Poker news | Feb 26, 2020
What Would the Rounders 2 Plot Be?
By RTR Dennis
Released in 1998, Rounders remains the paradigm for poker movies. In fact, no other poker film even comes close to Rounders in terms of greatness. As a result, many people have speculated over if a Rounders sequel will be released.
Rounders 2 would most likely be a much bigger box-office draw than its predecessor. The first film only grossed $22.9 million against a $12 million budget. That said, the sequel idea remains alive over two decades later.
Rounders co-writer Brian Koppleman even mentioned the possibility when responding to Daniel Negreanu’s tweet in 2019. “It’s never too late,” Koppleman tweeted regarding making a sequel.
Assuming Rounders 2 is ever made, what would its plot be? I’m going to discuss two valid scenarios along with which characters would be brought back.
Scenario #1: Worm Visits Las Vegas & Screws Everything Up for Mike McDermott (Again)
Mike McDermott (Matt Damon) may be the main character in Rounders. However, Lester “Worm” Murphy creates all the drama later in the film.
Damon screws up badly in the beginning by losing his entire $30,000 bankroll to Teddy “KGB” (John Malkovich) in the early going. This event causes McDermott to promise his girlfriend, Jo (Gretchen Mol), that he should stop playing poker.
Worm meets up with his old buddy, McDermott, again after being released from prison. He draws Mike back into the poker world, which causes Jo to leave him.
Murphy owes “Grama”—who’s partnered with KGB—a $25,000 debt. After screwups initiated by Worm, both he and McDermott are on the hook for the $25k. If you’ve seen the movie, you know that Mike gets the pair out of trouble by dramatically beating KGB heads up.
Considering how Murphy creates conflict everywhere he goes, he would be essential to Rounders 2. Norton himself has even brought up the subject of Worm reappearing in the potential sequel.
I envision such a plot going like this:
- McDermott becomes a highly successful poker player in Las Vegas.
- Worm shows up. Mike is hesitant to reunite with him.
- Murphy convinces McDermott to invest in something or play a dangerous figure in high-stakes poker.
- Everything goes badly eventually.
- McDermott must once again play his way out of danger.
The details of such a plot could go in different directions. For example, Worm could convince Mike to put his money into a can’t-fail investment opportunity that goes south. Or, the story could follow in much the same fashion as the first movie.
In any case, this scenario would involve:
- Worm coming back into the picture.
- He screws everything up.
- McDermott must use his poker skills in a life-or-death situation again.
Scenario #2: McDermott Acts as a Mentor to a Younger Player
I firmly believe that a Rounders 2 plot would involve Mike McDermott and Worm again. These two characters are the only ones who seem essential to another dramatic story.
However, a sequel could go in a different direction that only involves McDermott and a new apprentice. Such a plot has been done before with the 2008 film Deal, which stars Burt Reynolds, Bret Harrison, and Shannon Elizabeth.
Deal is one of the worst poker movies of all time. But the mentor-student plotline is proven throughout Hollywood history. It could work with better writing and production values.
The film could also benefit by mixing a legend like Damon with a younger star, such as Liam Hemsworth or Josh Hutcherson.
Here’s an example of how such a plot would work:
- McDermott becomes highly successful in Vegas.
- Something happens where he loses everything.
- He comes across an unpolished player who has potential.
- Mike mentors the player to new heights.
- They have a falling-out.
- The two play each other in a major tournament.
- McDermott or the apprentice wins (anybody’s guess).
- The two say their goodbyes.
Worm could come into the fold by causing McDermott to lose everything. And/or Jo could visit Vegas and rekindle her romance with Mike. In any case, the plot would mainly center on McDermott coaching the younger player to success.
A possible Rounders 2 plot could go in multiple directions. Therefore, anything discussed here is just pure speculation. We wouldn’t even know about the direction of such a film until it was actually released.
But the two ideas covered above could fit into the Rounders universe. The first option involves both Damon and Norton. The second revolves around Damon and an unnamed apprentice, with an option for Worm.
Of course, side characters from the old films could come back in some capacity. Jo, Joey Knish (John Turturro), and Petra (Famke Janssen) are possibilities. I don’t see a scenario where KGB fits into the equation—but who knows?
Whatever the case may be, I just hope that a Rounders sequel gets made. It probably won’t be as impactful or great as the first film. However, Rounders 2 would likely be a major upgrade over any other poker movie outside the franchise.