Movie Review: Drawing Dead: The Highs & Lows of Online Poker

January 23th, 2021

Details from IMDB:

Drawing Dead: The Highs & Lows of Online Poker (2013)

Drawing Dead is a documentary film about the highs and lows of online poker from two very different perspectives: a professional poker player worth millions, and a gambling addict.


 Mike Weeks


 Mike Weeks


 Mike Weeks

Initial Thoughts:

I love poker, you may have guessed that if you follow my blog (considering I just watched another poker documentary earlier this month), as such I am always inclined to watch people playing or a documentary on it. As many of us are looking for things to do this winter, I decided to watch this (and I am having a poker night so I was in the mood :)

Main Points:

This is a different kind of documentary from most poker ones. Usually, the focus is on a well-known pro, the WSOP (World Series of Poker) or some other specific facet related to poker (game theory, strategies, bluffing, reading people, those kinds of things) but this one is much different. Sure the WSOP of poker gets mentioned and there is a pro (though one I'd never heard of), it is primarily a study of opposites, one player who makes millions from online poker and other who became a compulsive gambler and lost almost everything.

I think this is an important documentary for anyone who is thinking about spending a lot of time/money on online poker to watch. It makes it clear that out of everyone who plays online less than 5% of people are able to do it for a living. The same goes for people who play in person at clubs/casinos/home games, less than 5% of those people as well are able to do it for a living. 

The two people this focuses on both seem like nice guys, as I said one knows how to make money playing poker online (according to the doc upwards of $40,000 a month!) and the other became so addicted he decided to literally walk thousands of miles to clear his head and break his addiction. 

The interviews in this are quite good as they talk to a range of experts on the subject of gambling and addictive behaviours. Also interviewed are people connected to the two players (well one former) and of course the two main people themselves. The biggest flaw here is that they are constantly putting up inspirational/meaningful quotes and it gets tiresome.

The two people, however, get quite interesting/likable as the documentary goes on. You get to see that they both are people who had to deal with failure (the one guy twice as he wanted to be a poker pro and a famous violin player) and ultimately have to make their way in life. People dream (including myself years ago) of being online poker pros because it sounds so easy. When you see the image of this 40something-year-old man, however, with dark circles under his eyes and pissing in a bottle (so he wouldn't lose a hand), it makes you see the reality of it. 

Final Thoughts:

I enjoyed the documentary more as it went on, it starts off a little slow and you wonder what it will even have to do with poker but that soon changes. I liked how the guy who loses all his money (and even steals from roommates) ends up, he is determined to be a successful violin player even it means busking in the streets and he is certainly cured of his poker addiction. His journey (which is both physical and mental as he walks thousands of miles with his dogs) is something to be proud of and I liked the way his dad talked about him when interviewed. This documentary won't teach you anything about how to play the game but it shows you the reality of it for people who take it too far or who somehow figure out how to make a living doing it. I give it 7.5 out of 10 and would recommend it to someone who likes poker docs. I think this would be fine for ages 12+. At just an hour and 15 minutes it is good length and doesn't drag past the first 5-10 minutes.