Rounders, Paramount+, Miramax, Spanky Pictures

Poker Player

Paramount+ original film Rounders was released September 11th, 1998.

#Rounders made $22.9M at the international box office.

rottentomatoes: 64%

metacritic: 54

imdb: 7.3

Mike McDermitt, Rounders, Paramount+, Miramax, Spanky Pictures, Matt Damon
Mike McDermitt, Rounders, Paramount+, Miramax, Spanky Pictures, Matt Damon

Mike McDermitt

Mikey McDermitt finds his career path as a pro poker player in New York City, New York.
Mike McDermitt, Rounders, Paramount+, Miramax, Spanky Pictures, Matt Damon

“Listen, here’s the thing. If you can’t spot the sucker in your first half-hour at the table, then you are the sucker. Guys around here will tell ya, you play for a living, it’s like any other job. You don’t gamble. You grind it out. Your goal is to win one big get an hour. That’s it. Get your money in when you have the best of it, protect it when you don’t it. Don’t give anything away. That’s how I’ve paid my way through half of law school. A true grinder.” — Mike McDermitt

“See, I learned how to win a little at a time. But finally, I’ve learned this. If you’re too careful, you’re whole life can become a fuckin’ grind. This is Teddy KGB’s place. You won’t find it in the yellow pages. No, not tonight. Give me three stacks of high society. It’s good. No. He doesn’t look like much, but KGB is connected all the way to the top of the Russian mob. He’s the one guy in the game you don’t want to fuck with. But if you’re looking for high stakes, this is the only place in town. They all know me as a small-timer. But that’s about to change. Joey Knish is a New York legend. He’s been a rounder, earning his living at cards since he was 19-years-old.” — Mike McDermitt

“Yeah, I’m holding ’em for you. He’s as close to a friend as there is in this place. But tonight, I don’t want to see him. So you say. I know what I’m doing. I can beat the game. The game in question is No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em. Minimum buy-in, $25,000. A game like this doesn’t come together often outside the casinos. The stakes attract rich flounders, and they in turn attract the sharks.” — Mike McDermitt

“No Limit Texas Hold ’em is the Cadillac of poker. Each player is dealt two cards face down. Five cards are then dealt face up across the middle. These are community cards everyone can use to make the best five-card hand. The key to the game is playing the man, not the cards. There’s no other game in which fortunes can change so much from hand to hand.” — Mike McDermitt

“A brilliant player can get a strong hand cracked, go on tilt and lose his mind along with every single chip in front of him. This is why the World Series of Poker is decided over a no limit hold ’em table. Some people, pros even, won’t play no limit. They can’t handle the swings. But there are others, like Doyle Brunson, who consider no limit the only pure game left. Like Papa Wallenda said, ‘life is on the wire, the rest is just waiting.'” — Mike McDermitt

“All right, I raise. I’m gonna raise 500. Here’s the beauty of this game. I just got top two pair on the flop and I want to keep him in the hand. Against your average guy, I’d set a bear trap, hardly bet at all. Let him walk into it. But KGB’s too smart for that. So what I’ve got to do is over bet the pot, make it look like I’m trying to buy it. I bet, 2,000. And then he plays back at me and I get paid off.” — Mike McDermitt

“My guess it Teddy’s on a flush draw. There’s my money card, nine of hearts. I got a full house. Check’s good. Now I hope a spade falls and Teddy makes his flush. That way he’ll bet strong, and I’ll beat him with my nines full over aces. Time. I want him to think I’m pondering a call, but all I’m really thinking about is Vegas, and the fucking Mirage. All right. Your 15, plus I have another 33 to raise you. Um… yeah, I’m gonna go all in, because I don’t think you’ve got the spades.” — Mike McDermitt

“I know before the cards are even turned over. I’m down to felt, Knish. I lost everything. Man, I lost my case money. I lost my tuition. No, man, I’m done. I’m out of it. I’d just throw ’em away. You still got the truck?” — Mike McDermitt

“You don’t hear much about guys who take their shot and miss. But I’ll tell you what happens to them. They end up humping crappy jobs on graveyard shifts trying to figure out how they came up short. See, I have this picture in my head, me sitting at the big table, Doyle to my left, Amarillo slim to my right, playing the World Series of Poker. And I let that vision blind me at the table against KGB. Now the closest I get to Vegas is west New York, driving this lousy route handed down from Knish to rounders who forget the cardinal fuckin’ rule, always leave yourself outs.” — Mike McDermitt

“I don’t know. How should I know that? No. We get to Steinbrenner in the third year of law school. Take care, Ernie.” — Mike McDermitt

“The judge’s game. I’d heard about it for years on the street, before I was even in law school. A rotating group of 10 or 12 judges, prosecutors and professors. They all have money, and in my playing days, it would have been pretty sweet to have any one of ’em owing me favors. Only problem is, no one can get in the game anymore. One rounder, Cryspy Lanetta, sat under some pretense, but when they found out he was a pro, he couldn’t cross the street without a legal hassle. Even his regular club, Forshays, got shut down. The place had been open since 1907.” — Mike McDermitt

