119 user 66 critic

House of Games (1987)

2:06 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

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 »
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 6 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Homicide (1991)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A Jewish homicide detective investigates a seemingly minor murder and falls in with a Zionist group as a result.

Director: David Mamet
Stars: Joe Mantegna, William H. Macy, Vincent Guastaferro
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

An employee of a corporation with a lucrative secret process is tempted to betray it. But there's more to it than that.

Director: David Mamet
Stars: Steve Martin, Ben Gazzara, Campbell Scott
Things Change (1988)
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Shoe-shiner Gino is hired to take the rap for a mafia murder. Two-bit gangster Jerry watches over Gino and gives him a weekend to remember.

Director: David Mamet
Stars: Don Ameche, Joe Mantegna, Robert Prosky
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A movie crew invades a small town whose residents are all too ready to give up their values for showbiz glitz.

Director: David Mamet
Stars: Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, Rebecca Pidgeon
Oleanna (1994)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Student Carol visits Professor John to discuss how she failed his course but the discussion takes awkward turn.

Director: David Mamet
Stars: William H. Macy, Debra Eisenstadt, Diego Pineda
Spartan (2004)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

The investigation into a kidnapping of the daughter of a high-ranking US government official.

Director: David Mamet
Stars: Val Kilmer, Derek Luke, William H. Macy
Heist (2001)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A career jewel thief finds himself at tense odds with his longtime partner, a crime boss who sends his nephew to keep watch.

Director: David Mamet
Stars: Gene Hackman, Rebecca Pidgeon, Danny DeVito
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Early 20th century England: while toasting his daughter Catherine's engagement, Arthur Winslow learns the royal naval academy expelled his 14-year-old son, Ronnie, for stealing five ... See full summary »

Director: David Mamet
Stars: Rebecca Pidgeon, Jeremy Northam, Nigel Hawthorne


Cast overview, first billed only:
Willo Hausman ...
Girl with Book
Karen Kohlhaas ...
Billy Hahn (as Steve Goldstein)
Bartender / House of Games
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 <magee@helix.mgh.harvard.edu>

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:

Bordet fanger  »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$116,677, 18 October 1987, Limited Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show more 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 »


Prison Ward Patient: Y'know, I know there are people who are normal.
Dr. Margaret Ford: Are there?
Patient: Yes, there are. But...
Dr. Margaret Ford: But what?
Patient: But I don't know what those people do.
See more »


Featured in House of Games: Interview with Joe Mantegna (2007) See more »


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

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Treat yourself to this deep movie about a strong woman amongstrong men.
25 May 1999 | by See all my reviews

House of Games is a wonderful movie at multiple levels. It is a fine mystery and a shocking thriller. It is blessed with marvelous performances by Lindsay Crouse and Joe Montegna, and a strong, strong cast of supporting players, and it introduces Ricky Jay, card sharp extraordinaire, prestidigitator and historian of magic. Its dialogue, written by David Mamet, is spoken as if in a play of manners and gives the movie (in which reality is often in question) an extra dimension of unrealness.

On the face of it, House of Games is a convincing glimpse into the unknown world of cheats and con men, diametrically different from The Sting, which was played merely for glamour and yuks. At this level it does succeed admirably.

However, you cannot escape the examination at a deeper level of the odyssey of a woman from complacent professional competence to incredible strength and self realization. The only movie I know of which treats the theme of emergence of personal strength in a woman in as worthy a way is the underrated Private Benjamin. That thoroughly enjoyable movie unfortunately diffuses its focus, hopping among several themes and exploiting the fine performance of Goldie Hawn to chase after some easy laughs. House of Games sticks to its business. As Poe once said of a good short story, it drives relentlessly to its conclusion.

There is another strain of movies-about-women, epitomized by Thelma and Louise, a big budget commercial money maker with the despicable theme that women are doomed, whether or not they realize their inner strengths. What tripe.

As usual you really ought to see this film in a movie theater. It should be a natural for film festivals. Nominate it for one near you if you get the chance.

I bought the original version of House of Games and gave it to my 23 year old daughter. Better she should see it on a TV than not at all.

39 of 70 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 119 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page