A Trio of Tremendous Poker Movies

poker dealer
When the chips are down, a good old-fashioned card game may be all you need to straighten out your luck

The best poker movies tend to blend action, suspense and of course, actual poker playing, into one enthralling mix that keeps viewers both entertained and excited. It would be foolish to assume that everyone in a general audience consensus would willingly sit through a two hour game of poker, but when you factor in plot lines, love interests and character motives, it makes for captivating viewing. With that said, here’s our top picks that manage to mix bluffing with brilliance.


Matt Damon and Eddie Norton star in this high-octane movie that displays the underground world of no-limit poker tables. The film sees both men fall foul of a mobster named Teddy KGB – who is hilariously portrayed by John Malkovich – and hit with heavy debts, with little time to pay them off. It is a tale of Damon’s character – Mike McDermott – desire to move away from underground poker after losing as much as $30,000 to KGB, before he is lured back in by his friend ‘Worm’ (Norton) in a desperate bid to repay old debts. The film made $10m more than its budget- making it a successful gamble and even sees McDermott end the film by departing for the very real World Series of Poker Main Event in Las Vegas.

The Cincinnati Kid

90’s film legend Steve McQueen features as Eric Stoner – or as he is more frequently known as, ‘The Kid’ – as he seeks to scale the ranking from upstart poker player, to card-shark kingpin. To do this, he must dispatch more than a few opponents with bluffs and bets, before finally facing Lancey Howard – conveniently nicknamed ‘The Man’ – who is a long time master of the game. Stoner’s friend Shooter features significantly as he attempts several times to convince ‘The Kid’ to cheat his way to the top – with personal motives from a previous encounter with ‘The Man’ likely getting the better of him – and this proves an entertaining watch, as the varied approach of a rivalries simply over the poker tables pays dividends in contrast to the high-octane action we would likely see in today’s poker movies.

The heads-up rivalry between ‘The Kid’ and ‘The Man’ and the drama that unfolds with the cards can be replicated over the world, at real life poker tables or even at the tables of trusted, reviewed casino sites and it is this that makes the film timeless and intriguing for people of many generations – and generations to come!

Casino Royale

It would be mad to compile a list of movies that are largely staged in casinos or at the poker tables and not include a 007 movie. Bond never strayed too far from the glitz and the glamour when he had the time and even mixed business with pleasure (defeating his rivals with a pair of cards, not the more obvious assumption that he stole the interests of their lady friends!) on a number of occasions. One such example happened in 2006’s Casino Royale, when Bond was tasked with destroying evil villain Le Chiffre’s bankroll in order to prevent heavy losses from investors who want ‘in’ on his profiteering across the globe.

Of course, Bond excites at the table and even finds himself in a spot of trouble during the break in play at the poker table. One thing is for sure though, this Bond re-vamp made for a stellar showing on the big screen and even if the poker playing is merely a chunk of the film, it is enough to earn a spot on this list.