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Rounders (1998)



Average Rating: 6.2/10
Reviews Counted: 79
Fresh: 51 | Rotten: 28

Richly atmospheric and colorful performances contributed to the movie's entertainment value.


Average Rating: 4.9/10
Critic Reviews: 22
Fresh: 9 | Rotten: 13

Richly atmospheric and colorful performances contributed to the movie's entertainment value.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 76,647

My Rating

Movie Info

Set against the backdrop of New York's high-stakes underground poker world. Mike McDermott, a master card player who trades the poker playing rounds for law school and a shot at a new life with his girlfriend. For Mike, the new life he is staking out seems to be a legitimate road to success, but it is short on thrills and excitement of backroom poker games. When his friend is released from prison, Mike is faced with the high-stakes dilemma of his life.



David Levien, Brian Koppelman

Jul 3, 2001

Miramax - Official Site External Icon

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Latest News on Rounders

December 16, 2013:
The Weinsteins Come Home to Miramax
Sequels to "Rounders" and "Shakespeare in Love" are reportedly part of the deal.
April 16, 2012:
Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake Warm Up for Runner Runner
They'll team up for a film about the world of illegal online gambling from the writers of "Rounders"...


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All Critics (81) | Top Critics (22) | Fresh (51) | Rotten (28) | DVD (25)

The wholesome pup's poker face alone, however, hardly accounts for the film's failure to thrill. Damon's character doesn't really have that much stake in the story's outcome.

March 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Washington Post | Comments (3)
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Intermittently engaging but dramatically slack.

March 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Gretchen Mol, Edward Norton, John Turturro, Martin Landau, and Famke Janssen costar; they're all pretty good, but not good enough to make this 1998 feature worth seeing.

March 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comments (3)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The end result is still short of a winning hand, since the screenplay is so utterly predictable.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Though it's a good-looking flick with some smart acting and a few flashy runs, it barely breaks even dramatically, and feels, overall, like a good chance wasted.

July 12, 2002 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In fighting to show the psychological complexities in Mike that the script ignores, Damon plays it like a rounder instead of a grinder. This kid still has surprises up his sleeve.

May 11, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

John Dahl's film is not as sinister or complex as its cinematic cousin, House of Games, but it is fun to see these young Hollywood studs (Damon, Edward Norton, Gretchen Mol) strut their stuff.

May 3, 2013 Full Review Source: Cinemania

Although featuring a splendid Edward Norton performance, 'Rounders' comes across as too unbelievable, often straying beyond the bounds of rationality.

October 29, 2011 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

John Dahl creates an intelligent and character-driven crime-drama built around solid performances by Damon and Norton.

March 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

This ode to the allure of clipping suckers and psyching out the competition is richly atmospheric but thin in the character department.

March 25, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide | Comment (1)
TV Guide's Movie Guide

In his first non-noir film, John Dahl, assisted by the great French lenser Jean-Yves Escoffier, gives New York's underground gambling scene a vivid atmopshere, with special attention to its particular rituals and fast macho talk.

January 14, 2007 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

"Rounders" makes you feel the suspense and thrive in the thrill of the moment, always coming up aces.

December 17, 2006 Full Review Source: Arizona Daily Star
Arizona Daily Star

Other directors simply pay homage to film noir and their movies come across as copies or throwbacks, but Dahl's movies work because he seems to understand the inner workings of film noir, and the absurd situations that people can get into.

May 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

It's too bad with all of the poker action there wasn't enough time to establish the relationships between characters.

December 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

It's a likable movie and a solid follow up for Damon.

April 9, 2005 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

The fact that I was so motivated by the movie to put all that money on the table speaks positively of the picture.

October 31, 2004 Full Review Source:

[Provides] a lot of entertainment as well as some food for thought.

October 5, 2004 Full Review

The "good buddy, bad buddy" symmetry harkens back to the days of James Cagney-Pat O'Brien pictures, but this is stylish enough to make us forgive the narrative conventions.

September 15, 2004 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

Takes you into a grungy underworld of high-stakes poker in New York City.

July 1, 2004 Full Review Source: Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)

For every good thing about Rounders there is a flaw.

May 22, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Blather | Comment (1)
Film Blather

Damon proves once again that he's not just a face, and he does wonders with his inner and outer conflicts. Norton is wickedly sleazy as a barely-in-control low life who will undoubtedly end up back in the slammer.

May 14, 2003
Palo Alto Weekly

Too lightweight!

April 21, 2003 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews | Comments (2)
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Rounders

Matt Damon is Mike McDermott, a law student who makes his primary living as a rounder- a master poker player who makes the rounds from club to club making the big bucks. After losing it all to Teddy KGB, a ruthless Russian with mob ties played by John Malkovich, Mike gets out and vows to never return.

