Tuesday, August 14, 2018

"Rounders" - It's Your Deal

Before high stakes, card-playing 'poker games' became a standard in syndicated TV series, the feature "Rounders (1998), starring Matt Damon and Edward Norton, gave moviegoers a romantic view of the game as a way of life, with 'Texas hold 'em', the game of choice throughout the entire film:

" 'Rounders', gifted poker player, law student 'Mike McDermott' (Damon) dreams of playing in the 'World Series of Poker' in Las Vegas. 

"To do so, Mike moves up in stakes, risking a $30,000 bankroll while playing 'Texas hold 'em' at an underground poker room. But distracted by his dreams of playing in Vegas, an overconfident Mike loses his entire bankroll in one hand.

"Hooking up with 'Worm (Norton), Mike gets back into the game and goes on a run over several locations winning several big pots, settles his debt with Worm, repays other loans and restores his original bankroll of 'three stacks of high society' before he heads for Las Vegas with dreams of winning the World Series of Poker..."

'Texas hold 'em' was also central to the plot of "Casino Royale" (2006), replacing the casino game 'baccarat', prominent in author Ian Fleming's original 'James Bond' novel.

In director Martin Campbell's film, 'M16' superspy 'Bond' plays a high stakes 'Texas hold 'em' game against terrorist 'Le Chiffre', who has his sights on a large pot he plans to use to fund international criminal activities.

A plan which Bond tries his best to foil, with the last hand of the game showing Bond with a hand that doesn't seem to amount to much.

However, in true '007' fashion, Bond unexpectedly wins the hand and (again), saves the world from tyranny.

'Hold 'em' tournaments televised since the late 1970's, exploded in popularity as a North American spectator sport in 2003, when the "World Poker Tour" adopted a lipstick-sized, hidden camera idea. 

A few months later, ESPN's coverage of the 2003 "World Series of Poker" featured the unexpected victory of amateur player Chris Moneymaker who gained admission to the tournaments, after qualifying at an online poker site, scoring $2.5 million in winnings and initiating a surge of interest in the series, based on the egalitarian idea that anyone—even a rank novice—could become a world champion.

Today, many people who have never played poker, rely on an instructive guide to educate them about playing 'Texas hold em'...

...with TV series, including the long running "World Poker Tour", credited with futhering public interest in the game.

In addition to its popularity in movies and on network/cable television..., and specifically 'Texas Hold em'  has now become a regular part of sports network programming in the US.

Click the images to enlarge and Sneak Peek "Rounders" and "Casino Royale"...