"Where that chip money at? I love me some chip money!"
It's the one phrase Sunday night players at the Spring Hotel will probably remember for a long time. It's funny now to hear the players recount the words, imitate the robbers, and have the phrase "chip money" slowly sneak into the local poker lexicon. At the time, though, it was the farthest thing from funny. Because when the thugs who hijacked the Spring Hotel couldn't find the house bank (aka "chip money"), they fired their gun for the first time.More in this Poker Blog! -->
By Monday night, victims of the second Greenville poker robbery in two months were able to laugh about it and deny ever being actually scared or now emotionally scarred. I caught up with some of them Monday night where they were--no surprise--playing poker.
One player was sitting at the end of the table when he heard a commotion at the main entrance to the Spring Hotel. He looked up to see a player's girlfriend with a gun to her head. She'd been walking outside when the thugs jumped her. The robbers, one curiously tall, were all dressed in dark clothes, had their faces covered, and wore latex surgical gloves.
Immediately players recognized the MO. After the robbery two months ago at the Black Stallion, the story of how the robbers made everyone drop their pants had spread quickly through the poker community. The players at the Spring Hotel knew what was coming.
Within seconds they were all taking off their pants and noticing the oddest of details--how many people were wearing boxers versus briefs, what was written on the side of the gun, who was and who was not in the room. One player fumbled with his cash and phone and tried to drop them into his socks. He missed his target and tried to cover his money with his shoe. It worked until the robbers made the rounds around the table and started picking up everything. The player's shoe got moved and his money--a good score on its own for the thugs--sat in open view.
At first, it looked like the hijackers were going to be happy with their take out of the players' pockets. The money split among them, they were going to have a good night without taking any more. However, there was was clearly a leader among the group and he knew the score. He knew how to get there, he knew what kind of money was available, and he knew what to search for.
That's when he said it.
"Where that chip money at? I love me some chip money!"
Nobody said anything. It was likely the players themselves didn't know for sure where the money was. The dealer and the operators were mum. The robbers grew more agitated. The next thing the players would remember was the shot.
One of the operators was already on his knees. When the gun went off, the big man fell onto his chest and didn't move. Everyone--in their underwear--stood in shock.
"I thought, 'Someone's actually been shot in here,'" one player said.
The operator had not been shot, but no one knew that until he eventually turned his head to see the robbers searching the house. Finally, they found the cash they were looking for. Nearly sated, they headed for the door with the money, credit cards, cell phones, pants, belts, and at, as would later be inventoried, at least one shoe.
"Grab that suitcase," the lead robber said. "It looks expensive."
While it was clear the robbers had been tipped to the game and how it worked, they were still laughingly unaware of value. They grabbed a cheap metal chip case and headed for the door. Then, like a scene out of a wild west robbery, one of them fired a final shot in the air and the masked men disappeared into the night
Then began the frustrated inventory. Everyone had lost what was in their pockets. Blackberries full of contacts and months of unbacked-up data were gone. Keys, credit cards, drivers licenses, thousands of dollars, and clothing were all gone. So was one of the remaining bastions for poker players in G-Vegas.
While there is more to this story, it's nothing I can tell here. There's only so much that can be put in a public forum.
By Monday night, the laughter had returned. One player remarked how he expected to be jumpy and still shaking from the night before. Instead, he was just pissed off. He couldn't stop thinking about the robbers driving down the interstate, "thinking they were bad motherfuckers."
While bold, few people would call the robbers anything but opportunists. The cheapest form thievery is stealing from people you know won't shoot back or call the cops. However, bad motherfuckers or not, they got away and put another ding in the local poker community.
"You see my new phone? It's the 2007 Razor," said one player with mock pride at last night's game. He held up a brick of a cell-phone circa 2003, one he had pulled out of a drawer to replace the one he had stolen the night before. He fumbled with the key pad and mumbled, "Takes me ten minutes to send a text message on this thing."
