Best movie poker scenes in cinematic history


A game of poker has an unpredictable element that makes it a perfect seat-gripping story for the big screen! A survey conducted recently concluded the Texas hold ’em tournament in Casino Royale as the best poker scene in cinematic history. Daniel Craig’s first appearance as the iconic James Bond sees him take on terrorist Le Chiffre, played by Mads Mikkelson in a tense game of poker. With over $120 million in the pot the stakes are high and so are the mind games that gives this scene the number one spot.

The second best poker scene of all time is from 1988’s ‘Rain Man’ that starred Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman as siblings. In it, Charlie Babbitt (Cruise) takes his uniquely talented brother, Raymond Babbitt (Hoffman) to a casino and the scene unveils.

The third spot in the poll went to the Five Card Draw scene from ‘The Sting’ where Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman) attempts to defeat mobster, Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw).

Based on the votes, moviegoers appreciate a scene that brings alive the sense of pressure and intensity of a live game of poker. They like that no game is ever the same and the audience is never short of surprises!

Goodfellas (1990) also made the top 10 – specifically the scene where Spider (Michael Imperioli) forgets to get Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) his drink during a game of poker. Other iconic poker-featuring movies include Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), The Cincinnati Kid (1965) and Maverick (1994).

As per the survey 39% find watching poker in general to be entertaining – and as such 26% think this is why the game works so well in film. However just 27% said they understand the rules of the game. The key criteria for the poll-ers were are an unexpected twist, high stakes and a miraculous comeback. Probably time for poker operators to consider an educational avatar for the skill based game in mainstream cinemas.

Here is a look at the top ten best poker scenes in cinematic history

  1. Casino Royale (2006) – James Bond (Daniel Craig) takes on terrorist, Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelson), in a high-stakes Texas hold’em tournament.


  1. Rain Man (1988) – Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) takes his brother, Raymond Babbitt (Dustin Hoffman) to a casino.


  1. The Sting (1973) – The high stake Five Card Draw scene in a train where Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman) plays against Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw), a mobster.


  1. Goodfellas (1990) – During a game of poker, Spider (Michael Imperioli) forgets to get Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) his drink and Tommy overreacts.


  1. Cool Hand Luke (1967) – Luke (Paul Newman) plays poker with his fellow inmates and wins the game by showing his great bluffing skills.


  1. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) – In this intense poker scene, Eddy (Nick Moran) and Hatchet Harry (P.H. Moriarty) go back and forth – raising the bets higher and higher each time.


  1. The Cincinnati Kid (1965) – Young stud poker player, “The Kid” Eric Stoner (Steve McQueen), challenges the best card player in the country, “The Man” Lancey Howard (Edward G. Robinson) to a high stake Five Card Stud poker game – but there’s an the unexpected twist at the end of the movie which captures the essence of the game.


  1. Maverick (1994) – Bret Maverick (Mel Gibson) plays in a high stake poker tournament and reaches the final table against Angel (Alfred Molina) and Commodore Duvall (James Coburn).


  1. Casino (1995) – Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein (Robert De Niro) asks ‘Cowboy’ (Craig Vincent) to take his feet off the poker table and put his shoes back on – but he doesn’t comply.


  1. Casino (1995) – When playing Black Jack, drunken Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) wants a $50,000 marker but the casino will only give him $10,000.

Carried out through OnePoll and an initiative by, the research was in lieu of the 50th anniversary series of the WSOP.