Rounders was one of the best poker movies ever to be sent out of Tinseltown. Even though it was regarded as a flop at the time, it has since turned into a cult classic and is put in the same category with Chris Moneymaker as the reason poker has become so popular. Rounders showed some takes of the game that would certainly never be seen at a WSOP or WPT tournament and has developed a strong fan base throughout the world over the years.
The movie’s star, Matt Damon, not only learned how to excel at poker because of the movie, but also how to cheat at it. He used the skills he learned to interpret the role of Mike McDermott, along with fellow actor and Rounders star Edward Norton, in real life, once taking Bob Weinstein and his disgraced brother, Harvey, for a ride.
The acting pros used skills that they learned preparing for Rounders in a real-life poker game against the Weinstein brothers who, coincidentally, produced the movie for Miramax. The night before production began, the four sat down for a little poker fun and the two actors decided to try out their newly acquired skills.
As Norton tells it to The Ringer, “Matt and I … had been taught how people cheated, played partner poker, by signaling. Because they do that in their games. We had had someone show us a fairly complex system for signaling what your cards were by the way you positioned your hold chips on your cards. And so we got very good at it and we were just like, ‘Should we do it?’ And we were like, ‘F*** it, it’s like Harvey and Bob’s game, let’s do it.’”
Norton added, “And it worked enormously well. Matt was sort of getting the cards, so then I was like pumping up the bets, and seeing what he had, then folding out. And we went out when it was all over and chopped it up.”
Of course, if the couple of actors had faced someone like “Teddy KGB,” the movie’s notorious villain, in real life, the outcome could have been very different.