Poker has had a grasp on the world of movies and entertainment for several decades now. Not only has New York been the stage for some of the biggest tournaments in poker, but it is also where some of the best poker movies have been based.
While Las Vegas will always be the home of poker, New York has established itself as the home of the game on the East Coast.
Arguably the best poker movie of all time and one that had the biggest impact on world series poker and the game in general, Rounders stars Matt Damon and Edward Norton, two friends who need to win big at a high-stakes poker tournament to pay off a debt. The term “rounder” refers to a player who travels from city to city looking for high-stakes games.
Interestingly, even though the movie has two big-name actors, it opened to mixed reviews. Many thought the portrayal of the New York poker scene was great, but the overall story was lacking.
However, once the poker boom of the early 2000s took hold, many new players became hooked on the movie, making it an instant cult classic. Matt Damon has also stated multiple times that learning poker for the film made him fall in love with the game, which actually ties him into the next film…
Molly’s Game is another classic poker film. The film is based on a true story and tells the tale of Molly Bloom, a woman who was once an Olympic hopeful who had to give up the sport she loved due to injury.
She moves to Los Angeles and becomes a bottle service waitress at an exclusive club. Here, she is exposed to the world of underground poker games and when she becomes the manager of the establishment, she begins to run the games too.
After establishing herself in Los Angeles, and after a ton of in-fighting and drama, she moves to New York to set up a new game. After drawing in a swath of celebrities and wealthy players, run-ins with the Mafia turn her world upside-down.
While there is so much more to her story, the real-life Molly Bloom set up games that hosted the likes of Toby Maguire, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Nelly and many more.
Because of the celebrity aspect, many believe Molly’s Game has had the same impact on the world of poker as Rounders did, drawing attention to the game and bringing it to the masses.
World Series of Poker events
One of the biggest poker events held in the Empire City is the World Series of Poker. The Annual event sees players from around the world compete to win a WSOP bracelet and be named the best poker player in the world.
Considered the biggest event in poker, it takes place over several days, with the final table being the main event. While said main event still takes place in Vegas, there are several regional and qualification tournaments held across the country, including in New York.
Players can often walk away with millions of dollars in earnings, with the most recent winner taking home a cool $10 million.
Empire State Hold ‘Em Championship
The Empire State Hold ‘Em Championship may not be the most well-known poker tournament in the world, but it is one of the best for players who are trying to build their reputation and move up the ranks.
Held annually, the tournament is famed for its relatively low buy-in, typically around $500. This means it typically draws in a few hundred players, with the prize pot averaging over $100,000.
This tournament is also used primarily by players wanting to test their skills in a pro-environment, meaning the seats are always filled once the tournament begins.
No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em Mega Stack Tournament
One of the more unique tournaments you can find in New York is the No Limit Mega Stack Tournament. Held every Thursday at Resorts World Catskills, the weekly tournament starts at around 10:30 in the morning and has a $125 buy-in.
The biggest plus for this tournament is how frequent it is. Being able to play weekly against players who have above-average skills enables newer players to quickly improve in an environment that is more like a “real” tournament.
World Poker Tour
The World Poker Tour is another massive tournament that sees players from all around the world compete for huge prize pools. Much like the WSOP, the World Poker Tour holds several regional tournaments across the country, including in New York.
The buy-ins are typically around $1,000, and the tournament attracts many players who are looking to enter the WSOP. While these tournaments are great for players trying to work their way up the poker ladder, they are typically far too advanced for new and novice players.