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83 of 94 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Do you play poker?
There are two types of people watching Rounders: those who play poker and those who don't. If you can identify in any way with Matt Damon in this movie, it's going to captivate you. If you're not a card player... you can probably forget it.

Mike McDermott (Damon) is a professional poker player and a law school student, in that order. One night, in an attempt...
Published on June 18, 2000 by Robert Beveridge

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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie, questionable DVD
To start, this is one of my favorite movies of all time. Easily a Top Ten for me. Matt Damon does a great job as the straight laced poker player who plays by the rules, while Ed Norton, in the role of "Worm" does a spectacular job of bring to life Damon's snakish long time friend. I'm sure at this point you are familiar with the movie so I won't go into much...
Published on October 18, 2001 by M. Antalek


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83 of 94 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Do you play poker?, June 18, 2000
This review is from: Rounders [VHS] (VHS Tape)
There are two types of people watching Rounders: those who play poker and those who don't. If you can identify in any way with Matt Damon in this movie, it's going to captivate you. If you're not a card player... you can probably forget it.

Mike McDermott (Damon) is a professional poker player and a law school student, in that order. One night, in an attempt to raise the capital for a trip to Las vegas to play in the World Series of Poker, McDermott loses his whole bankroll, $30K, to the owner of his favorite underground card club, Teddy KGB (John Malkovich). The next day, he swears off cards, but we get the feeling he does so in order to keep his relationship with Jo (Gretchen Mol) alive. His resolve is shaken, and quickly detroyed, when his best friend growing up, Worm (Edward Norton), is released from prison, and McDermott soon finds himself back at the table.

This movie succeeds on a number of levels, and surprisingly so. Of course, many of those levels have to do with cards, and if (as I said) you're not enchanted, or at least obsessed, with the non-luck aspects of any game of chance, it'll probably bore you stiff. But even if you're only a weekend (or rarer) player at the card table, the horse track, or the stock market, you'd do well to listen to Damon's voiceovers throughout the movie, which have loads of excellent information (and mirror things I've been telling novice horseplayers for years).

Other than that, the insights into relationships, and the ways obsession can destroy them, are profound. Well, okay, maybe not profound, but handled with gobs more subtlety and wit than I've seen in just about forever. Mol isn't really onstage long enough to give her any real chemistry with Damon, but take it from me, the ways they react to one another throughout the film are dead on. More importantly, both to the plot and to the success of the movie, is the relationship between McDermott and Worm. Edward Norton proves once again he's one of Hollywood's true rising talents, and the deeper motivations that drive his character are exposed just well enough that we can see them. Not an easy task, and one sure to be uncovered if the actor doesn't understand those motivatins and the viewer does.

The other main aspect of the film is the suspense during the actual card games. Another thing that's not easy to pull off, and often (most recently in the Gibson/Foster remake of Maverick) the director resorts to insane, next-to-impossible combinations of cards to make it work. (Remember the final game in Maverick?) In the first scene, when Teddy KGB nails McDermott, the winning hand is a full house. Welcome to the real world of poker, where oftentimes it's the guy holding the two pair that ends up forty grand richer at the end of the night. Dahl realizes, repeatedly, that it's not the cards in the hand that provide the action, it's the way the characters react to one another. One almost thinks that Dahl could have pulled this movie off by putting Damon, Norton, Malkovich (without the cheesy accent), John Turturro, and two or three of the other cardplayers around a table and shot two hours of one game.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Poker Revolution, February 24, 2004
This review is from: Rounders (DVD)
I first saw Rounders when I had been playing Hold'Em for about 2 years and noticed a big change in the "drop ins" at the tables. (Drop In - A new player that isnt one of the regulars that usually play in a reoccuring game or location) People were throwing out quotes from Teddy KGB, the Russian character played by John Malkovich. I could tell the movie was creating an insurgance of new players to the game. Years later you can play Hold'Em at nearly any table in any casino and say something like 'weaddy ageasieev' and get at least a couple chuckles.
Matt Damon plays the main character, Mikey McDermott and Edward Norton his best friend Lester "Worm" Murphy who's freshly released from a prison term that Mikey might have also had to serve if Lester would have given him up. Feeling obligated for the sacrifice his friend made, Mikey trys everything he can to keep Worm out of trouble while attempting to hold together a failing relationship with his girlfriend while juggling law school. Mikey cant resist the draw of poker and ends up back in the frey of the Rounders again realizing that life is a grind without his true love of poker.
Damon portrays the main character brilliantly and Norton was so convincing that I actually felt angry at him for fouling everything all up. Malkovich invents his own odd version of the Russian accent while pulling off the role of Teddy that is completely unforgettable. There's also a great cameo by the 3 time World Series of Poker champion Jonny Chan.
Rounders portrays a professional gambler more realistically than I've ever seen it before. From hiding large amounts of cash all over the house to the dark smokey poker rooms hidden away in a basement to ring games at the casino. Amassing large fortunes and getting broke again then back in the same day. The life of gambling is one of extremes, danger and euphoria. People get drawn into it and like a drug become addicted, a small handful end up conquering it and carving out a life for themselves.
This movie can almost be attributed to the start of a new revolution of poker players, TV shows like World Poker Tour sprang up, attendance at the World Series of Poker has increased by bounds every year. Though it was an already growing sport, Rounders has been the catalyst to growth and has pulled people into poker like never before.
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49 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extra features justify a new edition, December 24, 2004
By 
H. Asari (Madison, WI USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I own the original DVD of this film. Certainly I hesitated to buy a second copy of the essentially same movie, but(...) I thought I'd take a chance. The main feature remains the same, so if you are in the same situation as I was, you'll be paying for the extra features. In short, the extras certainly make it worthwhile to own this edition, whether or not you own the original.

