Earlier this month, HBO and The Ringer's Bill Simmons Podcast is joined by Matt Damon to talk about his journey through Hollywood, and one of them is about the poker movie ‘Rounders' released in 1998.
The movie has just celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, yet it still remains as the most iconic (and close-to-real-life) poker movie ever. Of course, the ones who would most likely contest this statement are the creators of ‘Molly's Game'.
In the podcast, the 48-year-old award-winning actor talked about how today's poker has evolved beyond his comprehension.
He also told Simmons, a popular sports columnist, how Miramax made use of the WSOP festival to promote the movie. He also revealed a story how he got felted by Doyle Brunson.
Matt Damon got Busted by Texas Dolly Miramax Films, ran by American film producer Harvey Weinstein, had a bright idea on how to get word out about its upcoming film.
Damon said, "To promote that movie that year, they brought (co-star) Edward (Norton) and I to the World Series of Poker. It was 20-grand they were going to lose but they got all those stories out of it."
At that time, Damon was just a beginner learning the game. He's definitely not like Johnny Chan, who made a cameo on the felt in the movie, but of course he didn't want to bust too early from the tournament. He was put there to promote a movie, after all. How could he get a lot of attention if he'd get busted in just an hour of the first session?
Both Damon and Norton did not want to enter the tournament and just become dead money, so they took private poker lessons from Huck Seed and Phil Hellmuth.
Tough luck for the young actor, because he did not last long enough to see his goal of making it to Day 2, but he will never forget how he got busted.
Simmons asked, "Is it true you lost to Doyle Brunson, did he knock you out?"
Damon replied, "Yeah, I had kings, he had aces. He did, which was great. I had been sitting there playing like a donkey. All I was thinking was I've got to last as long as I can. I can't go out on the first session. I've got to get to the piss break. I wonder, can I make it to the second day because that would be a good story."
Thanks to Texas Dolly, he didn't see the light of Day 2, but he managed to accomplish his main objective of promoting his new movie.
Brunson, unfortunately, failed to cash in the Main Event. It was Scotty Nguyen who won the event for $1 million.
How it Became a Poker Cult Classic After it was released in 1998, Rounders actually struggled in the box office arena. Thing is, poker was not considered a widespread or popular game. However, that all changed when the poker boom hit in the early 2000, to which the movie had tremendously grew in popularity since then. The film has a 65% rating among critics and an 87% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, but of course, we have no idea how many film critics like or actually play poker.
On the other hand, the poker community adores and respects the movie. Matt Damon said to Simmons that he really enjoys the attention he gets from poker players because of Rounders.
When asked if he enjoys the game, Damon said that he still does enjoy playing poker but he's kind of struggling to keep up with modern poker strategy. He said, "Poker players are now playing a game within a game within a game. The game theory is beyond my comprehension where the game is going."
Rounders 1998 is a great movie. Molly's Game is a good movie. The comparison between these two films shows that: the first movie is better than the second film. All cinema-goers agrees with this. For Matt Damon this film brought him more celebrity, but it was better for him to learn to play poker, from the late 90's. Damon has proven he's a poor poker player. Poker has changed is true, but that is also because of the players, who have multiplied the number of those who play poker.
It was a good movi with a good cast. The idea of them promoting the film was brilliant, and it worked some how Indeed back then poker was something unfamiliar for many until the boom came up with online gaming. . In many countries internet was still picking up at that time
I too think personally like matt damon that poker is evolve now from twenty years time and now it is very hard to win money to players eho not try to make they game better and play like always. And this work not only on big stakes but on smaller too
the film is of course wonderful .... and of course he has the status of a cult film .... I watched it for a long time .... But this year there was a post about this film .... I revised it again .... I enjoyed it no less than in previous times .... good films can be watched many many times ... I am sure of it
In this world are many people who prefer to watch some movies very often, but in my opinion is not indicated, even if the movie is very good. Rounders was a good movie, but for those who often watch a movie several times, i recommend them to watch other movies as well. I've seen over 1,000 movies in the last 30 years and some were masterpieces, others were good movies, other acceptable and the rest was trash. I do not watch a movie many times because it's absurd, and if i do not have movies, i watch my favorite series. I think people should see many good movies because it deserves all the effort. Those who saw Rounders and have not seen Molly's Game 2017 i recommend this movie.