If there is one poker movie that will find its place on the list of every poker player and fan alike, it must be Rounders. Released in 1998 and starring Matt Damon, Edward Norton, John Malkovich, and Gretchen Mol, Rounders was the first poker movie that made serious references to Texas Hold’em, a game variation that was about to take the world by the storm.
The movie tells a fairly simple story about the young gun Mike McDermott (Damon), who is dreaming about becoming a professional player and chancing his luck in Vegas.
Although a talented player, Mike doesn’t quite have the concept of bankroll management, and he loses his entire role in underground high-stakes games against Teddy KGB (Malkovich).
After the setback, Mike promises to himself and his girlfriend (Mol) that he’ll quit poker for good. However, when his friend Worm (Norton) gets out of jail and finds himself in dire straits, needing to make quick money, Mike goes back to the tables, and the duo embarks on an adventure filled with a lot of poker and adrenaline.
I won’t spoil the ending here for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie yet. There are not many movies like Rounders, so it is definitely worth the watch, and it is a great film that tackles important topics beyond just poker, such as friendship, loyalty, and the importance of believing in oneself.
As far as poker scenes are concerned, writers weren’t paying that much attention to things like bet sizes and such. This is quite a common mistake found in most poker movies, but I don’t feel this takes anything from the film – after all, it isn’t a documentary or a beginners’ course on how to play Hold’em.