Chapter Five | The Dark Side of the Felt Update | The Poker Player
NOTE: This is the only chapter in the book that isn’t written in chronological order with the rest of the book. You will notice that the dates span a relatively long range, which means that some of this correspondence happened before, after, and during other chapters.
However, I will not reveal what happened with The Dark Side of the Felt until the end of this book.
An email exchange with Amazon…
Me: Since The Dark Side of the Felt sells on a regular basis on the Kindle platform, would you be able to connect me with someone who produces videos for Amazon Video? A partnership could work here. Thanks.
Amazon: Hello, At this time, Amazon Video Direct does not offer a partnership program. If you are interested in submitting a script to Amazon, feel free to check out Amazon Studios. Have a great day!
My Uncle Alan had once written for a couple of popular television series, and he sold a couple of scripts that were made into B-movies. Despite being “B-movies,” they were entertaining. Maybe I only thought they were entertaining because he was my uncle and I was a kid.
Not sure. Either way, he had achieved a lot more than me in the on-screen space, which was relatively easy considering I had never accomplished anything in that space.
If you can put two and two together, then you already know where this is going. I asked Uncle Alan if he wanted to write the pilot for Amazon Studios, and if anything happened, we would share the compensation and credit 50/50.
This might sound like a simple process, but it’s nothing of the sort. When two potentially creative minds come together on a project, it’s fragile ground. Here’s how the email correspondence with me and Uncle Alan played out.
Me: Hey Alan, How is everything? Since The Dark Side of the Felt sells consistently on Amazon Kindle, I contacted Amazon about turning it into a series with episodes for Amazon Prime Video. They told me to submit a pilot episode (in script form) to Amazon Studios.
If you’re interested and it gets a green light, then we would both be in on any compensation. Plus, I thought it might be fun for you (but not sure).
The Dark Side of the Felt is on Amazon. You can read it from your computer. The problem is that it’s a slow build, with many readers enjoying the second half of the book the most.
And the pilot needs to be the first episode. At the same time, I’d like to stick to the story as much as possible. So, this is challenging, but not impossible.
The upside here is that the book sells and there are millions of poker players in the U.S. I also have a relatively large following online. Therefore, if we got a green light, I could spread the word. I think the demand would be there. I’m hoping that book sales offer some proof of concept.
Uncle Alan: Interesting. These are your experiences in underground, possibly illegal local games? I’ll read the stories and figure out if we do a half hour or hour, although I’m leaning towards the half hour making it a tighter story and focusing on the nuances of the game.
And we go with the most exciting chapter with the tensest game fraught with danger and to show the lengths to which a poker player will go to find a game.
Me: Ok. Do you want me to find that chapter for you?
Uncle Alan: I just took a quick look at The Mansion Game. Seems like an interesting way to open and meet the main guy and his buddy and setting up exactly what the show is about plus the tension of the game itself. Need lots more thinking on it.
Me: Makes sense. Not sure what you mean about lots more thinking on it. Do you need me to do anything? If so, I’ll try. If not, I’m cool with using that chapter.
Uncle Alan: Lots of thinking on…
1. Who are the regular characters other than Tyler and Rainey?
2. Should you be married? The wife in your stories is kind of blah—we’d have to make her a strong character with her own agenda or make him single.
3. Maybe he’s younger—early twenties, still living with his parents or married sister.
4. Day job writing? Not very visual.
5. And most important what’s the dark side of his psyche that sends him to play in dangerous games (against the law, possible muggers, angry players etc.) with no security?
6. Why does he play? Most poker players I’ve seen talking after a tournament always consider the money second and first place the golden ticket to poker fame. And if they’ve lost they’re ready to go again, that same day sometimes.
7. Is there a shady guy who stakes him in games?
8. And finally—what do we come away with after watching an episode that makes us want to see more?
Abstract questions mostly but we’re creating something here so we should spend some time thinking about them.
1. Tyler and Rainey. Those are the two characters that go into and out of situations together. However, Shadow is definitely someone worth mentioning (the antagonist behind the scenes—he appears later in the story). You only hear about Shadow, which adds intrigue.
2. Don’t have to be married.
3. Early to mid-twenties. He can live with parents. That could add to the desperation.
4. No job.
5. Hates to enter these situations, but hates not being in them even more. Excitement vs. boredom. Like a drug. Living vs. existing.
