Our historical hand today is iconic and fictional. It happened in a Hollywood film, but it's still a piece of poker history that any player will enjoy watching. The duel between Mike McDermott (Matt Damon) and Teddy KGB (John Malkovich) might be the most well-known in the world – though Daniel Craig in Casino Royale might be a contender. While other films quickly dive into the world of poker for a few minutes, this film revolves around it.

The heads-up match took place in the film Rounders, and to this day, it's the most acclaimed film of its kind by the poker community. Released in 1998 and directed by John Dahl, it tells the story of Mike McDermott, a mid-stakes live poker player who dreams of playing in the Main Event of the World Series of Poker. The first scene is riveting and painful at the same time. Within those first minutes, Mike is trying his luck (with all of his savings) in an underground high-stakes game.

Rounders is much more than a film. For some players, it might be the first time they'd seen such a close look at this game. Many players were probably inspired by Mike to take their first steps on the green felt.

Without further ado, let’s get to the first part of this epic battle:

Mike vs Teddy KGB – The First Cash Game Hand

Blinds: $100/$200

Starting Stacks:

– Teddy KGB (John Malkovich) – $58,000 (290 bbs) – Unknown hand

– Mike McDermott (Matt Damon) – $48,000 (240 bbs) –

Here's how the action starts:

After some narration from Mike about the prestige of the WSOP and the harsh swings in the game, he looks down at his cards ( ). From the button, Mike announces a raise to $500 and one opponent insta-folds. KGB just calls and says in his heavy (semi-authentic sounding) accent, “A position raise. I call it”.

The first preflop stage of Rounders is over and we're off to a flop.

Flop: (pot: $1,100)

Mike is dealing and messily spreads the three flop cards in a way that would get a Las Vegas dealer reprimanded.

The flop bring two pair to Mike, who thinks to himself, “I want to keep him in the hand. Against your average guy, I'd set a bear trap, hardly bet at all, let him walk into it – but KGB is too smart for that. So what I have to do is overbet the pot, make it look like I'm trying to buy it. Then he plays back at me and I get paid off.”

Mike bets $2,000. KGB reaches for chips right away and mutters "Call."

My guess is that Teddy is on a flush draw,” thinks Mike.

Turn: (pot: $5,100)

Mike continues with his optimistic (though sometimes reasonable) thoughts. “There's my money card; nine of hearts. I've got a full house.”

"To the bettor," says Teddy politely, checking his action over to Mike, who checks back.

River: ($5.100)

Now I hope a spade falls and Teddy makes his flush,” thinks Mike.

To his surprise, KGB donk leads $15,000, an overbet of just under three times the pot. Mike asks for time to think, but his thoughts are already in the future.

I want him to think that I'm pondering a call, but all I'm really thinking about is Vegas and the Mirage.” Almost every poker player knows this famous line and has heard it used by bloggers, streamers, and friends.

After some a bit of Hollywooding (concealing one's true emotions), Mike appears to have made up his mind. He announces a raise and says, “Yeah, I'm going to go all-in, because I don't think you have the spades.” He pushes all of his chips into the pot with two hands.

Teddy KGB doesn't look worried at all. In fact, he actually looks amused! He slowly places his stacks in one by one and in a tone of irony, says: “You're right. I don't have spades”.

At this point, Mike knows what's coming. If you know about poker combinations, there are just a couple of hands that beat McDermott's full house. To win, Teddy needs to have four-of-a-kind nines or a better full house (Aces over nines).

Teddy shows for top boat (the best full house possible) and rakes in a pot worth almost $100,000, crushing Mike's Vegas dreams and bankroll.

This wasn't the only hand that these two clashed in. If you've already seen Rounders, you know what's coming. Stay tuned for the rest of the duels between Mike and Teddy in this historic poker movie.

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