House of Games (1987)

R  |   |  Crime, Thriller  |  14 October 1987 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 16,123 users  
Reviews: 115 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


Nothing is as it seems. 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
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Did You Know?


The numeral 187 appears in the film in different instances. A license plate reads "HSX 187". Also it is the number of the airport locker used at the end. 187 is the police code for murder. See more »


Towards the end of the film, Margaret Ford returns to her private office and cuts herself. Several drops of blood fall on the cover label of a dossier lying on the desk. In subsequent shots, the blood stain jumps down the label and finally ends up on the back cover, leaving the label clean. See more »


Mike: You're not miffed at us, are ya?
See more »


References King Kong (1933) 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

Riveting, disturbing... near-flawless psychological suspense
15 May 2000 | by (Middletown, NJ) – See all my reviews

If your idea of a thriller is car chases, explosions, and dozens of people being mowed down by gunfire, then "House of Games" is definitely not the movie for you. If you like and appreciate psychological drama and suspense, then, by all means, see it.

"House of Games" tells the story of an esteemed psychologist and writer, Dr. Margaret Ford (Lindsay Crouse), who tries to help a patient and gets involved in the shadowy world of con men led by the charismatic Mike (Joe Mantegna). To say anything more about the plot would ruin the suspense. Frankly, I find it hard to believe anyone who says they saw the twists coming. Just like a clever con artist, this movie draws you into its web and lulls your vigilance.

The story is taut and well-crafted, the dialogue smart and laconic, the acting uniformly good (Mantegna is superbly charismatic). Some have complained that Dr. Ford is not a very sympathetic character, and wondered why Mamet would make Lindsay Crouse look so physically unattractive. But Dr. Ford is supposed to be cold and aloof; moreover, her homeliness is in a way essential to the plot (at one point, I believe that an injury to her sexual self-esteem is a key part of her motivation ... I'll say no more).

"House of Games" is a dark look at the underside of human nature that concludes on a note of discomforting ambiguity. It will hold your attention every second while you are watching, and stay with you for a long time afterwards.

24 of 39 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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