6. That’s only true to a certain extent. Most people play for the money, but fame plays a role. But fame is certainly NOT this guy’s goal. He’s obsessed with the lifestyle and living on the edge. We can also add the social aspect. He’s an introvert, but poker provides a social environment where everyone is always invited (expect the cops and muggers).
7. Many shady characters, but no stakes. That said, if you choose to read the book, you have creative freedom on that. As long as there are no aliens we should be good.
8. Each chapter ends with a cliffhanger, so that’s self-explanatory.
Uncle Alan: Lot of stuff there. Some useful down the road. Here’s more to think about. B stories. Stories that follow other regulars. Breaking Bad example … you had his brother-in-law cop and the kids how both had arcs while related to Walter were separate.
I’m not seeing a series yet that’s different enough for Amazon. What intrigues me is the poker. The endless psychology of each hand and the thrill of the turn and the river changing it all.
I’m even considering a voiceover. Your voice as the hands in the different games play out putting the audience in the mind of the player. Think on it.
Me: Voiceover sounds good. Whatever you want. I wrote the book. You can write the script. That’s why it’s 50/50. You don’t need to approve anything with me unless it’s way off course from the book. I would like to keep many of the scenes and basic concept of the book intact, but there is a lot of leeway.
All of this on-screen stuff has always led nowhere for me. Only book form has led to success. So, this is a shot in the dark. However, a worthwhile shot in the dark.
I guess what I’m trying to say is: You have a lot of creative freedom. Also, I’m assuming we don’t want to invest too much time unless the pilot was accepted, right?
Uncle Alan: Sorry for taking so long to get back to you. I got a job working at a local bookstore and have been training. I also made a trip to Boca to pick up Frank, my brother’s mother-in-law’s cat. So I had lots of time to think through the idea of a series from your book.
The bottom line is I don’t think I can make it work as a series. It has possibilities as a low-budget independent movie, which I’ll research if that’s okay with you.
Me: Nothing like retrieving your brother’s mother-in-law’s cat. Sure. Sounds good. On low budget independent movie. Thanks.
Uncle Alan: I spoke with my agent via e-mail about the book being a launching point for an independent movie.
Here’s his response: “Poker is a very popular game. If you can do a movie I think it is an interesting arena. If it has sex and drugs the movie could be turned into a series.”
The lead would be a female hustler, not a nice family man, and I’d shoot for an R rating. Anyway—it’s your book and ideas so what do you think?
Me: Go for it. As long as I’m centrally involved in regards to revenue and credits, I’m good to go. You know how I have trouble trusting Hollywood folk, but I can be won over.
I like the idea of a female hustler. Very different and there is a HUGE female poker playing world that is always looking for more exposure.
If it got a green light, I could send the news through to my female poker-playing Facebook friends. They’re all connected on there. Very large community but also pretty tight-knit.
Uncle Alan: 50/50 story and screenplay.
Uncle Alan: Hello partner. Now that it’s a movie, philosophical questions arise: What motivates a poker player that he/she plays to the exclusion of all else including danger?
What is her goal, other than winning first place? Can it be considered an addiction? Do you mind if the female lead is named Tyler as her poker name? Or even her real name? It’s kind of cool.
She needs an arc—a journey from stasis to synthesis with a perceived (even mundane) goal in her mind but that goal is not what she needs. Make sense? Character is the key here.
The starting point is that she is a 5th grade teacher who spends her evenings, after grading papers, secretly playing Texas Hold’em in illegal underground games. Any thoughts are welcome.
Me: The first thing that comes to my mind is that she’s a sweet teacher but a badass in the poker world. She doesn’t take any shit. She reminds me of the girl from Terminator 3. Not to that extent, but you get the idea. And she’s unreadable.
It’s not an addiction. It’s the competitive thrill and intensity. I love intensity! Please make her like me. Just think of what you know of me and write her in female form.
For example, I just placed 14th of 2,470 in an event yet I was disappointed. Even though it was a nice cash, I wanted 1st place. A competitor is never satisfied. If they finish 2nd of 2 million, they’re going to be disappointed. She’s a competitor.
I’d prefer using her real name (whatever that is) opposed to Tyler.
