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Top 10 Poker Movies Every Player MUST Watch - WPT Global


While poker isn’t considered a mainstream game, there’s something about it that keeps Hollywood coming back for more. From the shady underground games of Rounders to the shady penthouse games of Molly’s Game, it’s clear to see that the focus of most of these films is on the human element rather than the game itself. However, this is Hollywood, of course they’re going to focus on the dramatic side of the game. Either way, they do know how to make a great poker move - this list represents some of the top poker movies that are around right now, and are a must-watch for any true poker fan. Download WPT Global today and play some of these movies as you get ready for your next poker session.

The Cincinnati Kid (1965)

Starting off strong with the OG poker movie, The Cincinnati Kid starring Steve McQueen follows the adventures of The Kid as he plays his way into the biggest game in town. The game is a little different from what modern players would be used to as the game of choice is 5 Card Stud rather than a flop game like Hold’em or Omaha. This film is more than a film about poker, it is about honor, integrity, and the emotional rollercoaster that is life reflected at the poker table. The film is also responsible for some of the greatest film quotes, such as this line from Lancey Howard, "Son, all you paid was the looking price. Lessons are extra.” This is definitely one of the must-watch poker movies of all time - if you only see one film on this list, you can’t go far wrong with this one.

California Split (1974)

One of the lesser-known films on our list, California Split is a film about gambling rather than specifically a poker film, though poker is heavily used throughout. It stars George Segal and Elliot Gould as two gamblers who are trying to make their way to Reno with the aim of making it big. At one point along their travels, Bill (Geroge Segal) is staked in a poker game with none other than world champion Amarillo Slim and somehow manages to walk away without getting felted. Written by Joseph Walsh about his own gambling addiction, this film is a realistic portrayal of gambling and gambling addiction as you’ll see.

Casino Royale (2006)

Arguably one of the better Bond films of the modern era, Casino Royale centers on a $10 million buy-in poker tournament held in Montenegro that the Bond villain Le Chiffre has organized in order to recoup losses from a failed terrorist attack. However, this is not the only poker reference in the movie as both Bond and Le Chiffre are seen playing it at various times throughout the film. Bond even wins his iconic Aston Martin by slow-rolling a set of aces against a set of kings. A perfect mix of poker and action, Casino Royale is always high on anyone’s list of poker films - even if the final hand is a bit wacky!

Deal (2008)

Deal is definitely the most poker-centric film on our list as the story is purely based around two poker players - one a young up and comer called Alex (Bret Harrison) and the other a retired veteran called Bill (Bert Reynolds) who takes the young gun under his wing. While Alex has a lot of talent, he still has a lot to learn and Bill teaches him all the old tricks he used when he played. This film features a lot of real-world poker players in its cast such as Jennifer Tilly, Phil Laak, Antonio Esfandiari, Chris Moneymaker, and many more. At the end of the film, the two decide to both enter the World Poker Tour and while both make a deep run, only one can come out on top. We’d consider this one of the top poker movies for true fans of the game due to the focus it puts on actually playing poker.

Molly’s Game (2017)

While Deal focused on the players, Molly’s Game focuses on the game runner Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) who ran a high stakes private game in New York. The film is based on the memoir of the same name written by Molly after her game is raided and her assets seized by the FBI. Unique to any other poker film, it gives viewers a look behind the curtain at how these high-stakes private games are organized and run. Some high-profile celebrities are mentioned including the mysterious Player X (rumored to be Tobey Maguire). While the focus is very much on Molly, there is a good amount of attention shown to the game with decent explanations for beginning players as well as enough substance for the experienced players. Despite it being the most recent film on our list, Molly’s Game has quickly made it to the top of our list of must-watch poker films.

High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story (2003)

The Stu Ungar Story is a biopic of the late great Stu Ungar, three-time WSOP Main Event champion and legend of the poker world. The film is told in flashback, with Stuey (Michael Imperioli) telling his life story to a stranger in a motel room. Starting from his childhood as the son of a bookie, he talks about his move into cards with his career as a tournament gin rummy player and eventually his poker career. Weaved into this story of one of the greatest card game players of all time is his rollercoaster life outside of cards; including his marriage and divorce, the birth of his daughter Stephanie, and his cocaine abuse issues. The story reaches its crescendo with Stuey’s third WSOP Main Event victory.

All In: The Poker Movie (2009)

The first and only documentary on our list, All In: The Poker Movie is a look at the reasons behind the latest poker boom that was sweeping the country. In 2009 the poker boom was a few years in as it saw a rise in popularity with the introduction of hole-card cameras at the start of the millennium and saw a meteoric rise after amateur player Chris Moneymaker won the 2003 WSOP Main Event. This film features interviews with well-known professionals such as Phil Laak, Phil Hellmuth, and Daniel Negreanu. It also features well-known celebrities and politicians who speak about their love of poker, such as Matt Damon and then-Senator Al D’Amato. While a little all over the place with its structure, All In is a great look back at what the poker landscape was like in the midst of the poker boom.

Rounders (1998)

Arguably the greatest poker movie of all time, Rounders is one of the must-watch poker movies for any fans of the game. It stars Matt Damon as Mike McDermott, a law student and poker sharp who loses his entire bankroll in one hand against the Russian mafioso Teddy KGB (John Malkovich). Together with his buddy Worm (Edward Norton), Mike tries to rebuild his life and his poker bankroll by playing in games all around the city. However, things don't go so smoothly as Worm has a tendency to overstep the line when looking for an edge, forcing Mike to make a decision as to whether or not to back his childhood friend. The film comes to a head with a rematch heads up against Teddy KGB, but can Mike overcome his demons and win back what he lost?

Lucky You (2007)

A film that takes inspiration from the 2003 WSOP Main Event that kickstarted the poker boom in America, Lucky You follows the story of Huck Cheever (Eric Bana), a young, up-and-coming poker player. His tendency to gamble too much to win big is caused by his estranged relationship with his father L.C Cheever (Robert Duvall), a two-time WSOP Main Event champion. Huck is trying to get the $10,000 he needs to enter the main event but keeps falling short whenever he’s within touching distance of getting the money. Through prop betting, stealing, and a marathon poker session, Huck finally has the money to enter in and compete in the main event. A rollercoaster from start to finish, Lucky You is certainly one of the top poker films you’ll see, and one you’ll frequently see mentioned on the Twitter feed of WPT Executive Tour Director Matt Savage, featured in the film.

Maverick (1994)

Finally, we have Maverick, an American Western comedy film starring Mel Gibson as Brett Maverick - a card player and con man trying to earn enough money to enter a $25,000 5 card draw poker tournament. He teams up with fellow con artist Annabelle Bransford (Jodie Foster) and Marshal Zane Cooper (James Garner) who also have an interest in the tournament to get the money he needs to enter. After some near misses, almost losing their entire bankroll, the threesome makes it to the poker tournament, where Maverick and Bransford must face off against each other. This film is an absolute romp that manages to carefully balance the thoughtfulness of playing poker with the comedic timing of a Western comedy. - easily one of the top poker movies you can find.


So there you have it, our list of the 10 must-watch poker movies. If you’re missing any of these from your personal movie lists there are a range of streaming services out there that show both classic and recently released films so there’s no excuse for not filling those gaps!