The best poker movies of all time: a top 10 list
One of the great things about a classic poker movie is that you don’t have to be an expert poker player, or even a player at all for that matter, to really appreciate the entertainment value of the storyline in these films. There’s just something about the high stakes drama and the Vegas-like intrigue involved in many poker movies which makes the following movies consistent favorites in the minds of many movie buffs. Check out the topic 10 best poker movies of all time and see some of the reasons why these poker movies stand out amongst the crowd:
Another Texas Hold ‘em classic movie with the added intrigue of a gambling addict played by Ben Mendelsohn traveling on a road trip with newfound good luck charm and friend, played by Ryan Reynolds, this drama dives into the themes of addiction and loneliness that often go ignored in other poker movies.
Leaving Las Vegas
Another poker film based on the adaptation of a novel, this acclaimed drama follows the alcoholic writer, Ben Sanderson (played by Nicolas Cage) as he travels to Vegas for one last binge after losing everything already due to his alcoholism. Ben ends up meeting and falling in love with a prostitute, Sera, who still isn’t able to save him from his alcoholism. Though not focused on poker exclusively, this film hits all the notes of a classic poker movie in Las Vegas.
Staring Robert Redford and Paul Newman in this instant poker classic, aspiring con man Johnny Hooker (Redford) teams up with an old friend and experienced poker player Henry Gondorff (Newman) following the murder of a mutual friend. Seeking revenge on the evil crime boss who is responsible, Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw), Hooker and Gondorff create an elaborate and crafty scheme.
Staring Matt Damon and Edward Norton as two gamblers down on their luck and one fresh out of prison (Norton), Rounders is a poker drama about Mike McDermott (Damon) trying to redeem a poker game loss against the Russian gangster, Teddy “KGB” (John Malkovich). Viewers of this classic always remember the hilarious lines from Malkovich’s KGB character, the intense No-Limit Texas Hold’em play, and the film is still considered a cult classic today.
The iconic British spy movie based on the third screen adaptation to Ian Flemming’s novel follows the preeminent member of the British MI6, James Bond (played by Daniel Craig). After earning his license to kill, Bond travels to Madagascar to try and bankrupt the terrorist financier, Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen). The story arc of this poker and spy film continues in the next 007 movies, Quantum of Solace (2008).
House of Games
Though not one of the most well-known titles when it comes to poker films, House of Games has been hailed as a must-see poker movie since its release in 1987. Hailed as the ultimate mind game, this film is about a psychologist who finds herself immersed in the world of high-stakes poker when she tries to help a patient out of gambling debts by helping him read the body language of other players.
What would a top 10 list of poker movies be without Casino, the Martin Scorsese directed and Robert De Niro led adaptation of Nicholas Pileggi’s book about early-1970’s era Las Vegas, and all the mafia and crime drama that makes this poker movie one of the timeless classics of the genre.
This movie follows the true story of Molly Bloom, who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for years, for players ranging from Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans, and even the Russian mob. While Molly’s Game (2017) is one of the more recent poker films to be released, very few movies can say they are based on a true story and real events, making Molly’s Game a standout on this list.
With everything a classic poker movie needs, including drama, mystery, and thrills, The Game continues to impress audiences with its psychological themes as the main character played by Michael Douglas, has his life turned upside down after he agrees to participate in a real-life gambling game that begins to put his life at risk.
Ocean’s 11 is perhaps one of the most well-loved bank heist movies that still feels like a gambling/poker film with all the necessary components, especially the famous poker scene with most of the movie’s star-studded cast. With plenty of action, comedy, and poker play, Ocean’s 11 will forever be a favorite in the poker movie genre.