As far as arc, she thinks she wants a traditional life (teaching), and she’s in a relationship (think of the detective from The Killing), but she’s really married to poker. It will always be her key driver. She battles back and forth between the two and has to contend with a deep struggle in regards to which way to go.
She debates with herself as to what is the correct and incorrect path and often changes her mind. Eventually, she goes with the natural instinct, which is poker, and the polar opposite of teaching (she wants danger, excitement, etc.)
Basically, the message is that instead of doing what everyone around you always tells you to do (from childhood), do what your intuition tells you. That’s living! Not existing.
She’s sweet in the conformist world and ice in the poker world—even to the extent of embarrassing interested male parties. She turns down the traditional all-American guys that would interest most other women and goes for the guy that’s under-the-radar and has a deep interest in poker.
Despite her iciness, maybe she could be interested in him without him knowing and shows some vulnerability here (shows she’s human), which could add an intriguing subplot (and eventual sex).
Nothing too crazy. A real person with internal struggles. Please don’t Hollywood it up (explosions, shootouts, etc.). Poker players will relate to this.
Uncle Alan: Good stuff. Thanks.
Uncle Alan: In your travels other than casinos have you run into any female players? Been reading dark side, no mention of lady gamblers.
Me: Yes. They are usually capable of talking trash with the guys. Either that or they’re really quiet, but that’s not our protagonist. She’s more the type to stand up to a bully and return whatever is spit at her … with fire.
Uncle Alan: Can you give me an example of one of these women? I only know from the women on the WPT and most don’t talk.
Me: How about a sexy Asian female as protagonist? Someone like Maria Ho?
Uncle Alan: I’ve watched her play. Great player. Quiet. Well respected. I see our teacher/poker player a tad more mouthy and tougher as she works her way up. Asian works if there is an Asian actress who could open the movie.
According to my agent you need either a star or a hot director attached to your script to get it financed. Keep thinking.
Me: Throwing this out there, but how about Maria Ho as the actress? That might sound crazy, but she could pull it off, and the interest that would be driven throughout the poker community would be like igniting jet fuel.
Uncle Alan: Then we’d be doing the Maria Ho story, I want to do the female Tyler Nals experience in underground games in your book. The time you got robbed. The Mansion. The intensity. The debates. Etc., all leading to the emergence of a career poker player.
Gonna read Poker Player magazine and watch as many games as I can. Any insight you have on trash talking is welcome. Also—I’m looking for a way to describe what’s in your/her mind during a hand. Voiceover is one way.
Another is to show each player from her point of view and caption what she sees as tells, hand range, etc. The mechanics of the game as opposed to luck or deliberate folds to make someone happy (there was a movie that happened in—Father/Son heads up. Dad “lost” so his son could finally beat him. Feh.
I watched the Shooting Stars WPT (Maria finished 5th or 6th). The chip leader was demolishing everyone else. Even scored a double knockout. What a great player one would think.
Except he was on a run of amazing turns and suck-outs. Until heads-up when the cards went against him and he actually had to play. The German guy wiped his ass and finished #1.
Me: Not surprised. Bad players can accumulate chips, but they rarely keep them. If you want to know what’s going on inside my head, read Poker Notes. I attached it here.
It’s more for beginners and intermediate players to improve, but it should provide a lot of information. I don’t know of any pro female poker players who are loud.
Uncle Alan: Thanks.
Uncle Alan: In reading your book again there are several events (getting robbed) (gun in the crotch) (Chippy and the rest) that I would like to include as it shows her sliding to bottom.
Don’t worry, she recovers well. But I can’t see our teacher/poker player showing up at these games looking like she does. What if she disguised herself as a man to play in these games and not get raped? Too much? Or an added element to the fun? Believable?
As you can see I’m struggling to work a good story that will rise above the cheapie direct-to-Redbox flick.
By the way, how exactly do you find these games?
Me: There are two ways to find those games. One, through other people at friendly home games. Two, Meetup, but you would probably want to change the name of the site in the story.
For this story, believability is more important than fun. The disguise could work, but only if done right. She would have to be nervous about this (once again, shows her human side), promise herself that she won’t talk (but put in an impossible situation where she must talk), and it would have to be one hell of a disguise.
Maybe she could be friends with a makeup artist or something along those lines. If you write this scene, please see if you can get inside her head in regards to fear.