1. If you play poker already, "Heads Up Texas Hold 'Em" won't help you. (I bet you suspected that already.)
2. The two bonus features, "Behind-The-Scenes Special" and "Inside Professional Poker", are short at 5'20" and 5'40" respectively. The former is a little disappointing; it appears that the cast and the staff simply talk about the movie retrospectively after the production. In other words, it looks and feels like an afterthought. The latter is a little more satisfying; it gives some well-known (to regular poker players) principles of poker. The soundtracks are very annoying.
3. Champion Poker Tips gives a few sound-bite tips from Johnny Chan, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, Phil Hellmuth, and Chris Moneymaker. Again, if you play poker already, there is nothing new here.
4. Now, these professional players are featured in the extra commentary. Mr. Whear characterized this commentary as "odd," but I thought this was the best part of this Collector's Edition. The comments they make are sometimes off the wall, but it just adds to the charm (to me, anyway). They analyze the hand Mike McD loses to Teddy KGB at the beginning of the movie, and also the showdown at the end; their analysis is good, and they explain how (and why) things will be quite different in the real life. Also, the commentary shows the characters of these pros. Hellmuth is usually the motor mouth; Chan is the happy guy, but complains about how fat he appears in the film; Moneymaker seems a little reserved around the others; Ferguson is pretty quiet, but when he speaks he is brilliant (he even cracks a joke).
5. Staff's commentary gives some insight into the production of the film, including the real-world model of Teddy KGB (it turns out he is Eddie KGB in real life). This commentary is also good.

