Listen, here's the thing. 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. You don't gamble, you grind it out. Your goal is to win one big bet an hour, that's it. Get your money in when you have the best of it. Protect it when you don't. Don't give anything away. That's how I paid my way through half of law school. A true grinder. You see, I learned how to win a little at a time. But finally I've learned this: if you're too careful, your whole life can become a fuckin' grind.
I've often seen these people, these squares at the table, short stack and long odds against them. All their outs gone. One last card in the deck that can help them. I used to wonder how they could let themselves get into such bad shape, and how the hell they thought they could turn it around.
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: I guess the saying's true. In the poker game of life, women are the rake. They are the fucking rake.
Mike: What the fuck are you talking about? What saying?
Worm: I don't know. There oughta be one.
Mike: You comin' up?
Worm: No, I've been standin' out here all this time just to say hi.
Mike: All right, listen. Things haven't been so smooth on the home front, so tone it down a little, all right?
Worm: Tone down what, motherfucker?
Mike: Great. Never mind.
Worm: Can you believe that? She's really got him by the balls.
Petra: Is that so bad?
Worm: Depends on the grip.
Mike: So, uh, Nick the Greek, what's with kiting my checks?
Worm: I'm on empty.
Mike: How much was the hooker?
Worm: Mike, please! "Relaxation therapist!"
Worm: Hey, you know what cheers me up when I'm feeling shitty?
Worm: Rolled-up aces over kings.
Mike: Is that right?
Worm: Check-raising stupid tourists and taking huge pots off of them.
Worm: Stacks and towers of checks I can't even see over. Playing all-night, high-limit hold'em at the Taj, "where the sand turns to gold."
Mike: Fuck it, let's go.
Worm: Don't tease me.
Mike: Let's play some fucking cards!
Mike: Fifteen grand in five days, I can do that. I've gone on rushes like that before.
Worm: Uh, under optimum conditions with a bank roll. Maybe, maybe. But... what do you got on you?
Mike: I got, like, 350.
Worm: Nah, that's only 1200 between us. We might as well play the fucking lotto.
Worm: Oh yeah, one more thing, I got a feelin'.
Mike: Yeah? What feeling is that?
Worm: I know you know this feeling. You know this feeling very well. I mean, you got your table all set up, your fork, your knife, your A1 sauce...
Mike and Worm: All you need is the stake.
Mike: [after getting thrown out of a game] What the fuck were you thinking?
Worm: I was trying to give us an edge.
Mike: I had them.
Worm: Look, I'm sorry we got banged up, I took a shot and missed. It happens.
Mike: Happens all the time around you.
Worm: And it doesn't happen to you? You're the one that flushed his whole bank roll on one hand.
Mike: Oh, fuck you, man, that was different.
Worm: How is that different? What makes you so fucking special? Why are all your moves so smart and noble and I'm always the idiot piece of shit? You act like you're only one with any ambition.
Mike: Then what's your ambition? I don't know, you tell me.
Worm: I don't know, I don't think like that.
Mike: No, you don't think.
Worm: No, I don't think like you, you always think you can beat the game straight up. That's not me, and I'm always going to look for that edge, always.
Mike: Alright, what's the edge now? We owe fifteen grand in a day and we're broke, what the fuck do we do?
Worm: That's easy, we get the fuck outta Dodge.
Petrovsky: For generations, men of my family have been rabbis in Israel; before that, in Europe. It was to be my calling. I was quite a prodigy, the pride of my yeshiva. The elders said I had a forty-year-old's understanding of the Midrash by the time I was twelve. But by the time I was thirteen, I knew I could never be a rabbi.
Mike: Why not?
Petrovsky: Because, for all I understood of the Talmud, I never saw God there.
Mike: You couldn't lie to yourself.
Petrovsky: I tried. I tried like crazy. I mean, people were counting on me.
Mike: But yours is a respectable profession.
Petrovsky: Not to my family. My parents were destroyed, devastated by my decision. My father sent me away, to New York, to live with distant cousins. Eventually, I found my place, my life's work.
Mike: What then?
Petrovsky: Well, I immersed myself fully, I studied the minutiae, I learned everything I could about the law. I mean, I felt deeply inside that it was what I was born to do.
Mike: And did your parents get over it?
Petrovsky: No. I always hoped that I would find some way to change their minds, but they were inconsolable. My father never spoke to me again.
Mike: If you had to do it all over again, would you make the same choices?
Petrovsky: What choice? The last thing I took away from the yeshiva is this: We can't run from who we are. Our destiny chooses us.
Mike: Uh, you know what? I got my five grand here. That's just fine by me. I'm going home.
Teddy KGB: Fine. It's a fucking joke anyway. After all, I am paying you with your money.
Mike: What did you say?
Teddy KGB: Your money... I am still up twenty grand... from this last time I stick it in you.
Mike: [Narrating] They're trying to goad me, trying to own me. But this isn't a gunfight. It's not about pride or ego. It's only about money. I can leave now, even with Grama and KGB... and halfway to paying Petrovsky back. That's the safe play. I told Worm you can't lose what you don't put in the middle. But you can't win much either.
Grama: Enough is enough, Teddy. Finish the fucking kid off.
Teddy KGB: Hanging around, hanging around. Kid's got alligator blood. Can't get rid of him.
Mike: All right, I'll call the two grand, I'll gamble. Don't splash the pot.
Teddy KGB: You're on a draw, Mike? Throw away this one. It's not good for you. And in my club, I will splash the pot whenever the fuck I please.
[Teddy KGB reveals the river card: an ace.]
Teddy KGB: It hurts, doesn't it? You can't believe what fell. All your dreams... dashed. Hopes down the fucking drain. [motioning to Grama] Your fate is sitting right beside you. That ace could not have helped you. [splashing the pot repeatedly, with a flourish] I bet it all.
Mike: You're right that the ace didn't help me. [revealing his hand] I flopped the nut straight.
Teddy KGB: [throwing cards and chips] Motherfucker! ёб твою мать! Motherfucker! That is it!
Grama: That's it? What the fuck you talkin' about, "that's it"? Take it back, Teddy!
Teddy KGB: Nyet! Nyet! No more! No, not tonight! This son of bitch, all night he check, check, check! He trapped me!
Mike: Well, you feelin' satisfied now, Teddy? 'Cause I can go on bustin' you up all night.
[Teddy's henchmen begin to move in on Mike.]
Teddy KGB: Nyet, nyet. He beat me straight up. Pay him. Pay that man his money.
[last lines of the movie]
Taxi Driver: Vegas, huh?
Taxi Driver: Good luck, man.
Mike: [narrating] People insist on calling it luck. [to taxi driver] Thanks. [narrating] First prize at the World Series of Poker is a million dollars. Does it have my name on it? I don't know. But I'm going to find out.