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House of Games (1987)

R  |   |  Crime, Thriller  |  14 October 1987 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 16,014 users  
Reviews: 114 user | 62 critic

A psychiatrist comes to the aid of a compulsive gambler and is led by a smooth-talking grifter into the shadowy but compelling world of stings, scams, and con men.



(screenplay), (story), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 6 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Margaret Ford
Dr. Maria Littauer
The Businessman
Willo Hausman ...
Girl with Book
Karen Kohlhaas ...
Prison Ward Patient
Steven Goldstein ...
Billy Hahn
Bartender - House of Games
George / Vegas Man
G. Roy Levin ...
Poker Player
Bob Lumbra ...
Poker Player
Andy Potok ...
Poker Player
Allen Soule ...
Poker Player
Ben Blakeman ...
Bartender - Charlie's Tavern


A famous psychologist, Margaret Ford, decides to try to help one of her patients get out of a gambling debt. She visits the bar where Mike, to whom the debt is owed, runs poker games. He convinces her to help him in a game: her assignment is to look for "tells", or give-away body language. What seems easy to her becomes much more complex. Written by John J. Magee <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Where the game is never over. See more »


Crime | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

14 October 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dom gry  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$2,585,639 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The red and white Cadillac convertible used by the con artists in this film also appears in the car dealer's showcase room in David Mamet's The Spanish Prisoner (1997) See more »


When Margaret starts to figure out she's been scammed, she goes to the bar where Mike and the guys hang out. It is pouring rain and she is soaking wet. After she goes in the back door of the bar she is dry. See more »


Mike: I think you're bluffin', pal. I think you're trying to BUY it!
George: Then you're gonna have to give me some respect, or give me some money.
See more »


References Animal House (1978) See more »


Fugue from the Toccata in C Minor
(BWV 911)
by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performed by Warren Bernhardt, piano
See more »

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User Reviews

House of Dreadful Acting
24 May 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Spoilers Ahead:

Want to know why David Mamet stuck to writing after this with one or two more pieces of crap like this one? Watch this movie, a director is responsible for the performances he commits to film. Watch THE ARRIVAL or SLAP SHOT Lindsey Crouse is no Meryl Streep but she is light years better in those films than here. As an earlier great reviewer pointed out she sounds like a robot. Her delivery is so bad that Mantegna, playing Mike, looks pained in many of his scenes with her. This might have been a much better film with a capable director in charge. I have to compare it with Tea Leoni in DEEP IMPACT and even that is very unfair to Tea. Crouse has absolutely no inflection even before she is about to shoot Mike. She sounds Vulcan. Since she is on the screen in almost every scene, it A bombs the movie. She completely wrecks the film. Who, at Criterion Collection, decided that this should be 40 bucks on DVD? This is a classic? I grew up in the 80s and trust me nobody saw this film back then.

Like all Mamet works, this is a hit piece. The target is psychology. Look, I do not know maybe David had a therapist who overcharged him. Dave did not have too many logic classes; how do I know? In your first logic class, you learn all the logical fallacies so you can refrain from even joining combat when an opponent makes the error of using one. The whole movie is the logical fallacy of AD HOMINEM. This means to the person. If you cannot defeat someone's argument call them names or make fun of them. Let's grant all his assertions about Margaret; she is a closet sociopath, she enjoys stealing and hurting people, let's broaden it for him. Let's imagine that a majority of therapists are all corrupt just like Margaret Ford, have I proved that therapy does not work in any way? Do the mental or moral states of therapists have anything to do with the efficacy of therapy?

Yet, my friends, this is Mamet's thesis. Margaret is prototypical of hypocritical therapists who are sicker than their patients. Again, this is a giant non sequitur. The efficacy of therapy is not determined by the moral character of the fallible corrupt people who administer it any more than medical doctors treatments are undermined by their moral failings. Again, NON SEQUITUR, Dave take some logic please. Beyond these esoterics, look the film is slow, boring goes nowhere and you will endure, with the exception of Mantegna and Walsh, some of the worst acting you have ever witnessed. It will bore you to tears. We get she is goofy; OK, could we move on. No, we cannot because that is the entire point of this piece of crap. She is goofy, hence her therapy is hypocritical, ergo all psychology is a sham. Please, Dave you are embarrassing yourself.

17 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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