Rounders: A Film For Every Poker Lover

Do you love playing online poker? Have you watched the film, Rounders (1998)? Are the two questions seemingly disconnected to you? Don’t worry. Both of them relate to the same thing – Poker. The Matt Damon movie, Rounders, tells the story of a young talented gambler who gives up on his passion for poker to concentrate on his studies only to find himself drawn once again to his first love. The love story of Mike (Matt Damon) and poker reveals the addiction and craziness someone experiences when they start winning some rounds of poker only to see their happiness crash down again in time.

Why You Shouldn’t Miss Watching Rounders?

John Dahl’s Rounders is full of tense poker battles where the chances of owning a gilded fortune ride on the lift of a bluffer’s eyebrow and the slick play of a card. It’s not only about

some random poker matches you see at a casino. Instead, it’s about talent and whether you let it rot in one corner or allow it to liberate your inner self. Rounders is a cheerful take on the world of compulsive gambling as the main character gambles away his girlfriend, his studies, his tuition money, and almost his life, and yet stands out in the end as a happy gambler. If all other gambling movies act as red signals, this film is an encouraging recruiter.

Even though it’s a poker movie, it is both entertaining and knowledgeable. The film makes an excellent point – you should be what you’re meant to be and not have anything forced upon you. And if you already know what that is, you’re a lucky man. Mike McDermott knows what he wants to be – a professional poker player – because he knows all the moves and tricks like the back of his hand. The story takes place at the pro poker underground hubs of Atlantic City and New York, where everyone knows the big matches and the star players. You see a clean-cut, brash young Mike McDermott venture into the world of cutthroats like Teddy KGB (John Malkovich), the poker genius amongst the Russian-American mob.

Synopsis of the Movie

Mike is not one of your ordinary law students; he has an incredible gift for poker. Right at the beginning, we see him competing against Teddy KGB in a hand of Texas Hold’em but he loses his entire bankroll of $30,000. While his girlfriend and fellow student, Jo, tries to pull him away from poker to focus on his law degree, Mike is drawn back to the game in no time once his best friend, and serious poker addict, Worm (Edward Norton), is released from prison. The two meet at the prison gate and find themselves in a poker game later that night. Thus begins the dangerous series of problems that soon spiral out of control. Worm owes lots of money to some bad people, and Mike unwisely decides to become his co-guarantor. They both must win a lot of money in a short time, or else they will meet terrible ends.

You don’t have to be a poker expert to understand the nuances of the film, as both the screenwriters did their homework well. The movie shows us the seedy glamor of poker, where players live on the brief bursts of adrenaline generated as they risk everything they own or can borrow. Gambling is all about the mix of thrill and fear as you go on to win or lose a match. Mike is shown to be an extremely talented poker player who, in one scene, walks confidently over to the other players and the judges to tell them what’s in his hand. Mike is highly inspired by his professor’s words – “Our destiny chooses us” – and believes that poker is his destiny and not law. His professor lends him $10,000 as a mitzvah with which Mike sits down to play against KGB once again in a no-limit, heads-up game of Texas Hold’em.


Rounders is a movie about character and milieu, both of which are evoked beautifully in the film. Even as the movie nears its ending, it doesn’t stop you from thinking about them. If you are looking for an entertaining film, Rounders might be just what you are looking for.