The other option is to let her go in as herself (a woman) and have no fear, and stand up to anyone who fucks with her. The latter might be the better option. Audiences love badasses!
Uncle Alan: Cool.
Me: If it’s the badass route, then maybe her reactions here could stem from elevated stress levels. Elevated stress levels related to downward spiral.
Uncle Alan: Disguise is out. Badass at the table. Sweet and firm as a teacher. Fear at first then she gets a handle on it. What made me think of the disguise was the game where the guy held a gun to Tyler’s nuts. Would he do that to a woman?
Me: In the underground poker world, hell yes! He would do that to a woman. Some of the people in the underground poker world are former criminals, white-collar criminals, hustlers, thugs, muggers, and the list goes on and on.
Maybe she could say something like, “Good thing for me I don’t have nuts, bad thing for you I’ve got the biggest balls you’ve ever seen.” Then she kicks out his chair or something, following by stomping on his face.
The room would go quiet. This could be the beginning of the respect she receives from others in the poker world (word travels very fast in that world.)
Uncle Alan: That’s great. Thanks.
Uncle Alan: Hey Tyler, I need a “normal” game. One that was safe, not weird or dangerous in which I can show our girl’s skill at working a table and going home with some cash. Things will get darker from there.
Me: Harrah’s Cherokee in North Carolina. 2/5 No Limit. That would make the most sense geographically, unless we don’t want to mention a real property.
You could just change it to a fictional name but use the same descriptions based on what you find online (TripAdvisor reviews and pictures for Harrah’s Cherokee would be best place to start. There should be images of the poker room.)
Uncle Alan: Nope. It’s got to be an underground game and I need you to tell me how she’d use her skills on maybe two critical hands. I don’t have your skills and expertise on that stuff. I can use the characters from any of the games in the book.
Me: Ok. A lot of home games were held in garages. These were usually somewhat competitive games—above people hanging out drinking beer in the living room but below a real poker room. I’ll give you two hands. Hand #1 in this email. I’ll send Hand #2 soon.
9-player game, but you can write the others in.
Characters (based on real people from early home games):
Me (or whatever her name is)
Big E (nickname because he used a shitload of whey protein and weightlifting to get big)
Rossi (short and stocky Italian guy who doesn’t say much)
I’m in second position and look down at Jd 9d. In most games, I wouldn’t raise with Jack-Nine-suited from this position. Too dangerous because I could be re-raised and have to fold, which would waste chips. But I know I can outplay this table, so I put in a raise for $12.
Despite this being six times the big blind, I get two callers: Big E from mid-position and Rossi in the Big Blind. No raises, so I’m somewhat relieved.
At the same time, in this game, a raise would indicate I was behind. That would usually mean an easy fold, but since they’re giving away their hole cards and I know where they stand, as well as how they play, I can use many flops to my advantage by representing having hit the flop hard.
Flop: Tc 8c 6s.
Not a great flop, but not bad, giving me an open-ended straight draw. It’s unlikely either of them hit the 8 or 6 given the $12 pre-flop calls, but one of them could have hit the ten.
But that’s not a big concern because I can easily move someone off top pair without a great kicker. I know they don’t have a great kicker because they would have raised pre-flop with AT, especially if suited.
It’s possible someone has AT-off, but I can still move them off that hand. The real danger is the clubs.
Rossi is first to act from the big blind and checks, which indicates weakness. He could be trapping, but Rossi isn’t that kind of player. If he hits any piece of a hand, he bets out. When he checks, he’s giving up the hand and waiting for a better spot.
So, now there’s only one person to worry about: Big E. I can’t check because I want to either take down a small pot here or build a bigger pot in case I hit my straight. Or I can build a bigger pot and bluff the turn or the river, which will depend on his actions.
I bet $24.
Big E calls.
Now it’s just me and Big E. The call tells me that he has a piece of it but doesn’t love his hand. If he loved his hand, he would raise to get me off any potential draws.
He could also have a flush draw, but he didn’t throw his chips in quickly like most people do on a draw because they’re excited to see if they hit that draw on the next street.
It looks like a bad card for me, but only to a novice. If Big E had a strong Ace, he would have raised pre-flop. If he had a mediocre or weak Ace, he would have folded. He even would have folded Ax-suited for $12.
