Posts Tagged ‘Rounders’

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

I have always loved poker-themed movies, even before I became a real poker enthusiast through watching and blogging about the Global Poker League throughout the year.  Let’s face it; there’s usually some suspense, some thrills, some humor, some paranoia and at least a few fascinating and/or dubious characters – you know, just like a high-stakes poker game.  The “Cincinnati Kid,” “High Roller,” “Rounders,” “Runner Runner,” and who can forget “Casino Royal”  when James Bond sits at the final table and defeats his arch enemy, LeChiffre,  are among the many films that come to mind as poker-based and fun to watch. Not to mention Negreanu’s documentary, “KidPoker,” which we have written about several times in this blog.

Molly "Princess of Poker" BloomSo it’s no wonder that I’m eagerly awaiting a movie on the horizon titled, “Molly’s Game.” First of all, one of my all-time favorite wordsmiths, Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, will be making his debut as the director of the film. He’s brilliant, and his dialogue is always spot on, so I know he’ll capture all the action at the poker tables with perfection.

The movie is based on former high-stakes “Poker Princess” Molly Bloom.  Never heard of her? Well, she came to L.A. at the age of 26 and rose from cocktail waitress to running the most exclusive, star-studded underground poker game ever seen in Hollywood, with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, during the late 2000s. Her private games attracted a who’s who list of pro athletes, financiers, billionaires and A-list actors, including Ben Affleck, Tobey Maguire, Leo and Matt. Eventually, the game moved to NY and was ultimately shut down by the FBI (but you can see all about that in the movie.)

Jessica ChastainIdris ElbaAs if that weren’t enough, the super-talented, two-time Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, The Martian) has signed on to play Molly Bloom and the sexy, charismatic British actor, Idris Elba, (The Wire, Luther, Star Trek:Beyond, Beasts of No Nation) will play Bloom’s attorney.

As Sorkin stated, “They’re two of the greatest actors of their generation, paired for the first time, and their chemistry will be electric.”

Others in serious talks to join the cast are Kevin Costner and Michael Cera.

It’s scheduled for release in 2017 and I can’t wait. In my mind, this promises to be the next great poker movie.

Send us your thoughts!

Vinny The GrinderBy The Grinder

Decades ago, No Limit Texas Hold Em started out slow and was mainly played in southern states, until somebody decided to construct a paradise for gamblers in Las Vegas, and from then on it grew exponentially. We now have over 100 million poker players in the world today playing a totally different game, and speaking a whole new lingo.

Gone are the days when one would be content being dealt ten hands an hour, having a good chat with dealers, sharing poker stories, and naming each other classic names like Slim Jim. Poker whiz kids now play a wide range of hands, and strategies change once every few months.compuer-poker

The key is to adapt and improve. For example, a while back, Q7 was known as a Computer Hand. Some guy in the 70s ran a computer simulation, and Q7 happened to win most of the time, by sheer dumb luck. Thereafter, the phrase ‘Computer Hand’ was used mainly as a sarcasm by old-school live players simply because they would never play it. Q7 does have a 51.77% equity over any random hand, and while hands like J5, Q2, Q5 etc. have a close enough equity, it’s fair to say that Q7 is one of the best worst hands to start with—a good bad hand! I was recently watching the final table of the 2013 Guangdong Asia Millions. I bet that after you watched it, you’d probably have a wee bit more faith in Q7. Minutes after the start, short-stacked Isaac Haxton doubled up through Teng Zhang when his Q7 won against Zhang’s KJ-suited on a board of 7-6-A-A-9. A few hands later, Pratyush Buddiga’s 88 lost to Igor Kurganov’s Q7 when the board ran out Q-2-6-4-10. The point being simple—it’s not about playing Q7 as much as it’s about taking your chances in a tournament! No wonder Mike Mcdermott in Rounders said ‘if you’re too careful, your whole life can become a grind’. If you dream of winning a poker bracelet, you better start taking your chances at the poker tables.

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T-LiciousBy T-Licious

As we continue breaking down poker’s public image, we have to look at why that image is better today than it was 20, 30, or more years ago.  The reason is largely credited to the fact that poker has joined the ranks of the sporting world covered by ESPN.  This four-letter acronym might as well be a four-letter word followed by an exclamation point for the vital role it has played.  The cable giant that began as a quirky basketball satellite channel in the late 70s before most people knew what cable was, let alone satellite dish technology, now holds the Midas touch for legitimizing any activity that can be considered under the broadest sense of the word ‘sport’.  

ESPN Set of 500 poker chipsESPN’s coverage of the 2003 World Series of Poker showed the world that poker was not just something to do in smoky casino card rooms.  ‘Lipstick’ cameras were used to show the hole cards which piqued the interest of viewers who now watched, with inside information, as each hand with all its strategy played out.  The game itself, Texas Hold ‘Em, was new to most viewers and further engaged the new audience who took on the challenge of learning about blinds, flops, turns, and rivers with less concern of negative social stigmas now that this game was on prime time TV.  Viewers could also associate with amateur winners like online gamer Chris Moneymaker who showed us, as he raked in a massive amount of poker chips,  that you could strike it rich with a relatively small investment.  ESPN expanded poker’s popularity beyond the casino into home game rooms and drew in couples as well, which broke through the traditional guys card night for couples now seeking to host tournaments and cash games with friends, neighbors, coworkers, and charitable foundations.  Commercials for online poker sites aired during WSOP broadcasts further fueled the budding online poker phenomenon.  

Admittedly poker, and in particular Texas Hold ‘Em, was becoming more popular before ESPN made its big splash, as evidenced on the big screen with the 1998 hit Rounders.  However, ESPN changed poker in a very fundamental way. Just as Harley Davidson expanded its market beyond Hell’s Angels biker gangs to working stiffs who wanted to pretend to be bad boys and girls on the weekends, ESPN made poker cool and accessible to everyone.  At the height of the ESPN-sparked poker renaissance was the 2006 update of the James Bond classic Casino Royale which supplanted the original game of baccarat with Texas Hold ‘Em in what has become the consummate positive poker image still referenced today.

So with these recent positive events in poker’s history, why do some still seek to vilify it?  Find out next as we explore what makes America different from the rest of the poker world.

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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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