Filmmakers have been fascinated with the game of poker for decades. Many times, the game served as plot support but as the game grew in popularity, some filmmakers tried to expose the public to the poker world.
Rounders is the standard that many use to judge poker films and is on nearly every poker player’s list of Top 5 poker movies. Unfortunately, as poker grew in popularity, so did the number of poker-based films. This has resulted in some truly horrendous poker films being released over the last 15 years. Today we give our list of poker movie bad beats, or simply the five worst poker films of all-time.
The Poker Club
I made the mistake of picking this film up a few years ago in the discount bin at my local video store. Luckily, it was “Buy One – Get One Free” and it was a freebie. The movie starts with a group of friends enjoying their poker night out in the garage and suddenly one of them notices someone breaking into the house.
The group goes after the burglar and accidentally beat him to death. With no supposed witnesses, the friends get rid of the body and try to go on with their lives.
But guess what – someone saw them and decides to start killing off the friends one by one.
This movie then breaks down into a crime thriller that took about three times too long to conclude in my opinion. It doesn’t take long to start to work out what’s happened and the film becomes overly predictable. Once the “big reveal” is made, you can easily guess what’s going to happen.
Worst of all – no poker after the first few scenes. This should have been a Movie of the Week or a Lifetime film at best, not a cheap attempt to draw in poker fans with a poorly scripted crime thriller.
All – In
What happens when you take a supposed poker genius, put her into medical school with corrupt doctors and pile on medical bills? You get this unwatchable piece of film by Nick Vallelonga.
You’d think that a film that has Michael Madsen and Lou Gossett, Jr as co-stars would be at least passable for movie, but that doesn’t happen here. It’s almost as if the writers heard Jennifer Harman’s story about filling in for her dad as a kid and decided to put her into medical school.
Oh, we have to create some type of drama so let’s pile on medical bills and make the doctors corrupt. Finally, let’s give this daughter of a supposed “poker great” the skills of a 2004 beginning poker player.
Just check out the trailer for this film and you can see how jumbled of a film this was. Clearly, someone was trying to take advantage of the Poker Boom but didn’t bother to consult anyone that actually knew poker.
Many have called Lucky You the worst poker movie of all time, which is sad because of the number of poker pros that took part in the project and the superior tournament production value over many other films.
The main problem with this film was the uninspired performances by Eric Bana, Drew Barrymore and Robert Duvall. Bana’s character was more of a degenerate gambler that got lucky rather than a real poker player.
If the climatic hand between Huck Cheever and L.C. Cheever had happened in the modern poker world, bother would have been disqualified for collusion.
This film had a ton of potential but it was wasted due to incorporate a tired storyline and a cast that obviously just wanted a payday and didn’t care about the project.
Again, another movie that had some potential but this movie suffered from being overly predictable. Basically, it was The Color of Money set to poker. Substitute Burt Reynolds for Paul Newman and Bert Harrison for Tom Cruise and you get the idea.
What was worse was that the ending felt a bit ripped off from Lucky You. Alex Stillman (Harrison) threw the final match to Tommy Vinson (Reynolds). Of course, in this case, Vinson won the match.
Everything was wrapped up with a neat little bow at the end. Poker doesn’t work that way and this movie suffered as a result.
The Big Blind
In 1999, David James decided to produce the Indy film “The Big Blind.” James supposedly wrote this film between hands of poker and financed the film with his own poker winnings.
It is clear from the onset that this is a low budget film as the production quality is on par with local cable access television. The movie has a true ensemble of characters that actually include pros Scotty Nguyen, Mike Caro and a young Jennifer Harman.
The one redeeming quality of this film is that some of the situations provided are somewhat realistic and there are a few funny moments. However, you have to put up with a ton of bad acting and bad production value to get there.
Check out the preview video below from Youtube to see what we mean. Not sure if a full copy of this is still floating around anywhere as the website for the movie is no longer operational.