Poker is an alluring and highly entertaining game and its really fun to watch famous actors playing the game of skill on big screen. Movie makers have attempted many times to encash the growing popularity of poker in their movies. It is challenging to portray the true form of poker on silver screen. The tension, nervousness, adrenaline-rush, and thrill of the competitive environment of a real life poker table is difficult to accurately represent in a movie. However, some movies effectively managed to capture the essence of the game.
Here are some memorable poker scenes in movie history:
Rounders is a story of friendship and revenge. Mike McDermott (Matt Damon) is a law student and poker player who quits the game after losing all his bankroll to a Russian gangster Teddy KGB (John Malkovich). He returns to play poker to help his childhood friend Worm (Edward Norton) pay his debts. The climax scene is all about a no-limit Texas Hold’em heads-up game played between Mike and Teddy and how Mike turns the table this time by observing Teddy’s moves and identify the “tells”. Rounders is a must watch for every poker enthusiast in the worldadda52.com.
Big hand for little lady (1966)
Famous for the great twist in the end, the movie is a western starring Henry Fonda and Joanne Woodsward. A woman have to play out the hand by replacing his husband who collapsed mid game, in order to save the family savings which the husband put at stake on the table. The 40-minutes long fine poker game scene led to the brilliantly written climax of the movie.
The Sting (1973)
Paul Newman and Robert Redford starrer “The Sting” is about two con men scamming a mob boss and steal large amount of money. The movie is famous for the high stake Five Card Draw scene in a train where Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman) plays against Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw), a mobster. Although it was more of a con than a poker game and the players cheat to win, its the atmosphere and suspense that keep viewers hooked to the seats. The movie won seven Academy Awards and is considered as a classic.
Casino Royale (2006)
A Bond movie revolves around poker. The mission of James Bond (Daniel Craig) is to defeat terrorist Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelson) in a high stake Texas Hold’em tournament. Although criticized for minimal inaccuracy in texas poker rules and etiquette, the movie succeed to combine the intensity of a poker table and the grittiness and style of a spy thriller. Whenever we watch Mr. Bond defeating the villain on the poker table with his trademark charisma, we cheer with excitement and pleasure.
The highlight of the movie is the game scene where Bret Maverick (Mel Gibson) plays in a high stake poker tournament and reaches the final table against Angel (Alfred Molina) and Commodore Duvall (James Coburn). Although Maverick’s slowroll move is unethical and unrealistic (taking time and showing cards one by one), he wins the game with a royal flush. This might be the most bizarre game play, but still the gripping screenplay makes it very popular among poker lovers.
The Cincinnati kid (1965)
This movie is a treat for Steve McQueen fans. This classic is about “ The Kid” Eric Stoner (Steve McQueen), a young stud poker player who challenges the best card player in the country “ The Man” Lancey Howard (Edward G. Robinson) for a high stake Five Card Stud poker game. It is known as one of the most popular movies about poker. Watch it for the unexpected twist at the climax which proves that anything can happen in the game of poker.
House of Games (1986)
The movie is famous for the poker scene where Mike (Joe Mantegna) plays against his rival George with the help of a psychiatric Dr. Ford (Lindsay Crouse). Mike is a conman who forces Dr. Ford to accompany him to a poker game and analyse opponent’s body language and expressions to infiltrate his mind. Later it is revealed that it was just a trick to con the psychiatrist. There is a lot you can learn about behavior and psychology from this movie.
Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Whats more amusing than getting poker lessons from Brad Pitt! The movie is about robbing three casinos in Las Vegas but is famous for one funny sequence where Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) teaches poker rules to a group of actors and later joined by Danny Ocean (George Clooney) who won the game and took the money. The celebrities playing against each others makes it more enjoyable to watch.
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
Directed by Guy Ritchie, this crime comedy is full of style and entertainment. The movie is about four friends who lost a big amount of money in a game and now have to pay the debts any way possible. Although filled with violence, the movie successfully demonstrates the darker side of the game and the risk factors involved. The movie achieved international cult status and also acclaimed by critics.
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Luke (Paul Newman) is a war veteran sentenced to prison who earns the nickname “cool hand” due to his skills and experience in the art of deception. There is one great scene in the movie where Luke plays poker with his fellow inmates and wins the game by showing his great bluffing skills. It is known as one of the most accurate poker scenes in history.
Freeze Out (2005)
Freeze out is a comedy movie which was financed by director’s own poker winnings. A player seeks revenge from his friends for their bullying and trains himself secretly to defeat all of them at a weekly poker game. The movie received many prestigious awards at various film festivals and events.
California Split (1974)
A Robert Altman movie, California Split has this famous opening gaming scene where is still significant even today. The highly realistic movie centers around life of poker players more than the game. The six-minute credit roll in the beginning with narration about the game makes it absolute watch for poker enthusiasts.