This card allows me to represent the Ace while still having a shot at hitting the straight on the river—if he calls.
I bet $45.
Now I know he’s either got top pair and doesn’t believe me, a flush draw and he’s praying, or he’s planning to make a move on the river, especially if it’s a good card for him to represent.
Absolute dud on the river.
I have nothing, but he doesn’t love his hand. This is what separates home-gamers from poker players. In this game, you have to trust your reads. Otherwise, you have no shot.
I bet $90.
I don’t want to bet too much because it will look like a bluff, and I don’t want to bet too small because he’ll call.
After a minute or so, he mucks his cards and says, “We should nickname you Lady Luck.”
I’m tempted to show my cards, but that would only lead to short-term gratification and poor advertising because the other players will start calling my bluffs. I would need to catch cards to win.
Instead, I fold my cards face-down and take the other route, “That would be an accurate name. Good fold.”
This tells him I had the winner, even though I had jack shit.
I’ll send the other hand soon.
Uncle Alan: Great! This and the other will set her up as a great player that takes no shit. Looking forward to the second one.
Me: Might have changed tense here a little, but that’s an easy fix.
Everyone folds to me in mid-position when I have KsTs.
I raise to $12.
I could raise more or less, but by raising the same amount as I had throughout the session, it keeps my opponents guessing. Instead of raising the value of my hands, I’m not giving anything away.
Scott is on the button. He’s the biggest threat in the game, and he’s almost always aggressive on the Button. He glares at me, then raises to $30.
This might seem threatening, but nobody glares at you when they have a big pair. If Scott had a big pair, he would want to look as non-threatening as possible.
Then again, he’s crafty and could be sending me a fake tell, so instead of raising and taking it down right here, I just call. This could be dangerous because I’m out of position, but if I raise and he shoves, I can’t call, so at least I’ll have a chance.
Flop: 7d Ts 8d.
Top pair with backdoor straight and flush draws.
I bet $50 to take it down without seeing anymore cards, but Scott snap-calls.
Now I have two pair.
I bet $100, figuring this will end the hand, but Scott snap-calls once again.
This doesn’t add up. He’s acting like he’s on a draw, but Scott is very manipulative and will often send confusing signals. Something is not right, and my gut now tells me I need to boat-up on the river to win the hand.
I’m in a tough spot here. The average poker player bets out here, assuming two pair is good, but you have to look at all factors.
Scott is acting like he often does when he hits monsters, and a smooth-calling opponent should always have you concerned, especially when they do it twice.
If I bet here, I could be throwing chips away. If I check, it shows weakness and he pounces, even if he doesn’t have anything. I’m trapped. I figure my best approach is to bet small to make it look like a value bet. This will limit my risk while still giving me a chance to win the hand.
I bet $45.
This is a descending bet, which is very strange and a rare play for me. I’m hoping it really looks like I want to get paid. But Scott pauses, shakes his head, and shoves all his $267 remaining chips into the middle.
I have $432 behind.
The shove could be a bluff, but not when it’s accompanied by a head shake. Scott always does this when he has a monster, but nobody ever tells him; we’re not stupid.
Here’s the crazy part about this hand. Why would he have raised pre-flop with J9?
Answer: Because he’s super-aggressive on the Button. He just happened to get lucky.
This is one of those spots where “traditional poker” tells you to call. You almost feel like if you fold and someone finds out, you will be banned from the poker community.
Only a few players can fight through this temptation, trust their gut, and lay this hand down, and I have to be one of them. Maybe this is a turning point in my career … if I’m right. It’s not about the money. I can always find more money. It’s about winning. Even a fold can be a win.
I look at Scott, who arches his eyebrows.
“You’re too good, Scott.”
It sounds like a compliment, but it’s really a needle as I know he has the best hand.
I fold my cards face-down.
He slams his J9 on the table while standing and shouts, “Flopped the nuts!” as if he were proud of it. I guess he doesn’t realize that he just left money on the table by giving his hand away earlier.
He also passed up an opportunity to get me on tilt by not showing. This is amateur hour. I think it’s time to move to the next level.
Uncle Alan: EGGCELLENT!
Me: Subject Line of email: Actress
(Picture included in email, but not revealing her name.)
