The Best Poker Movies: The Top 6 Poker And Gambling Movies Ever Made

Poker has hit crazy mainstream popularity recently, as its image has crawled itself out of smokey underground backroom gambling halls, with a thug guarding the entrance to being a glamorous hip event. Ever since the golden age of the Western flicks, poker has always been a popular highlight theme in Hollywood as well. Although a lot of the many Hollywood movies that feature poker, just have a small part or are just not very good, it’s undeniable that watching poker on the big screen can be great fun, especially if you’re a poker player yourself.

So here are some of the best poker movies ever produced in Hollywood. Some are actually excellent movies, regardless of how they display the image of poker, while in other flicks, the plot revolves around the poker game that makes them worthwhile watching. However, if you play a bit of poker yourself, or you are a poker fan, you can add these movies to your must see list.

1.) The Sting (1973)

Okay, so The Sting is actually not really about poker, but more about the art of card sharking. It provides you the viewer over two hours of sophisticated grifter like fun. This was a 1973 Academy Award winning movie featuring iconic stars in their prime, a young and spectacular Paul Newman, as a great con artist who mentors a young Robert Redford in the art of trickery and money manipulation in the new old west. The screenplay was actually based on true con games stories.

2.) The Cincinnati Kid (1965)

Before Texas Holdem became popular as we know it today, there were other popular poker variations such as the classic Stud Poker. This flick is known famous for its climatic final hand, as well as its now unforgettable quote: “Gets down to what its all about, doesn’t it? Making the wrong move at the right time.”

The Cincinnati Kid centers around a card battle between another screen legend, Steve McQueen, who plays a well know poker player, simply known as ‘The Kid’, along with a veteran poker player and gambler known as ‘The Man’. The man was played by Edward G. Robinson. This movie was during the Great Depression of the 1930’s in New Orleans. It may not appear on some others list of the best movies ever made, but it has one of the best filmed poker scenes ever seen on the big screen.

3.) California Split (1974)


California Split was produced by the famous Robert Altman, and although it may not rank as on of his best, it does however depict the everyday life and drama of two professional gamblers, played by famous actors Elliot Gould and George Segal. Like any of the other Altman films, the narrative of the movie is not always particularly straight, and the end does not necessarily have a happy ending. But the success of the movie shows in its description, s well as the authentic experiences of a pair of professional gamblers. Also, those fans of poker trivia would be thrilled that poker legend Amarillo Slim has a small role in the film.

4.) Rounders (1998)

So is this the movie that started the current trend and love affair with Texas Holden Poker? Is this the film that brought Poker into the mainstream from the depth of the underground? It is a little hard to tell whether Rounders pushed it to the recent 21st century poker boom during the last several years, but it did make this popular flick a cult hit.

Rounders is arguably the best poker film made, to showcase the contemporary world of the high stakes poker scene. The core plot of the movie is an underground poker marathon in which it’s star, Matt Damon and sidekick, Edward Norton are trying to win money to pay off Norton’s gambling debts. World Series of Poker champion, the famous Johnny Chan plays a featured role.

5.) Maverick (1994)

Although Maverick is not one of the best or brilliant films ever made, and yes, some of the poker scenes may be kind of ridiculous, it is a fun, lighthearted poker movie. It gives you a bit of a basic idea how it was back in the last century for the rambling gambler in the old west. Mel Gibson plays a maverick who tries to earn enough cash for a big five card draw poker tournament.

6.) Casino Royale (2006)

Bond, James Bond, gets in the action and the main scene is a high stakes Texas Holdem poker tournament. Bond is assigned to stop Le Chiffre, who is a banker to the world’s largest terrorist organizations, from winning a high pressure, high stakes poker tournament at the Casino Royale in Montenegro.

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