The Best Poker Scenes in Movies

Poker is an exhilarating game to watch, that’s why it’s always used in movies. Between the chips flying and the cards slamming at the table, onlookers hold their breath as they watch how the game unfolds. While rarely depicted accurately in cinema, the game adds a unique dimension to the films.

So, without further ado, here are cinema’s top poker scenes:

The Sting (1973)

The Sting is a caper film about two grifters who conned a mob boss. The film won numerous awards including seven Oscars and an Academy Award. The no-limit five-card draw poker scene above is from the peak of the movie and was an instant classic. The long con that is at the heart of the plot is quite intricate and is illustrated in the poker game. When Shaw shows his quad 9’s with the 10 kicker, Newman makes him wait in suspense before revealing that he doesn’t have the quad 3’s. He shows him the quad Jacks and successfully cheats the cheater.

The Parent Trap (1998)

In the realm of poker face-offs, two little girls would probably be the last thing you'd think to see. But that’s exactly what the 1998 remake of the cult classic Parent Trap has done. The film is about twin sisters separated at a young age, only to meet each other at summer camp. The poker scene is tense yet light, but it’s pivotal in juxtaposing the similarities and differences of the twins. With serious gestures and calls like “deal me in”, which The Cut describes as elements of Cool Girl canon, the two managed to construe a heated poker game.

Molly’s Game (2018)

The most recent in this list, Molly’s Game is an enthralling film based on the autobiography of “poker princess” Molly Bloom. Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut narrates the life of the poker entrepreneur and how she built her business. In the scene above, Molly is hosting her first poker night. The scene, while mundane compared to the rest of the film, highlights how poker was seen in the early days – as a social event. As in Molly’s case, it was also a venue for networking for personal and business ends – something that was lost at the advent of online poker.

Rounders (1998)

John Dal’s exploration of the seedy side of high-stakes poker is considered one of the best poker films ever made. What makes the last showdown between Teddy KGB (John Malkovich) and Mike McDermott (Matt Damon) so special is how it rounds (pun intended) out the film nicely. Teddy gets the better of Mike in the opening scene, so it's only fitting that he's going to be the final obstacle to Mike's redemption at the end. The film's poker scenes are authentic and its players highly charismatic. Even a number of professional poker players like Brian Rast have credited the film for inspiring their poker career. ExpatBets highlights how it also inspired Matt Damon to play poker in real life after playing in tournaments to develop his character for the film. And it shows in the film's numerous poker scenes in nuanced language, emotions and the real feel of poker.

Casino Royale (2006)

There can’t be a list of poker scenes without adding Casino Royale. The 2006 installment of the James Bond Franchise was one of the highest-grossing films of that year – and let's not forget that it packs the best poker scene in cinematic history. This intense Texas Hold’Em game between Bond and the villain Le Chiffre, which won the super-spy $100 million in the film, also won him numerous awards and nominations in real life. If you can’t get enough of James Bond, another installment titled No Time To Die is due to be released next year.
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