A British game similar in some respects to softball, but played almost exclusively by primary school children and young girls: rounders is most certainly not considered a "man's game". The basic rules are similar to baseball: there are 4 bases, usually marked out with a bit of hasty improvisation by the use of jumpers, pre-liberated traffic cones or what have you. The bat is wooden and usually no more than 18 inches long, and the ball is usually a tennis ball.

There may or may not be a set of official rounders rules, but usually they're made up on the spot. Teams are usually informal, having anywhere between 7 and 20 players (remember, this is a kiddies' game), and bowling is underarm. It's rare for a three strikes and you're out system to be applied, instead the batter can usually stay in play until such time as they succeed in hitting the ball. They then have to run from base to base: if they get all the way round back to where they started it's not a home run, it's a rounder: players can be caught out, run out or bowled out.

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)  
  
Produced by 
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")  
Christopher Young    
  
 
Sources:
Rounders directed by John Dahl
www.mattdamon.com
www.edward-norton.org
www.imdb.com
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:-

  • 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:
    1. Not smooth underarm action.
    2. Ball is above head or below knee.
    3. Ball bounces before reaching the batter.
    4. Is wide or straight at body.
    5. The bowler's foot is outside the square during the bowling action.
    You are allowed to run if the ball is a no ball, but you are not obligated to do so.
  • 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.
  • You are out when
    • 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).
        o 2nd
       / \
      /   \
     /     \
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.

Sources
rounders.punters.co.uk/
softball

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