“Yes I do. Oh, well, knowledge is my reward, sir. The amazing thing is, in this collection of great legal minds, there isn’t a single real card player. Raise. Professor raises. No, you’re good. I don’t know if I’m gonna bring my legal career to a screeching halt before it even starts, but I just can’t help myself. What’s the limit? Okay. Good. There’s 20. That’s plenty wise. We know what we’re holding and we known what you’re holding. Summer clerkship in your office says I know what you’re holding.” — Mike McDermitt

“Okay. Well… you were looking for that third three, but you forgot that professor Green folded it on fourth street, and now you’re representing that you have it. The DA made his two pair, but he knows they’re no good. Judge Kaplan was trying to squeeze out a diamond flush but he came up short, and Mr. Eisen is futilely hoping that his queens are gonna stand up. And so, like I said, the Dean’s bet is $20. It’s good enough to win. Take it down. I’d like to. I can’t. I can’t. I don’t play cards. See you tomorrow? Okay? All right.” — Mike McDermitt

“I tell you, it’s hard leaving that game, an open invitation to lay with those lambs. But I’m retired. The truth is I can always find games, though. Easy games, tough games, straight games, crooked games, home games. I can turn this truck onto the Jersey turnpike and be at the Taj in two hours. But I’ve mad promises. I’m just a law student now.” — Mike McDermitt

“Hello? Hey. Oh, great. I am sick of that fuckin’ route. No, just stay here. I’ll be really quick. You won’t feel a thing. Fuckin’ long nights are killing me. Yeah, well, that’s different. I mean that was like, buy in at 8:00 next thing you know it’s morning. But, hey, you know, I think I’m hooked up for the summer. Well, after I left you last night at the library, I impressed Judge Marinacci. I think I might be in line for a clerkship.” — Mike McDermitt

“Well, those guys were playing cards, and… just hear me out. Now, hear me out. All right, they were playing cards, and I read his hand blind. So… no. I wasn’t even playing. No, they were playing. I just caught his eye by reading the hand, that’s all. I mean, as long as I don’t fuck up moot court, I mean, I think the job’s mine. Honey, you’re the one who told me that I should use my poker skills in the courtroom. What do you mean con? I was networking. No. Baby, I didn’t even play. All right. Oh. Hey, hon, can I take the Jeep, tomorrow? Uh, Worm’s getting out. I was gonna pick him up. I promised I’d be there, hon. He’s like my brother. Shit. I didn’t even play.” — Mike McDermitt

“I met Worm at Dwight Englewood Preparatory academy over in Jersey. We were the only two kids attending who didn’t have a trust fund. My father’s office was there. It said ‘custodian’ on the door. That’s why they took me.” — Mike McDermitt

“Worm’s dad did the grounds… when he wasn’t too fuckin’ drunk. That’s when we did ’em. Of course the grounds weren’t all we did. Worm put us into a scam a day on all the young aristocrats we went to school with, selling them dime bags of oregano, nunchucks, and firecrackers from China town. Kept us in lunch money. Until the time we went for more than just pocket change and got caught. We had the starting five take a dive against Friends academy. The point guard snapped and gave Worm up. They hauled him up before the school board, offered him a deal. Tell us who else was involved and we’ll go easy on you. Worm didn’t say a fucking word. Got himself expelled. I stayed in school and graduated. Not many guys would stand up for a friend like that.” — Mike McDermitt

“I would’ve been there every week if you let me. It’s good to see you, man. Look at you. You look great, man. Did they toughen you up in there? I borrowed it. What, so you’re working with a partner? What’s this? Come here. Come here. What is that? Yeah. All right. No, man I’m– I’m off it. No, man, I mean I quit. No, man, I… I got cleaned out. Yeah, man. It was a real blood game over at KGB’s place. Yeah. I didn’t wanna tell you, man, while you were in there. I didn’t wanna dispirit you like that. Well, I’m driving Knish’s truck. No, I’m off it. I mean, I really am done. I’ll drop you– I’ll drop you off. I mean it, no, I’m really off it. Uh-huh.” — Mike McDermitt

“That sounds solid. That’s a nice hook-up. What feeling is that, exactly? You just don’t have the steak. I’ve been living a little light. I told you. Anyway, that’s 220, so that’ll get you started. Good, so, forget this game, man. I’ll straighten you out in the city tomorrow. You just got out. What’s the big fuckin’ hurry? How much do you owe? Ten? I heard you asking before, man. I hear you asking now, but I can’t do that. I just can’t do that. I made promises. Bring me a max. Yeah. You, too.” — Mike McDermitt

