LISTEN, HERE’S THE THING…
” If you can’t spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you ARE the sucker.”
ROUNDERS is THE poker movie. When I first saw the film, I had never played a real game of Texas Hold’em. It was late so I busted out a deck of cards and practiced on my own. A few days later I purchased a set of chips from the dollar store and got a couple games together. I discovered very quickly that my friends were also discovering poker for the first time and they also LOVED Rounders.
I still remember what it was like when poker exploded onto sports networks everywhere. For a newly obsessed poker player, it was easy to catch it on television and learn some new tricks… In college, we held tournaments with more than 20 people focused on the 200+ dollar ‘winner take all’ purse. (In college that pays for 2… maybe 3 entire nights at the bar!)
But… Here’s the thing.
I SUCK AT POKER…
I remember one hand specifically in the last ‘big’ tournament before I eventually lost interest. We were down to the final 5 and I was definitely 5th. I had a shot to double up with ace king. I stuck around, bluffing a remarkable hand but I had nothing. It wasn’t until the river that my ace appeared. I went all in. I was already spending that 200 bucks. The chip leader called my bet and turned over pocket aces. He was a much better poker player than I was.
He even quoted a famous scene from Rounders as he collected the remainder of my chips… and dreams…
“So… You hef my maaney?”
My interest in poker fizzled after I graduated but Rounders is still staple in my annual movie routine. Any movie that deals with passionate characters inspires me. I love a good story where someone with talent goes for it. It’s even more entertaining when the character is up against a villain like Teddy KGB! Beyond that, I loved Rounders because it was about a game I barely knew and ignited an interest in it’s subject matter. To me, that is impressive storytelling.
ROUNDERS INSPIRED A SHORT SCREENPLAY
The idea of taking a game that the main stream didn’t embrace at the time and propelling it into the lime light fascinated me. I started thinking about games I loved and how I could make them relatable in a story. I focused on Cribbage. It’s my family’s GAME. It’s a game my dad and his father played non stop when Grandpa came to visit. The two of them had so many epic battles it was impossible not to learn and adore the game. Skunking someone in my family is like a badge of honor!
“15-2, 15-4, that’s all the rest don’t score”
Not long after a viewing of Rounders, I had written the first draft of a screenplay based on my families love of Cribbage and to this day, it’s one of my favorites. My grandfather passed away when I was 10 years old. I never got my chance to play him. So I wrote the story from the point of view of a 10 year old boy who gets to play his grandfather for the first time.
It felt like a true story as I wrote it and I cried when I typed ‘THE END’. When I finished that screenplay, I knew what it was like to sit down with my grandpa and play a game we both loved. I wrote that story for me. I included all of his catch phrases and smiled as I relived those precious childhood memories.
All that from a poker movie?
You never know when inspiration will strike. I’ll always be thankful that I discovered Rounders when I did. It inspired me to write a story that means the world to me. Before I saw Rounders, I never got to play Cribbage with my grandpa. Now I feel like I have and that’s a wonderful thing.
This is an image I made in my early Photoshop days. I taped it on the wall to the left of my computer so it was always in sight as I wrote my screenplay.