17 Aug The top 5 films to watch if you love a bit of poker
Whether you’re a long-time gambler or simply dabbling in the game, fans know how exciting poker can be. It’s one of those games that has highs and lows, invites a range of differing personalities and experience levels — and with those factors combined, can create a bit of drama and tension.
It’s no surprise then, that Hollywood has brought poker to the big screen. Whether that’s films centred around poker, or simply integrating scenes that involve the game (and characters who enjoy it), the poker table has made an appearance several times over in some fantastic films.
If you’re looking to get a little onscreen poker action as part of your next film night, here are the top five films you should be watching.
1. Bet Raise Fold
For documentary lovers, Bet Raise Fold is a fantastic film. The film tracks some of the origins as well as the evolution of the online poker industry which followed the internet boom of the 2000s. It then goes on to a deep dive on the impact of the game on a brand new generation of professional players playing several types of poker games online.
The story follows the lives of three real life protagonists: Danielle, Tony and Martin. Danielle is a mother from Minnesota who supported her young family through the game. Martin is an Australian math wiz and poker pro who has travelled the world through his winnings. And Tony is a tournament pro in Las Vegas who has hosted the World Tour onscreen.
This film is a fascinating look into the political conflict between the US government and online gambling which resulted in the government shut down of the game online in America; and definitely a worthwhile watch for those who are interested in poker.
If you’re into the glamourous and tense side of poker, you need to watch the classic film Rounders. Released in 1998, this American drama is centred around the world of underground high stakes poker. Starring Edward Norton and Matt Damon, the story follows the protagonists as they travel from city to city playing high stakes card games in order to pay off a big debt.
Interestingly, Damon is a real life poker player and while he’s never featured on any celebrity poker shows he’s reportedly known to play a few games of Texas Hold’emwith friend and star Ben Affleck at some of the luxury hotels in the USA. It may be that some of his interest in poker came from his participation in the film. Either way, it’s a must-watch for poker lovers as the game really takes centre stage as part of the storyline.
While the film wasn’t a massive success upon its release (with mixed reviews from critics) it became a cult hit as part of the poker boom in the early 2000s and still remains one of the great gambling movies of all time.
3. Casino Royale
Everyone loves a bit of James Bond. And Daniel Craig as James Bond has to be one of the greatest interpretations of the role — with 2006’s Casino Royale being one of the best films in the franchise. This film has quickly become a classic in both the bond and poker film canon. The plot sees Bond on an assignment where he must bankrupt villain Le Chiffre during a high stakes poker game in Montenegro at the Casino Royale. This film also features one of the most tense poker scenes in any film, when Bond plays against Le Chiffre.
It also features an interesting big of strategy in poker which is to deduce someones tell. In the film, Bond believes he has figured out Le Chiffre’s tell, which indicates that he is bluffing. However what he doesn’t realise is that Le Chiffre has been tipped off about his own tell which gives him a huge advantage and sees Bond losing his stake.
This movie is one that’s not to be missed and can be enjoyed by poker fans, Bond fans or just those who like a bit of action onscreen.
4. The Sting
If you like a true classic film than you need to have a watch of The Sting. Released in 1973 (but set in 1936), this American caper film stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford playing professional grifters looking to con mob boss Robert Shaw.
The poker sequence in the film involves a high stakes game, but there’s loads of other fantastic gambling moments involved including horse betting. This movie is a great one to watch if you’re into something a bit more oldschool and are a Paul Newman or Robert Redford fan — two of the best actors out there!
5. Molly’s Game
At the top of our list has to be Molly’s Game. Starring Jessica Chastain, this 2017 biographical crime film is based on the true story of Molly Bloom who becomes the target of an FBI investigation having run an underground poker tournament for some of Hollywood’s elite as well as athletes and business tycoons.
As you can imagine Molly’s game involves many high stakes poker scenes, but what makes it so fascinating is that it’s based on real life events and people. This film scored Jessica Chastain a golden globe nomination for Best Actress while the director Aaron Sorkin received several nominations at the Academy Awards and Golden Globes.