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Fantasy Cast: Which Actors Would Play Poker Legends

It’s hard to find poker movies these days, and it’s even harder to find a poker movie that’s actually good. Casino Royale was a solid movie, but the realism of the poker leaves a bit to be desired. Rounders is the perfect poker movie, and the bar that every other poker movie should aspire to reach. Then there is Lucky You and Deal. Let’s not even talk about that.

One of the best poker movies was High Roller: The Stu Unger Story. Michael Imperioli does a fantastic job of bringing us an inside perspective of the larger than life character that was Unger. This got me to thinking: why haven’t there been more movies like this? Then that got me to thinking: who would these movies be about and who would be the actor to play them? Well look no further! Check out my list of five poker players who should have a movie made about them, and who should play them.

1. Chris Moneymaker/Edward Norton

Moneymaker-Norton

It only seems fitting that there should be a bio-pic based on the man who got everyone in the last 10 years into poker. Chris Moneymaker came out of nowhere to win the 2003 Main Event at the WSOP, and as a result, poker exploded. I only see it fitting that Edward Norton, who was the sidekick in Rounders, gets the lead here, because he actually looks a good amount like him. I would definitely go see this movie. The 2003 WSOP is what got me into poker. I didn’t particularly care for Moneymaker, as I was already really into the game. But he deserves all the credit, and should be acknowledged for it.

2. Phil Ivey/Anthony Mackie

Ivey-Mackie

I mean, there has to be a movie about Phil Ivey right? Ivey is the best poker player in the world. Barring something tragic, or Ivey somehow losing his desire to play poker anymore, there is little doubt that he will end his career as easily the biggest money winner and top bracelet winner in poker history, by far. Here’s the most amazing part. He’s a baby by poker standards. In a game where players are still going strong at 80, Ivey is just 36. Meaning that there has to be a younger actor to play him. That’s why I like Anthony Mackie. Mackie is 34, and he’s a great up and coming actor. However, he’s yet to be “the star” of the movie, and I think he could do it here.

3. Howard Lederer/Paul Giamatti

Lederer-Giamatti

After Black Friday, you would think there has to be a movie based on Full Tilt Poker right? For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, the US government banned online poker in April of last year. When this happened, the two biggest online sites had to pay their players. Pokerstars was able to do this in a matter of weeks. Full Tilt Poker, to this day, has not paid a penny to US players, largely because the owners, Lederer included, were running a Ponzi scheme, and taking depositers money, and were not able to pay players back. Lederer has been the face of this controversy, so actors might not want to play him, but if there is one to do it, I’d go with Paul Giamatti. The two are built similarly with the same facial hair, and I could see Giamatti pulling off the asshole.

4. Johnny Chan/Daniel Dae Kim

Chan-KimI struggled with myself on whether to put Johnny Chan on this list. If you had to make a list of the five most famous or influential players, Chan would easily be on the list, and easily be at the top of it. Having said that, I couldn’t really think of any actors off the top of my head who would be a good fit for Chan. I was surfing the web, looking for someone who would be able to play Chan, and Daniel Dae Kim came up. Kim is most famous for being Jin on the hit TV show Lost, and I think he could definitely pull off Chan.

5. Doyle Brunson/Clint Eastwood

Brunson-Eastwood

We have to end the list with the godfather of poker himself, Doyle Brunson. Brunson is one of the all-time legends, not just in poker, but all of sports, in my opinion. Brunson has been one of the biggest names in poker for the better side of 50 years now, and while he’s slowed down recently, you can still see him in the biggest games in Las Vegas these days. So who can play this legend? Why not a legend in his own right: Clint Eastwood. Both are fantastic at what they do, both are winding down their careers, and let’s face it, both look great in a cowboy hat.

What do you think of our picks? Are there better people to play these players? Who else do you think could play a famous poker player? Let us know in the comments!

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The Author

Kevin Taylor

Kevin Taylor

I grew up in the south, raised watching TV, Movies, and Sports. Entertainment is my life, and I can't imagine what my life would be like without it. I'm a USC grad, and proud to be a Trojan for life! Some of my favorite shows include South Park, Always Sunny, Dexter, and How I Met Your Mother, which I write a weekly recap of here. I also play and report on poker for a living. Its a hard way to make an easy living!