“In Confessions of a Winning Poker Player Jack King said few players recall big pots they have won strange as it seems, but every player can remember with remarkable accuracy the outstanding tough beats of his career. Seems true to me, ’cause walking in here I can hardly remember how I built my bankroll, but I can’t stop thinking about how I lost it. Hi. I probably won’t even sit. You know, I’m just gonna keep him company. Really? Well I’m not much of a card player. I see. Good night, sweetie. Uh, remind me. Okay, well, deal me in I guess. Okay. Okay, I’m gonna make five.” — Mike McDermitt

“Worm and I fall into our old rhythm like Fly Frazier and Pearl Monroe. We bring out all the old school tricks, stuff that would never play in the city. Signaling, chip placing, trapping. We even run the old best hand play. I could probably crack the game just as quickly straight up, but there’s no risk in this room. Now, some people might look down on Worm’s mechanics, call it immoral. But as Canada Bill Jones says, ‘it’s immoral to let a sucker keep his money.’ Like they teach you in one ‘l…’ caveat emptor, pal. I got the boat. Worm really has become an artist too, discard calls, pickup calls, overhand runoffs, the double duke. His technique is flawless, but his judgement is a little off. A few times, I have to fold the case on him just so it won’t be obvious. Still he plays the part of a loser to perfection. I got the full house. I got the queens over the aces. Hey. You guys, uh, want to keep playing?” — Mike McDermitt

“All right, 300. That’s your cut. No, no, it was a one-time thing for me. Just… because. Hey, how’d you know I was coming back?” — Mike McDermitt

“No, I gotta get home. If she hasn’t already changed the locks on me. Listen, this may not look like Teddy’s place, but it ain’t the Ivy League’s either so don’t fuck around, you gotta play on your belly. Hey, you know I got no problem with the way you help yourself, but these guys are fast company, and they’ll spot every move. Yeah. I’m serious. And you won’t just get a finger up your spine.” — Mike McDermitt

“Good, how you doin’? Oh, yeah? Oh, no, I’m not back. I just… it’s good to see you. This is Les Murphy. He’s like my brother. They’re wired right into the precinct. They got ’em on the payroll. What are they playing? Is that fat grady sitting 20/40? The game’s that soft? No, not me. I told you that was a one-time thing. I will. Take care of him.” — Mike McDermitt

“Hey. I was gonna call, but I didn’t wanna wake you up. Okay. Um, why don’t you just go ahead, and I’m going to jump in the shower. And if I miss a little bit, just cover for me. I was entertaining Worm, I mean… it’s the least I can do for the guy. Sweetie… no. I was nowhere near a card game. All right?” — Mike McDermitt

“Gene Marinocci won’t buy deferential. I couldn’t find a cab. Hey. Um… okay. Excuse me. Sorry. Shit. I told him. Anybody else see him? Did you give him the office? All right, I’ll go get him. I’m gonna go get him. Amarillo Slim, the greatest proposition gambler of all time, held to his father’s maxim: ‘you can sheer a sheep many times, but skin him only once.’ This is a lesson Worm’s never bothered to learn. Hey, Maurice. Have a good rest, man. Can I talk to you for a second there, cosmonaut? Gotta do it. Leave it. It’s fine.” — Mike McDermitt

“Where are you at? All right, listen– you’re in town for five fuckin’ minutes, and you already got a sign on your back. Hey, that guy hasn’t had to work in 15 years, Worm. I thought so, too. All right? Now I know what real work is. Speaking of which, are you even gonna get a job? Are you gonna look? Or are you just gonna go back to printing those credit cards? Huh? You gonna go away again? Come here. I just want you to think long-term, all right? I want you to think long-term. Be smart. Every place in Manhattan, they all keep books, all right? If you get listed as a mechanic, then not only are you gonna get the shit kicked out of you, you’re not gonna get a game anywhere in New York. All right? It’s stupid. It’s just bad business. I know. I know, listen… you’re the guy who taught me all the angles, all right? But I’m not the guy with my nose open right now. Look, I’m not gonna preach to you, but those two guys? They’re not rabbits. Roman and Maurice– they’re Russian outfit guys. Not as bad as KGB, but, I mean you don’t want to be fucking with those guys. Look, you still got time. Just go back in there, right? Lose their fuckin’ money back to them, all right? Just make it look good. Just go back in there, right? Lose their fuckin’ money back to them, all right? Just male it look good. Catch a run of really shitty cards. Then go out to suburbia, man. Play in a fucking dentists game. Go to Swan Meadow. Play in a pro golf game. You got to. I can’t. I have a meeting. And then I gotta go to Queens, I have to load the truck. Make it look good. I mean it. Make it look good.” — Mike McDermitt

“Hey. I’ve been looking all over for you. Jo, look, I missed one meeting. It’s not what you think. It’s not what you think. Jo, this wasn’t even a real game. This was like whiffle ball. No, I couldn’t lose, that’s the point. I wasn’t gonna lose. Why does this still seem like gambling to you? I mean, why do you think the same five guys make it to the final table at the World Series of Poker every single year? What are they, the luckiest guys in Las Vegas? It’s a skill game, Jo. Because I knew you wouldn’t understand. Last night I sat at this card table. I felt alive, for the first time since I got busted at KGB’s joint, okay? No, what–” — Mike McDermitt

