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Top 10 Poker Movies Of All-Time You Must See

Top 10 Poker Movies Of All-Time You Must See

It should come as no surprise that numerous movies about poker exist, with both excellent and poor execution, but I'd want to focus on the greatest poker movies that have ever been shown on television.

Iram Martins
Culture
Last updated: Sep 14, 2021 | Sep 09, 2021

Table of Contents

It should come as no surprise that numerous movies about poker exist, with both excellent and poor execution, but I'd want to focus on the greatest poker movies that have ever been shown on television.

Although players are familiar with films like Rounders, there are more classics that you may have overlooked throughout the years. Today, there are a plethora of videos available that cover everything from Texas Holdem to 7 Card Stud and even 5 Card Draw.

In any case, many of them have intriguing poker hands and are entertaining to watch, particularly for poker aficionados. We'll take a look at the top ten greatest poker movies of all time in this post.

Like any list of this kind, it's somewhat subjective, and you may or may not agree with some of the selections, but there's no denying that these are some of the greatest films ever produced that focus on poker in all of its forms.

Lucky

Lucky You is another poker film that has received mixed reviews from the general public and, in particular, poker enthusiasts. Overall, it's an entertaining film with plenty of sequences showing the game being played, which is exactly what most of us were looking for. Huck Cheever (Eric Bana) and L.C. Cheever are the central characters in the film Lucky You (Robert Duvall).

Huck is L.C.'s son, who is trying to make it in the poker industry despite his father's success as a two-time WSOP champion. Huck has never forgiven L.C. for abandoning his mother, thus there is no love lost between the father and the son.

The two go to Las Vegas to play in the same event, and this isn't just a chance for Huck to break into the poker world; it's also a chance to mend a strained family connection. As a result, poker will serve as a bridge between L.C. and his kid, allowing them to reconnect and begin to mend fences.

If this sounds dull (which it may), the good news is that there's a lot of poker action in the mix, and the movie is more about poker than it is about Huck finding love with Billie (Drew Barrymore). It is worth seeing at least once since it includes several recognizable names at the tables, like Sammy Farha, Jen Harman, and Berry Greenstein.

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Deal

Deal, a 2008 poker film, is one of the most divisive of the bunch. While it is by no means a classic, it is a good poker film worth seeing if you like the game. As long as you keep your expectations reasonable, you'll have a good time and won't feel like you've wasted a couple of hours of your time. Burt Reynolds (Tommy) and Bret Harrison star in the film (Alex).

Tommy, an ex-player, tries to educate young Alex about poker tactics and strategy in order for him to take on the poker world and earn a lot of money.Of course, Tommy wants half of Alex's winnings in exchange for his lessons and placement in tournaments.

The storyline is basic, and there aren't many "wow" moments in the film, but there are plenty of poker sequences and cameos by Antonio Esfandiari, Phil Laak, and Mike Sexton.

The film was clearly targeted at diehard poker enthusiasts, which is a good concept, but this can be a difficult audience to please, which is why the film received little notice and was never regarded as one of the greatest poker films.

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The Grand-one

Zak Penn directed the improv comedy The Grand in 2007. Ray Romano, Woody Harrelson, Chris Parnell, Jason Alexander, Dennis Farina, and a few more performers make up the film's impressive ensemble.

The film follows a group of poker players who have gathered at the Golden Nugget to compete in a $10 million poker tournament. The screenplay for The Grand was left open-ended since the performers were only given basic instructions regarding their roles and were forced to play actual poker on stage.

The writer did not have a preset winner in mind. This one isn't for everyone's tastes, as shown by the varied reviews The Grand has gotten from viewers.

Jack Faro (Harrelson), a recovered drug addict with 74 failed marriages, leads the eclectic cast of people entering the competition. This film includes a lot of pokers, but it's not so much about poker hands as it is about how a single tournament can alter someone's life and how anybody can win in one event.

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The Cooler

The most endearing aspect of this charming indie is its premise: Welcome to the world of Bernie (William H. Macy), a self-proclaimed professional loser who makes it his business to sabotage any high roller's winning run just by sitting at the same craps table as them.

Beginning as a sad, funny character study of a recovering gambling addict who is still in massive debt to Alec Baldwin's tough-guy casino boss — he's working off what he owes by serving as the boss's go-to "cooler" — the love of a good woman (Maria Bello's weary cocktail waitress) may just change his luck.

In Wayne Kramer's directorial debut, realism takes a backseat to romance and sentimentality, and the followup isn't quite as enjoyable as the set-piece. Macy, on the other hand, was meant to portray this kind of hangdog failure who hasn't given up hope on himself.

