Posts Tagged ‘Matt Damon’

Lynn "Queen of Hearts" ParisLynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris

The title is actually a line spoken by entrepreneur Molly Bloom, played by Jessica Chastain in the upcoming poker thriller, “Molly’s Game.” I’ve written two previous blogs about this film as I eagerly awaited its release. The reasons are simple:

  1. What could possibly intrigue a poker blogger more than a movie about high-stakes poker, especially one written by one of my all-time favorite screenwriters, Oscar-winner Aaron Sorkin, also making his directorial debut
  2. In the late 2000s, Bloom ran the most exclusive high-stakes star-studded underground poker game ever seen in Hollywood;
  3. Poker-themed movies are generally filled with tension, humor, paranoia, excitement suspense and lots of poker chips;
  4. Idris Elba

So, if you’re ready to see the next great poker movie, you’re in luck. The movie has already received great reviews from film critics and was recently honored by the American Film Institute to run as its closing night gala.

Bloom, a world-class skier headed for the Olympics before a freak accident kept her out of the Salt Lake City games, went instead to Los Angeles where, as Sorkin states, she “ended up running for 12 years the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game, a game where there were movie stars (like Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Toby McGuire) and hedge fund managers, big name athletes, Saudi princes and millions of dollars changing hands in the course of a night. She became known as the biggest game-runner in the world.”

To find out more about the woman who’d been on her way to Harvard Law School and wound up running a poker room, you’ll have to see the film. And I can finally say, we won’t have to wait much longer. “Molly’s Game” is opening on Christmas Day!

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Vinny at the Indian Poker Legends TournamentConfessions of a Grinder

Have you ever heard anyone say, “The first rule of poker is – Play the player not the situation”, or “Know when to hold’ em and when to fold ‘em.” In my opinion, there are many first rules in poker, with each rule making more sense depending on the situation. I am going to list some of my own ‘first rules’ and the poker players or movie characters who follow them. My first first rule is “Shut up and play.” I have made too many good calls listening to opponents speak and picking on their tells. A nervous poker player more often than not sounds like a meek rat with a soft cracking high-pitch tone. Although this goes against my personality and sense of humor, I am working hard on being a stoical statue-like opponent like Patrick Antonius. John Vorhaus, a prolific poker writer, player, author and script developer would agree when he said “Never educate a stupid poker player.” He is right. Why try? Let a donkey speak his own Chinese.

My second favorite first rule is “Show them no Mercy.” I have heard too many fools on table say, “Yeah I knew you had two pair and you’d call. I didn’t want your money, so I checked back”. This usually happens to the players sitting to your immediate left or right whom you tend to bond with for no apparent reason. Don’t do it! Matt Damon’s character agreed in the movie Rounders when he said, “It’s immoral to let a sucker keep his money.” Robert Duvall in the movie Lucky You said, “You want sympathy? You’ll find it between “shit” and “syphilis” in the dictionary.” Remember, you are in it to win it!

Hold 'Em Wisdom For All PlayersThere are a few first rules I like about patience, folding and playing tight. Here are a few: “Tight is Right”, “Poker stands for Patience Over Knowledge Equals Results” and, one from the great Amarillo Slim, “Fold and live to fold again”. One of  my favorite quotes is by our very own Jim Paris – “Wait!, Wait!, Wait!” I think that’s a good rule of thumb. If you are card dead, just wait, wait and wait. If you’re interested in other interesting rules, quotes and opinions, you can find lots of them in the many poker books written by professional poker players. Whatever your first rule is, I hope you follow it and succeed. Good luck at the tables!

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After Ray Mecs with Ah-2h and Scott Wilson with Ac-8h call, we see Matt Damon holding 10d-6h playing from the small blind position, also making the call as Ben Affleck watches on. Next Eric Seidel with a Kh-9s checks his option bringing 4 to the flop. The flop gives Matt a “Movie Star Flop” showing a 10c – 10h – 6c . . . giving him the nuts with a full house. He purses his lips, makes a few attempts at looking unsure, and then checks.  Everybody checks. The turn is an 8 pairing up Wilson. Matt checks; Seidel checks; Wilson bets.

Matt shows some pretty bad acting skills trying to appear nervous and barely makes the call. Seidel folds; Mecs folds. Nothing can help Wilson, but Matt checks after the river card, hoping to trap Wilson. It doesn’t work; Wilson sees through the bad acting and just checks.

If Matt had read a little more of the Texas Hold Em poker book he may have played this one a little differently.

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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.

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