The new poker movie "All In: The Poker Movie" hit movie theaters last week, with the film taking a close look at not just the booming poker industry in the US but also the impact of the US government's actions on Black Friday in April 2011 when it moved to block many of the world's top online poker sites.
Directed by Douglas Tirola and produced by 4th Row Films, the movie tackles the big task of telling the story of poker in America, touching on different facets of the game and how it has evolved during its 200 years or so of being played in the US.
While the entire history of poker in the US is touched upon, the primary focus of the film is the last decade or so of poker, which has been a particularly tumultuous time with the poker boom of the early to mid 2000s followed by the efforts of the US government to prevent US citizens from playing at online poker sites.
"All In" doesn't necessarily have an agenda behind it but it does go to great lengths to point out the ironic fact that a game so uniquely American -- with millions of US citizens avidly playing poer every year -- would become a target for government authorities who enacted laws to take the decision over whether or not to play online poker out of the hands of millions of residents.
Many of poker's top pros are interviewed and appear in the film (including Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu, Chris Ferguson, Greg Raymer, and Mike Sexton just to name a few) as well as industry insiders and executives as well as movie stars and entertainers such as Matt Damon and Kenny Rogers.
The movie also touches on the Full Tilt debacle, although some poker players and fans may be disappointed to see that the company is largely spared and only mentioned in passing in connection to Black Friday, as the film was in post-production when Black Friday occured and wrapped up long before the more sordid Full Tilt details came to light.
All in all, "All In" should appeal to casual and hardcore poker fans alike, although much of it won't be new to serious poker fans. The film provides a brisk, well-paced look at the unique role poker plays in the US as well as some of the major changes that have occured over the last decade.