Hollywood’s Love Affair with Poker: A Look at the Best Poker Scenes in Film History

Poker has been a popular game for centuries, but its rise to mainstream popularity can be attributed in part to its representation in Hollywood films. From tense showdowns between rival players to high-stakes games with life-changing consequences, poker has provided filmmakers with endless opportunities for drama and excitement.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best poker scenes in film history and examine how they reflect the game’s enduring appeal.

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The Cincinnati Kid

One of the earliest and most iconic poker scenes in film history can be found in the 1965 western, “The Cincinnati Kid.” The film stars Steve McQueen as a young poker player who is determined to prove himself as the best in the world. In a climactic scene, McQueen’s character faces off against the reigning champion, Lancey Howard, played by Edward G. Robinson.

The tension is palpable as the two players engage in a battle of wits and strategy, with the title and a significant amount of money on the line. The scene is a masterclass in how to build suspense through character development and pacing, and it remains one of the most memorable poker scenes in film history.


Another classic poker scene can be found in the 1998 film “Rounders,” starring Matt Damon and Edward Norton. The film tells the story of two friends who enter the high-stakes world of underground poker in New York City. In a key scene, Damon’s character faces off against a Russian mobster played by John Malkovich.

The scene is notable for its intense psychological warfare, with Malkovich’s character attempting to intimidate Damon’s character with his quirky behaviour and thick accent. The scene also features some impressive poker strategy, as Damon’s character employs a bluffing technique known as “check-raising” to gain the upper hand.

Lucky You

In the 2006 crime thriller “Lucky You,” Eric Bana stars as a professional poker player who is trying to win the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. In one of the film’s most memorable scenes, Bana’s character goes all-in with a pair of nines against his opponent, played by Robert Duvall.

As the tension mounts, Duvall’s character reveals that he has a pair of kings, and the two players engage in a heated debate over the merits of their respective hands. The scene is notable for its realistic portrayal of the intense emotions that can arise during a high-stakes poker game, as well as its emphasis on the importance of psychological strategy and player psychology.

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Molly’s Game

More recent films have also featured memorable poker scenes. In the 2017 film “Molly’s Game,” based on the true story of an underground poker game organiser, Jessica Chastain’s character runs a high-stakes game that attracts wealthy and influential players from all over the world.

In one scene, she faces off against a Hollywood actor played by Michael Cera. The scene is notable for its fast-paced action and witty banter, as the two players engage in a series of daring bluffs and counter-bluffs.

The popularity of poker in Hollywood films has also contributed to the rise of online poker, which has become a multi-billion dollar industry in recent years. Online poker platforms such as PokerStars offer players the chance to compete in a wide range of games and tournaments from the comfort of their own homes. Features such as live chat, hand history tracking, and multi-table play have made online poker more accessible and engaging than ever before.

The power of poker in film is not just limited to its ability to provide dramatic tension and action. It has also inspired a new generation of poker players who look to their best action comedy films for inspiration and guidance. Whether it’s learning how to read opponents’ body language or mastering the art of the bluff, these players have found that the lessons of the silver screen can be applied to the felt.

In conclusion, Hollywood’s love affair with poker has helped to cement the game’s place in popular culture. From classic westerns to modern-day thrillers, poker has provided filmmakers with endless opportunities for drama, tension, and excitement. And with the rise of online poker, the game is more accessible and exciting than ever before. Whether you’re a casual player or a seasoned pro, there’s never been a better time to join the action and experience the thrill of the game for yourself.

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Lee Clarke
Lee Clarke
Business And Features Writer

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