All In – The Poker Movie

All In – The Poker Move is a documentary about the poker explosion in the first decade of the 21st century. This film centers on the life of 2003 World Series of Poker Champion Chris Moneymaker.

Centered around interviews with Moneymaker is an in-depth review of the online poker boom that started at the turn of the century and was curtailed greatly, especially in the United States, when the FBI and the US Justice Department closed three prominent online poker sites to US players in 2011.

High Points

Contemporary viewpoints of poker are expressed

Good cast of interviewees like Matt Damon, Chris Ferguson, Howard Lederer and Chris Moneymaker

Accurate portrayal of the facts leading to the shutdown of poker sites on 4/15/2011

Interesting dissection of the poker boom

Well produced and edited

Low Points

I personally misunderstood the title and feature of this film

This documentary is slightly disjointed

Story tends to ramble and does not follow a straight line to its conclusion

Description

All In The Poker Movie is a two-hour film/documentary

Produced by 4th Row Films

Scheduled release date: Spring 2012

Guide Review – ‘All In – The Poker Movie’ Film Review

All In – The Poker Movie is a two-hour long dissertation on the growth of the poker industry during the first decade of the 21st century. The producers (4th Row Films) weave a story of the All-American Dream from the lives of millions of poker players and the viewer comes away thinking our government just can’t wait to crush the hopes and future of those same people by taking away access to online cash games.

Beyond what may or may not have been the producer’s intent, the film does portray poker players as solitary, brave figures who are simply entrepreneurs on a quest, taking their last stand and shot at becoming greater than their mothers and fathers through poker. And, the film does a good job of explaining how online poker started, how it morphed into a cultural phenomenon perhaps never seen before in the history of the world, and how millions of people enjoy some small-stakes poker to unwind from their daily lives.

The popularity and culture of poker are explored through interviews with professional poker players (Mike Sexton, Annie Duke, Daniel Negreanu and others) and enthusiasts like Kenny Rogers and James McManus. As a poker story, it’s hard not to enjoy this film that celebrates the ability of “Joe Average” to learn to win at a people-edge game like poker, as opposed to a casino-edge game like craps.

Amarillo Slim Preston won the World Series of Poker in 1972. As colorful road gambler who never strayed long from his home town of Amarillo Texas, and an unabashed gambler and talker, Slim was the perfect spokesman for poker in the 1970’s. His stories of exploits in the world of poker gave viewers of TV shows like the Johnny Carson Show a glimpse at the life of a true gambler. America was intrigued.

Thirty-one years later, accountant and itinerant gambler Chris Moneymaker turned a $39 Texas Hold-em satellite tournament entry on Poker Stars (internet poker) into a $2.5 million win at the World Series of Poker and helped spark a resurgence in poker that has yet to slow down. His amazing story is recapped through interviews in All In and they underline the magic of poker.

Poker’s boom had much to do with the influx of online gaming sites as well as the popularity of TV shows like the World Poker Tour. Viewers will enjoy the thinking behind the showing of poker tournaments and the sometimes forgotten behind-the-scenes players who managed to get poker onto TV after years of being turned down for any type of TV poker tournaments.

Although CBS and the Wide World of Sports used to show some clips of the WSOP as far back as the 1970’s, it was the addition of commentators and the hole-card camera that brought understanding and excitement to the shows.

From a cinematic and technical standpoint, this is an entertaining film that many will enjoy. However, the documentary starts with a series of interview clips about where people were when they heard “the news.” Unfortunately, the average movie goer is unlikely to know what is being discussed (the April 15, 2011 closure of several prominent online poker sites to US players).

As a viewer, I would have preferred a more direct introduction, a slightly abbreviated length (90-minutes would have been better for me than the two-hour run), and a more chronological treatment of poker and the boom. Without that, the film does present a somewhat choppy offering of interviews, Moneymaker’s story, and US poker players disappointment that their daily ingestion of online poker went away due to the US Government. That criticism aside, I wouldn’t let those minor shortcomings keep me from seeing the film if I wanted to enjoy an overview of the past decade in poker.