15 Best Poker Movies of All-Time


There’s a movie for almost anything imaginable—and unimaginable. With all the glitz and glamour that poker has received from the mainstream media, poker can’t be an exception, right? But have you ever asked yourself which poker movies are worth watching? Or perhaps you’re looking for a list of movies to binge-watch?

The Rounders is the best poker movie of all time. It wasn’t a box office hit, but the poker boom quickly turned it into a cult hit. You can also add High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story, Smart Money, The Cincinnati Kid, Finder’s Fee, and Maverick on the list of poker movies that you have to watch.

List of the best poker movies, from documentaries to action.
This is the list of poker movies you should watch at least once. Some more action based, other a documentary, and some that show a real picture of poker.

There are dozens of poker movies that you can choose from, but we’ll show you the ones you need to see at least once. You may have seen most of them, but we guarantee that you’re in for a treat if you include all of these on your “Watch Later” list!

#15 – Deal (2008)

Deal is a 2008 poker drama that follows the story of Tommy Vinson (played by Burt Reynolds), a former poker player who’s seen great potential in a hot-shot law student, Alex Stillman (played by Bret Harrison).

Trailer:

After Alex loses the final table, Tommy decides to mentor and teach him the fundamentals of poker, including tells and reading players. Despite being profitable at the tables, both had obstacles to keep playing: Tommy with his wife and Alex with his parents. The climax of the movie is a fictional World Poker Tour championship where Tommy and Alex faced each other at the final table.

What Makes It One of the Best Poker Movies?

One of the reasons we decided to include this on the list of the best poker movies of all-time is because it talks about the fundamentals of playing poker. A professional poker player, on a mission to teach someone who has exceptional talent. That’s something anyone can relate to, and the movie takes it a step further with a WPT championship.

Sure, getting better at poker can never be that fast, but anything can happen in a movie. What makes it great is that it was able to convey poker’s fundamentals in the most entertaining way possible.

Deal has received an IMDb rating of 5.4/10, which is a perfect example of an undervalued movie. Deal is a movie with its ebbs and flows but will remain one of the best poker movies for amateurs and professionals.

#14 – Lucky You (2007)

Lucky You is a 2007 poker drama that revolves around the story of Huck Cheever (played by Eric Bana), a young, talented Las Vegas poker player, and his estranged father, L.C. Cheever (played by Robert Duvali), a two-time WSOP Champion.

Lucky You

$10,000 is the only thing that stops Huck from participating in the WSOP Main Event, and he’s willing to go through great lengths to raise the money. He ended up making $10,000 in one night of playing poker to enter the tournament. Huck faced his estranged father in the final table with another player, Jason Keyes (played by Evan Jones).

What Makes It One of the Best Poker Movies?

Lucky You is a poker movie that has everything that you’re looking for: loan sharks, estranged relationships, letdowns, and even a reference to Chris Moneymaker‘s monumental win at the 2003 WSOP, which is one of the events that triggered the poker boom. It’s a fictional story but takes you to a joyride of what it takes for someone to win the WSOP and their journey to fame.

The movie only has an IMDb rating of 5.9/10, which could be because of the slow-paced storytelling that gets boring and predictable. The story revolves around estranged relationships and how poker fixed it. So, it’s not a movie that would catch the interest of average moviegoers, but will always be a hit for every poker enthusiast.

#13 – The Grand (2007)

The Grand is a 2007 comedy poker movie that goes way beyond anything imaginable in poker. The story follows Jack Faro (played by Woody Harrelson), a recovering drug addict, a mismanaging casino owner, and a serial husband married 74 times.

The Grand includes quite some famous poker players.

Jack Faro enters a poker tournament to win the $10 million prize that he’ll use to pay for a loan to keep his family’s casino open. After going through 74 marriages and running down Rabbit’s Foot, the casino that his grandfather built, he’s left without a choice but to beat the world’s best poker players. Will he be able to use poker to recover everything he lost and find his wife #75 in the process?

What Makes It One of the Best Poker Movies?

The Grand is a display of comic ingenuity. We find ourselves laughing most of the time, but it didn’t fail to deliver the message that poker is one of the best games in the world. It’s a great poker movie for amateurs and professionals, but it doesn’t overdramatize poker, something that many poker movies are guilty of doing.

Another reason is that this is one of the few movies that include professional poker players like Phil Gordon, Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, and Antonio Esfandiari. It has an IMDb rating of 6/10, with mixed reactions from critics. However, the ingenuity of this film and comedic jabs are two reasons why poker players should watch it at least once!

