I may go down in history as one of the world's worst poker players. While I'd rather be known for having the sexual prowess worthy of Don Juan my tombstone will probably read 'I'm folding this fucking hand'. Given this I'm still fascinated by the popular no limit Texas hold 'em and will play on occasion. Sometimes I clean house, but often times I lose early after folding numerous hands.
Players are locked in the eternal debate of whether poker is a skill or luck game, but I believe both camps are correct. My win/loss record is proof. Still the excitement that comes from going 'all in' on a hand keeps people at the tables betting their kids' college fund.
'Rounders' is a great example of the sacrifice made by people for the sake of facing an opponent at the poker table. Matt Damon plays a New York City law student who has left behind his addiction for the cards. Planning a new life with his hot girlfriend Gretchen Mol the viewer is given glimpses into how he misses the game even though it almost cost him his relationship.
Ed Norton is Matt's best friend who is recently released from prison. Ed is a poker player as well, but doesn't have the gentlemanly conduct one would associate with a high roller. A cheat and a hustler, Norton's friendship with Matt immediately puts a strain on any sort of normalcy for our hero. Torn between the struggles of covering his friends ass and maintaining his studies, Damon finds himself in extreme debt covering for the antics of his buddy. Soon that debt catches up with them both and the two are left to playing cards to save their lives, a position Damon finds aggravating, but exciting as well.
Ed Norton is always a treat to watch on film and in this movie he doesn't disappoint. The rest of the cast, including John Malcovich, range from great to at least competent. While the script isn't always compelling the movie is a great look into the world of the compulsive gambler, one I hope most people avoid. Given my experience as a former casino employee I can honestly say I pray all avoid the self destructive lifestyles evident in many a gambler.
I have to commend the taste of my readers. While their submission may not always be considered high brow cinema I've enjoyed all of the films sans one, that miserable "Life of David Gale." Bravo to the fans of Erik's Ramblings.
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"It's a movie of character and milieu, both of which it evokes brilliantly." - Stephen Hunter