No Limit: A Search for the American Dream on the Poker Tournament Trail


No Limit: A Search for the American Dream on the Poker Tournament Trail Review

Susan Genard is immediateley obvious as someone you would never want to play poker with. She is constantly on the phone. Offering a running monologue. Never, ever shuts up. On the other hand, though she claims to have won poker tournaments in the past, she appears to be terrible at it, losing tens of thousands of dollars over the eight months the film was shot.

Here's the story of this documentary: Susan and her sort-of-ex Tim are going broke (they have a film production company together), so they opt -- through a discussion I can't imagine would work with most people -- to spend eight months traveling around the country (with a poor four-year-old boy in tow), where Susan will enter poker tournaments and try to win enough cash to save the business. Game after game is filmed, most of which end with Susan being eliminated within a matter of hours. But she never, ever stops talking about it. (It is soon obvious why she and Tim are no longer a real item... though this later becomes confused for reasons I won't reveal.) Of course, this is all on film -- except for Susan's infrequent wins, which all happen off camera.

In between losses and cell phone calls, Susan and Tim interview dozens of poker pros, talking to virtually every major player in the game. And while I'd love to report this redeems the film from its wholly uninteresting narrative, the interviews are largely composed of soundbites of one or two sentences. Though all the big names are represented, the pros tend to repeat each other and speak in typical poker aphorisms, too. It's always fun to hear a story or two from Doyle Brunson, but sandwiched between long scenes of a woman losing innumerable poker games, it's not overly compelling.

Still, the film does fulfill at least one valuable role in showing people firsthand how difficult pro-level poker is to actually make money at. If nothing else, it should discourage people from giving up their day jobs in order to go looking for gold on the poker circuit. That's a worthwhile messaage, and Genard should be commended for showing poker as it really is, with all its dirty laundry hanging out.

Is poker's celebrity status now fading? Movies about poker certainly certainly seem to be. But hey, here's hoping No Limit appearing on DVD saves Susan and Tim's company. Talk about gambling!

No Limit: A Search for the American Dream on the Poker Tournament Trail

Facts and Figures

In Theaters: Tuesday 10th October 2006

Reviews 2 / 5

IMDB: 6.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Brian O'Hare, Timothy Rhys

Producer: Susan Genard