Poker has always enjoyed a solid reputation among card games as one that brings together skill, strategy and luck; a game that can be played during a friendly evening among friends in the basement or at a high-rollers’ meeting behind the doors of a members-only playing room in a casino.
The versatility of poker, added with the sense of drama and anticipation that comes when studying the back of your opponents’ cards and the expressions of their faces, make it a firm favourite among players of any calibre. Moreover, the wide range of poker variants means that there’s a version of poker that‘s suited for any occasion, and any bankroll.
Whilst the laws across various states are developing each month, there remains many legal US options for online poker player who wish to emulate their favourite movie star players.
It is no surprise then that poker has been adopted by Hollywood and consistently used as a plot device from the earliest Western movies to today’s action-adventure flicks. The game has clocked up a lot of screen time during the years and many Hollywood stars and celebrities have played it both on and off the set.
Poker and Hollywood
The love affair between poker and Hollywood has given rise to some truly epic screen moments, where a poker scene would replace an all-out physical conflict between the hero and the villain.
As both parties sized each other up around the playing table, the poker game lent an element of unpredictability and risk to the scene: heightening the tension in the audience’s mind without requiring a single drop of blood to be spilled.
Visually, a poker game manages to convey physical, mental and some would say spiritual aspects of the characters. The size of the bankroll manifestly points out the underdog in that situation, whilst the stakes involved sets the bar in terms of tension in the audience.
The latter can glean important information about the characters’ emotions and motives by watching them play. If the hero turns out to be unlucky and loses during the game, then that means they’re not ready to confront the enemy yet and have to undergo some kind of transformation during the rest of the movie.
Poker in film
The game of poker has starred in countless films in every possible genre. A few notable titles include the The Cincinnati Kid, about a small-time poker player who’s keen to play in the big leagues and is always on the look-out for the next chance to prove his worth; Maverick, which blends poker action with comedy in a Western setting; and Rounders, which delves deep into the world of underground high-stakes poker and shows us its grim reality through the eyes of talented poker player.
Admittedly, poker had reached somewhat of a low point a couple of decades ago, with its popularity on the screen waning, but its fortunes changed radically in the mid-2000’s when Texas Hold’em mania swept the globe, culminating with its appearance in the James Bond 2006 reboot Casino Royale, where 007 squares off his rival at a poker game for the first time in the series’ history.
Texas Hold’em became a big sensation among A-list casualties who tried their luck at WSOP tournaments and often hit the news after big wins or spectacular busts.
Poker and the stars
Major celebrities who got themselves in a sticky situation by playing poker include the trio of Leonardo diCaprio, Matt Damon and Tobey Maguire. The three are poker buddies who share a fondness for the occasional high stakes game, a passion which landed them in hot water after being recently implicated in an illegal gambling ring which used to meet in several 5-star hotels and private homes.
Another A-lister who can’t keep his hands off the cards is Ben Affleck. The latest actor to don the Batman costume for an upcoming Batman vs Superman movie is an old hand at poker and has been mentored by several poker professionals, including poker legend Annie Duke who helped him win a $356,000 grand prize at the California State Championship in 2004.
But it isn’t only the Hollywood men who enjoy poker. Actress Cameron Diaz is often spotted playing poker at various casinos and even participating in tournaments. Back in 2005, Diaz came in second place at a poker event, taking home a sizeable winning.
Poker has reaffirmed itself as one of the most popular card games around and you don’t need to be a Hollywood celebrity, nor have a fat bankroll to burn, in order to play it.
Everybody can join around the poker table thanks to the dozens of reputable online poker rooms that offer players the opportunity to play Texas Hold’em and several other poker variants against opponents from every corner of the world and win real cash doing so. You can also download mobile apps that let you play for fun against friends and build up your poker skills before tempting your luck at real money play.