Steve McQueen stars as the Cincinnati Kid, a crackerjack New Orleans stud poker player. Tired of chicken feed, the Kid decides to challenge The Man (Edward G. Robinson), the reigning poker champ, who is in town for a private game. The Shooter (Karl Malden), another gambling pro, arranges a game between the Kid and the Man, with the Shooter dealing.
The game is compromised by the intervention of Slade (Rip Torn), an old foe of the Man's who tries to fix the outcome. The Kid finds out about this and tells Slade to get lost, preferring to win fair and square. The outcome is in the cagey hands of The Man, who is smart enough to do (as one reviewer put it) the wrong thing at the right time.
The Cincinnati Kid was based on the novel by Richard Jessup.