To continue our theme of great poker-related scenes and stories in the media, let’s turn now to the movies. The 1998 film “Rounders” was based on the world of underground high-stakes poker. Although not a big hit initially, the popularity of Texas hold em and other poker games gave the film, starring Matt Damon and Edward Norton, a huge cult following.
The protagonist of the film is poker player Mike McDermott (Matt Damon) , who loses all his money in a hand of Texas hold em against a Russian mobster named Teddy “KGB” (John Malkovich). Mike quits playing poker to focus on law school promising his girlfriend he’s done with gambling.
After meeting up with his old friend and fellow poker player, Worm (Ed Norton) Mike learns that Worm also lost everything at the hands of “KGB.” Mike takes a loan from his law professor so that he can get redemption and take on “KGB” once again. He eventually takes all the poker chips in two heated heads-up matches, winning enough to pay off Worm’s debt, repay his loan to the professor, and regain his original bankroll of about $30,000. The ironic ending has Mike dropping out of law school, bidding his girlfriend goodbye and going to Las Vegas to play in the World Series of Poker Main Event.
In the final scene of the “Star Trek – The Next Generation” series, the weekly poker game is being played in Commander Riker’s quarters with with the usual crew: Commander Riker, Lt. Commander Data, Lt. Commander Worf, Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge, and Commander Dr. Beverly Crusher and later they are joined by the Ship’s Counselor; Commander Deanna Troi. Captain Picard never attended these weekly games until the last scene of the last episode. To everyone’s surprise he walks in, and after being welcomed he states, “I should have done this a long time ago”, then calls the game and delivers the last line of the series; “Five card stud, nothing wild and the sky’s the limit.” The fade away shot is of the poker table top to the exterior of the Starship Enterprise.
The scene starts with young Ensign Wesley Crusher asking Commander Data if he has another King in the hole. Sitting around the table are Commander William Thomas Riker, Lt. Commander Elizabeth Shelby, Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge, Lt. Commander Data, Ensign Wesley Crusher and Commander Deanna Troi. Young Wesley, obviously intimidated by a great bluff by Riker, folds “triple jacks” only to have Shelby call and take the pot with only two pair. If he had only gone online to the Texas Poker Store and ordered one of the poker dvds he might have played this one differently.
In this game of Five Card Stud we find Commander William Riker, Lt. Commander Worf, Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge, Commander Dr. Beverly Crusher and Commander Deanna Troi involved in various conversations with Riker, seemingly not paying attention to the game. Riker is betting on a flush draw and bets heavily forcing everyone out except Commander Geordi. He believes he’s bluffing and calls him only to have Riker give him a wicked smile as he turns over the flush and declares “I am your worst nightmare” . . . as he rakes in those Star Trek deluxe poker chips.