T[/dropcap[he drama of the game makes poker a perfect fit for the silver screen. The thrills and life changing potential of the turn of a card means that a number of well received movies have been released within this genre.
The rise of online poker has seen demand for play hit new heights. The game has never been more popular and, while additional films will be released in the near future, these are some of the best poker movies to date.
1. Molly’s Game (Daniel Pemberton, 2017):
Released in 2017, this film follows the true story of Molly Bloom, an aspiring winter sports athlete whose career was cruelly cut short by injury. Bloom’s life was crumbling all around her and, after an unfulfilled journey into the hospitality industry, she decided to take things a step further.
Molly opened an underground poker room and her efforts were so successful that those card evenings attracted the attention of a number of high profile celebrities. Hollywood actors and top professional athletes were on her books and the identities of some clients are still a matter for conjecture.
Unfortunately, Bloom also attracted the attention of the authorities who closed her down and forced her to pay a heavy price. The film is faithful to the real life story and portrays all the highs and lows that Molly Bloom endured.
2. Lucky You (Curtis Hanson, 2007):
It may have received mixed box office reviews but Lucky You is worth a watch as it brings poker movies right up to date. Others may relive the classic days of card games but this is a serious title that looks at what it takes to make a living at the tables.
Huck Cheever is the central character as he looks to make his mark on the pro circuit. As he struggles to make the grade, Huck also has to contend with living in the shadow of his father who has twice claimed the World Series of Poker crown.
It’s a classic tale of following in the footsteps of a successful and overbearing father and it culminates in our two heroes meeting in the same tournament. This is a well worn theme and it’s not been to everyone’s taste but the thrilling poker action makes Lucky You a must-watch.
Lucky You is also pictured at the top of this article.
3. Casino Royale (Martin Campbell, 2006):
A list of best poker movies wouldn’t be complete without the appearance of a certain Mr James Bond. Otherwise known as 007, the world’s greatest fictional spy liked his ladies, his martinis and a hand or two at the card tables.
There are many Bond films that could have made the cut but, for capturing the drama and suspense of the poker table, Casino Royale takes the honours. This is the 2006 release that marked Daniel Craig’s first appearance as the central character and it was well received by poker players and movie goers alike.
One of the reasons why Casino Royale is on this list is because the poker scene is pivotal to the plot. 007 heads to the table to take on a set of tough opponents including Le Chiffre, the brilliant Bond villain played by Mads Mikkelsen.
Intrigue, heart stopping card turns and even a random poisoning can’t stop Bond from aiming to scoop the prize fund and bankrupting the evil Le Chiffre.
4. Maverick (Richard Donner, 1994):
Poker and comedy are not regular partners on the silver screen but they combine perfectly in this 1994 release. Maverick stars Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster and James Garner with Gibson in the title role.
Poker features as a constant theme in the plot which starts with Brett Maverick needing an extra three thousand dollars to take part in an important upcoming tournament. Gambling is all he knows so he takes on challenges along with Foster’s character, Annabelle Bransford.
Set in the old Wild West, a journey into Indian territory sees our heroes narrowly cheat death when their stagecoach driver dies. Maverick subsequently combines gambling with debt collecting as he scrapes together every cent needed to cover his entry fee.
Perhaps poker isn’t quite at the forefront of this film but it certainly deserves inclusion on this list. It’s a clever and funny movie and it’s not as in-depth as others on here so, for novice poker players, Maverick could be the perfect choice.
5. The Cincinnati Kid (Norman Jewison, 1965):
We’re going back in time now to 1965 and a movie that is graced by one of our best-loved actors. The great Steve McQueen takes the part of the Cincinnati Kid, otherwise known as Eric Stoner.
The Kid’s Nemesis is an established poker stalwart. Lancey ‘The Man’ Howard is played by Edward G. Robinson who he aspires to overthrow. Viewers expecting a happy ending are out of luck here as The Man eventually outwits The Kid in a tale where experience hands out a valuable lesson to reckless youth.
There are many more poker films to enjoy but this is a comprehensive and diverse list. Those who want the game to form the mainstay of the plot are catered for while other releases showcase more rounded entertainment with poker taking an occasional, yet important role.