When it’s all on the line: the most spectacular poker games in the movies

A game of nerves, pitting yourself against your opponent, a battle of strategies, stamina, testing yourself — that’s what lies behind the desire to give in to the excitement in gambling. Though, here’s nothing like a high-stakes poker scene to get your adrenaline pumping while watching a movie. Here’s a look at some of the most spectacular poker film sequences that have already become cult films.

A classic high-stakes gambling game gives the plot of the film an atmosphere of challenge, because just one card can determine the fate of the main character! We decided to remember the legendary poker scenes that can tickle the nerves of viewers.

Casino (1995)

We start our selection with two iconic poker scenes from the legendary Martin Scorsese’s Casino. In the film, Joe Pesci’s character tries to piss off the dealer by playing blackjack, while Robert De Niro exposes a bluff at the poker table. These scenes are so intense that it’s impossible to take your eyes off the screen, because you don’t know what will happen next to the main characters.

By the way, “Casino” is the third Martin Scorsese’s project in gangster genre. If you have already seen this cult film several times, then you should pay attention to other works of the director — the films “Mean Streets” and “Goodfellas”.

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Rounders (1998)

Young Matt Damon as student Mike, passionate about poker and miscalculated in a game with a criminal mastermind played by John Malkovich.

After paying his debts, Mike decides to quit gambling and go back to study, but his childhood friend nicknamed “The Worm” (Edward Norton) gets out of jail, and a trail of debts and crimes of varying severity hangs over him.

The protagonist is a kind soul who decides to help an old comrade, and to do so he has to get back into the big game. Unobtrusive, devoid of any pretensions to being a masterpiece, this is a simple and honest film with revealing characters and beautifully staged game parts.

The tension of the moment, the psychology, the subtle calculation and the love of the game are the main attributes of the film which allowed it to take the second place in our rating.

The Cincinnati Kid (1965)

Norman Jewinson’s cult film (screenwriter of the film adaptation of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar) allowed the director to make the transition from making light, comedy films to more serious projects.

According to the film’s plot, young poker player Eric Stoner, nicknamed “The Kid”, challenges the best card player in the country, Lancey Howard “The Man”. A high-stakes game awaits the protagonists. An unexpected twist in the film will prove that anything can happen in poker!

It is worth adding that poker fans will admit — the film is actually ahead of its time, presenting the viewer a real game. After all, The Cincinnati Kid was the first film to show poker players as a respected profession, and the title match between The Kid and The Man has become an acknowledged film classic.

The confrontation between the two characters underpins the plot of the film, which is even now easily watchable. The lead role was played by the inimitable Steve McQueen, the iconic American actor and athlete.

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Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)

Guy Ritchie’s iconic film with an equally legendary poker scene is highly recommended. The film tells the story of four friends — Eddie, Tom, ‘Milo’ and ‘Bacon’. They each raise £25,000 to help Eddie sit down at a poker table with Harry the “Axe”, a notorious gangster and hustler. In a tense match scene, the players aren’t afraid to raise the stakes higher and higher each time to finally reach the half-million pound winnings. And we won’t reveal the intrigue of who took the prize — Eddie or Harry — but let you relive this watershed moment in “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.”

The Sting (1973)


George Roy Hill’s legendary crime comedy The Sting is about two con men trying to outsmart an evil Mafia boss. The famous poker scene takes place on a train where Henry Condorff’s opponent is gangster Doyle Lonnegan. The cunning, bluffing and constant raising of the stakes made these scenes very tense, and Henry gets an incredible card combination and wins $15,000 from the mobster.

Rain Man (1998)

Barry Levinson’s Oscar-winning film Rain Man tells the story of two brothers. Dustin Hoffman’s character, Raymond Babbitt, lives with autism and receives his father’s entire inheritance. This begins a family adventure that will thrill all viewers. But the most outstanding scene of Rain Man is considered to be the poker scene in the casino. According to the plot, Charlie Babbitt takes Raymond to the game, where he shows off his incredible calculating abilities.

Casino Royale (2006)

Although all of the poker scenes in the films deserve the attention of movie buffs, Casino Royale can rightfully be given the upper hand. In the movie, James Bond battles terrorist Le Chiffre by joining a high-stakes Texas Hold’em tournament. Millions of government funds are at stake, which “Agent 007” cleverly disposes of. This poker movie game will make the audience quite nervous, because not only the money, but also the legendary Bond’s life will be in danger. But it’s the thrilling payouts that have made poker even more appealing to a wider audience.

Of course, there are other films about gambling worthy of attention in the world of cinema and you’ve probably remembered a couple. And after a good film, you can find a 4 euro deposit casino online and play not only poker, but also slots, roulette and numerous other games.

Huynh Nguyen

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