Cinema has thoroughly explained the ins and outs of gambling, and some of the best gambling films kept us on the edge of our seats from beginning to end, replicating perfectly the feeling we have when we play these kinds of games.

However, poker players should be made aware of Rounders, a 1998 drama that is arguably the best film about the game. Rounders is recognized as one of the best casino movies because it is likely that you have imagined at least once what it would feel like to make that huge victory everyone dreams of at a playing table.

What is Rounders’ story all about?

The focus of Rounders is on Matt Damon’s Mike McDermott, a talented poker player, and law student. In Las Vegas, Mike aspires to play in the World Series of Poker.

But in his drive for fame, he takes a 180-degrees turn and begins to play Texas Hold ‘Em in clandestine poker dens. When Mike becomes overconfident and wagers his whole $30,000 bankroll on a hazardous hand, things inevitably go south.

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In order to appease his parents and his girlfriend, Mike decides to give up playing poker and focus on making an honest living. Then, when his old friend Worm (Edward Norton) is let out of jail, Mike helps him settle a debt by returning to the seedy poker tables to pay for his kind deed.

Worm wins $10,000 but opts not to reimburse Mike. The friendship between Mike and Worm and its effects on Mike’s family and fiancée drive the plot of the movie.

The impact after its release

When it was first released in 1998, the film had a mediocre box office performance and received mixed reviews from reviewers. Rounders had a modest budget, especially when you consider some of the well-known stars who were in it.

Naturally, the lessons on how to maintain a poker face have us all fascinated in the movie, but perhaps the most authentic aspect of Rounders is that we get to learn all the terms used in poker. Words like “bankroll,” “fish,” “splash the pot,” and “slow-roll” all give the audience the impression that they are actively participating in the game.

Rounders does well to avoid overusing slang and instead uses everyday language to increase the show’s realism. Naturally, the amazing acting, especially a wonderful performance from John Malkovich, contributes to this. Since the debut of Rounders, these phrases have even gained widespread use, which has increased poker’s notoriety in the culture.

A matter of being in the right place at the right time

The movie was fortunate to be on the cusp of the appropriate era. The US poker boom began just a few years after it was launched. In the early 2000s, poker rapidly gained popularity and expanded to become a hugely popular card game. At that time, Rounders attracted new interest from all of the poker fans who were just starting out. It quickly rose to cult status among poker players, which it still enjoys today.

It also was highly beneficial that at this time, the internet was rapidly expanding in the US and in the world, with online casino platforms starting to exploit the interest in betting games since the very start of online gaming.

Many attribute the rapid growth of the iGaming industry in the 2000’s decade to Rounders or at least the spark that initiated the fire that now has seen the expansion of casino platforms even in regions that didn’t allow the entrance of physical betting industries like the Arab world. Casino gaming popularity has reached such heights that you can now find specialized websites in online casino reviews that allow players to have all the information they need, concentrated in one place: From expert advice on games and bookmakers to betting guides and even a listing on the best bonuses and promotions available in a vast array of betting platforms. And it all began with a movie about poker.


The ability of Rounders to accurately depict how playing poker feels is its greatest asset. It feels important when you’re playing with your own money and up against a small number of opponents with only you, your abilities, and a little luck. Outplaying someone can have a really high-flying high, even if it only involves making the perfect fold at the right time. No other movie has ever been able to convey this sensation.

Author: Kristoffer Sagrado

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