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2004 World Series of Poker
DVD disk
Jul 21, 2005 By: The Shootin Surgeon
2004 World Series of Poker order
Director:
Various

Actors:
Doyle Brunson
Howard Lederer
Johnnie Chan

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Following Chris Moneymaker’s surprise championship run in the 2003 World Series of Poker, the largest field ever was assembled at Binion’s Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas for a run at a cool five million dollar top prize. Who would take it in the end? A grizzled pro, a lucky rookie, another unknown internet qualifier? Maybe a fat dude from North Dakota with an affinity for fossils and lizard-shades…
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I’m not sure why poker has undergone such a tremendous rise in the last few years but I have a theory for those who care. It’s probably the only sport (and yes, I consider it a sport due to the tremendous mental toughness it requires) that can capture - in a single hand - a full range of our emotions in a quick hit adapted for today’s shrinking attention span. From the time the first card is dealt to the time a stack of chips are shoved toward the last man standing, the players go through all of anger and joy, hope and despair, pride and envy, victory and defeat.

There also happens to be a brilliant set of characters which you can easily divide into “good guy” and “bad guy” categories: you have iconic veterans like Doyle Brunson, consummate pros like Howard Lederer, brash young guns like Scott Fischman, total assholes like Mike Matusow and superstars like Johnnie Chan and current hot hand Chris Moneymaker. A record field of over 2600 each dug ten thousand dollars deep into their pockets to participate in the event with only one top prize and no cover to hide from the raises and bluffs of your opponents… If boxing is the sweet science, then surely no-limit hold ‘em is the Chinese water torture of sports.

ESPN’s presentation is also worthy of some mention. Commentator Lon McEachern and Analyst Norman Chad add a lot of knowledge and levity to the programming and even though Chad’s one-liners sometimes sound overly rehearsed, they’re still pretty darn funny. The only things I could have done without were the huge erectile difficulty drug add on the feature table and some of the profiles of less interesting players. A few of the player interviews were also lifted straight from the 2003 WSOP broadcast but it’s no big deal although I’m pretty sure a guy like Phil Hellmuth would have spared a few more moments to tell the world of his greatness. The biggest issue with this DVD might be the inherent delusions of grandeur you might develop about poker, increasing greatly your chances of draining your life savings in a single evening…
THE EXTRAS
Tournament of Champions: Ten of the world’s greatest poker champions face off in a no-mercy, no-gloves one-table game that serves as a poker lesson to one and all. The main advantage is that you don’t have any beginners in there to pad a pro’s lead early on, you get a dogfight from the beginning until one legend is left standing.

Top Ten Moments From the 2004 WSOP: This could have been slapped together pretty fast but instead, care was taken to select some key moments and to give a bit of background and feedback on each so you do actually get to relive some of the best times of the tournament.

Greg Raymer Commentary: Final Table With the Fossilman: 2004 WSOP champ Greg Raymer is probably one of the most pleasant poker players you’ll find and he steps up to the plate here to go through the final table showdown and give his rundown of what happened and what was going through his head. Not surprisingly, what goes on in a players mind at the table is a heckuva lot different than what goes through ours when we see all the cards neatly laid out.

$1,000 Buy-In Texas No Limit Hold ‘Em, $2,000 Buy-In Pot Limit Omaha & Kansas City Lowball: These are actually three separate tournaments you can watch and enjoy. Omaha and Kansas City Lowball are different Poker game variations that add a bit of spice to the mix but that are equally difficult to master. A lot of familiar faces show up to line their pockets. Stu Ungar Feature: A brief rundown of the life of the young wiz kid who took the poker world by storm during the eighties and who is still recognized today as one of history’s greatest poker players. Stu Ungar partied as hard as he played, something which led to his sad demise and to a great loss for the rest of us.

Greg Raymer All-Access: Greg Raymer takes a few minutes to walk us around Vegas and to explain a bit of how his life has changed since he was crowned the big winner.

Greg Raymer Bio: It’s a Greg Raymer Bio.

Beyond the Felt: Probably one of the most interesting features on the entire disc. Some of the stars of the 2004 WSOP explain a bit about their outlook and how they approach the game as well as what it took for them to get to this level. You’ll get some interesting insights from the likes of Howard Lederer, Doyle Brunson, Johnnie Chan, Phil Ivey and more. I wish they had gone in more detail since I could have listened to this for hours on end but it’s a start.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
The World Series of Poker is one of the few events in which you can actually share in the tension of the people participating in it. Strangely enough, the fact that we already know who won (It’s written in back of the box) does not detract from the entertainment value or from the anxiety of watching someone bluff on a seven-four off suit hand. A very worthy addition to any collection.
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