Top 3 Poker Scenes In The Movies

Poker has always had a place in movies; sometimes heavily dramatised and other times in a much grittier form. Here’s 3 great Poker scenes that show the different portrayals of the game.

Maverick, Film, PokerMel Gibson starred in the 1994 comedy Maverick which involves a fantastic if unlikely Wild West Casino Poker scene. Bret Maverick wins the culminating Poker game by beating his rival, Duvall, with a Royal Flush. Gibson executes what is known in Poker as ‘the slowroll’. This is where the player slowly reveals his cards; in this case Gibson takes over a minute turning out the cards one-by-one before finally throwing down the Ace of Spades; the ultimate iconic hand in the ultimate dramatized Poker scene.

Rounders, Film, Poker, Matt DamonFor more grit you may wish to take a look at the Poker scenes in Rounders, particularly the final scene where Matt Damon beats his adversary, Teddy KGB to win back his freedom. The game is outside the controlled confines of the Casino and has a particularly hard edge. The stakes are high and the tension huge as ‘Mikey’ (Damon) wins a complicated hand of Texas Hold ‘em with what appears to be a Flush. For an insight into the workings and psychology of gameplay, this scene is one of the greats.

The Sting, Film, Poker,Paul Newman seems like the go-to guy when it comes to Hollywood gamblers in film. He featured in The Sting which concerned the underhand aspects of the game, but his best role was in the much more watchable Cool Hand Luke. He beats his jailhouse rivals with one of the great film bluffs, and in doing so he exhibits all of his urbane silver screen charm.

About the Author
Rory Fish has loved movies since he can remember. If he was to put together an "all time" top 10 of absolute favourites it would have to include North By Northwest, 12 Angry Men and Sunset Boulevard.

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    Mark Reply

    Got no idea how to play the game, so poker scenes always confuse me.

    Nevertheless, here are some other contenders:

    California Split (Robert Altman, 1974) – George Segal wins the big one, alienating Elliott Gould in the process, but it’s a hollow victory.

    Big Hand for a Little Lady (Fielder Cook, 1966) – everyone we sympathise with turns out to be a huckster.

    Killing Them Softly (Andrew Dominik, 2012) – Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn rob Ray Liotta’s game; Liotta gets the blame because he’s scammed the mob before in similiar circumstances, so he’s hit.

    Goodfellas (Marty Scorsese, 1989) – pretty sure it’s a poker game they’re playing when Joe Pesci shoots Spider in the foot; later at the same table he kills the boy for insubordinance.

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    Evan Crean Reply

    A solid list. If I were to add any myself, I’d suggest the poker scene from Tombstone. Val Kilmer is brilliant as Doc Holiday.

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    Dan Grant Reply

    The hand Mike won with against KGB is not a flush, it was a nut straight, which means he had the best straight that could of been had between the two players, based on the cards on the table. The best part about it was him checking all along and letting KGB “catch up to him.” If memory serves me correctly, the river card (last card that falls) is an ace, and judging by the look on KGB’s, he either had pocket aces in his hand or something like AK. Rounders is probably the film most responsible for today’s craze in poker.

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    jackdeth72 Reply

    Where’s the last hand build up and stare down, bumps, checks and raises between Steve McQueen and Edward G. Robinson through the last reel of The Cincinnati Kid ?

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