What was on the original DVD edition that is missing on this edition is the theatrical trailer. You might wonder why I bring this up. Well, the trailer contains a couple of scenes that didn't make the cut. I'm sure these could have been added as deleted scenes, too. For that, I subtract 1 star.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why Do You Think They Make Them Round?, December 5, 2000
This review is from: Rounders [VHS] (VHS Tape)
The chips, that is.
As poker movies go, this is actually pretty good. It is the only movie about poker that is authentic both technically and psychologically. The only real competition is the Cincinnati Kid (1965); however that film is greatly marred by the improbability of Steve McQueen being dealt a royal flush in five-card stud to win the key hand. The odds against being dealt a royal on any given hand are 649,739 to 1. Multiply that by the odds against getting it just when you need it, and we are in Fantasyland. Part of the power of the script comes from the technical help of Mike Caro and other professional poker players. I know the triptych themes of (1) buddy for buddy (until it becomes ridiculous-as Matt Damon was for Ed Norton), and (2) honestly among poker players, and (3) The Game and male-bonding before women (as when Damon gives up the very fetching Gretchen Mol for cards and "feeling alive") are macho poker-guy bonding themes espoused by Mike Caro and others in the profession.
Matt Damon is very winning in the starring role, and Norton is properly despicable as one of life's losers, and John Malkovich is riveting as Teddy KGB in spite of what some might say about his accent.
The fact that the players play Hold'em, which is the most widely-played game in the poker clubs and the Vegas casinos today, and the one played for the world championship, lends to the overall authenticity of the film. Again, this contrasts with the Cincinnati Kid where five-card stud was played. However, even in 1965 that game was seldom if ever spread in most clubs, the dominate games at the time being low-ball, draw, and seven-card stud. Five-card stud is too simplistic for the modern player.
Much of the plot of Rounders is familiar and could be (and has been) wrapped around other themes and sleazy backdrops. The ending, which I will skip here, is however original as far as I know, and psychologically true, just ask any rounder. The key bit of authenticity that I think Director John Dahl and company got exactly right is that it takes courage and a devil-may-care sort of aggressiveness to win at high-stakes poker, and Mike McDermott had that.
Incidentally, the derivation of the word "rounder" is unclear as far as I know. It was used in England two hundred years ago to refer to a vagabond. It appeared in the clubs in Gardena, California at least as early as the 1960's to identify a regular player who went from club to club looking for a game he could beat. The term has sticking power because the chips really are round and roll from player to player, just as the fortunes of the rounders fluctuate from day to day as they make their rounds from club to club.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent poker movie with great cast, February 24, 2004
By 
T O'Brien (Chicago, Il United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Rounders (DVD)
Rounders is a very good movie that has a great cast throughout. Mike McDermott is a law student who pays his tuition by his winnings at the poker table. When a Russian kingpin cleans him out during a high stakes game, Mike decides to quit playing cards and focus on his studies to become a lawyer. Problems arise when his old friend, Les "Worm" Murphy, is released from jail and almost instantly gets him into trouble with a gambling debt. Seeing his friend in trouble, Mike comes out of his retirement to try and help him out. This is a very enjoyable movie that benefits from its great cast. What is best about this movie is how it plunges the viewer into the world of high stakes poker. The movie fully immerses you into this world as Mike narrates his story.
Matt Damon is excellent as Mike McDermott, the law student who must return to the game to get his friend out of trouble. His performance is very believable as he explains much of the logic behind the game. Edward Norton stars as "Worm" Murphy, Mike's slimy friend who continues to get him into trouble. John Malkovich is also great as Teddy KGB, the Russian kingpin who is also a great card player. The movie also stars Martin Landau in a very good role, John Turturro, Gretchen Mol, Famke Janssen, and Michael Rispoli. The DVD offers theatrical trailers and the widescreen presentation of the movie. At times, Rounders reminded me of The Cincinnati Kid starring Steve McQueen with the young upstart taking on the established veteran. For a great movie that throws you into the world of high stakes poker, check out Rounders!
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie, questionable DVD, October 18, 2001
This review is from: Rounders (DVD)
To start, this is one of my favorite movies of all time. Easily a Top Ten for me. Matt Damon does a great job as the straight laced poker player who plays by the rules, while Ed Norton, in the role of "Worm" does a spectacular job of bring to life Damon's snakish long time friend. I'm sure at this point you are familiar with the movie so I won't go into much detail regarding the story line. Basically Damon is trying to pull his friend Worm out of a jam. A great Poker movie. [But there is a horrendous attempt of a love story sub plot within it, ignore it and watch on]
Here is my complaint, This movie is outstanding; why is the DVD so bad. The sound is half as good as it should be and there are no special features to be found. What makes a quality DVD is not just the movie(we know thats great) but the extras you get with it. You expect great sound, picture and addtional information about the movie when you pick up the DVD. This one falls far short of doing any of those things. It's a shame such a great and brilliant movie was botched in DVD form.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "It's immoral to let a sucker keep his money.", December 1, 2004
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I used to go to Las Vegas about once a year, that was until I found out I wasn't very good at gambling...and even when I did win, I had trouble knowing when to quit, and usually ended up giving whatever I gained back plus some. The trick is to only take what you could afford to lose, and stay away from the ATM machines. I guess I was what people would have called a `recreational' gambler, but there are those who do it for a living, and even manage to prosper...I guess Kenny Rogers said it best in his song The Gambler, "You got to know when to hold them, and know when to fold them..." Rounders (1998), directed by John Dahl, who later did the enjoyable thriller Joy Ride (2001), stars Matt `Babyface' Damon (The Bourne Identity) and the extremely talented Edward Norton (American History X). Also appearing in the film is John Turturro (O Brother, Where Art Thou?), Gretchen Mol (The Thirteenth Floor), Famke Janssen (Goldeneye), Martin Landau (Ed Wood), and John Malkovich (Shadow of the Vampire).

