There have been a rush of poker movies and films that feature poker prominently since the poker boom began, and most of them are frankly awful. Save yourself from feeling like you were the victim of a bad beat by avoiding these flicks.
This clunker of a movie is not only a terrible poker movie, but one of the worst movies I have ever seen, period. Its unforgivable especially because it is about one of the most fascinating and tragic figures in poker, Stuey ‘The Kid’ Ungar, who won three World Series of Poker championships before his untimely death from drug addiction. There’s far too little poker in this movie, and far, far too much of Michael Imperioli (who plays Ungar) in a very dark hotel room with a mysterious and ominous stranger. Thank Gamblor a better movie about Ungar is on the way.
I don’t know if this ever made it to theaters, but this movie sucked out on 2 hours of my life one afternoon through cable television. The ‘plot’ as it were, centers around a female med student named Ace who naturally has an uncanny poker talent inherited from her supposedly-dead dad. Ace and a rag-tag team of poker pals from school head to the "Casino" where they try and help her get a poker edge through computer wizardry. Only the pals don’t really help her, the dad -- shocker -- is not dead, and the poker played makes little to no sense. A rainbow of bad acting and improbable plot lines make a further muck of this movie.
Unlucky you who fell prey to this Drew Barrymore/Eric Bana train wreck of a movie. Despite the fact that it features many pros and had Doyle Brunson as a consultant, this movie fails on every level it tries. There’s no chemistry or logic to the relationship, so the romance aspect is a bust. The father/son coming of age storyline feels both forced and predictable, and then there’s the poker. It’s not bad in every scene, but when it stinks, as it does in the final scene, it reeks.
The Grand"The Grand" is a poker mockumentary by Zak Penn in the style of "Spinal Tap" or "Best in Show." However, the only thing is it really has in common with either of those movies is actor Michael McKean, who plays a Vegas billionaire. The movie follows poker players playing in a big tournament called "The Grand," which has a winner-takes-all $10 million prize. Despite a great cast which includes David Cross, Woody Harrelson, and Cheryl Hines, this movie doesn't have a lot of laughs. My favorite character and scenes involved Chris Parnell, who plays a sort of autistic/savant player who lives with his mother. I'll give it credit for involving a lot of real poker pros and having some realistic hands in it, but overall, it's a dissapointment.
This is by far the best movie on the list, and without the poker part of it, I would have given this Bond film a thumbs up. Sadly, this movie has some of not only the dullest poker ever played on film -- they had to poison and nearly kill 007 midway through the game to keep it suspenseful -- but also the most unlikely final hand ever. In my many years of playing poker, I have never, once, seen the all four players at a no-limit Texas Hold’em game go all-in after
the river is dealt. The sequence of betting and cards that happens in the movie is so unlikely it made me want to leave my seat. To top it off, a man who cries bloody tears from one eye, which is a poker tell every audience member is waiting to see paid off, is never used.
"Deal" is a dull, badly-acted movie starring Burt Reynolds and unknown actor Bret Harrison. Reynolds plays Tommy Vinson, an old poker pro who swore off poker 20 years ago to keep his wife. One day, Vinson sees young hotshot player Alex Stillman (Harrison), on TV at a big tournament and then conveniently sees him in person in a LA Casino. The old pro offers to mentor and back the young player for a 50% stake in his winnings. Unsurprisingly and abruptly, the old pro is drawn back into playing and what's this? At the final table of the big poker tournament it is student versus teacher for the prize. The complete lack of suspense, strange editing choices, and plodding script make this film a flop.