#12 – High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story (2003)

Stu Ungar was one of the best poker players ever. His display of ingenuity and incredible card reading skills made him one of the most dangerous players at the felt. However, his career as a poker player was cut short because of drug addiction and a series of unfortunate events.

Stu Ungar

Throughout Stuey’s short career, he became one of the only two players in the world to win the WSOP Main Event three times. He’s also the only player to win the Amarillo Slim’s Super Bowl of Poker three times. Despite all of these, he had an obsessive behavior that puts him in debt with the mob.

What Makes It One of the Best Poker Movies?

Stuey will remain one of the legends of poker, and, honestly, going through his life as a teenage prodigy until the time he won his third WSOP Main Event is something that every poker player should watch. It is a no surprise he made it to our list of best poker players ever.

It’s a sad story that ends with Stuey leaving a motel room with a stranger (a representation of the Grim Reaper). However, it also shows us the devils behind the glitz and glamour of poker.

The movie has an IMDb rating of 6.1/10, which is decent, but it deserves more. If you’re only starting your career as a professional poker player, High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story is one of the best movies that you should add on your “Watch List.” 

#11 – Shade (2003)

Shade is a 2003 crime thriller poker movie that follows three con artists cashing in on card games using a “card mechanic” named Vernon (played by Stuart Townsend). They created an elaborate plan to defeat the legend of poker named “The Dean” (played by Sylvester Stallone).

Shade – Trailer

One of the oldest forms of cheating in 5 Card Stud is the premise of the movie. The cons were trying to set up The Dean to play against Vernon to cash in on their most significant venture.

However, just like any poker game, things don’t always go as planned. Will they succeed in setting up the legendary card sharp, or will it backfire? 

What Makes It One of the Best Poker Movies?

5 Card Stud is one of the most popular underground poker games globally, but many aren’t aware of its rules. Moreover, many won’t even be able to tell the difference between 5 Card Draw and 5 Card Stud. The movie conveyed the gameplay, including its weaknesses, without dull moments of discussion and slow storytelling. It’s one of the most entertaining poker films that tackle poker outside the mainstream Hold’em format.

The movie has an IMDb rating of 6.3/10, which we think is quite low for everything that it has. Twists after twists will keep you on the edge of your seat, but it received mixed reviews from critics. If you’re looking for an excellent poker movie that could have gone under your radar, Shade would be it.

#10 – Casino Royale (2006)

Casino Royale is a movie adaptation of Ian Fleming’s 1953 James Bond novel of the same name. The story took place when James Bond was only starting his career as Agent 007. He was assigned to bankrupt a terrorist financier, Le Chiffre, in a game of ultra high-stakes poker.

Casino Royale

In his mission, James Bond met Vesper Lynd, a British Treasury agent assigned to protect the $10,000,000 million buy-in. While on the mission, Bond falls in love with Lynd, but will it affect his deducing skills to beat Le Chiffre? Does Bond have the right skills—and funding—to accomplish the mission and stop Le Chiffre from funding terrorist organizations?

What Makes It One of the Best Poker Movies?

Casino Royale is probably one of the most popular poker movies of all time, and it would be a disservice not to include it on this list. It’s a James Bond movie with a strong following, even people who are clueless with poker. However, it was able to keep the balance between keeping it entertaining and conveying that poker will always be unpredictable.

The movie has an IMDb rating of 8/10—the highest rating on this list. However, if you’re already familiar with poker and looking for something that will be entertaining and educational for you at the same time, it’s probably not something that you should watch. Plus, it has gained so much traction with $616,501,619 earnings worldwide that you, most likely, have already watched it.

#9 – Finder’s Fee (2001)

Finder’s Fee is an indie film that takes a different path than most poker movies. The story is about Tepper (played by Erik Palladino), a young man who found a wallet with a winning lottery ticket inside. Tepper contacted the owner to retrieve it that same night.

Finder’s Fee

Tepper and his friends are having regular poker nights, but it’s different this time. Every player should use their purchased lottery ticket as their ante, and the winner gets any prize that comes with it. When the owner of the wallet arrived at Tepper’s place, he found out that one of the pot’s tickets was the winning ticket. So, he decides to join the game to get back his prize.

What Makes It One of the Best Poker Movies?

