The Three Best Poker Movies From Nineties Cinema  Image

The Three Best Poker Movies From Nineties Cinema 

By Film Threat Staff | April 23, 2024


Source: Unsplash

The nineties were a time when poker became mainstream. Televised games, usually screened late at night, made household names of the world’s best players. This saw an increase in people taking an interest in the game from the comfort of their homes, who would then venture out to the casino. Of course, this was reflected on the silver screen. Some of the best poker movies in history came from the decade poker exploded in popularity and below, we pick our top three.


Rounders could have been a movie made only to capitalize on the poker craze. Even at the time of release, it was only a moderate box office hit. Yet its stars, Edward Norton and Matt Damon, elevated it considerably to become one of the greatest casino movies of all time which has since become a cult classic.

Aiming to win a large sum of money in a short amount of time, the pair play a fresh out-of-jail conman and an honest, hardworking lawyer. When they become involved with the Russian secret service, they soon find things in their personal life, and at the poker table, begin to unravel. The movie ends with Matt Damon’s character, Mike, quitting his studies, leaving his overbearing wife and following his dream of playing at the Poker World Series.


Despite being a nineties movie, Maverick is set in the Old West. It is based on a fifties TV series and stars Mel Gibson, who plays a renegade card player hoping to enter a high-stakes tournament. As he tries to get the funds to enter, he is joined by a ragtag bunch of misfits made up of classic Western actors such as James Coburn and Dub Taylor in a comedy caper.

What makes Maverick refreshing is its use of humor and its ability to not take itself too seriously. Many movies concentrate on the drama and high stakes of poker, yet Maverick manages to capture the essence of the fun and casual side of the game. In today’s digital age, this is easy to access due to the best online poker sites and how they cater to newer players and professionals alike. With introductory offers and a range of buy-ins, they make poker accessible. Yet in the nineties, it was still very much considered an elite game that Maverick managed to dispel.


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Of all the nineties poker movies, Casino is the one that most people would come back to time and time again. It has a fine pedigree, that utilizes the well-tested combination of actor Robert De Niro and director Martin Scorsese.

De Niro plays a gambling expert who is given the task of running a casino. On the surface, it is a classic tale of crime and relationship breakdowns. Yet look a little deeper and it is a great study into how the city of Las Vegas has changed, and the unique impact the town can have on people and their personality.

There are many other also-rans, both Hollywood productions and independent. Yet if you want to indulge in the heyday of casino cinemas, these choices are a fantastic place to start.

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