First, lemme get a couple of terms out of the way. A `rounder', from what I gathered from the film, is a person who sees all the angles and makes a living playing cards. A `grinder' is a rounder, but is a cautious player, interested only in playing it safe, avoiding the big risks and possible big rewards, always satisfied in being able to make enough to live reasonably well. Damon plays Mike McDermott, a law student who earns his living playing cards. As the film begins, we see Mike entering into a high-stakes game, and losing everything in one hand. After his devastating loss, he swears off cards for good, until he's lured back into the game by his best friend Lester `Worm' Murphy (Norton) who was just released from prison and needs to make a lot of cash quick to pay off a large debt he owes to a rather nasty underworld mob, one that kept growing while he was in the stir (that's street lingo for jail, for those not in the know...actually, I'm pretty unhip, but I manage to pick up a few things here or there in an effort to sound cooler than I actually am). Now the boys are fighting the clock, chasing games to earn enough to pay off those who seem not so interested in collecting but more in putting a serious hurt on Worm (he really has the tendency to get under one's skin).

I thought Damon did very well as Mike, an ex-rounder now eeking out a living by driving a delivery truck, trying to get through law school with his girlfriend (Mol). With the reappearance of his childhood friend Worm, he finds himself dragged back into the life (although he didn't seem to fight it too hard), and ultimately has to sacrifice much to extricate himself and his friend from the ever-deepening hole created by Worm as he borrows money off his friend's good reputation. I also really enjoyed Norton's portrayal of Worm, a shady, smart-mouthed scammer constantly looking for the edge (usually involving cheating) chasing the short term gains, trying to stay one step ahead of his troubles. I usually enjoy seeing Edward Norton in films as I get the feeling he's putting forth more than most, driven by a seemingly innate desire to deliver the best possible performance he can, all while making it seem so darn natural (although his role in 2003's The Italian Job seemed a bit light...I guess it's unfair to expect perfection every time at bat) . My favorite character was that of Teddy KGB, played by John Malkovich, a highly connected Russian mobster and owner and proprietor of an underworld poker den. His Russian accent is reason alone to see this film..."Paeeey thet maeen his moneeeey". While I did like all the performances and I thought all the actors were solid, I felt like Martin Landau's character of Mike's somewhat philosophical law school professor a little contrived as he seemed only there to point out a facet of Mike's character that I felt was already detailed in a more subtle manner within the film. I really didn't need his sage advice to learn what was already apparent, and I didn't think Mike did either. That's my only minor issue with this film. The dialog was excellent and snapped, utilizing all kinds of interesting colloquialisms common to the poker world, explaining meanings to the viewer enough to allow us to stay with the characters, but not treating us like we're complete idiots. The film is lengthy (121 minutes), but does move along at a good pace, rarely losing my interest.

The widescreen anamorphic print on this collector's edition DVD looks immaculate, and the audio sounds clear in Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. There are two commentary tracks available, one featuring director John Dahl, screenwriters David Levien & Brian Kopplman and actor Edward Norton and a second featuring actual professional poker players. The commentary with the professionals seems a little odd, as they mainly comment on only the scenes involving poker, so there's a good deal of `dead air'. Other special features include a tutorial on how to play Texas Hold `Em, the poker game played throughout the film, along with allowing the viewer to play in an actual game. This was fun, but since it didn't keep track of winnings, it grew old quickly, but did serve as a good instructional aid to better understand the game played in the film. There's two featurettes, one being a behind the scenes and the other titled `Professional Poker', which looks at real-life poker, with interviews from professional players. Next there's Champion Poker Tips which is a bunch of short, unconnected clips featuring pros mostly doling out advice I could get from my mother, "Never bet more than you can afford to lose"...thanks...Finally there's a couple of trailers and a Miramax 25th anniversary promotional bit.

