Without a doubt, poker is the most successful casino game of all time. Thanks to the simplicity and ease of access that poker offers, millions of people around the world can pick up a deck of cards and get stuck into a competitive, hard-to-master but easy to play game with their friends (or enemies).
Although poker has humble beginnings, it has transformed into a global phenomenon with a rich history and growing fan base. Poker took a turn when Hollywood jumped on the growing popularity of the game in the 1950s and 60s, with characters like James Bond cementing the game as truly glamorous and bringing it to the forefront of pop culture. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at some of best and most enjoyable poker movies out there.
It could be argued that Rounders was one of the catalysts for the online poker boom of the late 90s /early 2000s. A young Matt Damon was the entirely loveable law student dragged into the world of underground poker, forced to play for not only a debt but his life. With a superb cast including Edward Norton, John Malkovich, John Turturro and Martin Landau, Rounders is a feel good film that became an instant cult classic and something of an inspiration for amateur poker players who also dreamed of WSOP gameplay.
Although James Bond has been haunting the casinos of the world on film for almost 60 years, it took until 2006 and the full remake of Casino Royale for poker to gain the spotlight. The fast paced action mixed with tense poker gameplay saw the Bond series take a new turn. With a high stakes poker game set up to strip a supervillain of their funds, James has to dodge several attempts on his life before the champagne moment at the end of the game. Casino Royale inspired hundreds to hold poker nights at home as well as contributing to the already booming interest in both online poker and televised poker that could be found on late night TV throughout the 2000s.
The Cincinnati Kid
Steve McQueen was at the height of his career when this depression-era poker movie was released. Poker was still firmly in the casino, with access to the glamour and drama of high-stakes poker limited for the general public. The character driven plot is completely centered around a nail-biting game of poker which sees a number of twists and turns before the explosive final sequence (spoiler alert). Although the film received mixed reviews at the time, it has become something of a poker classic that focuses on the game over character development.
Although there a few other notable mentions including Maverick, Stuey, and Deal, it doesn’t seem that there are many future classics in development at the moment. There have been some great casino movies recently, but the focus on poker hasn’t been as strong. Hopefully we will see a film soon that will ensure poker remains in the mainstream for the next generation, but until then poker fans will have to create their own stories.