“Mind if I sit? Oh… oh, thank you. Yeah. Well, I figure I owe you an explanation. Yeah. Right. Yeah. Okay. Okay. Well, thanks. What are you drinking? Thank you. I’m not magician. Oh, it’s a combination of things. I was watchin’ when the cards came out. That’s just an old habit with me, like breathing. I watched the cards, also, but I watch the players reacting to the cards. That’s how I knew the DA made his two pair and Judge Kaplan missed the flush. I was watchin’ their eyes when they check their river cards. Their faces tell you everything. All right, here’s the thing. You want to play premium hands? You only start with jacks or better split, nines or better wired, three high cards to a flush. If it’s good enough to call you gotta be in there raising, all right? I mean tight but aggressive, and I do mean aggressive. That’s your style, professor. I mean, you gotta– you gotta think of it as a war. I don’t blame you. You put a guy like me in a game like that, and the cards don’t even matter. I’ll play it blind.” — Mike McDermitt

“Please. Why not? You couldn’t lie to yourself? Well, but yours is a respectable profession. What then? And did your parents get over it? If you had to do it all over again, would you make the same choices?” — Mike McDermitt

“Hey. What happened? What happened? Are you comin’ up? All right, listen, things haven’t been that smooth on the home front so tone it down a little, all right? Great. Nevermind. Shutup. Um… not exactly. I always told her she’d be a good card player: know exactly when to release a shitty hand. Nah she was good– I knew it. I fucking knew it. What the fuck are you talking about? What– what saying? What? That right? Yeah? Mmm. Fuck it. Let’s go. Let’s play some fuckin’ cards.” — Mike McDermitt

“The Poker room at the Mirage in Vegas, is the center of the poker universe. Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, Phil Hellmuth– the legends– consider it their office. Every couple of days, a new millionaire shows up waiting to beat a world champion. Usually they go home with nothing but a story. Down here, the millionaires are scarce or they’re playing craps. But there’s still plenty of money for the taking. In fact, on the weekends, you can’t even get a game in the city because all the New York rounders are taking care of tourists here.” — Mike McDermitt

“What? Hey, good. Good, man, hey. I mean, I was starting to wonder about you. I thought maybe the boys upstate, brought about a few changes in you. This is beautiful, welcome to the Chesterfield South. Come all the way to Atlantic City just to see your mugs, huh?” — Mike McDermitt

Jo, Rounders, Paramount+, Miramax, Spanky Pictures, Gretchen Mol


“Hey! How’d it go? Don’t worry. A few more semesters… I got to go. No. I’m really late. We both know that’s not true. Besides you should get some sleep. They never used to. Hooked up how? Tell me more. So instead of coming home you went and played cards with some judge? What kind of job is this going to be, Mike? Um, writing an opinion on high stakes poker? Yeah, I know I said that, but that’s not what I meant. I meant that you should use your head. You know? Like the way you calculate odds on the spot. The way you read people? That’s what I meant. I didn’t mean that you should try to con your way into a summer job. Oh, God. Networking. Are you trying to con me now? I just– I don’t think you get it. You’d be just like one of those ex-college athletes, you know? I mean, great job at the DAs office as long as they never miss a lawyer’s league game. It’s true. I just think if you get in this way, you’ll always be a hustler to them. Okay. I’ll see you later. Yeah. Where? Tomorrow. Beautiful. Worm? I just can’t believe you still know someone called Worm.”

“Reunion run a little late? It’s okay. I wasn’t sleeping. Well, why don’t you change and we’ll get a cab. Hey. At least give me a story, you know, I mean… tell me you were out drinking till you threw up. Tell me you were getting lap dances over at scores. I don’t care, just give me something. So you were nowhere near a card game? What? I’m asking you a question. I’m just– all right. I’ll wait for you.”

“I think the most important thing is to be respectful to the judges, but not obsequious. Anyway, when you make the opening remarks, make sure you stick to the fact pattern. And use the right cites. It’s book cites, not lexis. Knish, how are you? It’s all right, Kelly. We were gonna take a break anyway.”

“I didn’t want be found. You know, Petrovsky waited and waited. So did the rest of the group. You know, it’s not about the meeting. I don’t care about the meeting. Do you even know why I left this morning? I found that gangster’s roll in your pocket. Who do you think I am, you lie right to my face? Look, old days at least you never lied. You lost everything, but at least you never lied. Can you lose your rent playing whiffle ball? No, Mike, you can lose. All right? I watched you, I stood by you while you lost everything before. I don’t think I can go through that with you again. Great. So why’d you have to lie to me? Understand what? You just told me you felt alive for the first time at a fucking card table. What’s that supposed to make me understand?”

