Nothing raises the tension in a movie quite like a high-stakes poker scene. If you’ve ever taken part in a table game, you’ll know there’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of playing.
And for many film fans, that exhilaration is replicated on the big screen. A 2019 poll found that 39% of people believed that poker scenes made movies “more enjoyable”.
With this in mind, online poker site 888poker, has put together its picks for the best poker scenes in movies. From gangster classics to vintage Oscar winners, several timeless films have truly iconic poker moments.
The most iconic poker moments in cinema
Martin Scorsese isn’t just one of Hollywood’s best directors – he’s also responsible for creating some of the most famous movie poker scenes.
Three scenes in the top 10 come from Scorsese’s films, with two moments from Casino kicking off the list. Joe Pesci’s foul mouthed tirade to a blackjack dealer and Robert de Niro’s attempts to get a player to take his feet off the poker table are the standout sequences.
Further up the list, another intense Joe Pesci moment from Goodfellas, as Tommy DeVito reacts badly when he doesn’t get given his drink at the poker table. But Scorsese didn’t direct all the crime movies in the list, with the poker game in Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels also making the cut.
Two classic Best Picture winners at the Oscars feature in the top five. In The Sting, Paul Newman faces off against Robert Shaw in a high stakes Five Card Draw on a train. In Rain Man, Tom Cruise leads his brother Dustin Hoffman to a casino, using him to win at blackjack.
The Sting isn’t Paul Newman’s only iconic poker scene either, with his card skills in Cool Hand Luke also making the top five. Maverick and The Cincinnati Kid complete the top 10.
But there was only ever going to be one film in the top spot. Daniel Craig’s first film as James Bond saw him face off against the terrorist Le Chiffre (played memorably by Mads Mikkelsen) in a Texas Hold’em tournament. The high stakes match was every bit as intense as the rest of that action packed series reboot.
No matter how iconic a movie already is, this list makes it clear: an intense poker scene will always raise the stakes further.