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Rounders

 
Rounders


It’s hard to fathom how popular Rounders could’ve been if it would have hit theaters during the poker craze that is currently sweeping across the nation. Fans of this movie can thank that craze for the recent Collector’s Series DVD that was released.

Mike McDermott (Matt Damon) is a student in law school paying the bills by playing poker. The movie begins with Mike gathering up his $30K bankroll and heading down to the underground club run by Teddy KGB (John Malkovich), one of the most respected and feared players in the area. They battle for a while with Mike finally holding a monster, Nines full of Aces. He pushes all-in, only to see Teddy show him the nuts, Aces full of nines. With his confidence destroyed, and his girlfriend (Gretchen Mol) on him to stop playing, Mike gives up poker and gets a job on the square.

Not long after this, his friend Worm (Edward Norton) gets out of prison and Mike is there to pick him up. It doesn’t take long before Worm sucks Mike back into the game and they’re soon both back into the poker action. A problem surfaces when it becomes apparent that Mike and Worm play two contrasting styles. Worm is always looking for an angle and the easiest way to fleece his opponent, even if it involves cheating. Mike prefers to play a straight game and the two of them quickly find themselves at odds over this difference in styles. This dispute takes them into a number of unenviable circumstances that play out through the film. The climax of the movie is when Mike ultimately gets a second game with Teddy KGB.

There are a number of special features on this edition of Rounders that weren’t on the original DVD release. The first special feature is “Heads Up Texas Holdem”. This is a very basic tutorial on the game and doesn’t offer much in the way of valuable information for anyone but the most novice player. In fact, some of the tips that are given during the hand tutorial are wrong. The DVD states that the player should call all hands in the small blind when heads up.

The next feature is the “Behind the Scenes” special which runs about five minutes. Director John Dahl and each of the main characters share some thoughts on the production. The clip is a bit of a disappointment only because of the fact that it’s too brief. Interviews with each of the cast members that were more in-depth would’ve been enjoyable to watch.

The third extra is titled, “Inside Professional Poker”. Short segments of various poker personalities such as David Sklansky, Doyle Brunson, Chris Ferguson, Johnny Chan and Phil Hellmuth are featured. Each offers some brief thoughts on the game of poker. This was a very entertaining clip that would also have benefited from added length.

Sandwiched between all the short extras is the full length movie, featuring commentary throughout from Chan, Ferguson, Hellmuth and Moneymaker. Listening to the dialogue among these legends provided some good insight into their personality. This is a must watch for any fan of the movie and/or fan of these world class players. A second full commentary track runs with Director Dahl, Writers Levien and Koppelman and actor Edward Norton. Listening to the second track is enjoyable, but not nearly as much as the commentary of the professional players.

The final extra is “Champion Poker Tips” by Johnny Chan, Chris Ferguson, Phil Hellmuth and Chris Moneymaker. Each expert offers about five minutes of tips that they feel are important to the success of a winning poker player. This is one of the more valuable additions to the Collector’s Series DVD.

Rounders is a classic poker movie, possibly the best ever. The acting is decent and the action is believable which lends to the enjoyment of the flick. If Rounders isn’t in your DVD collection, ante up and buy it now.