Poker isn’t just a game, it’s a cinematic superstar. The high stakes, the constant face-offs, and the unpredictability make it a surefire hit on the silver screen. From vintage classics to modern thrillers, the fusion of poker and cinema has given birth to numerous masterpieces that not only entertain but also educate us about this intriguing game. 


If you’re a poker enthusiast, there’s a good chance you appreciate the dramatisation of your favourite game on the big screen. You get to see how poker skills can play out, all while being immersed in intriguing plots and unforgettable characters. It’s a perfect match – the art of storytelling meets the art of the game. 


Whether you’re a seasoned player or just starting your poker journey, watching some movies about poker can take your understanding of the game to another level. You see, movies showcase poker not just as a game, but as a lifestyle, a passion, a battlefield of wits and nerves. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 poker movies that every enthusiast should watch. These are films that, through the lens of poker, explore human nature, ambition, and the allure of the gambling world. 


So grab some popcorn and get ready to be transported into the world of high-stakes poker, dramatic showdowns, and compelling stories. Here’s our selection of top 10 poker movies every enthusiast should watch.

"Rounders" (1998)

Directed by John Dahl, “Rounders” is, in many ways, the quintessential poker movie. It has all the elements you’d want – high stakes games, fascinating characters, and, importantly, a realistic depiction of poker. The film follows law student Mike McDermott (Matt Damon) as he navigates the poker underworld to help a friend in debt while trying to save up to play in the World Series of Poker


Damon’s performance is exceptional, and the poker scenes are some of the best in cinema history. The film explores various forms of poker, especially Texas Hold’em, and emphasises the game’s strategic nature. More than just a game of luck, “Rounders” showcases poker as a battle of wits, where reading your opponent is as important as the cards you hold. It’s a movie that’s as much about poker as it is about the struggle between passion and responsibility.

"The Cincinnati Kid" (1965)

No poker movie list would be complete without mentioning the classic that is “The Cincinnati Kid.” Directed by Norman Jewison, this film is set in the backdrop of the Great Depression, with Steve McQueen playing Eric ‘The Kid’ Stoner, a young poker player aiming to establish himself as the best.

This movie stands the test of time due to its engaging plot, remarkable characters, and authentic depiction of stud poker. McQueen’s performance is compelling, presenting ‘The Kid’ as an ambitious, yet relatable character striving for the top. “The Cincinnati Kid” emphasizes the psychological aspect of poker, where the ability to read opponents is as crucial as the luck of the draw.

"Molly's Game" (2017)

“Molly’s Game” is a unique addition to poker cinema, a biographical drama that tells the real story of Molly Bloom, played by Jessica Chastain. Once an Olympic-class skier, Molly ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game, only to become an FBI target.


What makes “Molly’s Game” a must-watch is its approach to poker from a non-player’s perspective. The movie provides an inside look into high-stakes private games, showcasing the glitz, glamour, and occasional grimness of the poker world. Directed by Aaron Sorkin, the movie’s storytelling is top-notch, blending the thrill of poker with a powerful character study.

"Casino Royale" (2006)

While not a traditional poker movie, “Casino Royale” deserves a spot due to its iconic poker scene. The 21st James Bond film features a high-stakes Texas Hold’em game where Bond (Daniel Craig) must defeat a terrorist financier at the poker table.


Despite being an action-packed spy thriller, “Casino Royale” offers one of the most suspenseful poker games in movie history. This scene encapsulates the tension and unpredictability of poker, serving as a metaphorical battlefield where Bond’s strategic acumen is as essential as his physical prowess.

"Mississippi Grind" (2015)

“Mississippi Grind” tells the story of two gamblers, Gerry and Curtis, played by Ben Mendelsohn and Ryan Reynolds, respectively. This road movie takes viewers on a journey through various gambling exploits, with poker playing a significant part.


A more subdued film, “Mississippi Grind” explores the gamblers’ lifestyle, showing the exhilaration of winning and the despair of losing. More than just a poker movie, it paints a comprehensive picture of gambling’s impact on individuals’ lives. If you’re looking for a poker movie with depth and realism, this is a must-watch.

"Lucky You" (2007)

Directed by Curtis Hanson, “Lucky You” provides a glimpse into the world of professional poker. The film follows the story of Huck Cheever (Eric Bana), a talented poker player with personal issues who is striving to win the World Series of Poker while simultaneously battling his feelings for a singer, played by Drew Barrymore.


“Lucky You” captures the adrenaline and strategy of the poker table, featuring many professional poker players in its cast and thus bringing an air of authenticity. Though the romance in the subplot adds an extra layer to the narrative, the poker scenes truly shine, showcasing the tension, strategy, and a bit of the bluffing for which the game is renowned.

rows of seats in an empty theatre under the glow of a screen

"Deal" (2008)

“Deal” revolves around an ex-gambler, played by Burt Reynolds, who finds himself teaching a hotshot college student the tricks of the trade. As the story unfolds, mentor and student find themselves competitors at the poker table.


Though not critically acclaimed, “Deal” is entertaining and offers viewers an insight into the world of poker tournaments. The movie’s highlight is the final World Poker Tour championship scene, which poker fans will find both gripping and satisfying.

"High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story" (2003)

A biographical film about the life of Stu Ungar, one of the greatest poker players of all time, “High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story” takes us through the rise and fall of a poker legend. Michael Imperioli delivers a brilliant performance as Ungar, making the film a compelling watch.


The movie’s focus is on Ungar’s extraordinary talent for cards and his tragic downfall. The poker scenes are gripping, and the exploration of Ungar’s personal life adds depth, making the film a balanced portrayal of a poker icon.

"Croupier" (1998)

“Croupier” offers a different perspective on the gambling world. This British film stars Clive Owen as Jack Manfred, an aspiring writer working as a croupier who gets sucked into the casino lifestyle.


Though not a traditional poker movie, “Croupier” delves deep into the psyche of the gambling world. Through Jack’s experiences, we see the inner workings of a casino, the allure of gambling, and the impact it can have on individuals. It’s a fascinating exploration of a croupier’s life, making it an intriguing watch for poker enthusiasts.

"The Grand" (2007)

“The Grand” brings a touch of comedy to the list. This improvised comedy uses a mockumentary style to focus on a fictional poker tournament in Las Vegas. The ensemble cast, including Woody Harrelson, Cheryl Hines, and Ray Romano, adds charm and humour.


“The Grand” takes a lighter approach to poker, with many laugh-out-loud moments. However, it doesn’t skimp on the poker action. The final tournament is authentic and unpredictable, capturing the essence of poker – a game where anything can happen.


There’s something uniquely fascinating about poker that makes it a recurrent theme in movies. The combination of skill, psychology, luck, and high stakes makes for compelling cinema. Our top 10 list, ranging from classic dramas like “The Cincinnati Kid” to modern masterpieces like “Molly’s Game,” offers a diverse look into how poker is portrayed on the silver screen.


Whether you’re a seasoned poker player or a novice, these films provide a deeper understanding and appreciation of the game. They showcase the strategic complexity of poker, the thrill of the gamble, and the human stories intertwined with the game. As you delve into these movies, you’re not just watching poker—you’re experiencing the highs, the lows, and the passion that comes with it.