Poker is one of the most popular card games in the world. It’s elegant, classy, and not that difficult to learn. The card game owes a big part of its popularity to movies. Movies that made it this successful in our world feature some of the best poker scenes ever. Some of these focus on the game entirely and others only feature a smaller scene but even those became legendary over time. Since it’s so remarkable and popular it’s hard to pick out just five of the best poker scenes but we’ll try our best. In this article, we’ll list what we think are the top 5 poker scenes of all time in movies.
Imagine going to a casino and finding out there’s no poker available. Pretty impossible, isn’t it? Poker is the foundation of gambling and has been one of the top entertainments in the world for some time now. What’s more, during the 2000s the popularity of poker spiked even more. To such an extent that it’s the most known card game in every country. Online poker in the US has millions of searches every month. That is pretty straightforward, however, seeing that many of the best poker players in the world hail from the US. We’ll dive into the best poker scenes featured in movies and you might know many of these already. Some of these movies have become cult classics over time and its characters immortalized . So, without further ado here are our top 5 poker scenes in movies.
5. The Final Poker Scene From Rounders (1998)
Rounders is an underrated gem that has everything that a poker movie classic should have. A likable protagonist, high-stakes poker, the showdown between the biggest player and the hero, and more. To add to that, the movie has a lot of star power but all the characters shine equally. Matt Damon, Edward Norton, John Malkovich, John Turturro, and the late Martin Landau all elevate the movie with their performances. The best thing about Rounders is that it’s a great movie even for people who don’t know much about poker. If you’re already somewhat familiar with it, you’re gonna love this flick. At the time of its release, Rounders already had the support of four World Champion Poker players. The appreciation of the best is no small feat. The movie is also a part of why the World Series of Poker constantly increased its popularity after 1998.
In short, a young law school student (Matt Damon) is a great poker player who set aside the game to focus on other things in his life. While trying to maintain his relationship and education, an old friend of his (Edward Norton) asks for his help to pay off a loan. This eventually leads to our protagonist returning to big stakes poker to help his friend pay off a $15.000 debt in a short time. The movie focuses on Texas Hold’em and the game is beautifully depicted in the final scene. Mike (Matt Damon) eventually faces the Russian club owner Teddy KGB (John Malkovich) in a showdown. The importance of reading your opponents, knowing when to back down, intimidation, and a lot of tension fills this scene. If we piqued your interest, go check out the movie and see why this is a top 5 poker scene.
4. Maverick’s Final Scene Will Have You Holding Your Breath (1994)
Another underrated movie that was fairly successful when it first came out in 1994. The movie takes a nod to the original Maverick show that featured James Garner as Bret Maverick and aired from 1957 to 1962. This time, Mel Gibson takes on the role of the hero in this comedy fused western. An interesting fact is that James Garner was recast in this movie in a different role, as a way of honoring the character that he created in the 50s. The cast is rounded out by Jodie Foster, Alfred Molina, Graham Greene, and James Coburn. Maverick is a movie with a simple story and a great twist at the end that will bring the viewers back for a rewatch once in a while. Our hero needs to gather three thousand dollars to enter a high stake Winner Take All tournament in a few days.
In the movie, the characters are playing a five-card draw which is similar to traditional Texas Hold’em. During the final game of the movie, we have Bret Maverick (Mel Gibson), Commodore Duvall, and Angel (Alfred Molina) at the table. The dealer asks for a show of cards, starting with the Commodore. He reveals two pairs of 8s which are then followed by Angel’s straight flush. Maverick turns up four straight spades, from 10 to King, and pauses for a moment. This moment feels like an eternity as both the audience and the movie characters are holding their breath. The silence is broken by Bret throwing up the Ace of spades and winning the game with a royal flush. Of course, a hand like that is as rare as flying pigs. Check out the movie to see the series of events following this scene. You won’t regret it.