Old school poker players will tell you, it's all part of the game. Getting raided or hijacked was just part of the territory. The old stories told by the Texas road gamblers are fun, legendary, and even a little romantic. However, when people you care about are staring down the barrel of a gun, the romance ends. The idea of attending the funeral of people that I consider friends is not something I consider the least bit fun.
A younger Otis, one with sick ideas of romantic danger and James Dean cum Christian Slater-like violent brooding, might have gotten off on the idea of having a gun shoved in his face and living to tell about it. This particular Otis, however, is much more content to suffer with lower back pain, an ulnar nerve tweak, and an expanding waistline as his bigger physical dangers. That is, this is a story that is intriguing to hear, but not one I want to tell again.
Because, in short, it's just not worth it.
Previously:<-- Hide More
Two months to the day after G-Vegas' Black Stallion game was hijacked by armed thugs, it has happened again, this time at the long-running Spring Hotel game.
Full details are still coming in, but here's what we know thus far.
The Spring Hotel has been running regularly for the past several years. It was, in fact, the first underground game in the area where I played. Typically running one or two tables a night, this game was among the more discrete in the area. Unlike some of the other games, this was a room you couldn't just drive by and find. You had to have directions...and good ones.
According to one of last night's victims, the MO was almost exactly the same as the Black Stallion robbery. Several thugs came in with guns, forced everyone to take off their pants, and then cleaned everybody out. The jackers picked up cash, credit cards, cell phones and just about anything else of value they could find.
Since the Back Stallion robbery and sheriff's office raid on the Gaelic Game, most operators in town chose to either shut down or go on indefinite hiatus. That meant that the Spring Hotel was one of, if not the only regularly running game in G-Vegas this week.
While no one was physically hurt during the robbery, the robbers fired two shots into the ceiling of the Spring Hotel. The Black Stallion robbery was reportedly very scary and somewhat violent, but no shots were fired during that hold-up.
While we have no independent verification of this, it seems pretty obvious that both robberies were committed by the same group of people. These guys apparently have pretty good sources when it comes to finding the games to rob. With the exact same MO and both robberies happening on the same night (Sunday), it's clear there is a gang getting its rocks off by robbing the local poker community.
To all the good folks who got held up last night, I'm glad you're okay. To the robbers, I'd watch your ass. That's all I'm saying.
Update: For an updated, more detailed version of this story, see: G-Vegas Spring Hotel robbery update
I like the way you play.
You're smart, you know? That's why I respect your game. You're one helluva a player and I don't know why you don't win more. Tough break on that ace-jack hand. So damned cruel when a monster like that gets coolered by AK. It's okay, though, bud. You're going to get there. After all, you've got me and a host of other people telling you what's right and wrong about your game.
Oh, and hey, if you lose tonight, shake it off. It's going to get better, because I like the way you play.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I made two rules for myself about a year ago: Never take criticism from someone I've just beat and never believe an opponent who says they respect my game. The rules exist for a variety of reasons. First, if I played a hand badly, I know it. I don't need someone else to tell me. Second, if someone says they respect me (especially in the midddle of a game), the chances that they are lying or shooting an angle are about 99%. Furthermore, it doesn't matter if someone likes my game. They are still trying to take my chips.
My psyche doesn't matter, though. The above is simply the way I protect myself from manipulation and, more importantly, ego. Pride and timidity are equally dangerous at a poker table and I want none of either. It's up to you how you handle your head.
What's on my mind today, however, is how people handle their mouths, how they handle beats, and the purpose of both. Purpose is the thing.
I do not hold myself out as an expert in poker, psychology, or any combination of the two. However, I am clear on one thing: Everything you do at a poker table, from the time you walk in the door or log-in online to the time you cash out must have a purpose. Every move you make, thing you say, or motion you make should have purpose, and better yet, a purpose toward the ultimate goal of making money.
