Damon and Norton as Poker Rounders
Poker fans the world over will get a buzz from the John Dahl movie, Rounders.
The John Dahl movie Rounders, which was released in 1998 and starred Matt Damon in the lead role of reformed gambler Mike McDermott, was possibly the key factor that contributed to poker's current level of popularity. McDermott (Damon) and friend Lester "Worm" Murphy (Edward Norton) are two friends with a mission to pay off their large debts using the only means they have at their disposal - poker.
The film made little impact when it was first released, but it gathered fans and support in the ensuing 10 years to gain cult status.
The film's title refers to the name given to persons who make their living playing cards. McDermott is a former rounder who is conflicted between appeasing the wishes of his girlfriend Jo who wants him to focus on his law studies, and his friend Worm, recently released from prison. Worm has accumulated a massive gambling debt and recruits McDermott to help him out using his skills at poker.
Twists and Turns
McDermott goes along with Worm's plan, and the two get back onto the poker circuit, playing all of their old tricks. The consequence of this is the damage he wreaks on his relationship with his girlfriend Jo, and the physical risk that these gambling shenanigans place on the lives of both men.
Like all good movies, the plot twists and turns as each of the friends wins money only to either lose it again, or have some other debt collector take it from them. The stakes rise along with the tension, leading to the ultimate play-off climax.
The dialog in Rounders is superb, and the movie contains a host of wonderful quotations:
"Listen, here's the thing. If you can't spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you are the sucker."
"Amarillo Slim, the greatest proposition gambler of all time, held to his father's maxim: You can shear a sheep many times, but skin him only once."