Last month, PokerNews spent a significant amount of time celebrating the 25th anniversary of the beloved poker movie Rounders. That included five things you didn’t know about the movie, an interview with Johnny Chan, and remembering the time Doyle Brunson busted Matt Damon from the 1998 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event.
While immersing myself in all things Rounders, I learned about a poker book that was published in 2022, one that was directly linked to the cult classic film. The book is Dirty Dealing: Grosso vs. Miramax – Waging War with Harvey Weinstein, and the Screenplay that Changed Hollywood by Jeffrey Allan Grosso.
Grosso, who was recently a guest on the PokerNews Podcast, accused Miramax of stealing his screenplay and turning it into Rounders. As the book claims, it is “part comic legal thriller, part nail-biting poker memoir … [and is a] look at one man’s fight to get the credit he believes he deserves. Does he have a case or are the similarities just an illusion the mind plays on a creator? Perhaps there are only five stories in Hollywood, as his lawyer points out, and no idea is truly original. You be the judge.”
When I first heard of the book, I was skeptical of its legitimacy. Was this just some deadbeat Hollywood screenwriter turned poker player looking to cash in on the popularity of Rounders? I then learned that while the book was published last year, the whole drama actually took place back in the early 2000s, and there was an actual court case to back it up. A genuine court case at least added some validity to the argument, so I opted to give it a read.
Thoughts on Dirty Dealing
Dirty Dealing turned out to be more enjoyable than anticipated. It became clear right off the bat that Grosso wasn’t just an attention-seeking poker player, but that he had actually written a poker screenplay back in the 1990s and genuinely believed that it was stolen by Miramax and adapted into what became Rounders.
In the book, we get to learn of Grosso’s own experience in the poker world, his degenerate friend Munchy (who presumably became the basis for the character Worm), and how he believes his screenplay wound up as Rounders, unbeknownst to him of course.
I anticipated the book would be filled with bold claims, anecdotal evidence, and delusional grandeur. Instead, I found Grosso to be quite patient and reasoned in laying out his side of the story, not so much in a “he said, she said” manner, but more so in just laying out the facts as he sees them, many backed up by court documents, and methodically connecting the dots.
My skepticism soon dissipated and turned to curiosity, as there were certainly too many coincidences and red flags to ignore. Grosso believes his screenplay was stolen, and by the end of the book you might just believe it too. At the very least, you’ll get to read about how the case had a major impact on Hollywood and set a new precedent in the law books.
Dirty Dealing proved to be a much better read that I anticipated. Not only is it well-written, but Grosso does make a seemingly reasoned and compelling argument. Was the idea for Rounders stolen? I don’t know, and no one probably ever will, but based on what is presented in the book, it is understandable why Grosso would believe that it was. There seemed to be a lot of smoke, primarily regarding things that seemed to be more than coincidences, but whether or not that means there was a fire is left to the reader to determine.
“Dirty Dealing didn’t do anything to diminish my love and appreciation for Rounders, but it did add a controversial element to its lore.”
Dirty Dealing didn’t do anything to diminish my love and appreciation for Rounders, but it did add a controversial element to its lore. I don’t think the screenwriters, director, etc. did anything nefarious, but I can’t say the same for the studio and the now-disgraced Harvey Weinstein. What the book did do is make me question the dirty dealings that go on behind the doors when it comes to Hollywood.
Dirty Dealing is a relatively quick and easy read, and Grosso has writing chops. If you’re interested in either Rounders or the dark side of Hollywood, it’s definitely worth checking out.
Q&A w/ Jeffrey Allan Gross
The author of Dirty Dealing, Jeffrey Allan Grosso, recently spoke with PokerNews and answered a few questions regarding his book.
PokerNews: What was it like to write the book? Was it painful to relive everything? Perhaps cathartic in some ways?
Grosso: Yes. Both. I had to wait twenty years to even face the story again. It was very difficult and trying, nearly killed me, but it was also cathartic in the end.
What’s the reception been like for the book? Rounders is generally appreciated by poker fans, so was there any pushback when the book came out?
The response has been overwhelmingly positive by those who have read it — at least the ones who posted reviews and/or contacted me — but sales have been slow, as there wasn’t any promotion done.
Did the studio or anyone react to the book in any way?
No. Not that I’m aware of unless that’s why they decided not to promote it, because they got pressure from above. I really don’t know.
Aside from the lawyers, have you ever had any interaction or conversations with anyone involved with Rounders about your screenplay (i.e. the director, screenwriters, actors, etc.)?
Do you play any poker these days?
I play a little here and there. Not much.
What are you up to these days? Where are you based? Any upcoming projects?
I’m in the process of relocating to the mountains of Northern California and I’m writing a new book called, Say Goodbye to Hollywood. It’s a loosely connected collection of short stories about freedom and corruption in modern-day America.
Where is the best place for people to find the book?
Amazon, Audible, Kindle, etc.
Fade the Mahoney
For more on Grosso and his story, you can check out this interview he did with Fade the Mahoney:
Executive Editor US, PokerNews Podcast co-host & 2013 WSOP Bracelet Winner.