Worm, Rounders, Paramount+, Miramax, Spanky Pictures, Edward Norton


Was that, like, your strong finish or something? What? You leave me no choice the way you play. Oh, no, no, no, no, no. Dowling over your head three hands ago, and two hands ago I got the black Mariah so I don’t wanna your bitching, okay? No… okay, you’re right. You know the drill, okay? Come on, I’m not gonna smoke ’em I’ll hold on to ’em. If you want ’em back you can trade me for ’em, or try to play double or nothin’ tomorrow. What the fuck are you talking about? I just won these fair and square. Jesus. You guys are such fucking babies, you know that? IF you’re determined to die of cancer you really ought to learn how to play cards. You know what? Not in this lifetime, homes. Enjoy your time. Where’s the rest? Thank you.”

“Ta-da! Mike McD. God, I knew you’d be here. You’ve never let me down. I know, I know. I couldn’t let you see me in this shithole. You too, you too. Nah, nah. It’s a piece of cake. Piece of cake. Wow. Man, look at your ride. You’ve been prospering while I’ve been away. What have you been up to? Ah… whatever. Get in it and drive me far away from here.”

“You gotta understand there’s like two whole economies in there. There’s cash and there’s trade. So I gotta keep three games going at once. Right? I got a game with the white guys, a game with the brothers, and a game with the guards. And the trick is, I gotta take enough cash off the white guys to lose it to the guards so they, like, you know, keep doing me favors and shit. But I gotta trim enough smokes off the black guys that I can trade and keep myself, you know, in the style that I’ve grown accustomed to. And all of this without getting my ass kicked. No. Who the hell am I gonna trust in there? I mean, it’s just me all alone. You like that? Isn’t that beautiful? It’s an ace up my sleeve. What else. You wait. You wait till I show you some of my chops, man. I mean, I’ve gotten pretty blinding. It’s like– it’s like, you know, I mean– yeah. It’s gonna blow your mind. Blow your mind. How about you? Have you been workin’? Is your game sharp? What are you– you’re getting cold cards? Like, what, are you shitting me? Mike McD? You lost? What? You sat down with the mad Russian and he emptied your pockets? Jesus, what were you thinking? So what are you– are you just a student now? What are you doing for money? Oh, God, you’re killin’ me. Mike, Mike, we gotta get you back on the game. We’re old partners, we’re gonna run like– well, all right. I know a game perfect for the two of us. It’s a berry patch, right outside New York City. Prime pickings. Okay. I know. I know.”

“Yeah, this is it. This is it. Okay, so get this. Here’s the play. I know this girl Barbara. She’s fuckin’ hot. I was this close to bangin’ her when they sent me away. Right. She works as a hostess here for all these fuckin’ trust fund babies in here. She got me into their little game. She introduced me, as like, her cousin from out of town who loves to gamble but wants to learn poker. It’s all the way nice. Okay? There’s only one problem. I got this feeling. You know this feeling very well. Okay? You know, when you got your table all set? Knife, fork, sauce, A1, lugers, but– exactly. I’m glad you understand. A nickel would start me very nicely. Oh, Jesus, what have you been living on? 220? I mean… hey, thanks, but… I mean, that’s like… eleven bets. I mean, I can’t even get a table on this kind of money. No way. I gotta get started. No way. I gotta get started. I mean, I’m already behind here. The hurry is, other than you, my friend there’s about five guys eagerly awaiting my release. Like, ten. I can’t even figure it with the juice. Hey, look, you know I can get started on this easy if it’s you and me working together. Hey, you know, what am I saying? I totally understand. I do. It’s fine. It’s fine. I’ll just– I’ll make a couple moves earlier than I would’ve normally. But– thanks. Thanks, I appreciate it. You got it. You got it. I’ll catch you in the city tomorrow? Okay. Hey, Mike, man. Fuckin’ great to see you.”

“Okay, this one’s Chicago. Oh, yeah, sorry. Ah, fuck. You know what? Fuck you and your never ending string of boats, okay? Well, like my Uncle Lester says, when the money’s gone, it’s time to move on, so… enjoy it, you secret handshaking assholes.”

“How did we do? Oh, beautiful. Fuckin’ assholes. They deserved it. Hey, you were great. Great. When can we do this again? Forget it. Two weeks? Okay. Okay. Hey, thanks a lot. Yeah. Thanks. Hey, I had to try, right? That’s easy. Who’s your favorite actor? Clint Eastwood. The Outlaw Josey Wales, the man with no name. He always doubles back for a friend.”

“Hey, we made good time. You want to get breakfast? All right, look, just do me a favor. Give me like five minutes, okay? Get me straightened out. No problem. Tough customers, huh? All right. Okay, I hear you. I’ll play it straight. Call me Worm. What’s she wearing the button for? Hell, yeah, we’re gonna play. Oh, come on, you’re not gonna walk away from this. God, Mike, we could cut this room up in an hour. All right. Run along, then. Say hi to her for me. Jesus. What a fuckin’ waste. Can you believe that? She’s really got him by the balls. It depends on the grip. Come on, give me 2,000. You heard Mike. He’s good for it. Come on. Hey, look, I’m gonna triple that in half an hour princess, let’s go.”

