Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Review of new movie - Bet Raise Fold

Bet Raise Fold has just been released, and it's a great documentary.  A link to the movie site is here.  A link to the kick-starter campaign (expired) is here.

They producers of the movie got a bit lucky in a way.  They started filming this a few years ago.  Then, on April 15, 2011, online poker was essentially taken away from Americans (known as "Black Friday").  This movie discusses much of the history of online poker, but the heart of it is in the stories from three people whose lives they chronicle.  These are three online poker professionals: Tony, Danielle, and Martin.  They got to follow their lives both before and after Black Friday, and it is pretty striking to see what happens.



Of the characters, the one I related to the most was Danielle.  She was married with kids, and some of the things she described - about her reactions to downswings, about taking shots to hit it big in live tournaments, and how the government took away her dreams - were things I have felt.  For non-poker players, I think she is the one who will certainly garner the most sympathy.  If not for the fact that she was a professional poker player, she would be thought of as the typical mom trying to support her family.

The movie is great and tells a good story.  It hits on many big economic issues, like entrepreneurship, emerging industries, how one newly emerged market creates many ancillary jobs, and how the government has the ability to kill an industry and deprive people of the right to earn a living.

The main shortcoming I saw with this movie is they didn't focus much on what online poker meant for recreational players.  They focused much more on online professionals.  For many people, however, the hobby of poker alone was a huge deal.  For me, while I made money, it also was my main hobby.  Having online poker being taken from those who enjoyed poker, but weren't professionals, was a big deal to many people.  I think it would have been better if there was some discussion of non-professionals.  

This is a bit of a nit picky criticism.  With 100 minutes to work with, a movie can't show everything.  I found the movie entertaining and moving.  I highly recommend it!   Also, my wife and 11 year old (neither are poker players) watched it also thought it was great.

(Note, there is a bit of adult language in the movie, so it isn't completely appropriate for kids, but other than a few curse words it was OK.) 

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