A sequel to Rounders is the Christmas gift that ever poker player wants in 2020 (that and a win in the Winter Series, of course).
Well, over the past 12 months we’ve heard more and more chitter chatter surrounding a Rounders 2, by none other than the legendary film’s two lead stars–Matt Damon and Edward Norton–as well as the brains behind arguably the best poker movie ever made, Brian Koppelman and David Levien (who are also the guys behind Billions).
Unfortunately for all four, the rights to Rounders and its characters are currently owned by a sovereign wealth fund, restricting the filmmakers from actively pursuing it.
But you never know what might happen in the future.
And because of that, we’ve put together the opinions of Damon, Norton, Koppelman and Levien to try and answer the question: What would Rounders 2 look like?
In a recent podcast with The Ringer’s Bill Simmons, Damon opened up about the direction he’d like a potential sequel to go in.
“What happened to [Mike and Worm]?” Damon says. “Worm can’t have been making really awesome decisions for the past 12 years, so what stage is he going to be in? What trouble is he in with Costa Rican offshore gambling? ‘I’m in a bit of a spot here Mike. People want to kill me.’ You can see that there are a lot of different ways to go.”
“Wealthy Mike McD I think is the way to go,” says Simmons, offering up his own suggestions. “With Worm coming back because he needs the money and he knows that wealthy Mike McD has it.”
“Meanwhile there has been this revolution in poker, right?” Damon continues. “The Doyle Brunsons and all these people who were running the game when we made Rounders, we knew it was a skill game and that these were the best in the world. Suddenly these kids came up online from like, Sweden, who had been playing ten hands at a time since they were 12 years old. By the time they show up for a live game they’re like AI.
“I was talking to Koppelman about it a few years ago,” Damon continues. “The game has gone so deep into game theory, it’s just an unrecognizable game, the way it’s played between this new generation. It would be interesting to watch Mike–who was once the young upstart who proved himself worthy in the game–but now this new group is coming in and destroying everyone in their path.”
Damon elaborated on this when on the Rich Eisen Show.
“Koppelman and Levien have a really good idea for a Rounders story, and that would be an interesting thing because of what has happened to poker. These guys and gals, this young generation, they start playing in their adolescence. They’re like this deep-mind super computer…playing hands all day every day. It’s a guarantee that they’ve got the math down, the betting, the value betting, all that stuff.
“Poker just became a very different game. It would be interesting to see a character (Mike McDermott) from my generation, or [John] Malkovich’s [Teddy KGB] character’s generation, for us to come into that new world, would be really interesting.”
In another recent podcast with Edward Norton, Simmons offers up the same plot suggestion, about how Mike McDermott went to Las Vegas, became wealthy, and now Worm comes back into his life after a decade or two in friendship exile.
“I said to Brian and David one time that there’s no way that Worm wasn’t involved somehow in the credit default swaps, he has to have been. He has to have been doing something dodgy in some form of the finance bubble.”
He added to this on the Rich Eisen show.
“They should be in a different phase in their lives,” Norton says. “I think Worm obviously has to have been involved in the credit default swaps which led to the 2008 financial collapse, or something like that. No question. Or else he’s been working for the GRU (The Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation) to get Trump elected. He has been in the game, in the fringes.”
Koppelman is a little more elusive in his plot outline.
“There would be poker,” he tells Eisen. “Someone online asked me if Worm was alive, and I said yes. Worm is alive!”
Will it happen?
Without someone else buying the rights (Oi, Netflix, do us all a favour and buy the rights to Rounders will you?) it doesn’t look like Rounders 2 will be arriving any time soon.
“Everybody involved has [said they’re in],” Norton says. “We just need a detective to find out where the log jam is.”
“Yeah, it’s always very much in the ether, for some reason,” Levien tells Eisen. “We’ve talked about it with Matt [Damon], we’ve talked about it with John Dahl [director]. We all want to do it.”
Looking for a poker movie to stream this Christmas? Here are our suggestions.