Rounders Inspires You To Achieve Your Impossible Dreams

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rounders movie

It’s tough to play professional poker. It’s automatically high-stakes poker that would send most ordinary people crazy out of anxiety, and only the coolest of the cool players would be able to handle the immense pressure that comes with playing a championship game. It’s not unlike playing professional sports, only that intelligence and mental endurance are tested most of all, and a lot of sacrifice is definitely required.

This is the story of Rounders, the classic, well-reviewed 1998 poker film that stars a who’s-who cast of Matt Damon, Edward Norton, and Famke Janssen.

Damon leads the cast by playing the role of Mike McDermott, a law student who also has dreams of being a pro poker player. Unfortunately, due to some poor play, Mike ends up losing a lot of money (to the tune of $30,000) to a Russian high-roller (played by John Malkovich).

This puts a strain on his relationship with his girlfriend (Gretchen Mol), and he is forced to stop playing if he wants to continue living a normal life.

Of course, it’s still a poker film, and the story doesn’t end there. Mike has a friend, Worm (played by Edward Norton) a lifelong friend who just got released from jail, and whose debt he must help pay by earning a lot of money in such a short time playing poker. After a number of circumstances that sees them lose money and then make a desperate gamble (pun not intended) to earn a lot of cash in order to pay off the outstanding debts. Because this is an inspirational movie, of course Mike ends up winning the money, and also getting inspiration to pursue his dreams of being a pro poker player.

rounders film screenshot

Rounders is definitely a modern classic of a poker film. Upon review, it’s a true underdog story in every sense of the term, a Rocky or a Rudy in a poker setting. If you’ve watched it, it’s most likely because you knew what kind of movie it was going to be the moment you first saw the trailer. It’s got enough heart and the lead role is played well enough by Matt Damon (himself a great actor, as we already know today) for us to have more than a little sympathy for him, even though he brought on a lot of his misfortune on himself. Such is the nature of gambling.

He’s even gone so far as to characterize himself beyond what the script requires. As for the other members of the cast, the role of Worm, the cheating hustler played by Edward Norton, is also acted with an edge, leading him to be a magnetic presence in the film. The best parts of the movie are when Mike and Worm’s life and poker philosophies clash with one another, leading to some very meaningful contrasts of themes.

Related: All In: The Poker Movie Is A Documentary That Doesn’t Show The Whole Picture

Much should also be reviewed about how the poker scenes in the movie were portrayed. Poker isn’t a very active game, with a lot of waiting around and reading blank expressions that all seem very boring, so a lot of action is needed in order to make the game seem exciting. So in order to do that, the film makes sure that the exact stakes of each hand are very clear, and tells are more visible to the viewer than they are to the characters in the movie. Of course, it’s pretty fun to watch the tension rise in a poker table, especially if you understand how the game works (but the film also takes great care in making sure that no adult moviegoer is left behind).

Perhaps the only concern with Rounders is how misleading it might be to anyone who is interested in playing poker and thinks that the game is that easy. It really isn’t, and the reason why Mike is so skilled and lucky is because, after all, this is a movie, and movies have scripts that direct the story’s traffic in a good way.

rounders picture

One may watch the film and think that they could also make that much money if they become addicted to poker, not realizing that a lot of gambling addicts end up destitute because they simply just couldn’t play well to earn. They’re in it for the thrill of finding out whether their next hand, their next game is a win or a bust, and those busts happen all too often. Rounders is still a fun watch though, despite all of those concerns.

If you’re interested in the game of poker and want to watch a film to inspire you to play better (and not recklessly), then this certainly isn’t a bad choice.

There’s enough drama in Mike’s underdog and redemption story to be interested in. In fact, the film is such a classic that there’s even rumors of Matt Damon and the movie’s writers being willing to make a sequel to it, especially now that the game has been changed by the emergence of online poker. A Rounders for the new generation is definitely one to watch out for, but just make sure that you’re very self-aware about what you’re doing.

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