Too old? 31-32 right now. Also, going back to the Maria Ho (33) thing, it wouldn’t be her story, she would just play the role. Just looking for an actress within the poker community, which would lead to the potential for a cult-like following.
Remember, I have another fictional poker story after The Dark Side of the Felt. What if our angle was to use lead actress/actor from the poker community for a series of movies? That would be an exceptional selling point. They would do most of the promoting for us.
Uncle Alan: She could do it, but Maria Ho is too high profile in the poker world.
Me: Ok. Do you want me to attempt to get in touch with the other one? Might take a few weeks, but I think I can do it. Or is it still too early? Referring to (name not revealed).
Uncle Alan: Way too early. Unless we’ve got a script to show, we’re blowing smoke. I’d rather find a known director who loves poker—when the time comes.
Me: Ok. That’s what I figured. Just wanted to ask.
Uncle Alan: Hey Tyler, I have two scripts I need to update for my so called agent. So time will go by. Think about this, ’cause I’m still struggling with her arc…
Rounders main story was how an underground player/scam artist tried to go “straight” by quitting poker and going to law school, until Martin Landau convinces him to be who he wants to be and forget promises he made to himself and his girlfriend to never play poker again.
After winning a bunch of hands including the big one against John Malkovich, the evil Russian gangsta loan shark poker master, it ends with his going to the WSOP in Vegas indicating he is now a legit professional poker player.
Movie’s old and most of the poker info is those sayings about tells and busts and stuff with a large amount of voiceover from Matt Damon’s character explaining things. So a lot of this was new at the time. Johnny Chan was featured as the WSOP champ and showed him beating Eric Seidal with a trap.
Poker has come a long way since then and is considered a legitimate “sport.” Which makes the arc for her irrelevant. Now, kids are dropping out of college, law firms, investment firms, etc. and playing poker for a living, and when they get to the WPT their parents are flying in to cheer them on!
So, we still need a solid realistic story that doesn’t make fun, disparage or criticize poker players since that’s the group that’s gonna push the move if we ever get that far.
Thoughts Mr. Nals?
Me: We could have a very simple solution, which is to mirror what happens in the book. It could be a rise and fall story. The fall relates to danger, not lack of poker skill. I’m thinking of an idea because something similar happened to me once. Here it is…
Toward the end of the movie, she goes to a bar to think about all the shit that’s happened to her (and possibly the people that are after her). She’s alone with the bartender because it’s midday. He’s a muscular guy and she notices a few weightlifting trophies behind the bar. She inquires.
He tells her that he was obsessed with lifting weights when he was younger, and that it led him to a lot of success. She congratulates him, but he shakes his head. She’s confused.
He explains that this was during a time when his kids were growing up, and that weightlifting training and competitions led to him being away more than he was home. This severely impacted his relationship with his two boys, who now speak to him “once or twice per year.”
He tells her that people tend to give what they get in this world and that he deserved it. And that he would go back in time if he could. He could also mention that he keeps pictures of his boys in his wallet from when they were kids, and that it’s both heartwarming and heart-wrenching to look at them.
She explains her current situation. Passion for poker vs. family (she has one girl, might have to write that in). He tells her that he can solve her problem in one sentence. She asks what. He replies, “The cards don’t love you back.”
She ends up back at her home’s doorstep. Her significant other nods as if it’s okay and her daughter smiles wide and gives her a hug. She hugs her daughter back firmly.
Like in the book, she is then tempted to play again when she drives by an underground location (make very suspenseful and lead viewers to believe she’s going to go to the game), but after beginning to make that turn, she turns wheel sharply to continue on the straight road (not an accident that it’s a straight road). Maybe she almost gets in an accident.
At the very end, she decides to give up underground poker, but not poker overall. She will still play in legit poker rooms. But she tells herself that her #1 priority in life is “to be a good Mother.” That can be the last line, like in the book (father). This might be good because it’s very human.
This might sound corny, but you would be surprised by how many poker players appreciate others who put family first. It’s a big thing in the poker community. Someone who abandons family is actually seen as a loser now. So, this might resonate well.
As far as arc goes, we would be doing a 180, but I think it makes sense.
Uncle Alan: Okay. It’s workable. Give her a daughter and a boyfriend and a mother who watches the kid. And her obsession with poker takes her deep into trouble and away from her family. Mulling time. Thanx.
