1998 film drama by John Dahl
revolving around New Yorks underground poker
scene. The central character, Mike McDermott (Matt Damon
) is a poker player, and he just quit poker. His girlfriend, Jo (Gretchen Mol
) wants him to settle down, finish Law school and get a steady job. So its away from the big money games, the late nights at the table, and he starts "humping a crappy job on a graveyard shift
Temptation falls his way when he walks in on the infamous Judges Game, he helps his professor (Abe Petrovsky) out on a poker play and walks away from the table having secured himself a summer job.
It all comes crumbling down when he goes to pick up his best friend "Worm" (Edward Norton) as he gets released from prison. We learn straight away that Worm is a card mechanic, and he is in a lot of debt. And this is where the story really begins, Mike, out loyalty to his friend (and perhaps subconscious desire) starts to play again. He vouches for Worm, and accepts responsibility of the debt, before realising that the debt is to Russian Mafia poker player, Teddy KGB (John Malkovich).
And so the race to pay the debt begins. 5 days to raise $15,000. Not an easy task, and it is made harder by the maverick Worm's self destructive attitude, which gets them into a lot of trouble.
The film is probably not for everybody. Although it does a good job teaching the viewer about poker, it can be hard going at times. A little bit of poker jargon flies around and can be disoreintating. This is not what Hackers is to Hacking. For the poker player however, it whets your appetite.
"You know what cheers me up when I'm feeling shitty?
Rolled up aces over kings, check raising stupid tourists..."
The poker games are the thinking man's fight scenes, tense, blow upon blow, fortune reversals, taunts, Bad Accents, its got them all. John Malkovitch is the bad accent in question. A brilliant bad guy, and an unforgettable Russian accent.
Poker is well represented, the criminals, the cheats, the ambitious ladder climbers, the guy just making a living, the home games and more are portrayed. And the hands are not dumbed down for the audience, for example if there is a A-3-5 on the table (Hold em) the characters assess the possibility that their opponent has 2-4. This is why having a bit of a poker head is advised.
Matt Damon and Edward Norton studied card sharks in New York, before playing in the 29th World Series of Poker as research for the film. Damon even sat next to Doyle Brunson, his characters ambition in the film. The actors lasted 3 hours. In the film, some of the extras are actual professional poker players, and the infamous Mike Caro's Book of Tells makes a brief appearance at the start.
This is certainly a film worth watching, and a must for poker fans. It has been made into a novel of the same name (ISBN: 0786883987).
Writing credits (WGA) (in credits order)
David Levien (written by)
Brian Koppelman (written by)
Cast (in credits order)
Matt Damon .... Mike McDermott
Edward Norton .... Lester 'Worm' Murphy
Paul Cicero .... Russian Thug
John Turturro .... Joey Knish
Gretchen Mol .... Jo
Ray Iannicelli .... Kenny
Famke Janssen .... Petra
Merwin Goldsmith .... Sy
John Malkovich .... Teddy KGB
Martin Landau .... Abe Petrovsky
Sonny Zito .... Tony
Michael Rispoli .... Grama
Mal Z. Lawrence .... Irving
Melina Kanakaredes .... Barbara
Josh Mostel .... Zagosh
Peter Yoshida .... Henry Lin
Lenny Clarke .... Savino
Tom Aldredge .... Judge Marinacci
Jay Boryea .... Russian Thug #2
Lenny Venito .... Moogie
Richard Mawe .... Professor Eisen
Michael Lombard .... D.A. Steilds
Beeson Carroll .... Judge Kaplan
E. Matthew Yavne .... Professor Green
Eric LaRay Harvey .... Roy
Dominic Marcus .... Dowling
Brian Anthony Wilson .... Derald
George Kmeck .... Prison Guard
Joseph Parisi .... Property Guard
Kohl Sudduth .... Wagner
Charlie Matthes .... Birch
Hank Jacobs .... Steiny
Chris Messina .... Higgins
Michael Ryan Segal .... Griggs
Kerry O'Malley .... Kelly
Slava Schoot .... Roman
Goran Visnjic .... Maurice
Michele Zanes .... Taj Dealer
Allan Havey .... Guberman
Joe Vega .... Freddy Face
Neal Hemphill .... Claude
Vernon E. Jordan Jr. .... Judge McKinnon
Jon C. Chan .... Johnny Chan
Lisa Gorlitsky .... Sherry
Joe DiBenedetto .... LaRossa
Nicole Brier .... Sunshine
Bill Camp (I) .... Eisenberg
Tony Hoty .... Taki
Mario Mendoza .... Zizzo
Joe Zaloom .... Cronos
Sal Richards .... Johnny Gold
Josh Pais .... Weitz
John Gallagher (I) .... Bartender
Adam LeFevre .... Sean Frye
P.J. Brown .... Vitter
David Zayas .... Osborne
Michael Arkin .... Bear
Murphy Guyer .... Detweiler
Alan Davidson .... Cabbie
rest of cast listed alphabetically
Tim Carr (II) .... Card Shark (Featured) (uncredited)
Salvatore Cavaliere .... State Trooper (uncredited)
Brian Donahue .... State Trooper
Bill Golodner .... Russian Thug (uncredited)
Bobby Cohen .... executive producer
Ted Demme .... producer
Tracy Falco .... associate producer
Christopher Goode .... associate producer
Kerry Orent .... executive producer
Joel Stillerman .... producer
Bob Weinstein .... executive producer
Harvey Weinstein .... executive producer
Original music by
Joan Jett (song "I Hate Myself For Loving You")
Rounders directed by John Dahl
The game of rounders has played for hundreds of years, the earliest reference is in 1744, where it is referred to as "baseball
". And the National Rounders Association
was formed in 1943. National in this sense refers to the UK
The game plays like baseball, and it looks like baseball, although it is much more simple (I presume). There are official rules, a quick summary of these are:-
You are out when
- There are two teams, of between 6 and 15 players. No more than 9 players are ever on the field at one time.
- The ball will be considered a "no ball" if:
You are allowed to run if the ball is a no ball, but you are not obligated to do so.
- Not smooth underarm action.
- Ball is above head or below knee.
- Ball bounces before reaching the batter.
- Is wide or straight at body.
- The bowler's foot is outside the square during the bowling action.
- To score:
- A rounder is scored if you reach the 4th base before the next ball is bowled, if the ball was a no ball, you cannot be caught out.
- Half a rounder is scored if you reach either 4th base without hitting the ball or you reach 2nd base after hitting the ball
- Awarded a penalty half rounder if you are obstructed by a fielder, or you were bowled two consecutive no balls.
- The ball is caught before it hits the ground after you hit it
- Taking the inside route past a base
- The base you are running towards is stumped
- You leave a base while the bowler is bowling
- You overtake a team mate
- You obstruct
The pitch is marked as a pentagon
with one open side (The fourth base, is not the same place that you start from).
3rd o o 1st
4th o o Start
The official rules are very rarely adhered to by schools. They are merely the rules for use in tournament
games. Schools usually allow a little more leeway on the rules, mostly to keep the game flowing. The bat is usually wooden, and between a foot long to 18 inches. The ball used is often a softball
. Tennis balls are sometimes used, but they tend to bounce too far.
Baseball and rounders are often compared, but rounders is far closer to softball than baseball.