Synopsis: A young, reformed gambler must return to playing big stakes poker to help a friend pay off loan sharks, while balancing his relationship with his girlfriend and his commitments to law school.
Genre: Crime, Drama
Director(s): John Dahl
Production: Miramax
  1 win & 1 nomination.
Rotten Tomatoes:
121 min

[Man Narrating]

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'll 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 bet an hour, that's it.

Get your money in when you have the best

of it, and protect it when you don't.

Don't give anything away.

That's how I've paid my way

through half of law school.

A true grinder.

See, I learned how to win a little at

a time. But finally, I've learned this...

If you're too careful, your

whole life can become a f***in' grind.

This is Teddy KGB's place.

- [Man] Five hundred.

- You won't find it in the Yellow Pages.


Not tonight.

No? What?

Give me three stacks

of high society.

Thirty thousand.

Count it.

- That's good.

- So, you're sitting the apple.

- Good. Want a cookie?

- 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 f*** 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.

What are you,

holdin' those for somebody?

Uh, yeah,

I'm holding 'em for you.

- You should be.

- [Chuckles]

'Cause I hope you're not thinking

of putting all that glimmer in play.

[Narrating] He's as close to a friend

as there is in this place.

- Come here.

- [Narrator] But tonight,

I don't want to see him.

Now, you don't wanna

butt onions with these guys.

'Cause they'll chew you up,

take your whole bankroll.

- So you say.

- There's plenty of easy games.

We get outta here, get some coffee,

ride over to that soft seat in Queens.

I know what I'm doing.

You're making a run at it,

aren't you?

Rolling up a stake

and going to Vegas.

I'm right, right?

- I can beat the game.

- Maybe.

Maybe this is a game

can be beat.

But you know you can beat the 10-20

at the Chesterfield and the Hi-Low...

at that goulash joint

on 79th Street.


I understand.

I understand.

Back to battle.

[Narrating] 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.

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.

Bet an eight ball.

There's no other game in which fortunes

can change so much from hand to hand.

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."

Pass it to you.

All right, I raise.

- I'm gonna raise five hundred.

- [Man] Fold.

It's a position raise.

I call it.


Here's the beauty of this game.

- Go ahead.

- [Narrating] I just got

top two pair on the flop,

and I want to keep him

Rate this script:5.0 / 1 vote

David Levien

David Levien is an American screenwriter, novelist, director, and producer. Best known as the co-writer of Ocean's Thirteen and Rounders, Levien has also produced films such as The Illusionist and The Lucky Ones. Levien frequently collaborates on projects with his writing partner Brian Koppelman. As a novelist, he has published City of the Sun, Where the Dead Lay, 13 Million Dollar Pop, and Signature Kill. Earlier works are often published under D. J. Levien. Levien studied at the University of Michigan. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Rounders" STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 29 Nov. 2023. <>.

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