HomeNewsHidden Gems: Three Poker Movies You Might Have Missed

Hidden Gems: Three Poker Movies You Might Have Missed

Here’s a curated list of three lesser-known but captivating films that deserve a spot on your watchlist. This selection offers a blend of genres, including a semi-mystical drama, a suspenseful thriller, and a neo-noir masterpiece.

The Music of Chance (1993): A Journey into the Surreal

Genre: Semi-mystical drama

This film follows Jim Nash (Mandy Patinkin), a former fireman who embarks on a new chapter in his life, driving a red BMW towards New York City. Along the way, he encounters Jack Pozzi (James Spader), a professional poker player who has just been robbed and beaten after a game. Both heading to New York, they decide to join forces for a high-stakes poker game against two wealthy eccentrics, Bill Flower (Charles Durning) and Willy Stone (Joel Grey).

Pozzi convinces Nash to back him with $10,000, promising to return the buy-in and share 50% of the profits. Initially, Pozzi enjoys success at the Seven-Card Stud table, winning $30,000. However, his luck takes a turn, and he ends up losing everything, including the BMW, and finds himself in debt.

The eccentric duo devises a peculiar way to settle the debt: Nash and Pozzi must construct a massive stone wall using ten thousand blocks from an ancient, ruined castle. After enduring fifty days of backbreaking labor, Pozzi attempts to escape.

“The Music of Chance” is a curious film that starts as a crime comedy but takes a surreal turn after the poker scene. It prompts contemplation about the value of freedom and honesty, making it a compelling watch for those who appreciate unconventional cinema.

Croupier (1998): A Descent into the Noir Underworld

Genre: Drama, Noir

Jack Manfred (Clive Owen), a struggling writer, takes a job as a croupier in a casino at his father’s suggestion. He excels as a dealer, maintaining a stoic demeanor and flawlessly executing his duties. However, the stress and tremors take their toll, leading him to seek solace in vodka.

Parallel to his casino life, Jack writes a novel about his experiences as a croupier, which becomes a bestseller. As the lines between his writing and reality blur, Jack finds himself drawn deeper into the casino’s dark underbelly, breaking the rules he once held sacred.

“Croupier” is a classic neo-noir film with a captivating concept, masterful directing, and a mesmerizing performance by Clive Owen. While poker takes a backseat to blackjack and roulette in this film, the atmosphere and exploration of the protagonist’s descent make it a must-watch for those who appreciate existential cinema and the allure of casinos.

Finder’s Fee (2001): A Poker Night Laced with Suspense

Genre: Thriller, Suspense

Suspense, that feeling of anxious uncertainty, is often achieved in horror films through jump scares and clever camerawork. However, “Finder’s Fee” masterfully builds suspense through its gripping plot and dialogue.

The story follows a group of four friends who gather for their weekly home game of Limit Texas Hold’em, enjoying camaraderie, beer, and chips. Their poker night tradition includes a “last man standing” tournament where one player is eliminated each hand in a game of Five-Card Draw. The player with the weakest hand is out, and the last remaining participant wins the pot – a collection of lottery tickets contributed by each player as a buy-in.

The twist? They never check the lottery tickets before the game, so the potential winnings remain a thrilling unknown.

However, this particular poker night takes an unexpected turn. Before the game begins, the protagonist, Tepper (Erik Palladino), finds a lost wallet containing a phone number and a lottery ticket. He contacts the owner but soon discovers that the ticket holds the winning numbers for a $6 million jackpot.

As the game progresses, the wallet’s owner arrives, and the lottery ticket becomes the center of attention, setting the stage for a series of suspenseful and unpredictable events.

“Finder’s Fee” is an independent film well worth your time. Its stellar cast (Erik Palladino, Ryan Reynolds, Dash Mihok, Matthew Lillard, James Earl Jones), intimate setting, and masterful direction by Jeff Probst create a truly captivating experience. While poker plays a central role, the film’s appeal extends beyond poker enthusiasts, making it a thrilling watch for anyone who enjoys a good suspense story.