“Money won is twice as sweet as money earned,” a line from one of the most iconic gambling movies, The Color of Money, has inspired many to take their chances on the poker table. Surely, you may have some of your all-time favorite poker movies that have influenced you as well. Here are seven of the top movies with a poker theme to motivate you more.
Rounders is a drama that exposes the lives of high-stakes poker players who dream of becoming champions at the World Series of Poker. This movie was released in 1998 and received mixed reviews but later became a hit after poker became a hit in early 2000.
Two friends Mike McDermott, played by Matt Damon, and Lester Murphy, played by Edward Norton, desperately needs to win at a high-stakes poker game to pay an old debt. Mike promised his girlfriend he would quit gambling after losing against Teddy, a Russian gangster played by John Malkovich.
The two were about to win but were caught cheating. Mike eventually plays against Teddy and wins. The two could pay their debt after winning more than $60,000; Mike quits law school and breaks up with his girlfriend. He was last seen leaving for Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker.
Poker is depicted as a way to escape many life’s problems. However, it’s not always easy to do so. It takes pure talent, guts, and perseverance to win at poker. Scenes of epic all-ins are shivering and rather thrilling for the audience.
Actors: Matt Damon, Edward Norton, Gretchen Mol, John Malkovich
Director: John Dahl
Reviews and Reception: 7.3/10 from IMDB and 65% Rotten Tomatoes. The movie was released on September 11, 1998, and grossed $8.5 million on the opening weekend. Earned $22.9 million in the U.S. box office.
2. Molly’s Game
Molly’s Game is a biographical crime movie. It was created from a memoir by Molly Bloom in 2014. Bloom, played by Jessica Chastain, was investigated by the FBI for a secret poker empire that she handles for top celebrities, business owners, athletes, and millionaires. Molly didn’t know that the Russian mob was slowly infiltrating her exclusive poker rooms. Her only friend and confidante was Charlie Jaffey, played by Idris Elba.
Molly Bloom is an aspiring Olympic skier. She moved to Los Angeles, where she rose from a club waitress to an underground poker empire office manager. Molly was able to persuade high-profile players to quit the club and join her games.
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Molly’s fame has attracted rich and powerful players, including members of the Russian mafia. By this time, Molly’s games have also reached the FBI. She is arrested and all her assets seized. She published a book naming all the people who played in Molly’s games. Jaffey agrees to help Bloom, citing that she has not committed any serious crimes. Her punishment was reduced to community service, probation, and a fine. From this movie, Texas Holdem is depicted as a high-stakes game that comes with serious consequences.
Actors: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera
Director: Aaron Sorkin
Reviews and Reception: 81% on Rotten Tomatoes earned $28.8 million in Canada and the United States.
Maverick is a Western comedy movie released in 1994 about Bret Maverick, played by Mel Gibson, a con artist card player who plans to join a high-stakes poker game.
Expert poker player and con artist Bret Maverick wants to join an elite poker game with a fantastic payoff. Maverick scams players including Annabelle, played by Jodie Foster, and Angel, played by Alfred Molina, for his entry fee. As he defeats other hopefuls, he leads that marshal Zane Cooper, played by James Garner, is desperate to find and arrest him. Maverick depicts poker as every player’s game, but the best player wins because of talents and wit.
Actors: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, James Garner, Alfred Molina
Director: Richard Donner
Reviews and Reception: 7.1/10 IMDb, 66% Rotten Tomatoes. Maverick earned 183 million USD in the box office. It was released on May 20, 1994.
4. The Cincinnati Kid
The Cincinnati Kid is an American drama movie released in 1965. This is Eric’s story, a talented poker player who wants everyone to know that he’s the best. And his quest to be the best has led him to play against Lancey Howard, an experienced player.
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The Cincinnati Kid is about Steve McQueen as Eric Stoner, a young, talented, and determined player who wants to share his reputation as the Cincinnati Kid. Stoner was able to arrange a match against one of the best players, Lancey Howard, played by Edward G. Robinson, but later on, he discovered that the game is fixed against his opponent. In the end, he was able to secure a match against Howard and fulfill his dreams.
Actors: Steve McQueen, Ann-Margaret, Edward G. Robinson, Joan Blondell
Director: Norman Jewison
Reviews and Reception: 82% Rotten Tomatoes, 7.3/10 IMDb. This movie grossed 7 million USD and was released on October 15, 1965.
5. Casino Royale
Casino Royale is a spy movie, a part of the James Bond series. It was released in 2006 and is an adaptation of Casino Royale, a novel by Ian Flemming. This is the first movie where Daniel Craig played M16 agent James Bond.
Secret agent James Bond received a license to kill and travels to Madagascar. He finds a link to Le Chiffre, who provides money to support terrorist activities. Le Chiffre plans to raise money to fund terrorists through high-stakes poker, and thus, Bond plays against him to foil his plans. Scenic shots filmed in a casino environment will make you want to gamble a few bucks away!
Actors: Daniel Craig, Eva Greene, Mads Mikkelsen
Director: Martin Campbell
Reviews and Reception: 8/10 IMDb, 94% Rotten Tomatoes, earned 616.5 million USD and was initially released on November 14, 2006.
6. Luna’s Game
Luna’s Game is the story of a woman portrayed by Ana Torrent, who plays poker against the man who killed her father.
Luna is a talented poker player and plays the game for a living. One day, she found out about the man who killed her father and appeared in one of her poker games. She does not want to reveal her identity yet and decides to play against the murderer.
Actors: Ana Torrent, Ernesto Alterio, Antonio Dechent
Director: Monica Laguna
Reviews and Reception: 6/10 in IMDb
7. Finder’s Fee
Finder’s Fee is about a man who changed his life after finding a wallet while commuting from work. However, his luck is about to change as his regular poker buddies decide to come over and play.
Finder’s Fee is all about the day Tepper (Erik Paladino) found a wallet with a winning lottery ticket. But when his best buddies come over for a game of poker, Tepper’s luck starts to change when his friends come over for a game of poker. The game’s rule is that all the players must buy a lottery ticket and throw their tickets into the pot.
Actors: Erik Palladino, James Earl Jones, Ryan Reynolds, Dash Mihok
Director: Jeff Probst
Reviews and Reception: 60% Rotten Tomatoes. This movie was awarded Best Picture at the Seattle International Film Festival in 2001
Watching these best poker movies will surely bring you on the edge of your seat with their incredible gambling scenes.