Best Poker Movies of the Last Decade (Or So)

If you browse around on the net and look for a list of the best poker movies, you’ll find that everyone has a different list. Most contain the classics like The Sting, The Cincinatti Kid and Maverick which are well-known. Those films and the others occupying the top ten are often a little dated, I was very surprised to see Rounders so low on so many people’s lists, in one case only receiving an honourable mention (take a hike). The film is a touchstone in the genre, for me at least. Perhaps it is a generational thing but that film is and was amongst my friends the most quoted at the table – the classic lines being “Sorry John, I don’t remember” after a player has folded and wants to know if you “had it” or of course there is “In my club, I will splash the pot whenever the fuck I please” in the requisite Russian accent. Casino Royale is second on my list and I was surprised to see it (or not see it) on other people’s lists. It plays a major role in the story of the first film of the Bond reboot and has incredibly high stakes, and plenty of twists and turns. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels has to be up there as well, although there is little table action, poker is central to the story. I suppose the latter films don’t qualify as strict “poker films”, but if you take a look at the poker-centric flicks of late you get an idea as to why the top ten is so often dominated by older films. Lucky You came out in 2007 and starred Eric Bana and Drew Barrymore, it was a commercial disaster but garnered praise for it’s realistic depiction of the poker circuit. Similarly the film The Grand is a film touted by insiders but not popular among critics. The film Deal, starring Burt Reynolds and also featuring a number of real poker personalities was a flop. Often the game plays a supporting role in the overall plot, the title character in Michael Clayton goes gambling in the seedy New York underground; the story in the movie The 40 Year Old Virgin kicks off at a poker game as well – fine, hardly a poker movie but it shows that the card game is a fixture in popular culture and serves perhaps better in a supporting role in film. It all makes sense, a lot of people enjoy this game, it’s great amongst friends and some people even make a decent go of it online – I’ve heard stories of online players earning enough to live off, playing poker on PokerStars. Depending on your poker face you might find it easier or harder to bluff online, which is too bad because “sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand.”

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