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Most Ridiculous Poker Hands in Movie History

27 March 2015, By:

The game often served as merely a backdrop for a larger scene, but it still has a long and storied role in film history.

While the game was generally portrayed realistically there have been scenes that left us wondering if the script writers ever picked up a deck of cards.

Below are four of the most ridiculous poker hands in cinema history.

Maverick - The Final Hand

The last hand in the 1994 film Maverick featured one of the most dramatic hands since the final showdown between "The Kid" and "The Man" in The Cincinnati Kid.

The finals of the $25,000 Five-Card Draw Championship came down to Maverick (Mel Gibson), Commodore Duvall (James Coburn) and Angel (Alfred Molina).

Maverick was the chip leader and the Commodore the short stack. Thanks to a stacked deck introduced into the game, each player is dealt the making of a monster hand.

During the deal Maverick notices the dealer is dealing from the bottom and stops the game. After being informed that the only change permitted is a new dealer, he has Angel deal a card off the top.

The Commodore proceeds to show four eights, followed by Angel showing a straight flush. Maverick then shows his first four cards, the 10s-Js-Qs-Ks.

Finally, Maverick slowly pulls the card towards him and exhales like he missed his draw. He then throws the card into the middle to reveal that he had indeed pulled the Ace of spades and won the tournament.

This hand has been blasted for years for the fact that Maverick used "magic" to win the hand. However, the truth is that he used keen observation.

If you look back to when Maverick asked for a new cut and shuffle, the dealer starts looking at the deck nervously.

This could have possibly implied that the deck had been fully setup for three monster hands and Maverick would have been astute enough to notice this. That may be one reason he didn't reveal the cheating situation in its entirety.

As he later told his Pappy, there's no more deeply moving religious experience than cheating on a cheater.

Rounders - The Judge's Game

For those of you that have not seen Rounders, an early scene in the film is worthy of being one of the most ridiculous hands in poker history.

Mike walks into the Judge's game during the middle of the hand and prompts the judge to bet aggressively. He then proceeds to read each hand at the table correctly and forces everyone to fold to the judge's hand, which happens to be crap.

The whole point of the scene was to prove that you don't need good cards to win at poker. However, the way this was done is totally impossible, even in Seven-Card Stud.

Even Daniel Negreanu can't sit there and accurately tell you the holdings of every player in a poker hand, regardless of variant.

There are times where we can guess the holdings of one, two, or maybe three based on information but a whole table full is stretching the envelope a bit too far.

Oceans 11 - Teaching Movie Stars to Play Poker

The scene where Brad Pitt is teaching various movie stars how to play Five-Card Draw is definitely one of the ridiculous hands ever, but that was also the point.

The whole scene is a comedy of errors starting with Joshua Jackson dealing in the wrong direction to a player showing the "winning hand" of "five reds." He had a mix of hearts and diamonds.

You can see the frustration on Pitt's face as he is trying to teach these knuckleheads how to play poker. It's probably how many felt in the early days of the Poker Boom when newbies came out of the woodwork to learn Texas Hold'em.

The Sting - Four Jacks

One of the stranger hands in film history comes courtesy of The Sting. The hand in question pits Shaw Gondorff (Paul Newman) against Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw).

The game is Five-Card Stud and is being rigged in Lonnegan's favor. In the final hand of the game, Shaw is dealt four threes and Lonnegan four nines.

A series of betting occurs that puts Lonnegan on the hook for $15,000. It appears that he is going to fleece Shaw -- that is until the cards are shown.

Lonnegan shows his four nines and Shaw shows - four jacks.

At no point during the hand do we see the switch to find out how Shaw got the four jacks but it is clear that he somehow cheated to switch the hands.

Also, how did he know that four jacks would be good? Did he have some advanced knowledge or perhaps he had marked the cards.

There are too many variables in this hand to make it plausible, even between two cheaters.

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  • Herb 13/03/2017 4:55pm (4 years ago)

    Shaw was told that Lonnegan cold decks low usually eights and nines. Also when Shaw saw the threes he knew that Lonnegan had either eights or nines. Remember when Shaw reached in his pocket for a cigar..............However, this is difficult to understand because we never see Shaw's hand drop below the table......Just a thought.....LOL.