Director Sam Peckinpah insisted on changing an early expository scene in which a girl in her underwear is massaged with a vibrator. He removed the vibrator from the scene altogether and had the girl lie naked but completely covered with a fur coat. Producer Martin Ransohoff was unhappy with the shift in tone and fired Peckinpah.
Mitzi Gaynor campaigned for the role of "Lady Fingers", but it ended up going to Joan Blondell. Rumors are abound as to why Blondell got the role, with the most common being that Gaynor and Ann-Margret did not quite get along.
Edward G. Robinson wrote in his autobiography, "In the film I played Lancey Howard, the reigning champ of the stud poker tables...I could hardly say I identified with Lancey; I was Lancey. That man on the screen, more than in any other picture I ever made, was Edward G. Robinson with great patches of Emanuel Goldenberg [his real name] showing through. He was all cold and discerning and unflappable on the exterior; he was ageing and full of self-doubt on the inside....Even the final session of the poker game was real...I played that game as if it were for blood. It was one of the best performances I ever gave on stage or screen or radio or TV, and the reason for it is that is wasn't a performance at all; it was symbolically the playing out of my whole gamble with life."
In some cuts, the film ends with a freeze-frame on Steve McQueen's face following his penny-pitching loss. Turner Classic Movies and the DVD feature the ending with Christian. Norman Jewison wanted to end the film with the freeze-frame but was overruled by the producer.
This is the second movie in which Edward G. Robinson plays a gambler that features a straight flush in diamonds. Smart Money (1931) has the final credits superimposed over this hand, which is also the final hand in this movie.