Some games are played for fun, some are played for power, but this game is played for ultimate stakes. In the underground world of ultimate poker, only one person walks out a winner, but win or lose, sometimes winning just isn't enough.
Stuey Ungar, in a motel room on the last night of his life, relays his personal story to an ominous stranger. He recounts growing up as the son of a bookie, his career as a tournament gin player, moving into poker, his marriage and the birth of his daughter, cocaine abuse, and the breakup of his marriage-all culminating in Ungar's third victory at the Main Event of the World Series of Poker.
The scene where DJ (Joe La Due) bluffs his opponent, Mario, off of pocket Kings, while holding 7-2 off-suit, is based upon an actual hand that occurred between Jack "Treetop" Straus and an unknown opponent. The story goes, that while playing in a high stakes cash game, Straus had won several pots in row and decided that he would play the "rush" and raise the next hand regardless of what his cards were. When he looked down at his hole cards, he found that he'd been dealt 7-2 off-suit, the worst starting hand in Texas Hold'em. But he decided to raise anyway, he was called by a single opponent, and the flop read; 7 3 3. Straus bet and his opponent re-raised, indicating an over-pair to the board. Straus decided to call, in the hopes that he could perhaps bluff his opponent off of his hand on the turn or river. The turn brought a 2. It was no help to Straus though, as he could only play his two pair sevens and threes. The deuce didn't play. And it also meant that if his opponent did in fact have an over-pair, such as Kings or Queens, that Straus was way behind. Straus decided to bet again on the turn anyway, which made his opponent seriously consider whether to call or fold. Straus knew that if he were called, his chances of outdrawing his opponent were very slim, with only one card to go. After several minutes, Straus offered a proposition to his opponent, for $25 his opponent could choose either one of Straus' hole cards and Straus would show it to him. After more consideration, the opponent finally decided to take the deal, he tossed Straus $25 and chose a card, it turned out to be the deuce. Straus' opponent deduced that since he showed him one card, the other must be of the same value and so, he naturally assumed that Straus must have had pocket deuces, giving him a full house, deuces full of threes. It was considered one the most celebrated bluffs in all of poker history. See more »
When Stuey first walks into a casino when he arrives in Las Vegas, the scene is supposed to take place in 1973. However the video slots on the other side of the glass doors he enters weren't invented until a couple decades after. See more »
Welcome back, everybody, to the 1997 World Series of Poker, where Stu "The Kid" Ungar is attempting to make one of the greatest comebacks in poker history, by winning the no-limit Texas Hold'em Championship a record third time.
Andrew N.S. Glazer:
And Al, the amazing thing about this is, that Stuey would be achieving that feat after sixteen years of personal struggle, where victories were really few and far between.
And standing between Stuey and history is John Stremp, a local casino executive who's ...
[...] See more »
Performed by Rudy Guess
Written by Rudy Guess (ASCAP)
Published by Rude Stone Music (ASCAP)
Administered by Little Bully Music (ASCAP)
Courtesy of Bully Music, L.L.C. See more »
What is it about certain films that generates such polar opposite reactions?
Some people here have called High Roller "disgusting." Some have called it "extraordinary" (as would I, actually).
Why? I think it's because films like this don't make heroes out of jerks, or glamour out of degeneration, and some people just can't deal with that emotionally. They NEED a hero. And I'd also add that if they're gamblers or poker players, they might feel personally betrayed when their existence isn't justified.
High Roller in NOT a poker movie. It's a PEOPLE movie. It's not perfect, but it looks good, is well-written, and wonderfully acted. And best of all, it generates an emotional response and inspires reflection.
And maybe that's what makes some people so damn mad.
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