“Gotta bet my jacks. Hey, guys. English only at the table. No Russian. What am I talking about? If you want to see this seventh card, you’re gonna stop speaking fuckin’ Sputnik. Do you understand? Yeah, I’m sure you’re just talking about perogies and snow and shit, but let’s cut it out, all right? There’s the river, down and dirty. I think you got that ace, Roman, but I’m gonna pay for it. Okay, well I got the jacks, come on. Oh, you got it. Wow, two pair, but I got sevens too, though. With my jacks. But you made me for the jacks, Maurice. You’re a player. Hey, come on. Don’t be a fucking baby, Jesus. Hey, man, I’m a roll. This is a very emotional game. Come on. I counted these.”

“What’s going on? I was pumped up, like eight G’s. I was ready to go on a run when you came along. Hey, wait. I wanna get a hot dog. Oh, right. That fucking Knish rat me out? Come on, you gotta stop listening to that guy, man. I mean, he sees all the angles, but he doesn’t have the balls to play one. You don’t think that’s work what he does, grinding it out on his fucking leather ass? No, thank you. Hey. I wasn’t printing. I was distributing. Distributing. It’s different. Second of all, I’m never going back there. Stop worrying so much, okay? All right, see, look. This is what I love about you, okay? You think about the big picture? That’s great. But it’s not me. I don’t play the game straight up and then if I lose, get some real work or something, okay? I see a mark, I take him down. That’s what I do. That’s the way I live. Come on, come on. With those fake Versace shirts and shit? Jesus. I can’t. I gotta put some scratch together, man. I gotta get somethin’ goin’. That’s an idea. I’ll definitely do that. But I don’t know. I can’t dump to these guys. All right, whatever. Whatever. Look– hey, meet me at Stromboli’s in, like, a half an hour. All right? Jesus, man. You’re such a fucking working man now. I’m never gonna see you. You know me.”

“Ah, so-so. 6,000. 2,000. Oh, hold on. Two more. You know what? Why don’t you give me all of it? Oh, okay, we’ll owe ya.”

“Hey, fuckin’ Grama. How you doin’? I was just thinking about you. You know, I could use you. Yeah. See me in like two weeks. I’ll put you back on the payroll. Really? Go figure. Yeah, I know Grama. That’s why I’m trying to put a roll together. Really? You’re thinking now? That’s big. Hey, easy! Take it easy! God. It’s just a friend of mine. Hey! Jesus, easy, easy, easy. God. What? Where the fuck do you get off? 25 grand? How do you come up with– Jesus Christ. What the fuck are you doing, man? You were my partner. Where’d you get the scratch for that? You’ve been rolling **** in the village again. Bullshit. Bullshit. Teddy’s got plenty of goons. Why would he put you under his flag? What? So you bought me up, Grandma? Great, so you’re a banker now, Grandma. That’s real classy. Oh, God. All right. Look. Just take it easy, all right? I’ll– I’ll scrape something together, I’ll come and I’ll find you this week. No, no, no. Here, fine. Have yourself a ball, okay? God… damn.”

“Hey, where you been? I been freezin’ my ass off. Ah, I ran into a door. Don’t worry about it. Hey, she crossed her legs too fast, all right? Just mind your own business. No. I’ve been standing out here in the cold just to say hi. Tone down what, motherfucker? Hey, when you become a bigshot lawyer, you think you can find us an elevator building, maybe? What? Did you get robbed? Wait, wait, wait. Did she split on you? Oh, ho, ho… God! Oh, my God. Mike, she made off with your sheets. Oh, come on, Mike. Forget that, okay? This girl is obviously wrapped way too tight for living. It’s depressing. You know, you can’t trust ’em. You can’t trust ’em at all. I mean, look at you. You domesticated yourself for this girl. You know, you took yourself out of the life. You walked the fuckin’ line for her, and the minute you want a little bit of it back, she walks out on you. It’s just like the saying says, you know? In the poker game of life, women are the rake. They are the fucking rake. I don’t know. There oughta be one. You know what cheers me up when I’m feelin’ shitty? Rolled-up aces over kings. Yeah. Check-raising stupid tourists and taking huge pots off ’em. Stacks and towers of checks I can’t even see over. Playin’ all night, high limit hold ’em at the Taj, where the sand turns to gold. Don’t tease me.”

“Hey, hey, why don’t you, uh… warm up a seat for me. I’ll catch up with you. Look, I got certain needs that I need to attend to, okay? I mean, I’m overdue. Hey, in your dreams, lover.”

Teddy KGB, Rounders, Paramount+, Miramax, Spanky Pictures, John Malkovich

Teddy KBG

“500? No? What? 30,000. Count it. So, you’re setting the apple. Good. Want a cookie?”

