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Rounders (1998)

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A young, reformed gambler must return to playing big stakes poker to help a friend pay off loan sharks, while balancing his relationship with his girlfriend and his commitments to law school.

Director:

John Dahl
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Popularity
2,510 ( 308)
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Matt Damon ... Mike McDermott
Gretchen Mol ... Jo
John Malkovich ... Teddy KGB
Paul Cicero Paul Cicero ... Russian Thug
Ray Iannicelli ... Kenny
John Turturro ... Joey Knish
Merwin Goldsmith ... Sy
Sonny Zito Sonny Zito ... Tony
Josh Mostel ... Zagosh
Mal Z. Lawrence ... Irving
Lenny Clarke ... Savino
Peter Yoshida Peter Yoshida ... Henry Lin
Jay Boryea Jay Boryea ... Russian Thug #2
Lenny Venito ... Moogie
Martin Landau ... Abe Petrovsky
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Storyline

John Dahl directed this exploration of New York private clubs devoted to high-stakes poker, with first-person narration from the film's central figure, law student Mike McDermott (Matt Damon), who loses his entire savings to Russian club owner Teddy KGB (John Malkovich). Mike then turns away from cards, devoting his attentions to his law studies and his live-in girlfriend Jo (Gretchen Mol), who's concerned when Mike's former gambling buddy Worm (Edward Norton) is released from prison. She has good reason to worry, since it takes Worm only a matter of minutes to draw Mike back into poker action. When she learns Mike has returned to the poker clubs, she moves out, and Mike begins to lose interest in his studies. Worm has a prison debt, and the threatening Grama (Michael Rispoli) wants the money. Mike not only indulges the irresponsible Worm, he gets involved in Worm's debts. When Grama demands $15,000 on a five-day deadline, the two buddies go into high gear with a non-stop, no-sleep ...

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

it's immoral to let a sucker keep his money See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive strong language, some sexuality and brief drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Hebrew | Russian

Release Date:

11 September 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Rounders See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$8,459,126, 13 September 1998

Gross USA:

$22,912,409

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$22,912,409
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Miramax, Spanky Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

We do not know exactly where Teddy KGB's place is because no one specifically states where it is located especially Michael or Joey "Knish". It is assumed that is located somewhere in the lower West Side of Manhattan, possibly Greenwich Village, where a few scenes were shot. It's also possible that this is was a set more so than an actual location with Production Designer Rob Pearson matching what one of these underground card game places would look like. See more »

Goofs

Mike goes to a check cashing place with a personal check for $10,000 from his professor. Check cashing businesses never cash personal checks on the same day; they require a 3-5 day waiting period so the check can clear. And even if it was a payroll check, the business would have taken a percentage to cash it, so Mike would not have had the full $10,000 to bring to the game. The filmmakers have stated (in interview with ESPN.com's Bill Simmons) that the cash checking location is run by a friend of his professor's, but the scene was cut to bring the film's running time down. See more »

Quotes

Worm: [sitting inside Jo's jeep, outside the fraternity house] Here's the play: I know this girl Barbra I was so close to banging her before I went away, she works as a hostess for all the trust fund babies in there, she got me in their game, she introduces me as her "cousin" from out of town who loves to gamble and wants to win at poker.
Mike McDermott: It sounds solid, that's a nice hook up
Worm: It's all the way nice, but I got this "feeling".
Mike McDermott: What "feeling" is that exactly?
Worm: You know this "feeling", I got the table all ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

References Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Brandenburg Concerto #1
Written by Johann Sebastian Bach (uncredited)
Jim Long Music (ASCAP)
Courtesy of Zomba Music Service
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Well made but eventually a bit thin for anyone not a poker fan
25 May 2013 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

Rounders (1998)

A charming idea, almost romanticized: if you are young, clever, good looking, and savvy at playing poker you can be ultra cool and maybe even wealthy. That makes for a pretty good movie, if not a very accurate reality. It isn't quite enough to keep two hours going, however, and so the big picture here is to enjoy what it has.

A quick comparison might be made to "The Hustler" and related pool shark movies. And like that classic, "Rounders" is about charming deceit. Matt Damon is the main man here, an ex-poker champ who has "gone straight" until his former partner in crime, Ed Norton, gets out of jail and ropes him back into the thrills and malevolence. Like the pool movies, and like the glitzier and more ambitious "Oceans" movies, personalities matter most. The setting, the glint of money, and most of all the plots matter less than you'd think.

So everything is pretty good along those lines, partly because Damon is fun to be with and Norton is simply terrific. An embarrassing appearance in the beginning and end of the movie by an overacting John Malkovich gets in the way of Damon's performance, however. And the general attempt at creating a bunch of bad guys behind the scenes is filled with thin clichés and mediocre acting.

This is the result of having to make more of the story that was ever there. The main idea--that the two leads get into money trouble and have to earn a ton of cash in a few days of wild poker games--is eventually actually a bit of a bore. The gamesmanship is always interesting, of course, but the impetus behind it grows old. The addition of Martin Landau as a Jewish lawyer who gives Damon a mitzvah as a kind of honor paid to continue a favor once given him is a touching part of the larger plot, making you wish there was more of this somehow, more of something genuine and a bit different.

It might not have helped that I recently saw "Croupier" with a young Clive Owen as a poker dealer, because that movie, whatever its simplicity and other limitations, actually made the poker scenes more real for me. In fact, one problem with "Rounders" is you never get to actually sense the betting itself, and the cards--the playing and the strategies of playing--are glossed over with some tossing of chips and flipping of cards, all in a vague muddle.

I did enjoy watching overall, but it left me a little disappointed and restless.


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