There’s nothing like a new poker movie, and, with the absence of Rounders 2, we caught up with the director of For Love or Money, Michael Bailey, for a Q & A about the brand-new poker documentary that follows the journey of players trying desperately to win a WSOP bracelet.
What led you guys to make a movie about the motivations of winning at poker?
I made this movie with no budget. I did everything myself from the writing, to the filming, to the editing. I simply wanted to give back to the game that has given me so much. I grew up with a father that played poker to pay the bills [during] the months his business was failing. I’m sure he loved the game, but from a kid’s point of view, it didn’t look like all fun and games. I watched him struggle at times. I have seen close friends come and go in this game. Very few people last over time and I wanted to see what motivates those that do.
There’s a myth that everyone wants to win in poker but could it be a little more like a line from The Hustler when Fast Eddie is ‘looking for a reason to lose’ and is there a battle within the mind that should take place before ever sitting at a poker table?
Though most people would be hesitant to admit, the fun part about poker is not all about winning for most players. When someone asks me what I love about poker, my response would be “I love the excitement, the people, and the challenge”. My last response would be winning. Don’t get me wrong. I like money, but I’m simply saying there are easier ways to make a living.
It’s a fine line between ambition and addiction – where do you think the line should be drawn?
Ambition is when you choose to play. Addiction is when it chooses you. Pick your games and control your bankroll. Make decisions off of logic rather than emotion. Treat it like a business.
What is playing in Las Vegas at WSOP like for you guys following the making of the movie? Has it heightened or lessened the thrill?
The WSOP has a nostalgic that is hard to explain through words. Since my first World Series in 2011 until now, I continue to feel something special every time I enter the Rio. There is nothing else like it in the poker world.
Why are tournaments seen as much more exciting than cash games?
The Chris Moneymaker story is the perfect example of why tournaments are more exciting than cash games. Cash games you must be willing to risk losing as much as you want to win. Whereas, Chris risked a little over $40 to win millions. There is no comparison. Human beings want instant satisfaction. We are designed that way. Tournaments excite people much more, I think.
Do you see a future where poker has another boom?
Honestly, I think the poker boom is over. A lot of people have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) from having their dreams of being a professional poker player crushed. But I think we will steadily gain more and more players each year. Poker is a great game and debatably impossible to master. This intrigues people and will continue to draw in new players every year.
What do you make of the World Series maybe leaving the Rio in two years?
If the World Series leave the Rio in two years, me and many others will be sad. However, as the game grows it is becoming harder and harder to accommodate the WSOP and all the players. I understand that in life the only thing guaranteed is change. So as long as they hold true to the game and continue to make it about the players, I don’t really care which facility it is held at.
What do you want people to take from the movie?
Everyone has their own beliefs about the game of poker, but there are many misconceptions. I am a player myself and my goal from this film was simply to show the game from the players point of view. No added Hollywood. When people watch this film, I hope they end with a true understanding of what it is like to be a professional poker player.
What advice would you give to players who want to win a WSOP bracelet?
My advice to anyone who wants to win a WSOP bracelet is to play as many events as your bankroll will allow. It is a numbers game. Oh, yeah, and good luck!
You can watch For Love Or Money on Amazon Video right now and remember why you play poker… whether it’s for love or money.
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