“So a position raise. I call it. Go ahead. Call. Burn and turn. Choose better. I’m gonna… bet. Bet… 15,000. You are right. I don’t have spades. Aces full, Mike.”

Joey Knish, Rounders, Paramount+, Miramax, Spanky Pictures, John Turturro

Joey Knish

“What are you, uh, holding those for somebody? You should be, ’cause I hope you’re not thinking of putting all that glimmer in play. Come here. You don’t want to bump unions with these guys, ’cause they’ll chew you up. They’ll take your whole bankroll. There’s plenty of easy games. We get outta here, get some coffee, ride over to that soft seat in Queens. You’re making a ride, aren’t you? Rollin’ up a stake and going to Vegas. I’m right, right? Maybe. Maybe this is a game can be beat. But you know you can beat the 10-20 at the Chesterfield and the high-low at that goulash joint on 79th Street. Okay. I understand. I understand. Back to bow.”

“Get up. Want some? It happens to everyone. Time to time, everyone goes bust. You’ll be back in the game before you know it. They all say that at first. Hey, man, let me stake you. Standard deal, you know. 50 percent of your winnings. If you lose, it’s on me. Sure. Come on.”

“Hiya, Jo. Long time. The same. I don’t mean to interrupt you future magistrates and noblemen, but I uh… I need a word. It’s important. The guy’s a cheat. He always has been. Right now he’s over there at Chesterfield’s ruining your reputation with every lousy second he deals. Nobody saw. I heard it. The snapping sound gave it away. If I hadn’t known, I might not have noticed. But I turn around, I see him there with the mechanic’s grip, I know. I tried to warn him, but he looked right through me. No, no. He’s okay now. Most of the Georges are at the tail end of a 36-hour session. They can’t see straight. Come on, I’ll buy you a cup of coffee. But if he’s still there when Roman and Maurice start their games, he’s gonna wish he was still inside.”

“This is what I like to see, huh? Mike McDermott where he belongs, sitting with the scumbags, telling jokes, dragging the occasional pot. I was actually gonna try and make some uh… real money tonight, but in honor of Mike’s alley-like return to the ring, I’ll sit with you all for a while.”

Abe Petrovsky, Rounders, Paramount+, Miramax, Spanky Pictures, Martin Landau

Abe Petrovsky

“Oh, Michael. You got some things for me? Put them on the desk. It’s all right. Michael is lead counsel in the moot court you’re presiding over next week. Besides, he could use the background if he’s going to clerk for one of you fellas this summer. Right? Mike. Michael… I would’ve just called. Nothing but a busted straight. Smart kid.”

“Michael. Please. Sit. Sit. That was a nifty trick the other night. It’s wonderful. Marinacci and the DA were ready to cut cards for your services at that point. Of course, it was an altogether different trick that disappearing act you pulled today at your group’s meeting. No, not to me. I’m sure there’s a good reason you left. Just have to work harder. Prepare. And smooth things over with the others. Stay. Take a drink. Jamie. Another glass, darling. Gin. Always gin. Thanks, dear. I know a magician doesn’t divulge his secrets, but, uh… well, if it wasn’t magic, how did you know what everyone held? You watch the cards? You watched the man? I– I never knew you had to calculate so much at cards. My god. You are officially never invited to our game again.”

“Michael… may I tell you a story? For generations, men in my family have been rabbis… in Israel, before that, in Europe. It was to be my calling. I was quite a prodigy, the pride of my yeshiva. The elder’s said I had a 40-year-olds understanding of the Midrash by the time I was 12. But by the time I was 13… I knew I could never be a rabbi. Because of all I understood of the Talmud, I never saw God there. I tried. Oh, I tried like crazy. I mean, people were counting on me. Not to my family. My parents were destroyed, devastated by my decision. My father sent me away to New York to live with distant cousins. Eventually, I found my place, my life’s work. Well, I immersed myself fully. I studied the minutiae. I learned everything I could about the law. I mean, I felt very deeply inside that it is what I was born to do. No. I always hoped that I would find… some way to change their minds, but… they were inconsolable. My father never spoke to me again. What choice? The last thing I took away from the yeshivas was this… we can’t run from who we are. Our destiny chooses us. L’chaim.”

Petra, Rounders, Paramount+, Miramax, Spanky Pictures, Famke Janssen


“Michael McDermitt. How you doin’, Mikey? Good. You know, uh… the computer tried to delete you last week. But I knew you’d be back. Good to see you too. Hey. Don’t wiggle away. 20/40 short rotation. It’s the only game going right now. Yeah. It’s a real live game. So, you guys gonna play? Me, too. That’s not so bad, is it? On the finger? Okay.”

“So how’d you do? All right, so it’s ten grand total, just take back the two we lent you, give you the white meat. Usually credit players only leave with their profit. Otherwise the juice starts, five points a week, on Mike.”

“Twice in one week. For someone who don’t play, you spend a lot of time in card rooms. Hey, don’t do us any favors Knish. About to go to the board to fill these seats.”


