Five poker movies that Hollywood should make

Following the news that the Daniel Tzvetkoff Black Friday book is set to become a movie, Barry Carter suggests five classic poker stories that would be much better on the big screen.

5. The Greg Merson Story

// feel good story of the bunch would no doubt be a biopic of 2012 WSOP Champion Greg Merson.

Merson started the year struggling to recover from drug addiction and playing $1/$2 No Limit.

2012 ended for him having conquered his demons, winning both the $10,000 Six Max and $10,000 Main Event bracelets for just under $10 million in total, and becoming a great ambassador for both poker and recovering addicts. 

In fact, if you didn't know it was true, you would assume Hollywood would have made it up, it seems so perfectly positioned. 

4. In a World Full of Fat People - Amarillo Slim

// story of Amarillo Slim could go one of two ways, and either would be worth a watch. First of all, it could simply be an exact retelling of his book, and all the crazy prop bets he won. 

That would be a comedy, as we watch Slim racing Seabiscuit and playing table tennis with frying pans.

Or it could be a much darker movie that also tackled his indictment for indecency with a child. A tough biopic that first leads you to identify with the protagonist, only for him to do something horrible and leave you to challenge your assumptions. 

Either would make a good movie, and Hollywood almost made it a few years ago, with Nicholas Cage rumoured for the lead role at the time. 

3. The Professor, the Banker and the Suicide King

// you haven't read this book by Michael Craig, please do, because it is a fascinating read about one of the biggest games ever. 

Millionaire Andy Beal wanted to take on the best players in the world (Who played as a consortium known as the 'Corporation') and take them out of their comfort zone by raising the stakes beyond anything they imagined possible at the time. 

It would no doubt be the great ensemble movie of the bunch, as a huge list of characters appeared in the book including Phil Ivey, Howard Lederer, Barry Greenstein, Gus Hansen, Ted Forrest, Doyle Brunson, Jennifer Harman and Chip Reese.

Andy sometimes broke them, and they sometimes broke him. It ended with him losing $16 million to Phil Ivey in two days. 

The only question would be whether Beal would be cast as the villain or the underdog hero?

2. Boom! The Chris Moneymaker Story

// a lot of poker stories you wonder if the wider public would care as much as we do, but I know this would make a good movie. Every time I tell non-poker players about how Chris Moneymaker went from underdog to champion, and inspired millions to do the same, it captivates whomever I'm talking to.

It would be the poker version of Rocky, complete with the comic relief of Chris accidently registering for the wrong tournament on his way to victory.

He, of course, would face countless obstacles along the way, and overcome each of them, most notably Phil Ivey before the final table and Sam Farha heads-up. We all know Sammy is a nice guy, but he is brilliant material for Hollywood to shape into a Bond-esque super villain at the end. 

1. The rise and fall of Full Tilt Poker

// have been several documentaries that have done a great job of explaining what happened on Black Friday and in particular what happened at Full Tilt Poker.

However, that is not what I had in mind here. Hollywood loves a good rise and fall movie (Goodfellas, Wolf of Wall Street etc) and a dramatic retelling of the downfall of Team Full Tilt could be epic. 

It would most likely be a fictional interpretation, of course, because we'll never know what really happened behind the scenes, as is often the case in these biopics.

But the downfall of Ray/Howard/Chris, Phil Ivey abandoning them, Erick Lindgren (allegedly) taking off with $2 million that was accidently wired to him and Gus Hansen emerging as something of a hero in the aftermath - it has all the trappings of a great Martin Scorsese movie. 

What famous stories in poker do you think would make for a great Hollywood movie? Let me know in the comments box. 

// Carter is the editor of and the co-author of The Mental Game of Poker 1 & 2. He has been working in the poker industry for nine years and in 2013 won the APAT Award for Best Poker Media Provider. You can learn more about his work here

Follow Barry Carter on Twitter l Follow Barry Carter on Google+ 

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Comments (7)

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  • acerbikas


    For #1 to be good, it would have to include some fictional gunfire, but as soon as it hits the fan, it won't really be a full tilt story.
  • gadget51


    From the strories I've heard him hint at on HSP, Doyle Brunson's poker journey. Lots of fun stuff in there surely!
    Or Harman's battle with illness perhaps?
    So many...
  • LemOn36


    No Isildur?
    Cool story bro
  • LemOn36


    Omg but rise and fall of FTP, House of Cards style would be awesome
  • junfandan


    Nice title for #4
  • BarryCarter


    #3 I thought about that and also maratik, but as those stories took place on a computer, I didnt think it would make an interesting movie