Cookieman108
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rounders is brilliant.., April 23, 2001
By 
Can Erzi (Istanbul,Turkey) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Rounders (DVD)
Let's put this first:Rounders is a movie about poker..But it doesn't mean that those who are not into this game,won't understand it or like it...
Mike (Damon)is a young law student who is also a master poker player..When he loses all of his savings in a game against the poker expert Russian KGB (Malkovich),he thinks he has played his final hand and promises his girlfriend that he will never sit on a game again.Then his long time friend "Worm" (Edward Norton) gets out of prison and Worm is in big trouble with many guys waiting for his release,because he owes a serious amount to them and the creditors' list goes all the way up to KGB..From then on,it's the dilemma of Mike between his promise to his girlfriend,his education as a law student vs. his loyalty to his friend and his great passion for the game of poker.
I should begin by saying that all of the actors involved (maybe except Gretchen Mol who plays Mike's girlfriend) did a wonderful job.Matt Damon is great as the young poker whiz,we can really feel the state of mind he is in during the whole movie,and is also the narrator.His narration is the best bit of the movie in my opinion.Although it seems that it is always about poker,from the first moment you sense that poker is chosen as a metaphor to tell us about life and how we approoach it.
The script is brilliantly written.Altough I didn't know a thing about poker (and especially about Texas Hold'em),there hasn't been a thing I missed thanks to the narration of Mike and the perfection of the storytelling.
Many people have criticized Malkovich's portayal of the Russian card shark but I think that the final re-match between him and Mike was one of the funniest parts among all the movies I have seen.And Edward Norton should also be mentioned because I think he does a great job as the Worm.He made me hate him for all the problems he put Mike in,and that is the sign of an actor doing his job at best.
The DVD lacks extras and that is my biggest complaint..The deleted scenes I have seen from the trailer should have been added.
This is not a blockbuster and it doesn't have any action scenes.It's all about poker but poker is about life in Rounders.I strongly recommend it even if you don't know anything about this card game who is not about luck.
Caveat Emptor...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars SURPRISINGLY EFFECTIVE, December 30, 1999
By 
"dave9000" (Hollywood, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rounders (DVD)
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this movie, which at first smelled like too much of a Hollywood "let's get two hot actors-du-jour and put them in a movie targeted to cool people in their 20's" type-deal. However, Ed Norton gives what I consider to be his best performance ever and Matt Damon delivers too. Also, I have to say the girl who plays Matt Damon's girlfriend, Gretchen Mol, is unbelievably sexy. If any of you guys (or gay girls) have a thing for the spoiled rich girl type, she is your dream girl. The other great thing about the movie is that it celebrates the freedom of the individual - Damon's character ultimately chooses to risk it all, and that's an exciting thing to leave the theater with. The movie has an uncanny knack of making you feel free - and how can you beat that?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding look into the world of gambling, August 31, 2003
By 
This review is from: Rounders (DVD)
Mike McDermott ( Matt Damon ) is a talented professional poker player and a law student. Determined that he can double his life savings, he sets off to play against the owner of an underground card club - Teddy KGB ( John Malkovich). Unfortunately, he ends up losing it all. In order to keep his relationship going with his girlfriend Jo ( Gretchen Mol), he swears off cards from then on out, and concentrates on only becoming a lawyer. But when his lifelong best friend and card shark Worm ( Edward Norton) is released from prison, he is soon back at the tables...
"Rounders" blew me away because of the amazing insight into the world of poker and its players. One would think that a movie focusing on the game of poker would be boring. However, the film's director John Dahl, brilliantly works in a first person narrative from Matt Damon pointing out the intricate parts of the game. This causes the card games that are played in this film to be highly suspenseful. Brian Koppelman and David Leven provide the brilliant screenplay that accurately entails what gambling can do to your life, and the tough choices that one can be faced with. The relationship between Matt Damon and Gretchen Mol illustrates this beautifully because of all the lies, excuses, and false promises that are shown throughout the film. The rest of the cast is filled with amazing actors like Martin Landau, Edward Norton, John Tuturro, and John Malkovich.
" Rounders" offers a great look into the world of poker, a realistic look at gambling addiction, incredible actors, and a fast paced suspenseful story. The only part that suffers is the DVD, because of the lack of extras. I would have loved to have seen a behind the scenes look into the actors, poker, etc. So make sure you purchase the VHS version.
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Rounders [Blu-ray]
Rounders [Blu-ray] by John Dahl (Blu-ray - 2011)
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