Poker is still one of the most popular games of chance and is often played in private rounds as a casual parlor game, but even more so in large casinos, at poker tournaments and in the underground with high winnings and losses. However, especially in the case of poker games played in secret, the losses are dangerously high. It is actually always only the money, the big pot, the accumulated winnings of the players that really pulls people under its spell. The fascination of the game itself plays only a subordinate role – poker is played because of the enormous profit opportunities.
And it is precisely these stories of success that are usually clearly in the foreground. Those about tragedies that take place in silence behind the unemotional poker face – despair, stress, temptation and gamble, are hardly known. Sometimes dreams come true, but very often they also burst. The best poker players in global tournaments are revered as strategic geniuses and like stars. But their stories are as fascinating as they are harrowing. Some give up their job or their studies to play poker professionally, and online poker in particular makes it easy for many players to get started. Beginners are sometimes even given money and those who play skillfully can quickly earn a nice extra income. Online poker professionals sometimes even play simultaneously at many tables, which is very stressful and as a result the high pressure makes many players sick. The realities are extreme, because once they are swimming in money, soon after they are totally broke.
The poker scene has now become a parallel world with many opposites. No wonder that they fascinate and occupy science, research and also journalists and filmmakers have made many good documentaries about it in recent years. Some in-depth, some simply on the subject in general. They all have in common that they don’t gloss over anything – they show tough and open the good and the bad sides of the poker scene, the personal tragedies and the hardships and emotions. It is said that the game of poker brings out the worst side of people. Some of the documentation points out just that. There are now as many poker documentaries as there are feature films about poker.
One of the earliest documentaries was shown in 1999 under the title The Million Dollar Deal . It’s about the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, which was held in 1998. The documentary follows six players who wanted to win the huge prize money of several million US dollars through the entire competition. It shows what makes a world class poker player and what loads he has to withstand in poker tournaments of this size.
In 2004 Pokerkings was structured in a similar way . After two years of production, this documentary showed what it was like behind the scenes for five professional players preparing for the 2003 World Series poker tournament.
In 2006 the documentary about the life and career of Stu Ungar was released: One of a Kind – The Rise and Fall of Stu Ungar . Ungar is one of the greatest poker legends in the world. The film shows his difficult life, his career with all its triumphs and tragedies, as well as the tragic end of his life.
Anything to Win ‘- Amarillo Slim was shown that same year . Like Stu Ungar, Thomas Preston Jr. aka Amarillo Slim is considered one of the best poker players of all time. Slim’s life and influence on the development of the game of poker around the world are highlighted here. The documentary shows why Amarillo Slim was such a good poker player, illuminates his eventful life and, by the way, is also a nice portrait of society from the 1960s.
The 2009 film History of Poker is well done . If you want to know where the game of poker has its roots, how it is played and how it developed into today’s game, you should watch this film. Well-known players, interesting interviews and many anecdotes about poker jargon can be seen. A celluloid-captured poker history lesson that is well worth seeing.