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Best Poker Movies

While poker can be seen in a countless number of TV-series and movies, usually in a wild west type of setting and with draw poker which by now has lost most of its popularity as the game of choice, there has nevertheless not been that many movies made where poker has been the main story driver or at least a big part of it.

Here are however the few true poker movies followed by some movies where poker doesn’t have a big chunk of the screentime but nevertheless contain especially memorable poker scenes.

The Cincinnati Kid (1965)

Starring Steve McQueen (1930-1980) as “The Cincinnati Kid”, an up-and-coming poker player who tries to prove himself in a high-stakes match against a long-time master of the game so he can become “the man”: …after the game, I’ll be The Man. I’ll be the best there is. People will sit down at the table with you, just so they can say they played with The Man. And that’s what I’m gonna be…

The longtime master “Lancey Howard” is played by Edward G. Robinson (1893-1973) in this movie which features a lot of 5 card stud poker and some memorable lines. Overall an enjoyable movie with a decent amount of actual poker play although the way the final showdown ends is generally considered to be pretty tame.

Lancey HowardYou’re good, kid, but as long as I’m around, you’re only second best.

Rounders (1998)

Online poker rooms, the televised World Poker Tour and this movie called Rounders starring Matt “Babyface” Damon as Mike McDermott are all three at least parts of the reason poker is as bit as it is today.

Matt Damon stars as a talented poker player who after bluffing out two times World Series of Poker champion Johnny Chan, who appears in a cameo part, decides put his whole bankroll and more at stake at an underground New York poker club to strike it big and make it to Vegas.

Things don’t go as planned however and he is forced into early poker retirement until his longtime friend Worm played by Edward Norton is released from prison and needs his help to pay back a loan shark.

No real plot surprises and the women characters are not developed whatsoever but on the upside, it is truly a poker movie with virtually every scene about the game we all enjoy and tons of by now famous lines.

Mike McDermott: Listen, here’s the thing. If you can’t spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you ARE the sucker.

The Sting (1973)

The Sting is an excellent con movie which is considered to be among the best 100 pictures ever made. Starring Robert Redford as “Johnny Hooker” a young con man who seeks the help of oldtimer Henry Gondorff played by Paul Newman to get revenge on a crime boss “Doyle Lonnegan” who had his partner killed.

This isn’t really a poker movie but it does contain one famous poker scene where Paul Newman cheats the crime boss in a high-stakes game onboard a train and also has a scene where Paul Newman’s character shows off some very skilled cheat shuffling, although the hands seen belong to John Scarne who was one of the top gambling experts in the last century and served as technical advisor on The Sting.

Floyd: Doyle, I KNOW I gave him four THREES. He had to make a SWITCH. We can’t let him get away with that.

Doyle Lonnegan: What was I supposed to do – call him for cheating better than me, in front of the others?