“I heard you was out. Yeah? I got some bad news for you, Worm. I’m out on my own now. Yeah. There were a lot of angry people when you went away. A lot of people were mad. A lot of people coming up to me, asking if I could help asking if I knew where to find you. So it got me to thinking. Get the fuck out of here. What’d I say? Get the fuck out of here. Get the fuck out of here. Okay. Here’s what I’m thinking. Instead of you owing 15 grand spread out to five guys, you owe 25 to me. Where the fuck do I get off? Here’s how it is. 25 grand and the juice is still running. No, no, no. I was your lackey. But I learned a few things, Worm. I, uh… consolidated your outstanding debt. Still a wise-ass. Unbelievable. What I did was go partners with an old friend of yours. Teddy KGB backed me. ‘Cause as soon as he heard your name, he became real excited for the prospect. Yeah. I got a real sweet deal, too. 30 cents on the dollar. There’s not a lot of faith in you out there in the business community. Not exactly. I don’t have to tell you my collection methods. Yeah. That’s just what I figured. So I’m gonna take what you got on you right now.”

Law School

“The key is a seamless passing of the baton among the team. Now, wait a minute. Make sure to be deferential. Oh, I see. It’s Gene, is it? Well, I knew there was a reason you were lead counsel and it’s got nothing to do with your punctuality. I liked his lead counsel. Coffee time.”

Roman and Maurice

“What are you talking about? Oh, da, motherfucker. He worry we might work together. Ace. And six. Motherfucker, slow rolling me like that. Hey, hey, you said just jacks. Fuck! Hey, Mike, you here to play? Come on, we need some new blood. They’re putting a fucking bracelet on my tomorrow for four months. I already stuck two racks.”

The Taj Mahal

“Hey, Mikey. Hey. Hey, Mike. Oh… changing 500.”

“Occasional? Ha! Just like my ex-wife occasionally slept with other men.”

Judge Marinacci

“Kid, he paying you for this late night shift? Well, let me tell you, it ain’t worth it. Why don’t you become a jockey and do somethin’ useful? I’m still high. All right, I call. Freeze check. $20. The big bet’s $20. The fuck you know what we all got. I don’t bet with jobs like that. Let’s just say I’ll put you at the top of the list if you’re right. Well, kiss my ass. All right, kid. Your first assignment, pull up a seat next to me. I like the kid, Abe.”

Judge Kaplan

“Kid’s a little tall, isn’t he, Jean? All right, I call. I call. Read ’em and weep. Check to Martin and Lewis over there. Kiss my ass, too. Good kid.”

D.A. Shields

“Enough with the Belmont recruiting spiel. Your bet, Cal. Look, a word to the wise, stay in the private sector. That NASA defense attorneys game, they use our chips for coasters. Call. Check to the raiser. You’ve seen half the hand. How the fuck are you betting into us? Mine, too. I think you win. Oh, come on! Get outta here. Over there.”

Professor Eisen

“Abe, I thought you liked the kid, why do you want to make him a civil servant? Your call. It’s good. I’m in. Checkoslovakia. You sure this is wise, Abe? It’s your money the kid’s betting with. What’d you have, Abe? Whose deal?”


“Mike. Barbara. Worm said you were running a little late. Just follow me. No, no, that’s not gonna work. Here’s the play– you’re my new boyfriend you’re looking for a regular game. Bullshit. Worm tells me that’s precisely what you are. My cut is 25 percent. Good. Come on. Gentlemen… this is my boyfriend Michael. Be nice to him. Leave him enough money to buy me breakfast. Good luck, honey.”

“Thank you very much, boys. Uh, two weeks. Yeah. Bye.”

Trust Fund Babies

“Here, why don’t you pull up a chair. You know Chicago? Stud game. High split in the hole wins half the pot. That’s you. Oh, thanks. Two on you, Murphy. Oh, yeah, big spender. I bet that stung, Birch. Flush. Murph! Come back anytime. Your money’s always good here. Good night, Mike. See you next time.”


“Pow! Motherfucker! That’s the fourth time you done played that bitch of spades on my ass. Yeah? But he shot the moon on that hand, didn’t he?”

“Yeah, I saw that. So what helped you? You ain’t walkin’ outta here with our grits, Worm.”

“Murphy, the hell are you sittin’ there for? You’re processed. Come on. Processed? This motherfucker’s gettin’ the jump. Come on, man, have some decency here, Worm. You can buy all the smokes you want in half an hour. You don’t even smoke, Worm. Ain’t a good idea to add insult to injury, yo. That shit’ll come back and hurt you.”

“Murphy. Drag me outside.”

New Yorker

“Hey, man, let me ask you a question. In a legal sense, can fuckin’ Steinbrener just move the Yankees? Does he have the fuckin’ right to just move them? You didn’t learn that yet? Oh. Yeah.”

Card Sharp

“Bet on eight ball.”

“Pasadena. Fold.”

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