The Funniest Poker Scenes in TV & Film
In the cult book Big Deal, Anthony Holden sums up the game of poker perfectly:
"Poker may be a branch of psychological warfare, an art form or indeed a way of life - but it is also merely a game, in which money is simply the means of keeping score."
Yet, while money is important, you can have a great time at the poker table, win or lose - just ask PokerStars ambassador Kevin Hart. He might not have any marquee cashes to his name yet, but you won't find him at the tables without a huge grin on his face. At the recent PokerStars Championship Monte Carlo, Hart said, "I love to live, love and laugh. I want to bring this energy to the game of poker. And when I do this, poker will be elevated."
But Hart isn't the first of poker's funny guys. Phil Hellmuth has been raising laughs wherever he plays - albeit unintentionally - for nearly 30 years now. And plenty of other players have entertained us with their stupidity at the table, like Mikkel Habb and his preening, posing slowroll (with added insta-karma) at the 2016 Aussie Millions, or Hevad Khan's energy drink-induced antics that were so over-the-top they prompted a change in the WSOP's rules.
You've got to be in the right place at the right time for these laughs, though. If you want comedy on demand with your cards you need to leave the real world behind and join us for these comedy classics - the four funniest poker scenes in history. And we're not talking James Bond's final hand in Casino Royale.
Friends Season 1, Episode 18 - The One With all the Poker (1995)
These six Friends seemed inseparable. And then a poker game breaks out...
Even if you think you know your Friends inside out, you might not remember as far back as this classic. Episode 18 of the first season was all about a battle-of-the-sexes home game, and the set-up happened at the Central Perk coffee shop where the guys are talking about a game the previous night that made Joey cry. So why, the girls wanted to know, have you never played with us?
Phoebe: Yeah, what is that? Like, some kind of guy thing? Like, some kind of sexist guy thing? Like it's poker, so only guys can play?
Ross: No, women are welcome to play.
Phoebe: Oh, okay, so then what is it? Some kind of... you know, like, like... some kind of, y'know, like... alright, what is it?
Joey: We just don't happen to know any women that know how to play poker.
Monica: Oh, please, that is such a lame excuse!
Ross: Excuse me, do any of you know how to play?
Rachel: But you could teach us.
But, of course, they do. And there are some classic lines, like this one from Ross when the girls announce they're ready to play: "Alright, now, you sure? Phoebe just threw away two Jacks because they didn't look happy..."
We won't ruin the result of the game itself, but suffice to say it doesn't go all the boys' way.
Kevin Hart - What Now? (2016)
You might watch Kevin Hart's Netflix comedy special - available right now, and very funny - for a good look at the latest poker-playing celeb in his natural habitat, but before the stand-up there's a hilarious mini-movie. In a send-up of the poker scene from Casino Royale, Hart plays Agent 0054 and finds himself up against The Really Evil Villain and Don (Cheadle) The Rival Agent in a winner-takes-all $1m buy-in game with starting blinds of $5k/$10k. However, things start going downhill before the cards are dealt.
Dealer: The game is no-limit poker, five communal cards, two in ze 'ole.
Kevin: I'm sorry, what?
Dealer: Two cards in ze 'ole.
Kevin: No, nothing's going in my hole. I don't know what this game is but we're not going to play it today.
If you end up on a poker table with Kevin Hart in real life, watching this might help you avoid the fate of Cheadle, who loses his cool and has to be escorted from the casino after some expert needling from the star of the show.
Seinfeld Season 6, Episode 13 - The Scofflaw (1995)
Could you keep your poker face during this interrogation?
One of the finest sitcoms of all time was also host to one of the keenest celebrity poker players, Jason Alexander. Alexander has a couple of decent cashes on his CV - one from the WSOP Ante Up event in 2007 (10th for $12,174) and one from the WSOP Circuit in 2010 (5th for $16,933) - and he's also the star of one of the funniest poker scenes on TV.
This one doesn't happen at the poker table but in Seinfeld's apartment, where Jerry confesses to George that he didn't tell him a friend [Gary Fogel] had cancer as he has "no poker face" and can't keep a secret.
However, when George meets said friend later, Fogel confesses that he's been living a lie and never had cancer. George promises not to tell Jerry and then has to put his poker face to the test straight after.
If you've got a friend with a bad poker face you'll appreciate this scene all the more.
Jerry: You look like something's on your mind.
George: Nope, nothing, I'm fine.
Jerry: So, that's your poker face?
George: My regular face...
Jerry: No it isn't, I've seen your regular face, that is not it. Come on what you got?
George: I got nothing.
Jerry: What you got? A pair of bullets? Two pair, three of a kind?
George: Will you stop it?
Jerry: A full house, you've got a full house... Turn them over George, I want to see 'em, come on I'm calling [thumps the table], what've you got?
George [shouting]: Gary Fogel never had cancer!
Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 2, Episode 4 - The Shrimp Incident (2001)
Seinfeld was always going to be hard to follow-up, but Curb Your Enthusiasm actually betters it at points. And never more so than when Larry David commits one of his seemingly endless social faux pas. This one takes place at the poker table where a huge pot is brewing. Julia Louis Dreyfus is holding the cards but is anyone going to call her?
Despite Larry exhorting people to call - "Come on, somebody go in..." - the table folds round one by one until Julia gets to scoop the pot, and David turns arch inquisitor. Unfortunately, he finds out that someone has folded an Ace and things turn frosty rather quickly. You'll have to watch it yourself to find out what was said (it's extremely NSFW), but you might be able to guess from the exchange between David and his wife (Cheryl Hines - also a keen celeb poker player) as they head back to their car.
Larry: I'm guessing we probably won't get invited back to their poker game.
Cheryl: I don't think so, I can't believe you did that...
Larry: Oh come on... It's a word you use when someone doesn't act manly, and he didn't act manly... He should've gone in with that Ace.
Cheryl: I think there are other words you can use besides that one.
Larry: Well, maybe in retrospect I should've said p*****.
Warning: very NSFW. Second warning: very funny.
Are there any funny poker scenes you think we failed to include in this list? Let us know @PokerStarsBlog on Twitter!