Hollywood Plays Poker

Hollywood jumps on the poker bandwagon with a string of celebrities and big screen card-based movies

Warner Brothers has pushed all its chips into the film casting Eric Bana, Drew Barrymore and Robert Duvall in Cinema Paradiso.

Hollywood is betting big on a batch of poker films hoping to cash in on the betting boom. A handful of big budget poker movies are set for release in the next 12 months, but we reckon Lucky You could be the nuts.

Warner Brothers has pushed all its chips into the film, hiring CurtisHanson (LA Confidential) as writer/ director, and casting Hollywood A-listers Eric Bana, Drew Barrymore and Robert Duvall. Bana plays a poker pro fighting both his personal demons and his way through the 2003 World Series of Poker with help from casino lounge singer Barrymore. Duvall plays his estranged father who is pitted against him in the tournament.

Talent spotting

Thankfully, poker realism looks set to be the order of the day with Hanson eschewing the movie cliché of hands regularly turning up four of a kind and straight flushes.

Hanson told PokerPlayer: ‘With millions of people watching poker on TV, it was important to capture the authenticity of the game and its players.’ And to achieve this he turned to poker legend Doyle ‘Texas Dolly’ Brunson and Jason Lester (fourth-place finisher in the 2003 WSOP) as consultants. Lester said: ‘This movie is getting it right. I can’t recall any movie ever really showing high stakes gambling in such an authentic manner.’

The poker tables in Lucky You are largely populated by pro players and the film features the largest showing of poker sharks outside the Main Event. WSOP regulars Johnny Chan, Sam Farha, Chris ‘Jesus’ Ferguson, Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu are among the poker talent that can be spotted. The rest of the cast trained for months in order to play alongside them convincingly, and from the pictures we managed to bag from Warner Bros it looks like they’ve got it spot-on.

Talking Hollywood it’s also worth keeping an eye out for Positively Fifth Street, which is based on the excellent book by James McManus. The film, directed by John Ridley (who wrote the story for Three Kings), is a murder mystery thriller centred around the WSOP in Vegas.

Lucky You is set for release in the UK on April 28, 2006

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