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Gambling and poker have been hot topics for many Hollywood flicks in the past but this time, a major poker brand has stepped in to bring yet another entertaining watch. WPT has partnered with their long-time TV commentator, Hollywood actor and poker player Vince Van Patten to produce the independent feature film ‘Walk to Vegas’ and the much-awaited movie is now on the edge of completion.
Meanwhile, New York based poker player Haroon Saeed has claimed that the self-professed ‘LeBron James of Poker’ – Geeta ‘Mira’ Singh who has been the bone of contention for local and federal authorities for allegedly running an illegal poker club in the city, is ‘no superstar’.
While we were still mulling over the above, news reports of Finnish player Jani Vilmunen’s big losses in nosebleed online high stakes games caught our attention. Looks like Vilmunen’s doesn’t seem to learn his lessons which is why he’s being talked about in the same breath as Tom Dwan!
Poker is probably one of the most thrilling and exciting skill-based games, so it is a shame that poker has not found a stable footing in Hollywood. While the art of gambling has found a niche for itself in the motion picture industry, making prominent appearances in hit movies like ’21’ and the ‘Ocean’s Series’, poker has only featured in a handful of poker-centric movies such as the ‘Rounders’ starring Matt Damon, the 2008 crime thriller ‘The Poker Club’ and more recently in the 2017 Academy Award nominee ‘Molly’s Game’.
Adding to the list is an independent feature film ‘Walk to Vegas’. The film will be released in partnership with World Poker Tour (WPT) and is based on the true story of Vince Van Patten, who is not only a much-celebrated commentator for the WPT, but also the youngest son of actor Dick Van Patten.
‘Walk to Vegas’is a comedic drama about high-stakes Hollywood gamblers who make a massive bet that one of them can’t walk from Hollywood to Las Vegas in seven days.
“The WPT is thrilled to announce our partnership with Walk to Vegas and Vince Van Patten, the longest-running commentator in poker, as he brings this true story to life on the big screen,” Adam Pliska, CEO of the World Poker Tour, said. “With a high-quality cast and a team of exceptional filmmakers, Walk to Vegas tells the story of one of the greatest wagers ever made. As the premier name in internationally televised gaming and entertainment, the World Poker Tour is committed to helping market the film to its millions of viewers and fans around the world.”
Van Patten, who co-wrote the screenplay with Steve Alper and stars in the film, said, “We are very excited to be collaborating with the World Poker Tour. It has always been a dream of mine to make this movie, and it brings me such great honor to have the support and commitment of the WPT.”
The film is directed by Eric Balfour and produced by Van Patten Brothers Ent., and includes a star-studded cast featuring Kim Waltrip, Adam Weinraub, Mark R. Harris, along with Paul Walter Hauser, ‘The Young and the Restless’ star and Van Patten’s wife Eileen Davidson, James Van Patten, Willie Garson, Lucas Bryant, and Don Stark, with John O’Hurley, Chad Lowe, and poker enthusiast Jennifer Tilly. The movie is slated to release later this year.
It goes without saying that we are all eagerly awaiting the movie’s release.
While the police and legal authorities of New York are well aware of the illegal poker games that happen underground, this one time the local and federal authorities joined hands to rein in an Indian-origin woman who calls herself the ‘LeBron James of poker, comparing herself to the NBA super star!’
Geeta ‘Mira’ Singh is infamous in the poker circles for allegedly running an illegal poker room in a loft above a drug store in the West Village. According to the police, Singh was based out of Atlanta and used the social networking site, Meetup to find new players.
Early in August, police along with New York City’s special narcotics prosecutor’s office raided the underground poker room called Townhouse that Singh was allegedly running. Police then claimed that the proceeds of the illegal gambling operation were used to fund drug trafficking.
32 people were arrested and though police didn’t find any drugs at the poker club, they found two poker players who had been in possession of narcotics prior to making a sale to an undercover agent.
One of the players who have been charged in the indictment is poker player Haroon Saeed, who claims that Singh’s ‘LeBron’ comment was tongue-in-cheek humor. Singh’s Townhouse was a well-run poker club and was often frequented by a friendly group of people that included doctors, photographers, lawyers and even former police officers, he claimed.
Saeed also stated that while he was a regular in the low-stakes games, he sometimes dealt cards if the room was short of dealers. He said that police showed up at his apartment two months back, and broke two doors, and stole his poker bankroll of $21,000, without handing a voucher.
“I’ve been trying to be a pro for a good 12 years now, but stunts like this create massive setbacks,” Saeed said.
The fact is, New York doesn’t have a regulated poker room, and so the demand for poker in the city has created an environment where poker clubs keep opening up, only to shut shop later.
“The Townhouse was great while it lasted. Now I just want my money and belongings back because this is turning out to be ridiculous at this point.”
All in all, quite a muddy affair we’d say.
High stakes master blaster Tom Dwan may not have anything common with Finnish player Jani ‘KObyTAOUT’ aka ‘kiiski’ Vilmunen but for their ‘big’ losses in poker. But while Dwan recently lost a $2.3 Million pot during a high stakes cash game in Triton, Vilmunen’s losses, mostly online have been gradual, amounting to nearly the same amount, and taking him high on the charts of big all-time high stakes losers.
From what we hear, Vilmunen has been on an interesting online and live tournament graph. While he tasted success on the Full Tilt nosebleed tables in 2007, the following two years were really bad for the Finn who was hunting for nosebleed glory. In the meantime, Vilmunen took down a live tournament in 2008 and followed it up with a 2009 World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE) title in the $5K PLO event.
While Vilmunen should have sensed it right and stayed off the nosebleed tables that he played on under the online moniker ‘KObyTAOUT’, he didn’t. Instead Vilmunen changed to a new account on Full Tilt, under his own name, and started all over again. The second time around, Vilmunen had a remarkable start at the biggest games but then came the disappointment of loss. Vilmunen still couldn’t let go of online poker and over the years, he lost more than $2.5 Million online, climbing up to become one of the biggest overall losers among high stakes players.