Few people, least of all I, have perfected this. It's exceptionally difficult to follow this rule. Distractions like a TV, a waitress, or a beer can steal focus and render all of your attempts at a purpose-minded game. For some people, the hardest thing to contol is their mouth, especially after playing and losing against an obviously inferior opponent.
I wonder sometimes why more people don't consider how absolutely contrary that is to poker's first goal. Among the first thing a new player learns is to stay as far away from the aquarium as you can. You want your fish to be as still as possisble. Stasis, after all, is death. And yet, I see great players going to great lengths to pick up the fish and shake them until they completely understand how unreasonable it is to call a re-raise with ace-jack off.
What do you have to gain by doing that? Do you know? I only ask because you are making better the people I can conceivably beat and that is more than a little annoying. Plus, it's just a little rude.
I have a couple more rules. First, you will never hear me criticize your game. Second, if you hear me complimenting your game (beyond the occasional and polite, "nice hand"), be very wary, because I probably don't mean it.
There are five people with whom I would be totally honest about their play--and then only of they asked. There was a time when I could still teach my poker friends. That time has long since passed. They now all have a fundamental understanding of the game and have developed their own style. If they played a hand badly, they know it as well as I do. However, if they ask, I will offer my opinion, because, as friends, we hope to improve each other's game. We all know our respective strengths and weaknesses. We explot those in home games, but otherwise, we work to encourage each other to improve...without working to discourage our friends.
When Phil Hellmuth won his eleventh World Series of Poker bracelet this year, I was standing about 20 feet away. I couldn't see it happen, because Hellmuth sat in a live coverage void in the Bluff Magazine tent. Still, it was clear what happened. When the crowd rose in applause, I clapped as well. I have no love for Hellmuth's personality, table demeanor, cash game, or general life outlook. Regardless, I respect him as one of, if not the best, no-limit hold'em tournament player in history.
There is probably only one honest thing I could say to someone at a table: "I appreciate the way you handle yourself at the table."
I know tons of good poker players. I know some great poker players. Among those people, the only ones I care about are the ones I can respect. Phil Hellmuth has turned himseld into poker's version of a pro wrestling villian by criticizing his opponents' play. Everybody else who tries to emulate the Whining Badboy Poker Genius character is just slapping his man-part against the glass.<-- Hide More
For the past two years, I have said aloud--although, to myself, while alone in a room, usually after a couple of drinks, and under the influence of 18 varieties of self loathing--that I was not going to go to Las Vegas in December. At the time, it seemed such a reasonable and responsible declaration. I've been traveling a lot this year and the end of 2007 is not any exception. I miss my family and they claim--especially when tempted with ice cream--they miss me as well.
Really, it's a whole list of things that are keeping me away from my West Coast home, beginning with my intention to be a better husband and father and ending with my belief that my future in poker is pretty much now in line with my future in porn.
No, I told myself, I was not going to Las Vegas for the ninth week this year.More in this Poker Blog! -->
And really, why would I? It's not like I've been away long enough to miss the lights, the food, and the action. I can still smell the Double Down on my clothes and still have visions of seeing Mr. T dance to an oompah band. Oh, and I guess I never told those stories. That is to say, I'm not even caught up from my trip in August. I couldn't conceivably consider going back and getting more backlogged.
And really, it's not been my finest poker year. It's been one of those Cha-Cha years. Step forward, step back. Caesars' tournaments treated me pretty well. MGM was kind in the cash games. I had a mediocre Series. Online went South in March. In short...blah.
So, why would I want to go out to Las Vegas again?
Well, a couple of things happened. The first was what inspired the title of this post. For now, that's going to remain a secret--not because it's cool, but because it's embarassing on a couple levels. Only two other people know what this title means and they are actively participating in the F.A.R.C.E.
