Over the years there have been many movies that have attempted to show poker, whether in a brief scene or as an important part of the plot line. [Warning potential spoilers in the videos]
The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
One of the earliest examples of poker on screen is 'The Cincinnati Kid.' This film from 1965 tells the story of a young man who moves up through the underground poker world, beating everyone who stands in his way until he faces off against the man known as the best player around. The twist at the end, along with the good characters and dialogue make this the first classic poker film. We see a professional poker player winning by skill in the movie too, which is important for the game as it helps people understand poker isn't all about luck. On the other hand, the film does push the false idea that people are always cheating in poker games, which is a theme that has been repeated many times in poker films.
The Cincinnati Kid final hand
'Maverick' (1994) is a relatively modern movie with poker at the core of its plot. For the most part it is entertaining, but fails to grasp numerous basic poker concepts. Its fair to say that every single poker movie ever made has at least one small error, but some are wildly unrealistic. 'Maverick' does fall into this category with the laughable poker side of it. The supposedly great poker player in the leading role employs an unusual strategy in the final game of calling off a huge pile of cash while drawing 1 card and praying for the ace of spades for a Royal Flush which predictably, arrives.
Maverick final hand
Lucky You (2007)
'Lucky You' (2007) is another mothanksvie which includes a lot of poker and centres around the character Huck Cheever. The love story progresses alongside the poker playing as Huck tries to win his seat in the world championship at Las Vegas where he may come face to face with his estranged father at the table. 'Lucky You' tries to blend a poker players journey with a love story and it struggles to succeed for the most part, but it is still certainly worth mentioning when you're looking at important poker movies.
Lucky You Trailer
'Rounders' was released in 1998 and is one of the better poker movies around, with many of the scenes portrayed well in terms of how poker is played. It is clear from the start that 'Rounders' tries to be fully authentic, and in many ways it succeeds. The main character is studying law but struggling to make the grade because of his love of poker. He travels around the underground poker scene playing in big games and trying to win enough money to get his friend out of trouble. The movie creates a great atmosphere in the games with Teddy KGB and really shows the skill factor of poker in the right way. Most online poker players will have seen this movie and for many, it will undoubtedly have played a part in their development as a player, with the well known quotes from the film still being heard at poker tables today. 'Rounders' remains a very credible movie based around poker and tells the story well. You could even say it had an important role in fuelling and sustaining the poker boom that began in 2003.
There has been talk of a Rounders 2 which would be great to see, although the current stage of planning or development for this film seems mostly based around rumour.
Casino Royale (2006)
'Casino Royale' was released in 2006 and includes some fairly well researched poker scenes which are quite accurate in showing a huge high roller game towards the end of the film. The last hand is of course a rare situation, but then all good poker movies require that big hand that brings tension and excitement to a scene. Overall I think it's fair to say that 'Casino Royale' does a great job of showing the glamorous side of high stakes games and is noticeably different to the gritty underground way that we often see poker in cinema. The fact that this film was made three years after the poker boom began shows how mainstream film productions were becoming more welcoming to poker in its scenes and were showing the game in a genuine way, with emphasis on the importance of skill.
Casino Royale final hand