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Poker Stories: No Limit — A Search for an American Dream

A divorced couple struggles to balance their parenting responsibilities and their small independent film company. Following a lifelong dream, Susan decides to leave everything to pursue her American dream of becoming a pro poker tournament grinder, bringing her ex-husband along on the journey to document the tournament road.

“I saw Chris Moneymaker win the World Series of Poker,” she explained. “And I saw poker become this mainstream thing.” Wanting to capitalize on the poker boom, she set out to document what it was like to become a real poker grinder.

Photo: society19


Good Luck, Bad Luck: Ups and Downs in 1 day


Throughout the film, Susan goes through the same cycle over and over again. She buys in for $500, $1500, or even $5000, receives her table and seat, and then goes on about how those numbers are good luck and today is her lucky day. Then, whether it’s two hours later or ten, when she inevitably busts out of the tournament, it’s bad luck to blame again.


Even when she makes it to 11th place in a WSOP event, meaning that she’s well within the money, it’s still heartbreaking in the end. Only the top 9 players go to the final table, and the 1st place prize is way bigger than anything she wins. Seeming to always come up just a bit short, she grieves over her bad luck and her ex, Tim, tries to console her.


Perhaps the worst part is that she drags her small son, a boy she named Brick, along for the journey. He even calls her while she’s out late still playing poker. “Don’t worry, Mommy won’t be too much longer!” she tries to console him.

In a shocking turn of events, the film concludes with her revealing her pregnancy.


What is the American Dream?


While they’re on this wild journey, Tim interviews many of the Poker Legends that they encounter, and they offer wisdom on everything from the role of luck in poker to what it means to chase the American Dream.


“The American Dream is getting up in the morning and doing what you love, every minute of every day,” said Phil Hellmuth. “And making a lot of money so you have the freedom to make those choices.”


Freedom was a common theme for these poker pros. For Daniel Negreanu, the Dream is as simple as “having the freedom to do what you want in this world.”


Others expressed more humble sentiments. For Annie Duke, the dream is “to be happy and healthy, raise 2 kids, and do something I love.” Doyle Brunson had a similar take, saying “My dream was to make money cause I came from a poor background.”


In the poker world, chasing the dream is everything. Some have the skill to chart their own destiny, giving them the money to live freely, as they see fit. Others will continue to lament their own bad luck.


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No Limit American Dream Brian O'Hare Timothy Rhys

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