We can’t deny there is something special about poker. There are many aspects to love, including the mystery, intrigue, the needed skill set, and the romance. Whether you are playing in the comfort of your home and enjoying the thrill of online casinos, or whether you’re in an immersive casino in Las Vegas, the stakes are always high.
This daring game involves more skill than luck. Not only will a poker player need to be incredibly smart and adept, confident and humble, but also have a darker side and be capable of bluffing. While it can take a lifetime to genuinely master the game, getting the hang of the basics can be quite easy.
For those looking to get engrossed in the game, here are seven fantastic poker movies that don’t bluff when it comes to quality and action-packed storylines:
1. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Although Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels doesn’t focus all of its attention on poker, there is something admirable about the messed up poker game that creates the events of the entire movie. In addition to being integral to the story, the poker set-up captures the essence of what poker is all about –learning how to outsmart the other players and walk away with the riches of your efforts.
Directed by Guy Ritchie, who also led the well-acclaim Snatch, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is a film which features heavy cockney British accents, violence, humor, murder, and a great poker scene. Of course, we can’t forget this memorable quote which applies to poker too: “when you dance with the devil, you wait for the song to stop.”
2. The Cincinnati Kid
Any true poker fan will want to experience the glory of this movie. With Steve McQueen playing the young chap who is trying to beat the old pro in the area -represented by the legendary Edward G. Robinson- the film has more than meet the eye.
Despite being heavily dated, after all, it is a 1965-born movie; it does win serious points for creating a realistic depiction of what poker is –including the remarkable scenes concerning stare downs and dangerous bluffs. Some people call the Cincinnati Kid one of the best poker movies of all times, so why not give it a go and tell us your opinion?
3. Casino Royale
We know that you knew this was coming. No list regarding poker would ever be complete with a James Bond reference too. Ther Casino Royale film features Daniel Craig as the well-loved Bond, who battles a banker of one of the world’s largest terrorist organizations in a high-stakes game.
There’s undoubted passion, action, as well as some amazingly fun poker scenes that emulate why this collection of movies has always gained critical acclaim. Plus, the film as a whole is entertaining, and you might learn a thing or two about poker as well.
We have heard rumors that poker wouldn’t have become the phenomenon it is today without the existence of this acclaimed movie. Starring Edward Norton and Matt Damon, the plot centers on a former gambler who is drawn back into the world of poker when his friend needs to find cash and repay a debt -giving a glimpse into what the high-stakes of power are.
While some reviews are mixed and matched, most poker experts will be quick to recommend Rounders for any poker enthusiast, and we are joining that list as well.
5. High Roller: The Stu Ungar Stor
Having won the World Series of Poker Main Event as the youngest player ever to participate, Stu Ungar is a legend whose name will never die. In fact, many believe that his skills should proclaim Ungar as the best poker player the world has ever seen.
Starring as Ungar we have the excellent Michael Imperioli, who manages to capture the excellence and funny side of the player –including his genius concerning cards. At the same time, the film covers other aspects of Ungar’s life as well, including his personal demons and struggles.
Despite smoking crack and living in Las Vegan motels for a reasonable period of his life, Ungar will forever remain the one who won 30 million dollars over the years by playing poker but ultimately died with no assets attached to his name.
Overall, this movie is a must-see for poker fan, and our favorite quote remains this one: “life is a people game, too. Only, the emphasis is just a little bit different.”
6. The Sting
Considered one of the absolute classics of the genre this movie shows the older poker techniques which are not commonly used nowadays. However, it does give us a different perspective and overview on other aspects that most of us find fascinating: the power of bluffing and cheating.
The main protagonist, played by Paul Newman, concludes that the only means of being known poker cheat Doyle Lonnegan is to excel in deception. Excellently performed and highly entertaining, there is no wonder that this film won 7 impressive Oscars. If you have not heard or seen this one, it’s time for movie night!
7. The Gambler
Starring the impressively excellent James Caan, this movie is more of a tale concerning the dangers of gambling. Also headlining Lauren Hutton and Paul Sorvino, the film is based on the story of an NYU professor of literature who gets sucked into the addictive passion of gambling –which eventually leads him on the dark path that most players experience at one point of their lives.
Loosely based on the novella The Gambler by Dostoevsky, there are multiple poker scenes that avid players or beginners can enjoy during the movie. Overall, the film is not only entertaining but also quite educational –if you understand the bottom line.
Of course, attempts to remake this film have been made, and a 2014 version features Mark Wahlberg. Although not terrible, out advice is to skip the new and go with the oldie but goldie.