The best poker movies of all-time
There’s something about the drama involved in a game of poker that makes film directors base their blockbusters on the popular pastime. After all, it’s a game that’s easy to learn, but more difficult to master; and it’s all about skill, rather than luck, like many of the other table games you’ll find at a casino. Here we will take a look at some of the best poker movies of all-time and if you’re feeling inspired to try your hand, visit Paddy Power Poker.
The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
The Cincinnati Kid tells the story of young poker player Eric “The Kid” Stoner, played by Steve McQueen, who wishes to seek a reputation as the best. He discovers that Lancey “The Man” Howard (Edward G. Robinson), an older, more experienced player is in town and wants to take him on. The Man is considered the best in the game and film’s climax sees The Kid play The Man and four other players in a tournament – but not with the success the youngster had hoped for.
Having been made in 1965 and set in 1930s New Orleans, the film is slightly outdated and the game played is open stakes, which was relevant to the time but isn’t permissible in casinos these days. However, the film depicts the game of poker realistically and is often considered the best poker movie of all-time.
Starring Mel Gibson as Bret Maverick, the eponymous film follows his various comic mishaps and challenges as he attempts to collect money in order to enter a high-stakes poker tournament. Based on a TV series of the same name, Maverick finds himself somewhat short of the entry fee and so begins to collect debts that he is owed, as well as entering impromptu poker games to win the funds. Despite the many obstacles that are thrown his way, Maverick manages to enter the tournament and makes the final four – before going on to win. But the drama doesn’t end there and there are several twists in the plot that continue to surprise, following his win.
High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story (2003)
This one’s based on a true-story and is a biopic focusing on the life of professional poker, blackjack and gin player, Stu Ungar, who was known as “The Kid”. The film features cameos from many figures from the world of poker (and other sports), including players, reporters and commentators.
High Roller is told in flashbacks and Ungar (played by Michael Imperioli) speaks of his childhood, his careers in gin and poker, his marriage and personal life, and other struggles he faced in his lifetime. The film’s climax is his third victory in the Main Event of the World Series of Poker – of which he is still only one of two people in its history to achieve that – and ends with his passing in a motel room.
Deal follows the story of Alex (played by Bret Harrison), who’s a law student that plays poker online and in home-tournaments. Former professional player Tommy (Burt Reynolds) watches his final table, as the tournament is televised live and he realises that Alex has the potential to be successful, and so offers his help.
Alex initially refuses, but eventually Tommy helps him out – showing Alex footage of professional players in action and teaching him how to read players. Tommy takes Alex to several poker games, with the build-up leading to a fictional version of the World Series of Poker. But Tommy ends up entering too. Will Tommy win at his own game, or will his protégée be successful?