As kids, parents use cards to teach us counting and colors.  They also use them to teach strategy — How else would you explain people growing up with a love for Uno?  As we get older, we start wanting to play more advanced games of cards.

When I was 8, one of my Christmas gifts was a game called Riverboat Showdown.  It featured a deck of cards, plastic chips and rules for a game called poker.   I would play this game a lot, learning what beat what.  At the same time, I also learned Yahtzee!, which is just a dice version of poker.  When I hit my teenage years, my friends and I would play in the garage when it became too hot to play basketball outside.  Then I stopped playing for some years.

I picked up the game again in 2001 when some friends invited me over for “home” games.  That’s when the bug hit.  I enjoyed my weekly games for a few years, but then life caused the games to spread out more and more.  Then in March of this year, I found a way to play in an amateur league for free.  So now I get to play every week.

Of course, one of the fun parts of playing cards is the social aspect.  Get a bunch of card players together and ask them about movies, they start talking about Rounders.  I had watched Rounders a couple of years ago and agreed that it was a good movie about poker.

Rounders centers on Matt Damon’s character.  Like all good stories, we see Damon’s fall from grace, his fight to climb back up, and his biggest obstacle.  Damon and Ed Norton do a great job of portraying the deep friendship of their characters.  The brilliance is in the casting of the side characters: Famke Janesson, Gretchen Moll, John Tuturro, Martin Landau, and John Malkovitch.  The story is kept simple, and, much like a poker game, the stakes are raised higher at every turn for our main character.

The DVD contains the following extras:

  • audio commentary with poker players — very good commentary — it is how I watched the movie this time
  • audio commentary with actors/director
  • poker tips — not very revealing
  • heads-up hold ‘em game — clunky game and not very good
  • behind the scenes features

My advice: regardless of your interest in cards, this is a good character story; check it out one afternoon — you will not regret making this bet…

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