3. Ocean’s Eleven And a Pinch of Comedy (2001)
Every gambling enthusiast is familiar with the Ocean’s trilogy featuring George Clooney. The first installment is arguably the best out of the three and it involves a star-studded cast. Alongside Clooney, we have Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Bernie Mac, and Casey Affleck just to drop a few names. The story focuses on Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his 10 accomplices as they try to rob three big Las Vegas casinos at the same time. When you make a movie about Las Vegas of course you have to include a poker scene. But the scene that we’re about to include is different from the others on this list.
In the early part of the movie, we see Rusty (Brad Pitt) teaching poker to a group of teen idols who are as clueless as they get. Rusty tells them about the importance of knowing when to fold when to pursue a bet, and so on. His most important rule is to leave all emotion at the door when you start playing poker. His old friend, Danny Ocean (George Clooney) unexpectedly joins the game and a quick round of mind games begin. As the game goes on, Ocean turns Rusty’s rule against him and drags him along, which costs him the game. The two leave together after the game of poker to continue plotting the great heist. Not the most serious scene, but one of the top 5 poker scenes in movies.
2. Casino Royale’s Poker Scene Is Top 5 on Every List
Casino Royale is one of the best James Bond movies of all time and the start of Daniel Craig’s legacy as the legendary character. In this list we tried to include scenes from separate movies, otherwise Casino Royale would take up at least two spots. After all, playing poker like James Bond is not an everyday feat. The new 007 sets out to take down a private banker funding terrorists in a high-stakes poker game in the 2006 movie. The incredible Mads Mikkelsen plays the role of the villain and the cast includes stars Judi Dench, Eva Green, and Jeffrey Wright. In the original novel, the characters play baccarat, however, this was switched to Texas Hold’em for the movie. Sites like Everygame Poker offer a great Texas Hold’em experience because after all, not all of us could go after the world’s greatest villains.
We’re talking of course about the final poker scene of the movie, sometimes known as “poker scene 2” where the big blind is $1 million. This scene is regarded as the best poker scene of all time by movie bluffs but poker enthusiasts love to pick on it sometimes. Two of the last four players go all-in, $6 and $5 million respectively. Le Chiffre continues to raise the bid $12 million and is waiting to see Bond’s reaction. The performances of both Mikkelsen and Craig are incredible here. With no words, they manage to captivate the audience. Our 007 suddenly goes all-in, raising the high bid to $40 million, and gets called. The showdown is as follows: a flush, a full house, Le Chiffre’s higher full house, and ultimately, Bond’s straight flush. Honestly, a very unlikely series of hands in real life but if you’re James Bond, you’re James Bond.
1. Trinity is Still My Name (1971) Has the Top 1 Movie Poker Scene
This is a lost gem from history when spaghetti westerns were everywhere. As the sequel to its predecessor, They Call Me Trinity (1970) the second version has one of the best and funniest poker scenes of all time. With barely any dialogue, weird background noises and sharp camera cuts create tension that vibrates to the audience. It feels like the origin of why poker has to be full of tension in movies comes from here. The second installment follows the story of brothers Trinity (Terrence Hill) and Bambino (Bud Spencer). The duo starred in over 40 movies together. The poker scene takes place in the first half of the near 2-hour movie. It’s great because it’s unique. The movie is not necessarily what you call a cinematic masterpiece but it’s a lovely classic that can be rewatched many times with family or friends.
Trinity, otherwise known as The Right Hand of the Devil is also the fastest hand in the West and arguably the best poker player too. What his older brother Bambino (The Left Hand of the Devil) lacks in speed, makes up for with his strength. The two enter a poker competition in a saloon as the 4th and 5th players. Trinity, as goofy as he is, acts like he doesn’t know anything about poker at first. When it’s his turn to deal, our comedian shuffles the deck in such a devilish way that leaves his opponents silent for a few moments. Trinity beats his opponent’s 7 four of a kind with an ace four of a kind. He’s accused of counting cards and cheating (which is true) and is challenged to a duel which leads to some of the best comedy you’ll ever see in a western movie.