Film Review: “Drawing Dead” Takes the Shine Off Online Poker

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If you think online poker is all sunshine and daisies then you might want to check out the latest poker documentary to hit the airwaves in 2013, Drawing Dead: The Highs and Lows of Online Poker.

Drawing Dead debuted on DirecTV on October 10, 2013, and is now available for download at the Drawing Dead website for the price of $9.99.

The year of the online poker documentary

Drawing Dead is the second of three online poker documentaries to be released in 2013, wedged in between the Summer release of the Jay Rosenkrantz/Taylor Caby documentary Bet Raise Fold, and Scott “ElevenGrover” Bell’s Ultimate Beat detailing the Ultimate Bet Super User scandal –Ultimate Beat is expected to be released in about one week.

Is Drawing Dead balanced?

On the surface Drawing Dead seems like a rehashing of Bet Raise Fold (read my review of BRF here) and the two films do share many similar themes and segments such as the telling of online poker history.

Where Drawing Dead differs from Bet Raise Fold is in its story-arc, which follows two online poker players; one a very successful online grinder and the other a problem gambler –Bet Raise Fold focused on three successful players.

So, while Bet Raise Fold’s protagonists were dealt a bad hand (Black Friday) much of Drawing Dead looks at online poker through the eyes of someone who really never had a chance to be successful.

Well-known online grinder/poker coach Dusty “Leatherass” Schmidt –a former PokerStars Team Online player– was selected to represent the successful players, with Michael Korpi filling the role of the problem gambler. However, the film mainly focuses on Korpi, and watching and listening to how his life unraveled due to his gaming addiction.

I wouldn’t exactly call the coverage “balanced” as it is readily apparent that filmmaker Mike Weeks (who also narrates the movie and admits to his own online poker transgressions) is certainly anti-online poker, and often puts his own opinions on display based on anecdotal evidence.

So, you can expect a heavy dose of ambiguous words like “many” with no statistical data to back them up; letting the viewer decide what percentage “many” refers to.

Final verdict: Watch with a critical eye

Still, this doesn’t make the film unwatchable, or uninteresting, and as long as you watch Drawing Dead critically (in the same way you would watch a Michael Moore documentary or read a Bill O’Reilly book), there is a lot that can be learned from the film.

Drawing Dead does open your eyes to a world few successful online poker players ever really see, as the film sheds light on many issues that are swept under the rug and brushed off by online gaming advocates, from problem and underage gamblers, to predatory practices by the sites themselves.

- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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