Where This Iconic Poker Film Was Shot
Whilst it didn’t perform well at its time of release, the 1998 film Rounders has since become a cult movie for poker fans across the world.
Starring Matt Damon and Edward Norton, the film introduced many of today’s poker professionals to the game and has recently been the subject of calls for a sequel, with both stars hinting that it might be something they’d consider.
There have been various discussions around the possibility of a second film, but it hasn’t moved forward leaving fans of the original waiting.
Damon’s performance as Mike McDermott helped spawn a generation of players and continues to do so to this day. The film was on the cusp of the poker boom, and certainly helped new players get into the game. As the internet began harnessing the power of live online poker games too, the community grew exponentially as a result. partypoker’s variety of ‘How to Play’ guides provide beginners with helpful tutorials that will help turn them into the next Mike, or even Worm played by the enigmatic Norton. This is just one example of how easy it is now to learn the basics of a game that Rounders brought to a mainstream audience – albeit a little bit after the original release.
If a sequel were to be filmed, much of it would be around New York City, as Rounders used several locations back in 1998.
The East Jersey State Prison was one of the most recognizable locations in the original. It appeared when Mike went to meet his old friend Worm upon release. It’s a location found in two other popular films too: Ocean’s Eleven and Malcolm X.
Rounders also features the Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville, for a scene in which Mike plays a handful of golf pros. The same location was also used in the 2003 film Six Degrees of Separation.
Many of the internal locations had to be dressed up to resemble casinos or country clubs, including 160 West 26th Street. That doubled up as the Chesterfield Club, where Mike allows Worm to play on his credit. Part of the film’s plot hinges on this incident; Worm takes out $10,000 and begins a tab in Mike’s name, before seeing the debt sold to dangerous thug Grama.
Grama’s bunker, another key location in the movie, was located at 25 Henry Street, again in New York City, a building which is now apartments.
Three popular New York bars were also used during the production of the film in the form of McSorley’s Old Ale House, Billy’s Topless Bar and the Chelsea Commons Bar. McSorley’s is used in a scene where Mike finds Jo, played by Gretchen Mol, after missing a meeting and it’s reported by Vintagee News that it’s the oldest Irish tavern in New York. This tavern is also seen in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Billy’s is used in the scene where Grama finds Worm to collect his money and the Chelsea Commons bar is where Mike meets with Professor Petrovsky.
Filming also took place outside of New York, with B.P.O Elks Lodge in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey also used as a location. It featured during the State Trooper poker game as well as parking lot scenes throughout the film.
Many of the locations used, such as 18 John Street and 25 Henry Street, are not amongst those regularly used by filmmakers and have not been used in movies before or since and perhaps, if a sequel were to be made, some of these locations would once again be visited by the cameras of Hollywood.