Heart-pounding suspense, shocking thrills and fast-paced action scenes are just three things you can expect from a fantastic poker film. There’s nothing quite like getting totally immersed in a movie, and for passionate poker players, a good poker movie can come a close second to an actual game.
To celebrate our love of poker, we’ve put together a few of our favourite poker films which are packed with thrills, clever tricks and action.
This classic 1994 movie captures the iconic old-west image of cowboys, back alley bars and cards. It might not teach you anything about how to play poker, but it’s a witty and fun film which sees Maverick, an eponymous conman as played by Mel Gibson, travel to the biggest poker tournament of the day. The film also features the likes of Jodie Foster and James Garner.
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
This British crime thriller, starring Jason Flemyng and Dexter Fletcher, is based on the TV series of the same name. The Guy Richie direction sees a confident cardsharp lose thousands of pounds to a rigged game of three-card brag against a powerful crime lord. The heist film is full of tricks, quips and action.
The Cincinnati Kid
This American drama – which was adapted from Richard Jessup’s novel – sees Steve McQueen’s Eric aka ‘the kid’, on a quest to establish his reputation as the best ever poker player. It was well received, with The New York Times describing it as ‘strictly for those who relish—or at least play—stud poker’.
House of Games
This 1987 film directed by David Mamet was so popular that it was even adapted into a play at the Almeida Theatre in London. The Telegraph journalist, Charles Spencer, thought that the stage version delivered ‘far better value than the original picture’. The film, which stars Lindsay Crouse and Joe Mantegna, is about a psychologist (Crouse) who tries to help one of her compulsive gambling patients pay back a huge debt of money. But when it comes to gambling, someone always has a trick up their sleeve as the psychologist discovers.
This John Dahl direction explores the underground world of high-stakes poker. Matt Damon plays Mike McDermott, who is a law student with a true talent and passion for gambling. After swearing never to play again after losing all of his money to Teddy (John Malkovich) he is swept back into the world he left behind in order to help a friend who owes $15,000 debt to Teddy. Vanessa Rousso – known in the poker world as Lady Maverick – said it was the best poker movie ever made because it ‘really captures the energy and tension in the game’.