Unlike most poker movies that revolve around mobs, loan sharks, addiction, and estranged relationships, Finder’s Fee has an unorthodox approach to playing poker. The whole story happens in one night, and only between friends. It’s a story that many people can relate to, aside from the winning lottery ticket.

The plot may sound predictable, but you’re in for a treat while watching the Finder’s Fee. It has an IMDb rating of 6.4/10, which we feel makes it undervalued. Nonetheless, it’s a story that anyone can relate to, and it’ll keep you in your seats throughout the film!

#8 – All In: The Poker Movie (2009)

All In: The Poker Movie is an aptly named documentary by filmmaker Douglas Tirola. It’s not the same as the other films on this list because it goes through the factors that made poker a popular game. It also answers why many people consider it one of the best ways to chase the American Dream.

All In: The Poker Movie is a documentary about poker.

Poker is one of the oldest games in America and has suffered a steep decline. However, there’s something about the game that triggered its renaissance. It became so popular that it’s hard to find someone who’s not familiar with the game. 

Almost everyone has heard about poker, but this documentary will go through all the details that made it the game we all love.

What Makes It One of the Best Poker Movies?

If you’re only starting your career as a poker player, this movie is something that you have to watch. It covers everything you need to know about poker, including history, the rise and fall of poker, and every reason why it became so popular. If there’s one film that you have to watch to learn everything about poker, it’s All In: The Poker Movie.

The documentary has an IMDb rating of 6.7/10, putting it on the same level as some of the best documentaries. There are many things that you’ll learn from this film, and it’s the one that we’d recommend to anyone who wants to understand the rationale behind poker.

#7 – Smart Money (1931)

The Great Depression is one of the worst economic depressions in the world, but it created one of the best poker movies of all time. Smart Money follows the story of a poker player who used his bankroll to build underground casinos that creates an even playing field for the elites and commoners.

Smart Money

Nick the Barber was the best poker player in his town, and he gave the big city a shot. He experienced consecutive victories in poker, including the rumored $300,000 win that made Nick the king of illegal gambling in the city. Even after getting caught, Nick made a bet that he will be out in five years, instead of serving his ten-year prison sentence.

What Makes It One of the Best Poker Movies?

The timely release of Smart Money is one of the reasons it’s a great poker movie. It wouldn’t be so impressive if Warner Bros. released it before or after the Great Depression. However, it’s right in the midst of all the chaos, and it talks about an average person who’s beating the system just by being a great poker player. It was also when playing poker as a professional isn’t even a thing.

The ingenuity of the movie is one of the reasons why it received an IMDb rating of 6.9/10. This movie was long before the poker boom, but it was able to portray how poker can change someone’s life. If you’re into classics, this 1931 poker film is something you should watch at least once!

#6 – California Split (1974)

California Split is a movie that is quite ahead of its time. It was the first movie to use an eight-track stereo sound, and until today, many people still consider it the best gambling movie.

The story doesn’t only involve playing poker but also other games in a casino like roulette, blackjack, and craps. Bill Denny (played by George Segal) and Charlie Waters (played by Elliott Gould) split the $82,000 winnings and go their separate ways.

California Split

What Makes It One of the Best Poker Movies?

We all have the notion that gamblers are degens, but this movie took a different approach. It shows you what a degen life looks like, then lets you decide if it’s the lifestyle for you. Degen lifestyle is crazy and fun, but it can be taxing even for the ones who are cashing in on gambling. So, is a degen life right for you? Watch the film and decide for yourself, there’ll be no judgments about your choice!

The movie has an IMDb rating of 7.2/10, which is what we think it deserves. It needs a refresh, but it has a different take on what the public thinks about gambling. It reveals both sides, then makes it easy for you to choose which side of the split you want to take.

#5 – The Cincinnati Kid (1965)

The Cincinnati Kid is another movie, set during the Great Depression. It follows the story of Eric “The Kid” Stoner, who is on a journey to become the best poker player. His only obstacle to fame is Lancey “The Man” Howard, who is considered by many to be the best. You may have already noticed the symbolism, but if not, the plot is “The Kid,” trying to beat “The Man” to take the throne and just stop being the kid.

The Cincinnati Kid

What Makes It One of the Best Poker Movies?

On the surface, The Cincinnati Kid looks like another poker movie. Sometimes, it feels unrealistic in today’s standard. However, it has the closest portrait in the life of a professional poker player. If you’re only starting your career, it’s one of the movies that can provide you with a view of what lies ahead; the pressure and willingness to improve and beat a more experienced player.

