Released in 1998, Rounders opened to mixed reviews and saw only modest box office success. With the growing popularity of poker, the film later became a cult hit.
Capturing the essence of poker
One of the most striking aspects of Rounders is that its poker scenes feel very authentic. Other films such as ‘Lucky You’ simply haven’t been able to capture the essence of poker in the same manner. The nuances of emotion, language and the feel of a real card game are ever-present in Rounders, more so than in any other poker film.
Many in the poker community have a special place in their heart for Rounders, and although the reasons above are important reasons why, the fact that Rounders had an influence on the poker boom is also crucial.
2003 winner Chris Moneymaker claims that he got into poker after watching the film numerous times, meaning that it has an important place in poker history.
Rounders shows poker as a skill centred game which adds to the realism which puts it in contrast with many other poker scenes in films which have come before.
The movie was written by Brian Koppelman and David Levien. They came up with the idea for the movie after playing poker at the “Mayfair” club. This New York’s underground game is also where poker celebrities such as Eric Seidel and Howard Lederer started their careers.
Koppelman says he lived for almost two years at the Mayfair Club, (“playing” and “researching”) while taking in the atmosphere and using some of the characters for the screenplay…
Breaking down the key poker hands
In many poker films, crazy run outs, cheating and exaggerated elements of the game are the only attempts made to make the game interesting to an audience, but in Rounders, this isn’t the case (although cheating does form part of the plotline). Poker pro and Youtuber Doug Polk has released some great videos breaking down the hands which were played in this film. He talks us through all the subtle strategic points in these hands, giving a great insight into what a real poker pro should or shouldn’t be doing in these instances.
Poker Hands – Teddy KGB Takes A Ludicrous Line
Poker Hands – Slow Playing the Stone Cold NUTS?
Poker Hands – Mike McDermott Lays Down A MONSTER?!
Next – Rounders 2?
Ever since this film became a cult-classic in the poker world, whispers of a sequel have been abundant. Film-maker Brian Koppelman has stated previously that he has the desire to make a sequel, but points out that he doesn’t own the rights.
These rumours have been fuelled by several factors, with Matt Damon’s interview on the Rich Eisen show underlining the fact that it has at least been discussed. With the poker world having changed drastically since the film’s release in 1998, poker is now far more centred around the online world. This could hint at a potential direction any future film might make, but until any official announcement is made (if indeed it ever is), we will all be left to speculate about any details involved.
More: Matt Damon impersonates John Malkovich in Rounders
Article by Craig Bradshaw