Category Archives: Movies

The 5 best scenes from the 5 worst poker movies

Poker in movies is cool, intense, and dangerous – unless you know anything about the game. Then it’s cringeworthy and laughable.

NOTE: it’s difficult to pick a “best” scene from bad movies, but if you take “best” to mean “provides most amusement to poker geeks” then it actually becomes pretty easy.

5. Deal (2008): scene

This film has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 3%, which is really difficult to get even if you’re trying to make a ridiculously bad film (Snakes on a Plane has 68%). Even Burt Reynolds couldn’t save this one.

About the movie

With cameos from a myriad of famous poker faces, this film follows online poker hotshot Alex Stillman as he tries to conquer the live poker arena – specifically the World Poker Tour. Oh, and he also has to find love because Hollywood can’t produce a film without a love story.

The best scene

Alex’s first foray into the big leagues sees him at a final table with Phil Laak, Antonio Esfandiari, and not-Jennifer-Tilly who evidently decided she’d rather be an actor than a poker player for this movie.

In this clip he runs top two pair into a set and everyone treats him like a contemptible piece of shit for going all-in and losing thiscooler. At least they set up sympathy for the protagonist early on… but he is a bit of a cocky douche, don’t worry.

4. Casino Royale (2006): the slowroll showdown and “tip”

While not strictly a poker movie,  a significant amount of time in the film is spent at the poker table (Bond runs into more cold decks than he does beautiful women and henchmen). It’s not actually a terrible film in my eyes, but from the perspective of a poker fan it’s pretty awful.

About the movie

Bond, James Bond, is picked by the British Secret Service to compete in a high-stakes poker game in a bid to win terror-funding money. Oddly, the CIA have done the same thing but sent Felix Leiter instead of Phil Ivey to try and win it for them.

The best scene

It has to be the final hand – not only do a flush draw, two sets, and a straight flush manage to checkthrough the turn, every last player slowrolls – especially Bond, who waits for all his opponents to reveal their hands before flipping the nuts. Then again, this is a man who even slowrolls his own name when he introduces himself.

My favourite moment, unfortunately not shown in the video, is when Bond tips the dealer with a worthless tournament chip.

3. Lucky You (2007): least subtle collusion ever

In this film, The Not-So-Incredible Hulk (Eric Bana) and ET’s girlfriend (Drew Barrymore) find love in Las Vegas. There’s also some poker involved, and for some reason both Robert Duvall and Robert Downey, Jr. are there.

About the movie

Lucky You is the story of a man with a dream, who via grit and determination makes it to the final table of the World Series of Poker.

Wait, no – replace “dream” with “serious gamblingproblem” and “grit and determination” with “sheer dumb luck” and that’s bang on the money.

The best scene

The first scene, in which the protagonist is desperately trying to get money from a pawn shop, pretty much sets the tone for the entire film. However, the best scene is definitely the least-subtle collusion ever in which Eric Bana mucks the best hand on the riveragainst his father to ship him the pot.

OK, fine – do what you gotta do to resolve your daddy issues. But when it’s at the (televised) World Series of Poker final table… people are going to notice.

2. In Time (2011): a four-outer for your life

Between this and Runner Runner, Justin Timberlake has a knack for appearing in terrible poker scenes. Like Casino Royale above, this is by no means a poker movie. However, this scene is so laughable that it merits inclusion.

About the movie

This is a film where time is currency (literally, the amount of time you have left to live). This naturally would lead to some pretty intense gambling.

The best scene

Without a doubt this is one of the more ridiculous plays made on film, especially because Justin Timberlake isn’t betting his net worth – he’s betting his entire existence. Having recently acquired a lot of years, he immediately heads to a casino and bets over half of it on a gutshot – and binks the river to take the pot worth over a millennium. He didn’t even have the nut straight!

Of course there’s still time for a slowroll even when you only have 30 seconds left to live.

1. All-In (2006): the whole damn thing

This film is so bad that I’d forgotten what it was called (perhaps I’d repressed the memory like a traumatic childhood experience) and actually found it simply by Googling “worst poker movie ever”.

About the movie

In retrospect, the word “poker” is a redundant term in that search – it is actually simply one of the worst films I have ever seen in general, let alone poker-related films. It simply has no redeeming features whatsoever*.

I don’t know how deeply in debt Michael Madsen was [erm, that’s a joke – PS.com lawyers] to take a part in this but both he and Dominique Swain of Lolita fame star in this monstrosity.

There’s a sub-plot about evil doctors, as broke medical studentsraise money through poker – a bit like if Scrubs developed agambling addiction and a drinking problem.

The best scene

I really can’t narrow this down. It’s either the overly-evil corrupt doctor teaching at the hospital, or Ace (yes that’s the main character’s name) proving her skills by getting her money in with queens against aces and hitting a set on the river.

Just watch the trailer, it says more than I ever could.


Did we miss any terrible poker scenes in any movies you can think of? How about some surprisingly good ones? 

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Recommended movie: “The Hustler” (1961)

“Fast” Eddie Felson is a small-time pool hustler with a lot of talent but a self-destructive attitude. His bravado causes him to challenge the legendary “Minnesota Fats” to a high-stakes match, but he loses in a heartbreaking marathon. Now broke and without his long-time manager, Felson faces an uphill battle to regain his confidence and his game. It isn’t until he hits rock bottom that he agrees to join up with ruthless and cutthroat manager Bert Gordon. Gordon agrees to take him on the road to learn the ropes. But Felson soon realizes that making it to the top could cost him his soul, and perhaps his girlfriend. Will he decide that this is too steep a price to pay in time to save himself?