BLOG – Poker movies often flop

BLOG – Poker movies often flop

Monday, 9 August 2010

So when you hear that Gary Oldman is to play ‘Elvis’ in an upcoming film starring Dane Cook and titled Guns, Girls And Gambling...what is your reaction?

Personally, my thought process was as follows: “Gary Oldman, good; Elvis, good; guns, girls and gambling; good”. In fact, those are two of the three ‘G’s that I enjoy in my life on a regular basis. However, “films about poker... good?”

The thing is that poker films rarely do the game justice. Actually, it isn’t that... it’s that they just can’t seem to portray poker in films without resorting to overdone clichés and healthy lashings of Hollywood cheese. I’m not talking about pedantic poker geek things, either (“I see you and raise you” YOU CAN’T DO THAT, THAT’S A STRING BET) but just the dialogue and mannerisms surrounding a game are just so idiotic.

Take a few poker films from the last ten years – Rounders, Lucky You, Deal, and The Grand. Oh, by the way – spoilers ahead, but with the exception of the first and last films listed you’re not missing much if you haven’t seen them anyway.

Rounders: Matt Damon and Edward Norton’s leather jacket hustle n’ flow in poker games to pay off debts from ridiculously Russian John Malkovich. Good film, decent poker, stupid bankroll management.

Lucky You: Eric Bana seduces Drew Barrymore while fighting what is evidently meant to be an edgy and rebel-without-a-cause Las Vegas lifestyle but comes across as a crippling gambling problem. Oh, and he mucks the winner at the WSOP final table to let his dad win.

Deal: Some American twit wins an online poker tournament to a WPT event and is promptly outplayed by Jennifer Tilly. Burt Reynolds with his masculine moustache teaches him some stuff then the twit mucks the winner at the WPT final table to let Burt win.

The Grand: Hilarious satire of the poker word featuring comedy stars galore as well as poker pros like Doyle Brunson and Phil Hellmuth. Best film on the list in my eyes but I don’t know how much of the humour is in the shape of poker ‘in-jokes’.

A chequered history, there, with as many hits as misses. I didn’t even mention the dire poker scenes in Casino Royale or Maverick either. Must be because I’m a geek but poker films just don’t appeal to me that much. Then again, with the exception of deepstacked cash games I hate watching poker on TV as well.

It’s probably because I’d prefer to be at a table making money rather than shouting in my head at Daniel Craig, begging him to for God’s sake raise that straight flush in a four-way pot on the turn.

What a stupid hand that one was...

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