It has an IMDb rating of 7.3/10, making it a masterpiece. Add that to the fact that this movie was when playing poker wasn’t even a rewarding career. If you can let pass the unrealistic depiction of poker in this movie, then it’s one that we highly recommend that you watch.

#4 – Molly’s Game (2017)

Molly’s Game is the newcomer on this list, but it gained a lot of traction because of the life lesson that it carries throughout the movie. The story follows the journey of Molly Bloom, a real-life aspiring Olympic skier, who continuously suffered the ups and downs of life. She later discovered the big money she can make by organizing high stakes poker games.

Molly’s Game

What Makes It One of the Best Poker Movies?

Throughout the film, you’ll experience the challenges that Molly Bloom had to go through, from losing her dream of becoming a world-class skier to her arrest due to illegal gambling operations. She never let life knock her down, and in the end, she walked away with only 200 hours of community service, one-year probation, and a $200,000 fine.

It’s not a film that follows the actions that happen at the poker table, but the money that the game can bring. It has an IMDb rating of 7.4/10, which is well-deserved for this film. Many poker players, especially professionals, will find inspiration in this movie because getting better at this game will take patience and persistence.

#3 – Luna’s Game (2001)

Luna’s Game is a movie that tells a story about being a professional poker player, even before playing poker was cool. It also goes through the question of what makes a poker player great: nature or nurture?

Luna’s father is a professional poker player who was murdered by a loan shark. Despite her negative experience with poker, she was pulled into it because it’s in her blood. Will she suffer the same fate as her father?

What Makes It One of the Best Poker Movies?

Luna’s Game is, perhaps, one of the most accurate depictions of a poker player. Many of us feel we’re incomplete without poker, and despite the risks, it makes us feel alive. It’s the premise of Luna’s Game, and one of the reasons we think it’s an excellent poker movie.

This movie only has an IMDb rating of 6/10, which is quite an understatement with its storyline. There are many poker movies, but almost all of them talk about the glitz and glamour of playing it, including the millions that you can win. Luna’s Game takes a different approach with a character who hates the game but can’t do anything to abandon it.

#2 – Maverick (1994)

Maverick was a film adaptation of a TV series in the 1950s when 5 Card Draw tournaments were still a thing. It follows a con artist’s journey to collect money from others to raise enough to enter a high-stakes 5 Card Draw tournament. The movie goes through betrayal after betrayal and everything that a man will do for a shot at the poker tables.

Maverick

What Makes It One of the Best Poker Movies?

We have this movie high on the list because it sends you back in an era when there are no Hold’em tournaments. It’s a classic that shows you the thrills of an old poker variation that we still play until today. Another reason is that it has a realistic approach to a player’s life, which remains relevant to this day.

Maverick has an IMDb rating of 7/10, which is quite low for the storyline that it has for its time. We think it needs a refresh to make it a bit more relevant today, but if you’re looking for a classic poker movie that you can watch, Maverick should be on the top of your list.

#1 – Rounders (1998)

There are many debates and disagreements in poker, but if there’s one thing that poker players agree, it’s that Rounders is the best poker movie of all time.

The story follows Mike McDermott (played by Matt Damon), who is a reformed gambler. He’s back to the table because his friend asked for his help to repay a loan shark. After that, nothing stopped him from wanting to be the best poker player.

Rounders is the best poker movie.

What Makes It One of the Best Poker Movies?

Rounders isn’t great because Matt Damon was in his early career, no. It’s the best poker movie because it didn’t go through the process of explaining what poker is to the audience. The storytelling was so smooth that it didn’t even stop to explain what is happening on the table. All that matters for this movie to make sense is that Mike McDermott wants to be the best.

It has an IMDb rating of 7.3/10, most of which only came after the poker boom. When it was released, almost nobody paid attention. When the poker renaissance started, it became an instant cult hit and will go down as one of the best poker movies of all-time.

Conclusion

Poker became so popular that many of the films released in the mid-2000s were about the game. Interestingly, most of what we consider as the best poker movies today were from the 90s—a time when playing online poker wasn’t even possible.

Great poker movies don’t always talk about the glitz and glamour of playing poker. In fact, the ones that we have on this list are movies that depict the lives of players and the challenges they face when they’re off the poker table.

Primoz

I have played poker professionally for more than 10 years. I was a winner at every poker format that I played - from tournaments to cash games, both in NL Holdem and PLO. Now my biggest satisfaction is to provide enthusiastic but new poker players with answers to all of their questions.

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