Rounders Movie (1998)

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Critics have dubbed Rounders as irresponsible because it glorifies compulsive gambling. It’s easy to see why: the main star blows away tuition money, the love of his life, and his academic career, but in the end, he walks away contented. If Rounders were a piece on alcoholism, the star would sober up after a series of DTs, and still order a new round of doubles. Most movies in this same genre warn viewers about one vice or another, Rounders does the opposite. It’s like a recruitment posture for the gambling club. Sounds like the director was at peace reworking the Rocky’s storyline that has the Rounders end in a sad note.

Starring Matt Damon, a New York youngster in his heydays pursuing a law degree. He is a gifted poker artist, which explains why it is easy to assume he will win as the movie comes to an end. The genre insists on a win at the end, so it is constantly on the Matt Damon’s side to the end.

For a poker movie, Rounders has all the signs of an entertaining and knowledgeable movie. If you are an amateur poker player who goes to a casino once in a while, you might like the storyline.

The movie is set in the pro-poker underworlds of Atlantic and New York City. Everyone in these cities knows when the big games happen and everyone who takes part in them. The movie starts with a brash, well-groomed Mike McDermott stepping into a world full of cutthroats such as Teddy KGB (Played by John Malkovich), the Russian-American mob genius.

Mike is pursuing law, and co-living with Jo (Played by Gretchen Mol), a fellow student. As the movies unwinds, we see Mike gathering a $30,000 stake, which he loses to KGB. Jo, like any other responsible friend, has done his best to help Mike quit the poker world, which Mike has promised to do severally without much success.

A friend of Mike’s, Worm is released from prison after serving time, and Mike is there to pick him up, and both head to a poker event that every night, which opens up a whole lot of trouble for the two. Like many other ex-convicts, Worm owes money to a lot of bad people, and as you might have guessed, Mike is his co-guarantor. So? They have no choice but to win lots of cash to get the bad people off their back, otherwise its trouble for the two, because bad people will hurt them if they don’t pay up.

Rounders is about their journey and encounters. While is not a prerequisite for you to have prior knowledge of the game to understand what’s happening, Screenwriters Brian Koppelman and David Levien did plenty of research.

Rounders romanticizes poker, a game in which tired techies live off adrenalin brought on by risking all they have, which in retrospect is what gambling is all about: fear and thrill as you lose or win. The movie depicts Mike as a seasoned player. There is a scene where he walks into a game and exposes what each player hand. He is not in the room long enough, but the message is clear as one of the players quickly quips that “Our destiny chooses us.”

Feels like he is saying that Mike should focus on poker, instead of laboring for a law degree. Many parents out there would quickly lynch the player who happens to be his professor for hand Mike $10,000 as Mitzvah. He is returning a kindness that was shown to him at a time when he chooses to become a Lawyer, instead of a Rabbi. It’s not the same, is it?

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