Uncle Alan: More thoughts and changes in my mind. I like the family idea but like that she is still single and young so her “intensiveness” over poker and her skills is much more acceptable as she’s still immature.
So she lives with her mother. Her boyfriend wants her to move in with him, but she’s not ready for his charity and love. Has a massive student loan killing her finances.
Teaching don’t cut the payments so she plays poker in local games and wins most of the time. Until she runs afoul of Big-E whom she inadvertently humiliates.
The next day she’s fired from her teaching job for being a “degenerate” rounder. Big E—a Sheriff in the smallish city—is behind it. He also tells her that no legitimate game in town will have her. He’s seen to that as well.
So she goes underground using the internet to connect to one-armed Rainey, who sets her up with several illegal, sleazy games. She does well … and gets invited to The Mansion. She’s offered a spot in the $50,000 tournament.
Desperate to play and sure she can win, she talks her mother into selling her 401K with the story that she’ll pay off her loans and never play cards again. Two lies that will bite her in the ass. She gets in The Mansion Game and you know what happens there.
So that’s about 2/3 of the screenplay. She will go even further down the rabbit hole of dark felt, shilling in illegal games cause’ nothing gets guys into a game faster than a girl with a rack. Until … and I’m not clear on her revenge or her redemption yet. Maybe meeting a poker pro? Don’t know.
The trick here is to keep her likeable understanding her issues of pride and obsession. Maybe I’ll give her a cat that she loves. Usually works.
So that’s what I’ve got so far.
Me: Don’t most Americans relate to dogs? I can relate better to a dog, and they’re more affectionate, which can help show her soft side.
Maybe she could always feel bad when leaving him to go play poker, but cuddles with him whenever she returns. Maybe the dog (not the boyfriend) is her first stop whenever she comes home.
I like those other ideas. When you say “small city,” you mean a city-city, right? Not a small town? Just checking because a small town would be risky. If that’s the case, then she would have to find those later sleazy games in a nearby city.
As far as how the revenge/redemption takes place, meeting a poker pro would be ideal. If this script is sold, I can find one (a poker pro). Probably with ease. It might not be a household name, but it would be a name known in the poker community. And, of course, that helps with exposure.
Btw, another option for actresses if this comes to fruition…
(Anonymous Name Here)
Looks sweet, but her reputation is tough as nails.
Uncle Alan: Dog it is. Hope I can watch her play? Looks like a good model to base our girl on. Glad u like the way it’s going.
1. Tell me how one finds a game on the internet again.
2. For our ending—what if she gives up playing and becomes a cheat spotter for a casino? Like the hackers that get arrested then go to work for the government. Not married to it, just a thought I would let fly to see what you thought of my thought. I’m being very thoughtful lately.
1.It depends if you live in a state where online poker is legal. You can do a Google search for popular sites, but there has been a lot of cheating on online poker sites. Not many players trust it. I wouldn’t put much emphasis on it if possible.
2. You are very thoughtful. You saved me the last piece of bread at Thanksgiving one year. Thank you! I’m not in love with this thought, though. She would be helping the players, but she would also be siding with the greedy casino. I don’t think it would resonate well with poker players.
Uncle Alan: No prob with her being a spotter idea. Just a thought.
I meant how does she find local underground games through the internet?
Me: Oh. Usually through social media sites, but a lot of players will also learn about those games from players at a regular casino.
Me: Hey. Just writing to see how it’s going. I don’t know the usual time frame for a script, but I’m guessing it’s at least six months?
Uncle Alan: 6 months. Probably sooner. Still not sure how the last act plays out.
Me: Can we make the ending just like the book? That seemed to please readers, but your call because I don’t know if it will fit with the script version of the story.
Uncle Alan: Maybe. Have to look at it again and see how to make it work with what we’ve got.
Me: Hey, Not sure if you’re still interested in the script, but just throwing this out there.
In addition to Amazon, even though it has been a frustrating relationship at times (on the business side, not the personal side), my friend has a Hollywood production company and always asks me for a script, which I have never been able to provide.
If we get a script in his hands, he will read it. He is known to take chances.
Uncle Alan: I’m still at it. Slow going. Slower than usual. End is in sight.