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"Trust everyone... But always cut the cards."

Rounders, starring Matt Damon and Edward Norton, is often credited with helping to start the poker craze that gripped the United States during the 2000s and today. This is a film about playing your cards right, both at the tables and in life. The film's beginning finds card sharp Matt McDermott taking a shot at a life-changing score playing one-on-one Texas Hold'Em poker against a Russian mob boss, but coming up just short and losing everything.

Penniless, McDermott retreats into a "normal" life, attending law school and working as a delivery man. His long-time love interest detests poker, gambling and the dangerous lifestyle that comes with them, and holds our hero to a promise that he won't play cards for money any more. But when his best friend is released from prison, the lure of fast money and matching wits with New York City's best poker players proves too strong to resist.

A series of quick scores means things are looking up for Mr. McDermott, but he quickly learns about the ugly side of life as a gambler as debts, both financial and in his personal life, begin to pile up. Will he abandon the card player's lifestyle completely, or risk it all to escape the mob and earn his fortune?

Rounders is one of the only "poker films" to date to have actually captured the game, with its many intricacies, on the big screen. Situations at the card table are suspense-filled, but more importantly they are believable.

| 1998 | 2 hr 1 min | 7.3/10 | 54/100
John Dahl

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