Poker-themed movies are first and foremost intended as a form of entertainment, rather than an accurate depiction of the popular game. Every now and then, a film comes around that captures the very essence of poker, while also scoring high grades in regard to acting and plot. There are plenty of quality poker themed movies out there, such as Casino Royale, The Gambler and High Roller: The Stu Ungar. I’ve enjoyed watching every single one of them, but my favorite poker movie of all time has to be Rounders.
What is Rounders all about?
Rounders is one excellent poker film starring Matt Damon as Mike McDermott, an ambitious law student who hopes to win a fortune playing poker. He is a driven individual, willing to take huge chances for an opportunity of striking it big in the underground poker industry. Things take a turn for the worse when Mike loses his tuition money playing Texas Hold’em with Teddy KGB brilliantly portrayed by John Malkovich. Around this seemingly simple plot, director John Dahl has built a complex movie that instinctively appeals to poker fans, as well as regular moviegoers.
McDermott initially tries to shake off the habit, but his natural skills and acquired talents bring him back to the poker tables over and over again. Determined to recuperate the tuition money and also avenge the humiliating defeat at the hands of Teddy KGB, Mike is ready to risk everything on one hand. As tension is gradually ramping up, in anticipation of a big showdown, the supporting actors dazzle the eye with their incredible acting skill. The narrative is compelling enough to keep people at the edge of their seats, even if they know little to nothing about poker.
How did Rounders Impact Poker?
I have absolutely loved Rounders and this was one of the reasons I got into UK slot sites and online poker even though the end was a bit predictable, not to mention that most of the hands were over the top. It was an immensely enjoyable film, starring great actors who were able to turn an otherwise average narrative into a gem. The manner in which poker was presented was indeed mildly exaggerated, but that’s mostly the result of the film focusing on underground games. Everything about the games was dark and gritty, with the high-stakes looming over the heads of those involved. Rounders made it possible for those watching to feel the tension and get fully immersed into the narrative.
Another reason why I regard Rounders as the best poker movies of all time is that it has a significant impact on online poker. Viewers were so impressed by the game and the manner in which the actors played their hands that they became curious about poker. Online poker rooms provided the perfect environment for prospective players to put their luck and newly acquired skills to the test. In the end, the Hollywood blockbuster had a positive impact on the entire poker industry and it is still regarded as an important milestone for Internet poker.