the tension of having to win big to fix a problem in life, as Le Chiffre is seeking to win back millions of clients’ money that he lost when Bond spoiled his plot to blow up an airliner and profit in the financial markets. own.
The James Bond franchise has other memorable high-stakes gambling scenes, such as the roulette scene in Diamonds are Forever featuring Sean Connery.
The Cincinnati Kid
The poker classic Cincinnati Kid was released in 1965 and stars Steve McQueen. Set in 1930s New Orleans, McQueen plays the Cincinnati Kid, a young poker player who travels from one big game to the next, until he is matched with the legendary champion card-sharp Lancey Howard in a high-stakes poker game.
The poker game played in this movie is 5 card stud, which may not appeal as much to the Texas Hold’Em fan, but the film is at its best when it’s following the action on the table. The film also features a wide range of characters along the Kid’s travels and has its fair share of human psychology and drama that is a key theme in these gambling films.
Eric Stoner (McQueen) has spent a long time on the circuit honing his skills and working his way towards a showdown with the champion. However, when there’s high stakes involved, there can also be dirty tricks and McQueen needs more than his card skills to compete in this arena.
Molly’s Game was released in 2017 and had the advantage of capitalizing on the boom in new poker fans. It is based on the true story of Molly Bloom, the “Poker Queen” who used to run private high-stakes games. These featured some of the best-known Hollywood celebrities, businessmen, and professional players. Unfortunately for Molly the game also attracts the Russian mob.
The movie stars Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, and Kevin Costner, with the film showing Bloom’s life from being a young Olympic-class skier to her downfall for organizing illegal poker games.
In the end Molly’s hopes rest in the hands of the wary New York lawyer, Charlie Jaffey. A desperate Molly will plead to his human side, but who would be willing to represent the infamous Poker Queen against the FBI?
All-In: The Poker Movie
All-In is a fascinating watch because it is actually a documentary and follows the ups and downs of the poker hot shots, including Phil Helmuth, Daniel Negreanu, and Phil Ivey.
The film makes for a good account about how the game of poker became one of America’s favourite hobbies, while for many it became their chance to chase the American Dream. This phenomenon also led to the online boom in poker, which grew alongside the betting industry as players could step into non-UK casinos from the comfort of their own home.
This film is a good watch for poker fans of all levels that are interested in the history of the game.
Chris Moneymaker’s account of his rags-to-riches 2003 World Series of Poker is a fascinating watch, while the players’ remembering Black Friday is also a gripping watch. The latter was an unexpected operation by the DOJ and FBI on poker sites operating in the US, where thousands of poker players were taken down and millions of dollars seized. Viewers will see some poker skills but will come away with some new insights into the world of poker.