A “cold deck” in poker means one in which you are about to be played by the illusion of success followed by a guarantee of pre-fab failure (unbeknownst to the victim, of course) from a hustler, where no matter what move you make, it never seems to be the right one.
Hopefully a new poker-themed film by the same name will prove luckier for its Canadian indie producers.
Now seeking a buyer after debuting at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, Cold Deck will try to capture the magic of Rounders, while hopefully avoiding the lack thereof in films like Lucky You or All In.
Directed by Zack Bernbaum and written by Stefano Gallo and Jason Lapeyre, the 2015 as-yet-unreleased for general viewing film focuses on protagonist Bobby Locke as an in-over-his-head gambler who decides to get involved in illegal activities when he sits down at the wrong poker game. Naturally, being about poker, gambling, and crime, there are plenty of bad guys he has to wade through along the way.
According to the film’s blurb, Locke is stuck in a dead-end job and is struggling to pay his mother’s medical bills. With no talents other than playing poker, Locke stumbles across a local poker club named Scruples.
Run by what is described as a “father figure,” Chips (Paul Sorvino) owns the club and appears to take Bobby under his wing, as the game become a handy moneymaking side venture, until things takes a dangerous turn. Who would ever suspect that Paul Sorvino’s character could possibly be a mob guy, after all?
After being invited to sit down in a high roller game, Locke is asked to rob the wealthy businessmen by Sorvino. He does so with his buddy Ben (Kerr Hewitt) and it quickly becomes dangerous when the pair rob the members of the game, including the head honcho, Turk, who doesn’t take kindly to having his money lifted.
From that point on, the game becomes a series of bluffs and re-bluffs, as Locke tries to cover his tracks and get away with the heist.
As you’d expect from a poker-themed movie, the script is littered with clichéd phrases including “play the player, not the cards” and the very original “I’m all-in.”
Paul Sorvino, who is known to most movie goers from his impressive and lengthy resume, including Goodfellas, is somewhat predictably cast. Other than that, the independent film stars Robert Knepper and Stefano Gallo (also one of its screenwriters), whose previous acting credentials are somewhat more obscure than Sorvino’s.
The crime thriller’s worldwide rights were picked up by Screen Media Ventures, who subsequently took it to the Cannes Film Festival in early October in search of a buyer. Whether they found one or not remains a bit of a mystery, as does the movie’s release date.
Will it prove to be a hit or, if you will excuse the pun, a flop? The sensible answer is the latter, but there is a chance the poker angle could help cause some intrigue among potential film audiences.
Will the film help the poker community at all? Probably not, but it certainly won’t harm it. Although poker doesn’t court as much attention as it once did, the fact it can still be used as a dramatic vehicle by scriptwriters and directors is a sign it’s still relevant.