Why Rounders might just be the best casino film ever

The subject of casinos has been tackled in Hollywood with varying degrees of success. The likes of Oceans 11 and Casino Royale are at the quality end of the spectrum, while the less said about movies such as Lucky You and All In, the better.

Matt Damon, who starred in Rounders with Edward Norton and John Malkovich
Matt Damon, who starred in Rounders with Edward Norton and John Malkovich

One movie that is head and shoulders is Rounders.

The film starring Matt Damon and Edward Norton pleasantly surprised casino and movie fans alike upon its release in the late 90s.

A game of profit and loss

The lead character’s (Damon’s Mike McDermott) poker journey is one of wins and losses. Too often in gambling movies, the writers make the mistake of only showing the better side of the coin, when everyone knows that not every day is a winning one.

Of course, McDermott ends up on top at the end, but just like in real life, this only happens after he learns how to be patient and work his system.

Looking for the edge

Edward Norton’s character Worm typifies a type of person that exists in almost every casino; the guy who thinks he can gain an edge on the house. Worm doesn’t always live within the rules and this comes back to haunt him.

Casino lovers love this element of justice in the story as it is exactly how it would go down in real life.


Damon’s suitability for this part is undeniable and that is at least in part due to the fact that he threw himself into the role, playing in several high profile poker games as preparation.

The actor is a known fan of casinos and this experience showed throughout his excellent performance.

Casino relationships

Call me cheesy, but one of the best things about going to a casino is the friendships you can strike up while in there. You see many examples of this throughout the film, with John Turturro’s character, Joey Knish, a particular highlight.

This shows that casinos aren’t always just for playing casino games. Sometimes they can be a great place to socialise, have fun and make friends.

Bringing down the house

The protagonist’s game of choice is poker, but no matter what your game is, there is no doubt that you have imagined and fantasized about completely beating the house – who knows, some of you maybe even have.

For those of you lucky enough to experience a huge win, this film is a lovely reminder of that time and for those of you who haven’t, Rounders is a visualization of a fantasy.

The movie shows that sometimes a casino dream can come true. This adds an extra element of satisfaction to the movie.

SPOILER ALERT: The ‘final hand’ scene in Rounders

The opinions expressed are those of the author and not Casinopedia

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