But, really, something else happened. I saw the list of attendees, started waxing nostalgic about Whiplash the dog, Mr. Otis the horse, and Mr. Al, the king of the Mandalay Bay sports book. I thought about turning the Excalibur poker room upside down and bringing G-Rob to his knees with wheel spin prop bets.
Oh, and I might have thought for a second about Pai Gow.
Two days ago, I sent Falstaff an e-mail reading, "Um...looks like I'm in." I have spent the last two days firing e-mails to people who had not yet pulled the trigger. So far, the recruiting effort has gone well.
And, so I am in. Unlike last year, this is not a last-minute decision. Unlike last year, I'm not going to catch the flu. Unlike last year, I'm not going to give all my WBPT tournament chips to an Irish guy.
So, for what it's worth, I'm bringing my b-game, my roll, and a good attitude to Vegas for what will surely be farce one way or another.<-- Hide More
Like any bubble, poker was bound to pop. We still play but not as often. There are still games but they're far smaller. The online action is slower and in danger of overfishing. I haven't played a single hand in weeks save the blogger freeroll over on Stars.
I considered calling this post "Folding" but I'm not sure we've fallen that far. Still, I'm less excited by the action than I've been in a very long time and much as Otis has blogged about the sorry state of the game, I'd like to take a stab.More in this Poker Blog! -->
The underground collapsed. The last big bust was at the Gaelic game. I wasn't there, none of us were, but it was enough to chill the whole scene. Evidently some of the deputies that night made some very specific, and accurate, refences to other rooms around town. Those games have been closed ever since.
Remember the robbery at the Black Stallion game? That was really the first blow. It pulled back the curtain on what we were really caught up in revealing something we knew but refused to admit. The underground games are shady and the straight flush jackpot is only a fraction of what any would be robber would have to gain.
Not long after than our friend Eddie the dealer said he wished he'd had his own gun during the holdup. That kind of wild west atmosphere was a gigantic turnoff for me.
I know underground poker still exists here but the "scene" such that it was, is dead. I won't be back. I can say the same for Otis and Badblood. Something we used to enjoy as much as 5 times a week is now reduced to ZERO.
Honestly, I think this is more troubling. One thing I can say about the underground games, I never played in any, in G-Vegas, where I didn't think the game was on the level. The same can no longer be said of online poker.
By far the most troubling example was what happened at Absolute Poker. The short lesson here is remove your money from that site immediately. It's as if every wacky online conspiracy theory, the ones we've always dismissed out of hand, played out in real life.
From what I've gathered through second- and third- hand accounts, an player there, someone working from INSIDE the site, was able to play there while ALL THE OTHER PLAYERS were playing with their cards FACE UP!
Other players grew suspicious when that inside player started folding hands he should have played (but would have lost) and playing and winning with odd holdings. It's impossible to bluff someone who can see your hand. The site is "investigating" the matter. I say it's freaking terrifying and, clearly, we'll nver be able to laugh off those morons who type "rigged" in the chat box again.
In this case, Absolute Poker WAS rigged.
The other incident happend at Poker Stars and was better handled by the site. A player who won a MASSIVE first place payout in the WCOOP was using multiple accounts during that event. At least, that's how it appears. There WERE two accounts logged into the same tournament. One of them was the known account of a poker pro, the other belonged to his "sister".
Stars took back the payout and redistributed the winnings. Still, this is far from being the only incident in which someone has been caught multi-accounting a big game.
As much as the risk of getting robbed or busted raises the risk of underground poker, putting money onto an offshore and online game that can be so easily cheated and insecure is just plain STUPID.
Why not mail me a check instead?
Furthermore, while federal law has not had any impact as far as established online players getting hands at the table, it HAS restricted the flow of fresh fish. There are now more rocks than dollars. It is now much harder to beat the rake.
Lately I've been too busy even for the little homegames that have popped up in town. I play in a drunken kickball league with some friends from work on Fridays. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday my daughter has soccer. On Monday that daughter has piano. On Thursday the other child has violin. Both of them have gymnastics on Friday.
