Mike and Worm
Mike and Worm captured our hearts in 1998, what would they be doing over 25 years on in a sequel?

It has been 26 years since the exploits of Mike McDermott and Worm thrilled poker fans in cinemas around the world. The sleeper hit and so-called “best poker movie of all time” Rounders starred Matt Damon as Mike Mc Dermott and Edward Norton as Worm, with Gretchen Mol as Jo, Famke Jansen as Petra and the legendary John Malkovich in the role of a lifetime as baddie Teddy KGB.

With rumors of a return to the world of Rounders fuelled by both Matt Damon and Ben Affleck discussing the possibility of reigniting the franchise on the recent Bill Simmons Ringer Podcast, we’ve come up with five ideas for the ideal sequel to the best poker movie ever made. Which direction will Rounders II go in? If it heads any of these ways, we’re in the front row.

Mike McDermott Goes Pro

“If you can’t spot the sucker in your first half-hour at the table, then you are the sucker. Guys around here will tell ya, you play for a living, it’s like any other job.”

When Mike McDermott moved to Las Vegas with “three stacks of high society” he aimed to win the World Series of Poker. If Rounders II is to embrace poker history in the same way that it did in the original movie, then the previous winners will remain in place, meaning Mike wasn’t successful in that ambition. But what if instead of becoming world champion, his cash game prowess against Teddy KGB led him to turn pro in Vegas on the cash game scene?

Given that Mike was an excellent poker player who learned all sorts of lessons in the original story, coupled with poker’s progression from its status in in the late 1990s to the global game it is today, Mike turning pro is the most likely outcome from the end of the 1998 movie.

With Worm having been unceremoniously dumped as a friend by Mike at the end of the municipal game, perhaps Worm could turn up in Las Vegas after all these years needing a favor or five. Who’d he call? His old buddy Mike, of course, especially if McDermott went to Vegas, won big and never left, becoming the titular ‘Rounder’ we all rooted for him to be instead of a lawyer.

Mike and Knish
Mike McDermott and Joey Knish (left) clashed back in 1998. Could Mike really be a Rounder in 2024?

Worm Goes Straight, Mike Turns Con

“We’re not playing together. But then again, we’re not playing against each other either. It’s like the Nature Channel. You don’t see piranhas eating each other, do you?”

Worm’s life fell apart when Mike left, at least that was the presumption when the toothpick-chewing wideboy of the first film was left behind by Mike as McDermott cleared his – and Worm’s – debts before scarpering to Sin City.

It’s not out of the realms of imagination that Worm hitting rock bottom would have sent him straight. He’d already done time in the first movie, leaving prison to hook up with Mike and buddy up for crooked poker games. The last place his undignified exit from Mike’s life would leave him is wanting to continue being a con.

If Worm went straight and became a family man, he’d definitely head out to Vegas on a lads’ holiday at some point. And if he did, maybe he’d go looking for Mike McDermott, if only to apologize. Hearing that Mike became embroiled in a ‘Molly’s Game’ type underground game wouldn’t be a shock. Gramma getting out of the joint for killing Teddy KGB at the same time as Mike, though? What are the chances?

Looking for revenge, Gramma would come after both Worm and Mike, and before you know it, the two heroes of the first film would be in a fight not only for the chips… but their lives. Mike needs help from Worm and he’s going to have to practice relearn his old tricks as well as taking on some that Mike has learned some himself.

Mike and Petra, played by Famke Janssen (left) and Matt Damon, might have been the best-suited pairing in the poker movie Rounders.

Teddy KGB Hires Mike and Worm

“It’s immoral to let a sucker keep his money.”

Vegas needs a king and presuming that Teddy KGB kept in charge of Gramma like an owner holds a dog’s lead, Teddy may well have decided to quit New York City and head West. Following Mike to Vegas, Teddy brings Mike’s old friend Worm, employing the pair of them in private games, taking rich clients for millions.

Everyone loves a gangster movie. So when Teddy KGB is under threat, Mike and Worm are forced to help their boss out, while Worm secretly covets the top job. Mike just wants out, but then if Teddy is out of the game, maybe he can bluff Worm too? There’s honor among thieves, but not among poker players as the chips start to count for a lot more than money in this gritty poker-heist movie spectacular.

Mike Wins Back Jo as Worms ‘Lawyers Up’

“I guess the saying’s true. In the poker game of life, women are the rake.”

Back in 1998’s Rounders, Gretchen Mol’s brilliant depiction of Jo, Mike’s long-suffering lawyer girlfriend left everyone heartbroken except Mike himself. Last seen telling Mike, “Call me… if you need a lawyer.”, Jo was told “I will… and I will.” By Mike.

After 25 years, the rule that Mike taught Jo – Throw away your cards the moment you know they can’t win – is highly apt. Mike has had enough of Las Vegas and having not become World Champion, decides to return to New York, to hit his old haunts and see if he can find himself again.

Mike tracks down Jo to apologize for what he put her through, and it turns out she needs his help. She never became a lawyer, getting the bug for cash games herself. But she’s in trouble and needs instant money to pay off a client who is threatening legal action. His lawyer, some guy called ‘Worm’ is one of the best. Jo wonders if Mike remembers him… and can persuade him to drop the case to win back her heart.

Mike and Jo
Destined to be together… or apart? Mike and Jo were doomed lovers first time around, so could they survive Rounders II?

The Kid Has It – Mike Turns Mentor

“What makes you so f**king special? Why are all your moves so smart and noble and I’m always the idiot piece of sh*t? You act like you’re only one with any ambition.”

What if Mike McDermott struck it lucky in a very different way once he got to Las Vegas at the end of that very trip in the final seconds of Rounders? Perhaps it wasn’t Worm who followed him to Las Vegas but Petra, played by Famke Jansen. If she and Mike spent any time together away from Jo, they were always going to connect. Now, 25 years on, Mike is a serious professional in business, with Petra a casino manager in the City.

Their kid, though? He’s a born hustler, and from one poker game to the next, he can’t help but get in the game. Petra and Mike try to stop him, but with a new friend of his called ‘Glowworm’ bearing an uncanny resemblance to an old friend of his, Mike is going to have to use all of his smarts to pull this one out of the game. Heck, he might even have to sit down at the felt too, in order to make sure he stays on the right lines.