The Greatest Movie Poker Scenes Of All Time - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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The Greatest Movie Poker Scenes Of All Time

Poker is cool, especially in movies. It’s one of James Bond’s favorite games, after all. All you need to make a character cool is a poker table and a flashy win with an unexpected royal flush. Poker is one of the rare card games where you don’t need to explain the rules to the audience - everybody knows what four aces mean and can feel the excitement they bring.

Naturally, many movies feature poker scenes or even revolve around the game. This ever-popular pastime is an excellent backdrop for witty banter, with everyone bluffing and tensions rising, and the mix works particularly great in action movies. We looked through our movie collection and made a list of the best poker scenes out there. Enjoy!
Casino Royale (2006)
According to many movie buffs, the first James Bond movie starring Daniel Craig included the best poker scene of all time. It’s actually a rewrite of the novel scene, where Fleming’s Bond played baccarat. The director, Martin Campbell, decided to switch to Texas hold ’em poker, as that’s a game more moviegoers are familiar with.

The scene shows Bond playing against the villain Le Chiffre, played by Mads Mikkelsen. Both have fought their way through a poker tournament to face off in one final showdown. A $120-million pot is in front of them, and one last Ace is dealt to the hand. Le Chiffre raises his already high bid to $12 million, but Bond goes all-in with $40 million and gets called. The cards are revealed: Bond holds a straight flush, beating the villain’s full house and winning the tournament.

The atmosphere is palpable in this demonstration of the power struggle between our hero and the villain. No wonder it’s been declared the greatest movie poker scene of all time.
Rounders (1998)
What about a movie exclusively about poker? The 1998 drama Rounders was not only a breakthrough role for Matt Damon but also one of the best depictions of poker on the silver screen. In Rounders, we follow law student Mike (played by Damon), an avid poker player and a bit of a hotshot. He loses everything in a game against a mobster called Teddy KGB (John Malkovich). As a result, Mike decides not to gamble ever again.

Of course, in these kinds of movies, nothing lasts forever. In the grand finale, Mike is back for one final game against Teddy. His cause is good, though: Getting cash to bail his friend out of jail. Mike shows his prowess in this scene by picking up on Teddy’s tells and figuring out when to bid high against him. You see, Teddy loves snacking, so every time he takes a bite of an Oreo, he has good cards. On the other hand, theatrics and throwing chips mean he’s bluffing.

The way Mike just wipes the smile from Teddy’s face by slamming his winning hand on the table is priceless and makes for a truly memorable scene.
Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
The star-studded heist movie didn’t use its Vegas setting just for nice visuals. George Clooney plays the titular Danny Ocean, whose gang attempts to rob three Las Vegas casinos simultaneously, so obviously, a poker scene had to be included.

To that end, Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) teaches a group of newbie players poker rules. This is also where we learn the first rule of poker, at least according to his character: “Leave emotion at the door.” Unfortunately for Rusty, the emotion of playing against Ocean costs him the game. The banter from the scene shows the real trick to winning in poker - playing mind games. With many unforgettable lines, such an intense scene sets up the mood for the rest of the series.
Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
Guy Ritchie’s movies ooze style. The British director certainly knows how to create an irresistible atmosphere to draw in the audience. One such scene happens in the 1998 gangster thriller Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, the very first feature film Ritchie directed.

Near the beginning of the movie, one of the main characters, Eddy, plays a crucial poker game against Hatchet Harry, a typical mobster. The location: A dimly lit gym and a boxing ring, with a poker table placed in the middle. The camera is in the middle of the table, giving us the impression that we, the audience, are one of the players. The room is clouded with cigar smoke, cards and chips fly in slow-motion, and characters take big swigs of whiskey. The brilliant visual storytelling sets up the rest of the movie without a single word spoken.
The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
Let’s take a trip even further down history lane, back to the 60s and one of the first poker movies. Steve McQueen is the titular Cincinnati Kid, a young poker prodigy seeking fame and fortune. His thirst for winning takes him to a high-stakes game against Lancey Howard, also known as The Man.

The particular scene we’re talking about is at the very end of the movie. The Kid and The Man are dueling in a crowded room. The stakes constantly get higher, the onlookers are whispering, the camera is shifting between the participants’ eyes; finally, the focus is on The Man’s winning hand. “You're good, kid, but as long as I'm around, you're second best. You might as well learn to live with it,” says The Man as he counts his winnings after the game. It’s a powerful scene that shows no winning streak is endless, even with a full house like the Kid’s.
Maverick (1994)
Our final pick is a Mel Gibson classic, the 1994 action comedy Maverick. The movie takes us to the old age of steamboats, where high rollers played the biggest poker games.

In the final scene, we see Bret Maverick at the table playing the final game at a poker tournament. The game is down to just him and two other players, and it’s time to reveal the cards. Commodore Duvall, played by James Coburn, reveals his two pairs of eights, followed by a roar from the audience. Next up, Alfred Molina’s Angel reveals a straight flush, an even stronger hand. Finally, it’s time for The Maverick to show his cards. As the announcer reads the cards, all straight spades going ten or higher, our protagonist slowly picks his fifth card and throws it to the middle of the table. It’s revealed to be an Ace of spades, completing a royal flush - the ultimate poker hand. While such theatrics make for good cinema, we advise you not to do that at an actual poker table. You’ll just look like a jerk.


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