Last weekend I went camping with most of my closest friends. This weekend the wife and I are vacationing in San Francisco.
I have a new boss at work and the big ratings sweep begins in a week.
I have a lot of things to do OTHER than poker. I've been on a rather extended break. It isn't permanant but I've enjoyed it.
About 2 weeks ago I played in 2 little SNGS on Stars. In both I folded away, playing decent SNG strategy, and got to about 4 or 5 remaining. In both cases I caught my first big hand, played my first flop, and exited the game.
My wife said, "Why do you play if you don't enjoy it?"
For the first time since my first flop, I didn't know the answer.<-- Hide More
"Anyone at any time can suddenly find himself dependent on his own resources for survival...If you are not ready, it may cost your life."
How to Stay Alive in the Woods
In 1956, Bradford Angier published a book titled "Living Off the Country." Thirty years later, the book was repackaged under the much more sexy title "How to Stay Alive in the Woods." Maybe it doesn't seem like much of a change, but when I look at it, I see more than two different titles. I see how a society viewed itself.
Time changes more than the lines on our collective face. It changes the way we see the world. In the 1950s, we were about living. In the 1980s, we were about surviving.
Three decades may have changed the way we saw our ability to live off the land. It's only taken three years to change how we see our ability to live on and off the felt.More in this Poker Blog! -->
"Just as cold is actually the lack of heat...so is getting lost an entirely negative state of affairs. We become lost not because if anything we do, but because of what we leave undone." --Chapter 14, "Staying Found."
If you take the poker world's last year into account, there would be a lot more bad things about which to write than good things. Like the waning year of oversexed and hypercharged young love, the past year has been marked with a feel of cognitive dissonance that at times seems impossible to overcome. More times than not, the problems have not been because of what we as a poker community did, but what we did not do.
Congress stripped online poker funding options down to the bare bones and put us back in the dark ages. Amy Calistri and Tim Lavalli uncovered the Color Up Scandal at the 2006 World Series. Local games around the country (including a couple here in G-Vegas) were robbed and/or busted with unsettling regularity. All of these things happened because the poker world failed to prepare. Whether it was a too-late lobby on The Hill, to not hiring the kind of staff needed to oversee the world's biggest poker event, or not operating an underground game with a common sense level of discretion, the poker world didn't get lost because of its actions. It got lost because if its inaction.
Now, two huge scandals have rocked the online poker world within the span of one month. The first one was apparently perpetrated by the player. The second was apparently pulled off by a company insider. The latter case at Absolute Poker is the one that breaks my heart. We don't and likely won't know everything. Had it not been for people like Nat Arem, the Pocket Fives crew, and a few other industrious amateur journalists, we might not know anything. Instead, the biggest scandal in online poker history is raining down on the industry and players. Once again, the industry is being forced to react as opposed to acting in advance. If the allegations against Absolute Poker are true (and I have no reason to believe they are not), then Absolute Poker should cease to exist. Right now, there is no way to make that happen, because there is no one to make it happen.
"An unhealthy proportion of accidents occur because deep down, someone wants them to happen." --Chapter 21, "Emergency Aid"
It's all rather exhausting. It's such an emotionally tiresome experience that a lot of people might think about giving up. I'll admit that I have had those thoughts. Still, I also know enough about the business, its roots, and its heart that I can't make myself walk away. Sure, I've met a lot of bad people over the past three years. However, I have also met some of the most honest and hardworking poker people that I can't turn my back on the game or the industry.
I have to imagine that the troubles we have been fording are ones that we are meant to face to make this industry--and by extension, the game we all love--once again viable in the long-term. If we are to truly care about the game enough to fight for it, then we will win. If not, we might as well start looking for the next fun way to make money, because for the vast majority of us, it won't be in poker.
