Johnny Chan in the Movie "Rounders"
Johnny Chan, best known for his world-famous poker skills, has also been in the movies. Johnny Chan played a cameo role as himself in the 1998 film “Rounders.” In addition to his part in the movie, actual footage of the 1988 World Series of poker Main Event was included in the movie. This was the forever immortalized final hand, between Johnny Chan and Erik Seidel.
The movie “Rounders” starred Matt Damon and Edward Norton. In the movie Matt Damon plays Mike McDermott, a law student. Matt Damon’s character gave up gambling which he loved when he lost all of his money, $30,000 to Teddy KGB, played by John Malkovich. However, Damon’s character had to go back to playing poker to help his friend Worm, played by Edward Norton, when Worm was released from jail. Worm owed a $15,000 gambling debt to Teddy KGB, who was from the Russian mob, and they were threatening him if he didn’t repay them quickly.
“Rounders,” now a cult classic in the poker world, is believed by some to have focused more attention to the game of Texas Hold’em Poker. Others believe that Texas Hold’em Poker was on the growth streak of its own, and had been for many years.
Johnny Chan, the back-to-back winner of The World Series of Poker Main Event in 1987 and 1988, believes that the movie really helped the popularity of poker. In an interview with Bluff Magazine, Johnny Chan talked about the movie. He said that he felt that once people saw the movie they wanted to be like him and win the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. He also said that he began to get recognized a lot more often after the movie. The additional fame and recognition that “Rounders” brought to Johnny Chan helped him to market his books and merchandise more successfully.
When the film makers of “Rounders” asked if they could use the footage of Johnny Chan’s final hand against Erik Seidel in the 1988 Main Event of the World Series of Poker, Johnny Chan agreed. It was his younger daughter, who urged him to ask for an actual part in the movie so that she could meet Matt Damon. She told her father that if they wanted to use the footage of him playing in their film, they may very well want to have Johnny Chan himself make an appearance in the movie. Johnny Chan’s teenage daughter was right.
In the movie, Johnny Chan played himself in a cameo role. Johnny Chan is seen playing a game of poker against Matt Damon, where he also does a trick with the chips. Many poker players have watched the DVD of the movie frame by frame so that they can replicate the trick that Johnny Chan does in that scene.
The famous poker playing scene in “Rounders” that is shown on the television being watched by Matt Damon is the final hand that Johnny Chan and Erik Seidel played in the 1988 World Series of Poker Main Event. Johnny Chan had been dealt a jack of clubs and a nine of clubs. Erik Seidel’s cards were the queen of clubs, and the seven of hearts. The flop brought the queen of spades, 10 of hearts, and eight of diamonds, which gave Johnny Chan a straight and Erik Seidel a pair of queens. Johnny Chan, made a $4000 bet and Erik Seidel raised him $50,000. Johnny Chan called. The turn card produced a two of spades, and Johnny Chan checked even though he already held a straight. Johnny Chan wanted to make Erik Seidel go all in by checking, and it worked. Erik Seidel went all in, and Johnny Chan called. The river card was turned over and showed a six of diamonds. It was only then that Erik Seidel realized he had made a mistake. Johnny Chan had once again played the kind of poker that makes him a legend. Johnny Chan left the table with his gold bracelet and the prize money as the winner of that year is World Series of Poker Championship.