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The latest documentary to adorn poker with cult-like admiration, All In: The Poker Movie, is a fascinating look at one of the most popular casino games, drawing on commentary from such diverse sources as Matt Damon, rags-to-riches poker sensation Chris Moneymaker, poker legend Amarillo Slim, David Schwartz, a gambling historian, and even Kenny Rogers, who penned the Grammy Award Winning song, The Gambler.

The film traces the history of the game from its’ origins in New Orleans where it drew inspiration from a French game to develop into what we today know as poker, to its’ popularization during the mid twentieth century, it’s fall from grace during the mid ’90s and its return in modern times to the top of every gambler’s psyche. Comparisons with the American Dream showcase how for a lucky few, poker became a lifeline, but even more, a means to having a big chunk of a dream worth millions of dollars. Beyond those who’ve managed to carve out a sustainable living from playing poker, there are also thousands who’ve found it to be a viable entertainment option both through playing socially and watching ever-popular live tournaments.

While the film doesn’t offer much in terms of strategy and rules to those new to the game, the historical account is as detailed as any you’ll find out there. Interestingly, All In: The Poker Movie, reveals reasons behind the modern resurgence in popularity, tracing its upward trajectory to the 1998 film Rounders which followed the story of two young high stakes poker players; the other significant reason is the “Hole Cam”, a mid ’90s invention that allowed television viewers to see the down facing cards (hole cards) of poker players.

Much of the current popularity of the game is also in large due to the increasing accessibility brought about by online casinos, who now have a player base arguably larger than that of traditional brick and mortar casinos. With this in mind the film also takes a critical look at stifling legislation which has in some way hindered the further expansion of poker’s meteoric rise in popular sub-culture.

While the film ends up being a propaganda mouthpiece in favor of legalizing online casinos throughout the world, and specifically in the US, one cannot falter its’ historical depth and personal accounts from poker pros who’ve made it big online.

Director: Douglas Tirola
Running Time: 1 hour 40 minutes