These are fairly trite observations, I know. It's all rather hard to consider. I've been sitting in a state of flux since July when I left the World Series. I've abandoned the local underground scene in favor of a couple of regular home games. I am barely playing online. My next trip to Vegas will either be December (hopefully) or...well, if not then, I don't know. I just don't know what to do or when to do it.
I remember a tumultuous few months with a college girlfriend. We'd maintained different pads, but had basically been living together for several months. Over the course of a few ugly weeks, things turned pretty bad. It started with walking in on her and a group of friends frantically tearing up the house in search of a lost tab of acid (it was in the freezer) and ended with her hurling a glass dolphin across the room. Suffice to say, we didn't see much of each other after that. Despite enjoying a relationship that had a lot going for it, it had a lot more working against it.
If poker were a college relationship, I'd probably be hitting the singles bars right about now. Fortunately, poker is not about a matter of the heart. We may love it, but we all know it's a business. You don't save a business with make-up sex.
"What people say you cannot do, you try and find you can." --Henry David Thoreau, as quoted in Chapter 1, "Every Necessity is Free."
At this time last year, I thought we were at a crossroads in the poker world. Now I don't think it anymore. I know it. For the poker world to survive and thrive as it did before it all started falling apart, two things have to happen and happen quickly.
1) The online poker lobby must convince the United States Congress to overturn the online gambling funding ban or carve out a place for poker.
2) Online poker must come under a regulatory body that has not merely oversight but punitive controls that will force out the rogue operators who give a black eye to the legitimate companies.
In the absence of accomplishing those two things, the outlook is not as pretty as it used to be. The industry will not dry up, but it will not thrive. For many years, it has simply seemed easier to stick with the status quo. There is no book on how to survive this. Bradford Algier can only teach us how to find food and stay warm. This new poker world uncharted territory. I am guilty as everybody else in believing that the good times would last far longer than they have. Now, we all have to be responsible. Otherwise, the poker community is facing a lonely wilderness where the game is not as plentiful and winter is coming.<-- Hide More
There are some days I simply lean back, put my feet up and think about how lucky I am. From the great job, to the beautiful fiancee, to an uncanny ability to pull a two-outer on the river. It's my lot in life, I suppose. If there's a constant amount of luck and bad luck in this world, then my opposite must be one unlucky soul.
But I digress... this isn't about my luck.
It's about Lady Luck's luck.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Over the past few weeks, I've been teaching her the game of poker. We started slow, just learning the rank of hands. From there, I showed her how the game of Texas Hold 'Em is played. Next, we considered starting hands. Then it was learning when to throw a hand away. Finally, we started slinging chips.
In our first mock game, it became immediately clear that being dominated does not bother Lady Luck. Late in the game, I'm holding J8 to her 89. Her short stack is destined to become mine.
I burn a card and slowly reveal the flop. It's a 7 in the door.
"Oooh," I say, "that's good news, you might have a straight draw."
The next card I reveal is a 10. Uh oh, I think. And there it is. A six. She flopped the nut straight. We had just watched Rounders. I felt a little like Teddy KGB (insert your own jokes here).
The turn and river did me no good, she had doubled up.
The next time she got herself all in, she was holding 78s. I don't want you to think she's just playing connectors. She was the shortest stack and was finding the best spots she could to get her money in. I was holding 57s. Our big stack, the ghost player (there were two other hands I was managing), was holding KQs.
The flop? How about 8-7-x. The turn? How about the case 7. Her boat was unbeatable, but, unfortunately for me, the ghost hand managed a four flush on the river and knocked me out.
I really think she enjoyed it. Checking is still a bit of a tricky concept for her, but the rest of the stuff has come pretty quickly. She's even learning shuffle chips.
We'll be home this weekend visiting family and maybe we'll have a chance to see how she stands up against the rest of the Luckbox clan. It's only a matter of time before she's taking your money at the tables.
She's got the gene.<-- Hide More
This is completely off-topic and this post will be deleted as soon as I get the help I need. So bear with me...