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Let It Ride

An unusual little comedy about a perennial loser gambling addict (Richard Dreyfuss) who, for one day, hits on every single bet at the horse races, which is a weird little comedy.

Rather than being a catastrophe in a film such as Uncut Gems, this just serves to motivate him to push harder and keep going, and although this could be disastrous in another film like Uncut Gems, it is simply a zany 1980s comedy in this case.

Let It Ride still gets a lot of laughs out of Dreyfuss's hysteria, while Teri Garr, Jennifer Tilly, and David Johansen all contribute to the film's overall enjoyment. As for this particular film, let's just say it was never shown at a Gamblers Anonymous meeting.

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Maverick

Maverick, starring Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, and James Garner, is a lighthearted picture that centers on poker but has numerous humorous and enjoyable subplots, unlike the rest of the films on this list.

It's one of those things that you can watch no matter how big of a poker fan you are. It's just a terrific action comedy with gambling aspects. Bret Maverick, portrayed by Gibson, discovers that he needs an extra $3,000 to attend a forthcoming winner-take-all poker event. Maverick goes to the only thing he knows to earn money: gambling. He joins forces with Annabelle Bransford (Foster).

Maverick's attempts to get the funds he needs over the next few days lead to many amusing, thrilling, and sometimes hazardous events, yet the film maintains a light and easygoing tone throughout.

You may be wondering why Maverick appears on almost every list of the greatest poker movies, while being the least "poker-centric" of them all.

But it's the film's excellent mix of poker, gambling, and everything else that makes it a terrific option for a casual Sunday afternoon watch, even if you've never played poker before. 

The acting in the film may seem too earnest at times, but we don't have a lot of poker comedies to pick from, so The Grand will have to do.

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Rounders

If there is one poker film that should be on the watch list of every poker player and enthusiast, it is Rounders.

Rounders, which starred Matt Damon, Edward Norton, John Malkovich, and Gretchen Mol and was released in 1998, was the first poker film to make significant allusions to Texas Hold'em, a game variant that was about to sweep the world by storm.

The film offers a basic tale about Mike McDermott (Damon), a young shooter who dreams of becoming a professional player and trying his luck in Vegas.

Mike, despite his skill, lacks the understanding of bankroll management, and he loses his whole position in underground high-stakes games against Teddy KGB (Malkovich).

Following the loss, Mike vows to himself and his girlfriend (Mol) that he would never play poker again.

When Mike's buddy Worm (Norton) is released from prison and finds himself in desperate need of cash, he returns to the tables, and the two embark on a journey packed with poker and adrenaline. I won't tell you how the movie ends if you haven't watched it yet.

Rounders is a fantastic film that addresses vital themes outside of poker, such as friendship, loyalty, and the necessity of believing in oneself. There aren't many films like it, so it's certainly worth seeing.

When it came to poker sequences, the authors didn't pay attention to details like stake amounts and such.

This is a frequent error in most poker movies, but I don't think it detracts from the film-after all, it isn't a documentary or a beginner's guide to Texas Hold'em.

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Poker King-it’s Good, I Swear!

If a man-child and an online poker player can't show he's grown enough to manage his father's business, he'll lose his inheritance. This isn't an Adam Sandler film that you may have missed.

It's a Macau-set Hong Kong film. While I get eye rolls whenever I mention the premise of this film, once people give it a chance, they can't help but like it. Some of it rubs off on you because it is so serious and treats poker with such love and passion.

The execution is much better than the idea could ever be. It's just a sincere love letter to poker from a culture that didn't have access to it until recently and now appreciates it with new eyes.

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California (1974)

When Bill and Charlie meet, they are both members of a betting club in Southern California.

Charlie has a gambling career and is motivated to become a real professional, while Bill works full-time as a writer and just gambles on occasion.

Bill starts to run Charlie's business as the two spend more time together, and he even racks up massive debts.

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Bugsy

Bugsy is primarily a character study of Bugsy Siegel, a mobster who goes to the desert, certain that he has glimpsed into the future of the mafia. Bugsy is the genesis tale of Las Vegas.

Director Barry Levinson's Oscar-winning drama follows Siegel as he pursues his apparently impossible goal of establishing apparently impossible gambling and casino empire in Las Vegas. Warren Beatty portrays Siegel as a guy driven by passion but lacking any rationale.

Rather than being about gambling — although Siegel does take some huge risks in the film — Bugsy instead focuses on the tumultuous creation of Sin City. This proves to be interesting, even if the film's flashy, prestige-picture trappings are a little restricting.

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Iram Martins | Personal trainer. Aspiring sommelier. Brunch critic who works part-time. When I'm not competing, you'll find me at dog beaches with my black lab or sipping drinks at the best bars in town. I like to fly a lot.

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