For any poker player, Rounders is the equivalent of A Field of Dreams for baseball or Hoosiers for basketball.
To me, this film works as a poker movie (the only one besides Maverick) and a drama.
I’m not gonna lie, when I was younger and played a ton of poker after the “Moneymaker” moment, I watched this film like every week. You see, every home game would play this in the background over and over and everyone would nod their head at how they would have kicked the legs from Teddy KGB and reraised Johnny Chan as well.
For a poker player, this movie might have contributed to the poker boom and WSOP Dream as much as Chris Moneymaker’s Miracle run. It came in 1998 to little fanfare and was certainly ahead of its time.
Ironically, it’s a movie where poker and cheating play a big part, showing the honest people that play and the assholes that give it a bad name. When the cops beat the crap out of them for cheating, I really don’t mind. They deserve it.
Flash forward 12 years or so, and life imitated art when all the “big stars” (aka criminals, thieves, fraudsters) of rigged sites like Full Tilt poker had the FBI freeze the site, because as it came to be known, people like Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson took all the money in the accounts and paid themselves, like a Ponzi scheme.
In a way, all the degenerate gamblers who got lucky in the early 2000s got in on the con and enriched themselves with everyday people’s money. Grandma that just wanted to casually play 25 cent poker? Bam, Full Tilt robbed her.
Ironically, a few poker players like Howard Lederer’s sister Annie Duke advocated that poker is a skill game and should be able to be played online for money in the US while her brother was giving her money from people’s accounts.
They are the Worms of poker.
From what I hear, they avoided the WSOP until this year after posting online an apology. Every single person I talked to playing WSOP events think the same thing. They are all a fraud and should rot in jail. All of them. Just like Worm.
Funny how in a country that if you rob a gas station for $50 you can get 20 years in jail. Rob $100 million from poker accounts and nothing happens.
Rounders is a masterpiece. The movie is even better today and holds up in theme and character arcs. I’ve seen it more than any movie outside the Empire Stikes Back.