Today, Friday, October 4, 2013, a new poker movie hits theaters. It’s called “Runner Runner” and it stars Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake as opposite sides of a dispute about one man’s (Justin Timberlakes) loss of a great sum of money to an online poker site.
Calling it a thriller that set against a backdrop of online poker (actually it’s set in Costa Rica, although more of the film was shot in Puerto Rico) the movie is the most recent from the team of writers/producers Brian Koppleman and David Levien. The movie follows a ruthless offshore online poker site operator played by Affleck, lending to rumors that the film will shed a bad light on online poker and hurt the industry’s efforts to legalize in more states and then the whole U.S.. The producers’ answer to that is to look at the 1998 film “Rounders” (which was written, incidentally by the same dynamic duo) that rallied that same complaints, yet only served to bolster the game of real money high stakes poker, if anything. The writers/producers also swear that they were already working on the film before the 2011 Black Friday debacle hitting sites like Absolute Poker and Ultimate Poker took place, with those events merely serving as validation that they indeed had themselves an urgent and relevant story worth telling.
A new independent, feature-length documentary film focuses its lens on online poker players. The movie is called “Bet Raise Fold” and it follows three players – Martin “AlexeiMartov” Bradstreet, Tony “Bond18” Dunst, and Danielle “dmoongirl” Moon-Andersen – all of whom make their living with online poker.
The subject is true to the film’s producer Jay Rosenkrantz’s heart, as he moved to NY after earning his Film and TV degree at Boston University only to make $1 million through high stakes card games by the time he reached the age of 24.
The main conflict of the film is the event known as Black Friday, which took place on April 15, 2011 when the U.S. Department of Justice, a federal agency, pulled the rug out from under the online poker industry’s (and players’) feet, shutting down the most popular online poker sites operating in the U.S. – Poker Stars, Ultimate Bet/Absolute Poker, and Full Tilt Poker – and seizing hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. player funds that still haven’t fully been returned. Only Poker Stars has completely paid back its players.
From the moment to which many attribute the big boom in online poker – when online poker and satellite tournament winner Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker in 2003, setting the stage for many amateur players turned instant professionals and celebrities overnight. This also occurred just as the televised broadcast of the World Poker Tour was taking off in popularity.
Bet Raise Fold is billed as a “coming of age story for an entire generation of young poker professionals.”
Interestingly, the film was fully funded by the online poker winnings from a group of select pro players.