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Showing posts with label Shade. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shade. Show all posts

Monday, August 23, 2004

The Big Blind

Good poker movies are few and far between. Even some of the "good" ones (like 1998's Rounders) get discounted by poker players as inaccurate.

Along comes a poker movie written and directed by an actual poker player and starring actual poker players (including Scotty Nguyen and Jennifer Harmon). What could be better, right?

Well almost, but not quite.

The Big Blind isn't a bad movie--in fact it has several redeeming qualities. Some of the moments in the film are truly humorous and sometimes touching and people who play a lot of poker in brick and mortar cardrooms will quickly recognize many of the personalities (the old lady who repeatedly asks for money to play and is rejected) On the down side, some of the acting is weak, the characters lack depth and the cinematography is average at best. Also a bit on the down side for me is the flashy inclusion of Party Poker bonus codes not just in a flyer attached to the DVD but printed on the DVD itself! So every time you play this movie you can't help but ponder signing up for your very own poker account. While I am not opposed to making affiliate income (http://www.lowlimitholdem.com/ pays its bills with it) there is something to be said for subtlety and whacking an ad on the label of the dvd (which I paid $30 for) isn't subtle.

Yet in some sense this is a real poker movie and you may have read some glowing reviews from the likes of Lou Krieger and others. I believe part of the reason for this is that there are so few good poker movies to watch.

Take Shade, starring Sylvester Stallone, for example. This is a fairly recent movie supposedly about card mechanics and poker which still has the Hollywood cliche about literally betting someone out of a pot (you raise me? I raise you eleventy billion dollars!). The loser who cannot call the bet because they simply do not have enough money walks away wondering to themselves what the hell they were thinking playing a game with rules like that.

Of course real poker doesn't have rules like that. Table stakes (you can only win or lose the money that you have in front of you) prevents it, yet you see the same cliche in movie after movie and television show after television show. Hollywood, read this: 1) it doesn't work that way and 2) it doesn't add real drama because no one would play such a game.

The best poker movie I've seen so far is 1965's The Cincinnati Kid starring Steve McQueen and Edward G. Robinson. Even if the players in this movie do play no limit 5-card stud (not an extremely popular choice nowadays!) it is a great movie with lots of action, tension, and excitement. If you get a chance to rent or own this movie it's well worth it.


Back to The Big Blind, the big question is -- is it worth watching? If you're a poker junkie you'll want to do it just to see Jennifer Harmon and Scotty Nguyen in their brief moments on screen and the real bonus will be the moments of real emotion, humor, and truth that are scattered through this movie. (I'm hopeful David James does a second movie because this first one is more of a teaser as to what he could potentially come up with which really is impressive).

Unfortunately you'll have to shell out the value of a big blind (at least in a 15-30 game) in order to watch this movie because you're very unlikely to find it at your local Blockbuster rental store. Go to http://www.thebigblind.com/ to order it directly.