Retro Movie ‘Rounders’ Revisited

Rounders became a cult movie shortly after its premiere in 1998. It’s a movie that heavily relies on gambling culture and moved the gambling culture forward.

If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s a brief synopsis.

The Cast

The cast of this John Dahl is quite celeb. His previous films starred the legend of overly surreal acting Nicholas Cage, so you get the idea.

The protagonist of this movie is Mike McDermott played by Matt Damon. It was one of his breakthrough roles, right after the appearance in Good Will Hunting in 1997. Similarly to his role in Good Will Hunting, Matt plays a lone genius who dreams about winning big in World Series of Poker.

His counterpart is Lester Murphy played by Edward Norton. Edward is also starting to roll his wave of success in this movie. His character nicknamed Worm is a hustler who just came out of prison. He starts out as a friend and tries to drown his friend Mike as he goes along.

The main antagonist of Rounders is a mobster Teddy nicknamed KGB. John Malkovich portraits this russian bandit with principles perfectly.

The Plot

Mike starts out as a poor student who dreams of poker. He sees his only exit out of poverty in playing poker. This is the whole premise of the movie, as rounder is a person who travels across the country to win in multiple poker tournaments.

It’s about a life of a maverick who slowly but surely works his way to the top and wins against the odds. This is probably why this movie became so popular as it coincided with a huge popularity of poker in the 2000s.

Mike ends up indebted to KGB. His friend Worm gets out of prison and starts gambling on Mike’s credit. He ends up owing $25,000 to a mobster associated with KGB and after falls out with him after a fight.

With only five days to pay his debt he turns to mike to help him save his life. Despite his promise to quit gambling, Mike decides to help.

Mike goes through a series of wins and losses to later win the day in the final stand out against KGB himself. He pays out all the debts he and his friend have accumulated and leaves with a significant stake for the World Series of Poker.

The movie has a great deal of humor that only poker players will understand and the story of success every man will relate to. The protagonist goes through ups and downs to win big in the end. His skill and luck help him along the way.

Critical Acclaim

Rounders has great scores on Rotten Tomatoes that show its popularity with the audience. It has become a classic gambling movie alongside with The Gambler and Casino.

It started a streak of movies that follow the same storyline. A smart student ditches his studies and overcomes difficulties to get what’s his – a huge win.

You could say that Rounders is to poker what Independence Day is to the US military. You could only guess how many people got into poker after this film.

Worth it or not?

Rounders is an old classic now. If you love gambling, you just have to give it a look and check Casumo review at If you don’t, you may love the movie as well.

After all, who can’t relate to a story that shows how a man wins in life against all odds? While the movie is centered around gambling, the story is universal.

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