Young Treasury Agent Elliot Ness arrives in Chicago and is determined to take down Al Capone, but it\'s not going to be easy because Capone has the police in his pocket. Ness meets Jimmy Malone, a veteran patrolman and probably the most honorable one on the force. He asks Malone to help him get Capone, but Malone warns him that if he goes after Capone, he is going to war.
Former pool hustler \"Fast Eddie\" Felson decides he wants to return to the game by taking a pupil. He meets talented but green Vincent Lauria and proposes a partnership. As they tour pool halls, Eddie teaches Vincent the tricks of scamming, but he eventually grows frustrated with Vincent\'s showboat antics, leading to an argument and a falling-out. Eddie takes up playing again and soon crosses paths with Vincent as an opponent.