iconic poker films
Feb 2020

Lights, Camera, Action: Iconic Films About Poker

by Christine in Features, Reviews category

Is there anything better than sitting back with a coffee table full of snacks and watching a good film? We certainly don’t think many activities beat that after a long, hard day’s work. Card games provide the perfect subject matter for cinematic material, in our humble opinion. That’s why we’re going to give you some movie inspiration for this weekend, with our rundown of the most iconic poker films of all time.

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Now let’s get back to those iconic poker films…


Of course we had to kick off our list of iconic poker films with Rounders. It’s a no-brainer.

Pretty much all poker lovers have a special place in their heart for this 1998 movie. Starring Matt Damon and Edward Norton, this story is about two friends who get in deep in the high-stakes poker world. They’re in a race against time to pay off a huge debt, which they try to do by competing in big games in different cities.

This film pre-dates the poker boom of the early 2000s, so didn’t set the box office alight when it was first released. But now it’s a stone cold cult classic that every poker player worth her (or his) salt has watched several times.

If you haven’t seen it, treat yourself to it over the next few days. You won’t regret it.

The Cincinnati Kid

Released 55 years ago, this is the oldest of the iconic poker films on our list. Having said that, it’s a story that still resonates to this day. Steve McQueen is the lead, and title character, in The Cincinnati Kid.

This 1965 movie is the tale of a young upstart of a poker player trying to beat a long-standing champ. It’s set in the 1930s and has all the old-timey charm you might expect. And also a few storylines that aren’t exactly politically correct.

Having said that, it’s a romp and is well worth a watch if you feel like a bit of nostalgia for the good old days when five-card stud was the game of choice for most of the poker playing world.

Molly’s Game

Molly’s Game is based on a true, and astonishing, story of a woman, Molly Bloom, who ran a multi-million dollar underground poker empire. Gangsters, celebrities and outrageously wealthy people attended her games before she was shut down by the FBI.

The star-studded cast includes Jessica Chastain, Chris O’Dowd, Michael Cera, Idris Elba and Kevin Costner, among others. It’s been widely hailed as a modern classic, looking at a totally different side of poker in the United States. Particularly in an era where there was a huge popularity, but also a widespread moral panic and illegality surrounding the game.

It got a good critical reception by many after its release in 2017, with nominations in major awards ceremonies such as the Golden Globes, the Oscars and the BAFTAs.