The poker phenomena exploded onto the world scene back in 2003 after Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP Main Event for $2.5 million having first qualified through a $39 online satellite. However, the seeds of the poker boom started in 1998, with the release of the movie Rounders.
Despite only receiving modest reviews at the time, Rounders has since gone on to attain cult status with many top pros lauding the realistic energy and tension captured in the movie. Furthermore, many of the game’s elite even credit the film for getting them interested in poker in the first place, such as the UK’s top poker player Sam Trickett. In an example of reality mirroring art, Trickett couldn’t help recalling a famous scene from Rounders while playing against poker legend and cameo star of the movie Johnny Chan , and was quoted on the partypoker blog as saying:
“I chuckled to myself and thought, ‘I’m playing Johnny Chan heads up. It’s like Rounders isn’t it?’… And then I stacked him.”
The film’s main protagonists is Mike McDermott (Matt Damon), a talented card player who leaves poker behind to concentrate on law school. In the meantime, however, childhood friend and bad influence Lester ‘Worm’ Murphy (Edward Norton) has run up a $15,000 debt with Russian mobster Teddy “KGB” (John Malkovich), and so before long Matt Damon is out ’rounding’ in order to help Worm meet his five day deadline.
What ensues is a highly entertaining, well-written movie that introduces the audience to the strange characters who populate the underground world of high-stakes poker. The dialogue also feels authentic and the film has a real sense of anticipation, with nail biting performances from the actors all the way right until the very end of the movie.
Best poker movie yet made