The 7 Most Authentic Fictional Players from Movies

Picture this. You’re about to participate in a high stakes poker game, and you can only pick only seven great fictional players from movies to play with. Who would make it to your table?

When it comes to the best fictional poker players of all time, most of us will agree to disagree on some characters. Whether you will go for James bond from Casino Royale or the Cincinnati Kid depends on your poker experience.

Nevertheless, we have made a list of fans chosen greatest fictional poker players of all time.

James Bond

Bespoke tuxedos? Women? A high-end casino resort, money and crime? That sounds like James Bond’s Casino Royale. In as much as I would like to share the nitty-gritty details of the movie, I am obliged to focus on the final poker tournament.

James Bond plays at a high stakes table and keeps his opponents in check with crazy mind-reading skills, and convincing bluffs. All that while holding thoughts of an ongoing heist in mind and pressing down the effects of an earlier poisoning.

This is precisely what James Bond is all about. The movie brings out a brilliant poker player character in Bond, despite almost meeting his match in Le Chiffre in the showdown. How can you not love him?

Bret Maverick

Mel Gibson Jodie Foster unite to play one of the best casino movies Hollywood has ever produced: The Maverick Movie. Gibson starts as Bret Maverick, a cheerful, talkative character that is easy to engage with, unlike the deathly James Bond.

He presents a free-willed character that bids his time unaggressively while acting like a fool only to pull surprises on his opponents. Although these traits don’t make him sound like a poker genius, Bret, represents that unique, rare class of slow but precise poker players.

This review explains more about Bret Maverick the character and the 1994 movie. It’s an entertaining comedy golf that also offers helpful introductory tips to poker players. The only reason not to like is if you hate Mel Gibson. And is that really possible?

Cincinnati Kid

Played by legendary Steve McQueen, the Cincinnati Kid brings out an authentic portrayal a real poker game as the character brings out the drive and desire shared by all poker players. 

The movie displays the Kid’s desire to succeed and be the best as he puts in all he has on the stakes.

The movie’s climax introduces a twist that lands the character on the hands of the gluttonous and ridiculous Hollywood gamblers. To make it worse, the twists take place in one of the most unprecedented poker moves which can only happen once in 45 million; a straight flush in a five-card stud beating a full house.

The move doesn’t, however, take away the unique fictional role played by Steve McQueen.

Mike McDermott

Mike McDermott is arguably one of the best fictional poker players. The character is impressive in his poker skills as well as the impact on the real-life poker industry.

Despite carrying an aura of a live-poker grinder, Mike McDermott shows a lot of people that poker is a game of skill, and one can make a living at it.

The movie directors David Levien and Brian Koppelman did impressive research on the East Coast and drew out the movie’s theme and to set in such a realistic manner.

The movie features memorable poker moments punctuating the life and hustles of Mike Dermott. However, none rivals the final scene.

Henry Gondorff

Paul Newman has played many fictional poker characters in various screen shows, but none has come closer to his role as Henry Gondorff in Sting.

Unlike many other poker scenes in other movies, the Sting brings out the realistic details of cheating scenes in a poker game where Henry gets a few hits by the villains.

Portrayed as a sharp player who can tell a cheater by just looking at them, the 1980s Oscar winner ends the show with a thrilling and memorable showdown when he beats one of the best cheaters in the poker scenes.

Paul Newman won an Oscar for his role in the 1970s hit classic the Color of Money.

Lancey Howard ‘the Man’

Allow me to drag you back to the Cincinnati Kid. Do you remember Lancy Howard’s character, the Man, who played a ‘villain’ against the Kid? Well, if you are the Kid’s fan, you would hate Howard.

Nevertheless, he brings out the character of top poker pros who don’t recognize any new kid on the block. Howard is confronted by a determined Kid who is willing to go to the extreme lengths to win the game.

In the end, the Man wins against the Kid in a twist that broke many hearts. However, the movie creators managed to maintain the Mans character throughout the movie despite the Kid being the underdog. You can say the film is one without a happy ending.

 Enoch Thompsons

Poker scenes are scattered throughout HBO’s Broadwalk Empire and where you will not be surprised if we find the shrewd Arnold Rothstein.

However, let’s focus on one specific scene, where Enoch Thompson wins $400,000 from Rothstein. Thompsons gives us his best portrayal of poker players in this scene. He takes the role of an inexperienced poker player trying his luck in the big boy’s table.

When facing Thompson, Rothstein, who is an experienced poker player underestimates his abilities and takes out his $200,000 marker which he raises all into $400,000+ pot. He ends up losing it all to Thompson.

Thompson’s win replicates what many have witnessed in the real poker world; that the amateurs and inexperienced players sometimes beat the pros when luck is on their side.


Well, that sums up our top 7 list of top fictional poker players in movies. There are many other impressive characters out there some who deserve to be on this list. However, we tried sorting out characters that represent a specific niche of players in the real world poker.

Poker is a beautiful game of skills, but sometimes mere luck wins the day. Please give us your top pick characters on the comment section.

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