How do I change the values in the column of an Excel document from a percent to just a whole number? For example, I would like 12% to read "12" instead of "0.12". Do I make sense? In other words, I want to get rid of the percent sign but keep the whole number. When I format the cells from "percentage" to "general," "number" or "text," I get the decimal places. I know I can simply change the format and then re-type each number, but that's too time-consuming. I figure one of you industrious types know a better way.
Can you believe I'm using a poker blog to ask this question? My thanks in advance.
If it's a brainchild of Pauly, you know it's going to be good.
This one is called Sundays with Dr. Pauly. It's a chance for you to test your fantasy sports skills against other bloggers with some extra prizes thrown in to make it just a little more interesting. Now who wouldn't want to get in on that action?
It's easy, just sign up for Fantasy Sports Live. Don't forget Bonus Code: Luckbox! It's 100% legal in almost every U.S. state and you can fund it with your credit card. It is NOT affected by the UIGEA.
Weekly contests are $10 each and will run for ten weeks. You'll pick a fantasy football team each week and the three teams with the most points will win prize money. There will be multiple contests each week, all labeled Sundays with Dr. Pauly. At the end of the contest, the top three point earners get bonus prizes... and every player has a chance to make the season ending freeroll.
See how easy it is? Now get on board! Good luck, and don't forget, Bonus Code: Luckbox.BONUS CODE: LUCKBOX
I probably don't say this enough.More in this Poker Blog! -->
But, thank you.
Thank you for taking the time to make your blogs what they are. Thank you for taking the time to write real stories. Thank you for offering good theory posts. Thank you for making en effort over the years to claim a real space in this ethereal world. Thank you for giving more than you get back. Thank you for taking an individual pursuit and forming a community out of a bunch of people who might not otherwise know each other.
In short, thank you for knowing what makes a good, and dare I say real blog.
I can't say whether I'll make it for the WBPT gathering in December, but if I do, I hope to thank you in person. You all may be a bunch of cantankerous misfits, but you are my kind of people and you deserve more recognition than you get.
That's all for now.<-- Hide More
The cast is strong and deep: Sylvester Stallone, Jamie Foxx, Gabriel Byrne, Melanie Griffith and Thandie Newton among others.
The story is solid: A young "mechanic" and his hustler partners aim to take down the biggest card shark (and cheat) in the game.
And I had never heard of it.
Is that possible? If it's a movie, I've at least heard of it. And this one is right in my wheelhouse... gambling and grifters. But it wasn't until I forced Lady Luck to watch David Mamet's Spartan (she didn't care for it... I'm a fan), until I actually saw a trailer for this movie.
It's called Shade.More in this Poker Blog! -->
If you've seen a lot of con movies, you'll be pretty familiar with the rhythm of this movie. What I mean is that the twist and turns aren't as cleverly hidden as they perhaps could be. In fact, some of the "cons" seem lifted from classic con movies like The Sting and The Grifters.
As a poker movie goes, it's okay. It's hardly up to the level of Rounders, but I'm sure it's better than Lucky You (which I haven't yet seen). We're not talking about a lot of straight up poker here, but the scenes at the table are enjoyable.
Sylvester Stallone is definitely in a role that suits him. He's "The Dean," the greatest "mechanic" in the world, a player who's never been beaten and who's legend grows every time a story is told. It's a nice departure from the cartoonish hero roles he usually plays.
Stuart Townsend plays Vernon, the young up-and-comer whose hands are pure magic. He enlists the help of two long time grifters (Gabriel Byrne and Thandie Newton) for a chance to take down The Dean in The Big Game. A smooth long con and a gun-fight with heavies from a Vegas mob boss create plenty of drama leading up the final heads-up battle.
It's a sleek, stylish movie which never crosses that fine line between solid con movie and impossible-to-believe farce. If you've got Netflix or Blockbuster Online, I'd suggest you put it in your queue.<-- Hide More