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Rounders (1998) is about the underground world of Poker in New York City starring Matt Damon as Mike McDermott and Edward Norton as Worm and a bit part for John Malkovich as the Russian gangster Teddy KGB. This movie has become a cult classic, especially because of the current popularity of Texas Hold 'Em style poker.
The plot involves Edward Norton's character Worm being heavily in debt to gangsters, so how do they decide to pay off their debt? Why playing poker of course.
This movie contains examples of:
- Anticlimax Boss: Averted. Mike goes to Teddy KGB (the man who drove him to lose thirty grand in a single hand) to play a heads up, winner-take-all game for twenty thousand dollars and his life. Mike gets Cowboys on the very first hand of the game and manages to lure Teddy into losing half his stack, then only has to lean on him without taking any real risk to win the game. It looks like Mike is going to walk away after this uneventful and rather easy take, out of debt, and go back to a menial life and eventually pay Petrovsky back...but then Teddy goads him into keep playing, Mike plays a couple of masterful hands worthy of a film finale, and ends up winning so much, he pays off all of his debt (fifteen grand to KGB/Grama and ten grand to Petrovsky) and still has the thirty grand that he lost at the start back in his pocket. It's implied that Mike goes to Vegas at the end of the movie to play in the world series of poker, something that would have been completely impossible if he didn't stick around to win his money back from Teddy.
- Big Applesauce
- Cheaters Never Prosper: Subverted, one of them doesn't want to cheat, they get caught anyway.
- Did Not Do the Research: Mike says he "feels like Buckner walking back into Shea" when he returns to the club where he lost his life savings for the climactic heads-up match against the man who took that money. Except walking back into Shea didn't seem to affect the real Buckner, who went 2 for 4 with a run scored (and, of course, no errors) when he walked back into Shea the very next game, all that much. Possible Fridge Brilliance since it doesn't seem to affect Mike's play either, as he wins the game that will cancel out his debt fairly easily, and then uses the money he won off that to get back the money he lost at the beginning of the film.
- Evil Debt Collector: Gramma
- Fallen-On-Hard-Times Job: How do you know when a guy's recently been wiped out at the table? He's driving a delivery truck.
- Fixing the Game: Worm just can't help himself. It's like Chronic Cheating Disorder.
- Old Friend: The basic relationship between Mike and Worm after Worm is released from prison.
- Poker: Just in case you hadn't noticed yet, this movie is about poker.
- The Magic Poker Equation: In the last hand in the game against KGB at the beginning of the film.
- Stock Footage: From the World Series of Poker, specifically the 1988 main event's final hand between Johnny Chan and Erik Seidel. (Chan also makes a cameo.)
- We Do Not Know Each Other: Mike and Worm use this trope when they work together at the same poker table several times throughout the movie. This backfires in a major way during their final game, where Worm gets caught cheating when dealing a winning full house to Mike, thereby pissing off a room full of New York state cops.
- Woman Scorned: Kind of. Mike's girlfriend Jo leaves him and takes most of their stuff from their cohabitated apartment after she finds out he's been playing cards again.
- It's mentioned that he lost all his money at least once before the start of the movie, so she is somewhat cold and untrusting right from the beginning. When she finally leaves it's mostly her stuff anyway. Still, though, he never gets with her again, and even their final words to each other are uneasy.
- What the Hell Is That Accent?: Teddy KGB is ostensibly Russian, but his accent appears to be an entity all its own. And yet it works.
- Work Off the Debt
- Worthy Opponent: When Mike beats Teddy KGB in the climactic poker game at the end of the movie, he treats Mike as this.
KGB: "He beat me. Straight up. Pay him. Pay that man his money."