There have been plenty of poker scenes in movies over the years, but not all are as memorable as others.
Poker is one of the most popular casino games in the world, but it’s also very popular in movies. In this article, we’ll introduce you to some of our favourite poker scenes on film so that next time you’re watching one of these movies with friends at home – or while playing cards yourself – you can impress them with your knowledge of gambling history.
There are plenty of movie scenes portraying bad poker etiquette but here are some of our favourite poker scenes from some classic films:
Here are our top 10 iconic casino scenes from films.
Bond movies aren’t short of casino scenes, and whilst this one isn’t technically about poker (they’re actually playing a variation of baccarat), it deserves an honourable mention.
This moment, set in a fictional London casino, sees Sean Connery setting the scene for future Bond casino scenes. The glitz and glamour are there, just as you’d expect, and it’s also in this scene we first hear that iconic line that would be repeated in every subsequent Bond movie: “the name’s Bond, James Bond”.
2. Maverick, 1994
Maverick is a 1994 American action comedy Western film directed by Richard Donner. The picture stars Mel Gibson as Bret Maverick, a card player who prefers living a cautious lifestyle.
The titular character is short of $3000 to enter a poker tournament, so he teams up with a fellow gambler, played by Jodie Foster, to try and enter the tournament together. As with any good poker game, this fictional one is packed full of deception, keeping viewers guessing until the very end.
3. The Sting, 1973
In The Sting, a con artist and small-time grifter are working on pulling off a complicated sting on a mob boss. The pair come up with an elaborate plan to trick the boss into thinking he’s been ripped off by his own men, when in fact, it’s really them who have stolen his money.
During a high-stakes poker game entered by characters under false identities, the con men manage to bluff their way to winning the $15,000 prize.
4. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, 1998
This classic movie is thought to have led to a rise in poker’s popularity thanks to the way the characters play three-card brag like pros.
The short scene has also been praised by fans for its excellent cinematography and editing, with some even considering it one of the greatest scenes of all time!
5. Rounders, 1998
The film Rounders, released in 1998 and directed by John Dahl (The Last Seduction, Joy Ride), stars Matt Damon as a law student who is also a poker player.
He’s challenged to a game of high-stakes poker by Russian mobster Teddy KGB (John Malkovich) and ends up not doing well at all. He then travels around the country looking for more high-stakes games to try and win something back and pay off his mounting commitments.
6. Ocean’s 11, 2001
The film, which was directed by Steven Soderbergh and released in 2001, is about a group of criminals who steal money from a casino. The main characters are Danny Ocean (played by George Clooney), Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt), and Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon).
There’s no particular scene that stands out in Ocean’s 11 – the entire thing is a classic! The plot revolves around a planned heist to steal $160 million from a casino owner, so there’s plenty of action in various casinos along the way.
7. The Odd Couple, 1968
This movie is quite different from the one above, with much less money at stake! It focuses on a poker group comprising a few friends who meet on Friday nights at the apartment of an unlikely pair of friends who move in together following a divorce. The comedy was one of the highest-grossing films of the year when it was released.
8. House of Games, 1987
House of Games shows the psychology behind the game of poker and offers a more realistic depiction of the game compared to many other films.
Watching the movie can show viewers a lot about the hidden signals and body language that goes on during a round of poker.
9. Freeze Out, 2005
Freeze Out has an all-star cast and was actually funded through the director’s poker winnings. The story revolves around friends who make others play poker against them at the weekend until one player decides to take on the whole group during one of their tournaments.
10. Casino Royale, 2006
We might have saved the best for last here because the poker scene in Casino Royale is nothing short of legendary. During the scene, a game of Texas hold ’em is played – the characters were actually playing baccarat in the novel version of the same story.
The final round of the tournament comes around, and the stakes couldn’t be higher – the prize fund is sitting at $140 million. One player has a full house, and the other has a straight flush in the end – but which is Bond’s and which belongs to the villain, Le Chiffre? You’ll have to watch this brilliant movie to find out if our hero wins the enormous prize!
Whether you’re a poker player or not, film is an excellent medium for the game. Poker scenes in movies are memorable and have been used as powerful symbols of determination and luck, and even as metaphors for life itself. Iconic poker scenes are moments that will stick with you long after the credits roll, whether it’s because they’re funny, dramatic or both.
All in all, poker films are a good way to get the game into your living room. If you don’t have time to go out and play, watching a movie can be just as much fun. So grab some snacks and make sure you’ve got something to drink before starting on this list!