Poker Night in America Goes to the Movies
One of the heartaches of filming a weekly television show about poker is not being able to include many of the most interesting things that happen — both on and off the set. Quite honestly, many terrific scenes end up hitting the cutting room floor and never get seen by the public.
Fortunately, we now have the option of showing some of these extended cuts on other digital platforms. This enables fans of the show to log on and see much more than they’re getting in a 30-minute weekly program (which is more like 22 minutes of actual content, since commercial breaks run about 8 minutes). The very best example of a raw extended cut is the “Poker Night in America” live stream which shows high-stakes cash game action from start to finish, usually running 8-10 hours. There’s even commentary, provided by the man who’s become the quintessential voice of poker — David Tuchman.
Of all the subjects we’ve filmed over the past 18 months, one of my favorite features was a lengthy retrospective on the most memorable poker scenes in movies. “Poker Night in America” filmed two one-hour segments which were divided up and edited down for broadcast over the coming months of Season 2. One of our first segments aired last night, which was a discussion of the climactic poker scene from the James Bond movie “Casino Royale” (the remake starring Daniel Craig). Spoiler alert — the panelists trashed it. The poker is terrible. Watch the full 10-minute extended version here:
SIDE NOTE: This poker scene is particularly painful to watch given the larger backstory of PokerStars’ which was in discussions with filmmakers at the time about being included in this scene and a larger role as a sponsor. I worked for PokerStars at the time and remember how difficult the Bond franchise made things during these negotiations. Be sure and read Dan Goldman’s full account of the breakdown of events HERE.
Two panel discussions have been filmed so far. The first segment was recorded late last year at Turning Stone Casino (in upstate New York). The panelists included actress and poker player Jennifer Tilly, noted film critic Richard Roeper, poker pro Phil Laak, and our host Chris Hanson. We showed several famous poker scenes to the panel, then they broke down what they each saw from a movie standpoint, a poker standpoint, and so on. Some classic scenes fared far better than others, with the showdown from “Casino Royale” judged as one of the worst.
The second segment was filmed a few months ago. We shot a slightly different gathering of “experts” at the Golden Nugget (Atlantic City). The panelists on the second session included Richard Roper again (deservedly so, since he’s one of the world’s most respected film critics, and he also loves poker). We invited renowned actor James Woods, who pretty much dominated the discussion. Note that we don’t take just any actor — we only use Academy Award nominees (Woods and Tilly have both received Oscar nominations). We also thought it would be fun to use Ebony Kenney in the “wild card” role previously occupied by Phil Laak. Once again, host Chris Hanson rounded out our panel and did his best to contain exchanges that sometimes spun out of control. Let’s just say they were a lot of fun, and those who were on camera seemed to enjoy themselves the most.
In the months ahead, “Poker Night in America” will feature the highlights from these roundtable discussions on poker in the movies. That said, some of the very best commentary and the most in-depth analysis won’t be shown on television. So, you might want to check out the extended versions of these movie retrospectives, which can be seen at: POKER NIGHT IN AMERICA WEBSITE
Reminder — 888poker is now tabulating votes from the best of “Poker Night in America” Season 1. You can check out some of the more memorable moments from last year’s shows and even vote for your favorites. Please visit: 888POKER WEBSITE