5 Poker Movie Scenes Illustrating Poor Judgement and Etiquette

By Daniel Arluison
February 04, 2021

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines etiquette as the “the conduct or procedure required by good breeding or prescribed by authority to be observed in social or official life”.

Much like when you play teen patti online, when playing poker there are general expectations one should follow to allow for a smooth and enjoyable experience. Poker is not always smiles, happiness, and winning, but it is a game that should be conducted with integrity and respect towards all individuals involved. Putting in countless hours at the tables, you will engage many different types of poker players and witness poor etiquette.

In this article I present five examples of poor judgement and etiquette in poker on film. I have chosen one example from each film, despite several examples of faux pas shown.

Mel Gibson Maverick

Berating the Dealer – Harlan (Molly’s Game)

Poker dealers are comparable to referees of the sports world. Their role is integral to maintaining game play and flow and should never be mistreated. If a mistake is made by the dealer, players should refrain from any form of abuse and call for a floor person to resolve the issue.

In Molly’s Game, Harlan, a solid player who frequented the Commerce Casino was introduced to the high stakes game. He was not well received by the other players as he played an “ABC” style of poker. However, one night he takes a beat from the worst player at the table “Bad Brad” and spirals into the dark abyss called tilt. Harlan unable to recover his losses and composure attempted to make his last stand, getting his money in well ahead on the flop and suffering a monumental loss on the river. He goes into a tirade directed at the dealer, hurling food as well as insults.

String Raise – Shaw and Lonnegan (The Sting)

A string raise is the forward motion of a player indicating a call, then in a quick second motion attempting to raise by verbal or moving chips forward. This type of action can be viewed as angle shooting as it may allow a player to determine the strength or weakness of their opponent based on their reaction to the string raise.

In The Sting, Shaw joins Lonnegan’s private poker game aboard a train. Shaw gets under Lonnegan’s skin and Lonnegan seeks to destroy him by fixing the deck. The next hand results in a string raising war between Shaw and Lonnegan, with each one believing they had the other beat.

Exposing Your Hand – Bret Maverick (Maverick)

Intentionally showing your cards to a player or the entire table during a hand is generally unacceptable. This display gives information to the other players and impacts their decision whether to continue, based on your holdings. There are some casinos/poker rooms that allow a player to reveal a card, but only when heads up in a hand is reached.

In the film, Bret Maverick joined a five-card draw game by promising the other players that he will lose for an hour. During the first hand dealt, Bret exposed his hand in a comical manner and proceeds to win pot after pot after picking up tells on each player.

No Preflop/Flop Action Provided (Casino Royale)

When I first watched Casino Royale in the theatre, I thought the poker scenes were amazing. People dressed to the nines playing high stakes poker while having the occasional cocktail; what’s not to like? I should mention that I started playing no-limit hold’em in 2005 and with the release of Casino Royale in 2006, I believed that was exactly how all high stakes poker was portrayed.

It is important to understand that withholding the preflop and flop action of a hand, the audience is only receiving half the story. In the final hand between the four players (Bond, Le Chiffre, Infante, and Fukutu) the pot is already 24 million with Bond first to act on the turn on a board of Ah 8s 6s 4s. If Fukutu had bet his remaining 6 million chips on the turn with the second nut flush, it may have allowed Le Chiffre to fold his two pair and not cost him his tournament life.

Splash the Pot – Teddy KGB (Rounders)

A player tossing chips into the pot rather than placing the chips neatly in front of them is referred to as “splashing the pot”. This action is simply careless and rude as well delays the game, as the dealer would be required to determine the correct pot size and the number of chips that were wagered.

In Rounders, Mike McDermott desperate to pay off Worm’s debt to Grama, issued a challenge to Teddy KGB. KGB having lost the first round of a $10,000 winner-take-all, goads Mike into a rematch. As the second match progressed, KGB becomes rattled when Mike makes an incredible lay down. The final hand resulted in KGB splashing the pot during all betting rounds. Mike feigned weakness and allowed KGB to dig his own grave.


Of course, just as real life is very different from movies, so too is the difference between real life poker versus what you see depicted on the cinema screen. Whereas scenes are dramatized for our entertainment in motion pictures, when you’re playing proper poker you ought to stick to the generally agreed upon rules of etiquette. Otherwise, you may find yourself dismissed to the rail rather than with a seat at the felt.



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Daniel Arluison poker author
Written By.

Daniel Arluison

Daniel is currently a graduate student working on his Master’s degree in Fisheries Biology at the University of New Brunswick. He enjoys playing the “great game of PLO” cash games online and has recently transitioned to playing mid-stakes Hold’em MTTs. Dano is an avid reader of poker books and lists ‘The Pursuit of Poker Success’ […]

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