Rounders (1998)

I recently found a lot of free time, so I have been filling that time with movies, trashy reality television and watching professional poker.

Poker is one of the most exhilarating sports and forms of entertainment around.  I liken it to pro wrestling because of all the drama that is involved.  It combines strategy, head games and volatility.  The commentators on these events are what really make it worth watching.  They tell you what each player is thinking, what they should do, explaining each situation and even crack some jokes.  Throw all that in a pot with cash prizes worth up to 12 Million dollars and you get pure entertainment.

This movie rounders follows a young poker player with all the skills to make it big, but none of the experience.  Matt Damon plays the role of the brash, yet competent Mike perfectly.  His partner who is fresh out of prison, portrayed by Edward Norton, set out to play some cards.  While catching up, Mike tells Worm (Norton), he quit poker after losing 30K to the KGB in a high stakes game.  After finding out that Worm is in the hole around 15K from unpaid debts while he was in jail, Mike decides to leave everything he had behind (girlfriend, law school, friends) to help Worm make some money to pay off his loaners.

This movie is told in a noir style that really adds a sense of stress to the movie.  As if the plot doesn’t need that any more, the camera work of close up’s on the player’s eyes in the middle of games and drawn out mob beatings makes this for an thrilling ride.  There is a scene in the last act where Damon is talking to John Turturro about a time he faced a former world champion; and this scene is so cool.  Matt Damon comes off like a cool guy and Turturro plays it up and is so shocked about the situation that you ultimately have confidence that Matt Damon could be the man.


Even if you do not understand poker or find interest in it all, it is a very exciting movie that leaves you on the edge of your seat for most of the movie.

Rounders 8.2/10

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