The best poker films to watch in 2023
Paul Newman in The Sting
Hollywood has had an obsession with card games for decades. Every notable Western movie featured an intense game of cards, with Five Card Stud starring Dean Martin and Robert Mitchum, perhaps the pick of the bunch.
In more recent years, Hollywood directors have cast legendary actors, including Matt Damon, Daniel Craig, Ryan Reynolds, and Ben Affleck, in some seriously memorable poker movies that have shown the game in different lights.
With that in mind, we’ve decided to introduce you to six of the best poker movies of all time, each of which you can stream in 2023.
To understand what’s going on in the poker scenes, it’s best if viewers understand the poker hand rankings. After all, it helps to know a royal flush from a two-pair! So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the finest poker movies ever made.
Starring Matt Damon and John Malkovich, it’s fair to describe Rounders as the greatest poker movie of all time. The story charts the journey and successes of underground poker player Mike McDermott (Damon), who gets into trouble when he double-crosses a Russian Gangster named Teddy (Malkovich). In spite of his precocious skill at the poker table, McDermott needs the help and motivation of his good friend Lester (Edward Norton) to avoid certain death at the hands of the KGB and to restart his poker career.
Casino Royale (2006)
One of Daniel Craig’s most memorable Bond movies, Casino Royale, sees James Bond swap baccarat for poker. 007 takes a seat at a high-stakes poker game in an attempt to uncover a link between a high roller and some shady terrorist organisations. The game takes place at the Casino Royale in Montenegro and features some hot shot moves from the British spy. But does he do enough at the poker table to bankrupt the bad guy, Le Chifre? You will have to find out for yourself!
The Sting (1973)
We travel back to the 1970s to introduce The Sting, a cult movie starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. The Hollywood A-listers star as two professional grifters who develop a rouse to con a wealthy mob boss out of his fortune. The pair are initially motivated by revenge, as they seek to avenge the death of a close ally. But when the main characters sit down to a high-stakes poker game, things don’t go according to plan!
Molly’s Game (2017)
The popularity of Molly’s Game stems from the fact that it’s actually based on the true story of the life of the protagonist, Molly Bloom. As well as being an Olympic-class skier, Bloom ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game that was regularly attended by Hollywood celebrities and mobsters alike. The movie tells the story of the high-stakes game and the subsequent demise of one of the most intriguing characters the world of poker has ever seen. There is an interesting podcast with Molly and former poker pro Liv Boeree here…
Runner Runner (2013)
Online poker player and Princeton graduate Richie (Justin Timberlake) heads to Costa Rica to confront a gambling website tycoon (Ben Affleck) who he believes has cheated him out of his fortune in Runner Runner. What follows is a tale of cat and mouse involving the FBI as agents team up with Richie to try and take down one of the poker world’s most notorious swindlers.
Mississippi Grind (2015)
Although Ryan Reynolds has recently impressed many people with his venture into soccer, he’s still starring in quality movies. The 2015 poker movie Mississippi Grind tells the story of a gambling addict (Ben Mendelsohn) as he takes his new-found best friend (Ryan Reynolds) to compete in a high-stakes poker game in New Orleans, believing that his new buddy carries incredible luck that will serve him well at the table. What follows is certainly not what the gambling addict predicted!
There are so many star-studded movies with poker at their heart. Whether you enjoy movies that are based on a true story (like Molly’s Game) or prefer fictional plots that interweave crime and gambling (Rounders), you’re truly spoiled for choice! All that’s left is to grab a bag of your favourite popcorn, put your feet up and tune into the greatest poker movies ever made.