For the truly solid pundit, there is nothing better than having some down time. During your break, it’s always nice to sit back and relax and watch other people suffer the agony and joy of playing cards. Movies are either a great escape, or a way to live vicariously through the eyes of the characters depicted on film.
Either way, movies kick arse and there are some absolute king-hell awesome movies about card games out there. So what are they? Here we give you the top five movies about card games.
5. High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story
Steve “Stu” Ungar was the most successful poker player in history but he also had a drug habit bigger than King Kong to contend with.
This movie is a great insight into what moulded and made the greatest poker player in history tick. It shows Ungar’s start in the shady back alleys of New York, playing Gin Rummy at mob controlled games, his transition from Gin Rummy to Texas Hold’em Poker and his uncanny ability to seemingly make his opposition’s cards transparent during play.
Ungar won two WSOP Main Event’s in 1980 and 1981 and went on to win a record third in 1997.
The movie also delves into Ungar’s troubled and overly trusting personality, his descent into drug abuse, his struggles to retain his family and his sudden death in 1998.
4. Casino Royale
This is one of the most intense games of No Limit Texas Hold’em to have ever been delivered on the big screen. In the Ian Fleming book however, the game that was the epitome of the book wasn’t written as poker, it was baccarat.
Casino Royale centres around infamous MI6, 007 agent, James Bond and his efforts to disrupt a shady money man who attempts to use terrorism to manipulate stock prices. Bond thwarts the attempted terrorist bombing which leaves the money man millions of dollars out of pocket and in debt to an African war lord. In an attempt to recoup the money he has lost on the stock market, the money man sets up a no limits Texas Hold’em game.
This is one of the greatest examples of a card game being filmed because not only does it accurately portray a high stakes game of Texas Hold’em but it boasts the added drama of sexily clad women strutting around, African war lord’s attacking, poisoning and the invention of the famous “shaken, not stirred” martini.
This game of Texas has it all and culminates in a car chase and bizarre torture scene. Classic.
This movie is all about blackjack, but upon its release it was also the bane of every dealer’s existence because every drunken buffoon slumped over a table, yahooing it up with their mates would cry “Winner, winner, chicken dinner!” whenever they were actually dealt a blackjack.
That annoying line was all thanks to this movie and drove every dealer the world over absolutely nuts for about six months after its release.
21 follows the true story of six M.I.T. students who turned their natural intelligence into a weapon to be used against the casino’s of Las Vegas as a card counting team. The natural mathematicians honed their skills into a card counting team.
Card counting is a phenomenon that every blackjack player has heard of but rarely understands. The great thing about 21 is that it clearly explains how card counting works and the theory behind it. Then you get to see it in action as the team hits the tables in Las Vegas.
Predictably, greed gets the better of everyone involved and things spiral out of control.
2. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Guy Ritchie’s break-out directorial masterpiece centres around four best mates who pool their money together so one the card shark among them, Eddy, can buy in to a high stakes, underground poker game run by the local gangster.
Things quickly spiral out of control when Eddy loses all of their money as well as racking up a massive, $500,00 debt with the gangster in the process. This debt kicks off a wild string of events that culminates in several story lines colliding and leaving the majority of people to appear in the film dead.
But it is the game of poker that sets in motion all of these events. During this seedy game, which is played in a boxing ring, we see that the gangster’s right hand man is spying on Eddy the entire game and transmitting his cards to the gangster.
This is the epitome of poker movies. Matt Damon is a prodigal poker player who has gone straight after blowing his load on a single hand of poker to a Russian gangster.
Things are going great in his new square life: he is going to law school, has a girlfriend and a job.
Everything starts to go pear-shaped when an old friend, Edward Norton, is released from jail and has a massive debt to repay. Norton’s character manages to convince Damon to return to slapping cards in a bid to raise the funds to pay off Norton’s debt.
Damon insists he can win at poker without cheating but Norton is determined to bend the rules and cheat to ensure the wins will keep coming their way. Norton is busted dealing from the bottom of the deck at a cop’s card game. The cops catch the guys cheating and beat them and steal their money.
Everything comes to a head when Matt Damon finds himself facing off against John Malcovich’s Russian gangster that bested him at the beginning of the movie. The end of the movie is a great lesson on how to bait your opposition and deceive by the way you play.
If nothing else this movie should be viewed just to laugh at John Maclovich’s shocking attempt at a Russian accent.