Nine months later however, he finds himself drawn back when his childhood friend "Worm" (Edward Norton) gets released from prison and has to scramble to pay off a massive debt he accumulated prior to his incarceration. Despite his vow the urging of his girlfriend and fellow law student Jo (Gretchen Mol), and his better judgment, Mike buckles up and set out to do the only thing he's really good at, despite the risk.

This film has garnered a reputation for being a sleeper hit, or at least a growing cult classic, and that's totally fine. Since Texas Hold 'Em has gotten so big since this film came out, that's probably a reason for why this one hasn't totally fallen by the wayside.

It is a decent film with a good story, and, despite some contrivances and cliches here and there, the film is pretty grounded and realistic in its representation of the world of high stakes underground poker.

Besides the names I've mentioned already, the cast also includes John Turturro, Famke Janssen, and Martin Landau. It really amazes me how they managed to pull together such an awesome cast. And thankfully, all of their combined talents are totally wasted, and they generally give some credible and solid performances.

The film moves along at a decent pace, there's good atmosphere, and, like I said, the story's fairly decent. All in all, this might not be the greatest movie, but it's entertaining, well acted, and, despite being rather superficial, is still passable and worthy of a watch.
December 16, 2012
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Brilliant film about the underworld of high stakes poker. Director's John Dahl's effective direction is what keeps you interested and the tone of the film that of a film noir, which adds so much to the film's atmosphere. The cast are wonderful in their parts, and the plot is very engaging, thrilling from start to finish. Edward Norton and Matt Damon are terrific here, and they both have intense on-screen chemistry. Rounders is a must see for poker fans, and with a well crafted script, great acting and a memorable cast of talented actor that star alongside Norton and Damon, this is an accomplished film that will leave you wanting to see it again and again. If you enjoy a thrilling story with effective direction and a great cast, this film is for you. Rounders reminded me of the Mars Callahan film Pool hall Junkies, but this was a much better acted film with a more developed plot. Enjoyable if you're a fan of poker and to the common film goers looking for a terrific flick that is sure to electrify the viewer. Well crafted from beginning to end, Rounders is a wild ride and even if it lacks in some areas, there's enough good elements at work on-screen that make the film overcome its flaws and with an effective pacing set by director John Dahl, this is a well executed hustler flick that is very cool to watch. With a great script and wonderful acting, Rounders is a film that you won't soon forget. Thrilling from the first frame onwards, Dahl's film delivers, and is never dull and highly entertaining. It
November 19, 2012
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

can't help but to enjoy this movie. I absolutely loved john malkovich's role in the movie. plus, this movie didn't have ridiculous monster hands like the ones in casino royale. nothing more but just an enjoyable movie. I highly recommend it
March 10, 2012
Albert Kim

Super Reviewer

Mike McDermott: It's immoral to let a sucker keep his money. 

"In The Game Of Life... Play The Hands You're Dealt."

Too be completely honest there was really no way I was not going to like this. Matt Damon and two of my favorite actors, Edward Norton and John Malkovich in a Poker movie. That's pretty cool and the movie turns out to be just as cool as I thought it would. It probably helps if you're a fan and player of poker. I enjoyed the film because I knew what the acts were saying, but if I didn't understand the logic of the games I probably would have had a hard time liking it. So keep that in mind if you aren't in the know when it comes to poker.

Matt Damon plays a straight playing and very talented poker player. He can tell what you have as soon as you look at your cards. Edward Norton plays a schemer who always finds himself in trouble. Then you got John Turturro who plays a Grinder. He wins just enough to get by and never takes too big a risk. Malkovich plays a big shot Russian who owns his own club. Gretchen Mol is very good and easy on the eyes as the girlfriend Mike.

The story is engaging and it's incredibly fun to watch Norton and Damon onscreen together. The poker scenes are surprisingly entertaining. After the first part of the movie, it's pretty obvious what is going to happen though. We know who Damon is going to be in the last showdown with. But it all still works effectively because Damon gives an amazing performance. The movie easily could have been dull and boring, and might be to people who don't know anything about poker. But for those who do, the movie is extremely watchable and easy to like.
August 19, 2011
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

    1. Teddy KGB: Just like a young man coming in for a quickie... I feel so unsatisfied.
    – Submitted by Melanie D (17 months ago)
    1. Joey Kinish: Happens to everyone, time to time everyone goes bust. You'll be back in the game before you know it.
    – Submitted by Melanie D (17 months ago)
    1. Grama: I consolidated your outstanding debt.
    2. Worm: Where'd you get the scratch for that? You've been rolling fags in the Village again.
    – Submitted by James B (22 months ago)
View all quotes (3)

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