A Review of the Five Best Poker Movies of All Time

Explore the five best poker movies and see what makes them great. Join us as we delve into these films and look at one of the most recent titles.

Kicking off 2024, we decided to delve into the best poker movies of all time. This new beginning means it’s time to rewatch all of our old favourites, and we look at the top five movies to give a go. See what makes them so exceptional.

Top Five Movies and One That Could Be Better

We start with the five best movies you’ll find on any poker list, followed by one you could give a skip.

1. Rounders, 1998 - A Tale of Real Poker and Gambling

Rounders remains at the top of this list, as it features real poker and sheer brilliance on the tables. It follows Mike McDermott, played by Matt Damon, as he tries to earn money with his friend Lester Murphy, played by Edward Norton, to pay off Murphy’s debt.  



While this movie might depict an unrealistic outcome where everything works in the protagonists’ favour, it features brilliant games, high-tension drama, and , in a way, glamorises the somewhat seedy underground poker scene in New York and Atlantic City. There is even a poker scene with the legendary Johnny Chan. 

2. Cincinnati Kid, 1965 - Can the Young Player Make His Mark?

This movie is an excellent depiction of an up-and-coming young player who challenges the stud poker king to take his spot as the best player. It features incredible action on the tables, with the director adapting the movie from a tension-filled book with the same name. The star studded cast is led by screen legend Steve McQuee, who plays the Cincinnati Kid

3. California Split, 1974 - A Journey in Search of the Elusive Big Payday 

This story features two compulsive gamblers who start gambling in search of the elusive big payday. Viewers will find comedy filled with cynicism, lucky streaks, and setbacks. The classic film is so painstakingly human that you get a real feeling of what it’s like to live only for the next big win.

4. Mississippi Grind, 2015 - Gambling Your Way Across America

While Mississippi Grind features some excellent poker action, it’s more a psychological exploration of friendship, compulsive gambling, and destructive personalities. With Ryan Renolds and Ben Mendelsohn playing the protagonists, it shows how friendship and destructive impulses influence people’s actions.

5. Maverick, 1994 - Card Sharks, Cons, and Guns

Maverick is based on a 1950s TV series with the same name, following a card shark as he tries to play and con his way to a big win. This film has layers upon layers of deception that the viewers start peeling away as they discover more plot twists. It makes for an excellent movie where Mel Gibson plays the protagonist Bret Maverick and the star studded cast also includes James Garner, who played Maverick in the TV show. 

Poker Face, 2022 - Not Much Poker Action in Action Movie 

While this movie did not make the top five, with good reason, it is the latest poker movie released. There is scarce poker gameplay and there are many holes in the plot. There is fast-paced action but of the entire 129 minutes the movie only has about five minutes in different snippets that shows actual poker play. Academy Award winner Russell Crowe is not only the star of the film but the director as well. 

Start the New Year With the Best Poker Movies

Start your new year with a bang rehashing classic poker films. The five films above are a must-see for any poker lover, but Poker Face is a longer movie with not much actual poker action.