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Film / Lucky You

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Lucky You is a 2007 American drama film directed by Curtis Hanson, and starring Eric Bana, Drew Barrymore and Robert Duvall.

Huck Cheever (Bana) is a young and talented poker player in Las Vegas haunted by his relationship with his estranged father, L.C. Cheever (Duvall), a two-time World Series of Poker Champion, and with who he would face off against if he wins a seat in the World Series of Poker Main Event. He must balance this challenge with an intense romance with aspiring singer Billie Offer (Barrymore).

This film features examples of:

  • Anti-Climax: Based on their antagonistic relationship throughout the film, and the fact that both make the final table of the main poker tournament, the audience is led to believe that it's going to feature a climactic showdown between Huck and L.C. for the title, and that Huck will win by virtue of being the protagonist. In actuality, once it's down to three players, Huck calls all in and mucks the winning hand to give his dad the pot and give him a chance to win the tournament, busting in third place.
    • Also, after intentionally losing to his dad to give him the chance to win the tournament, in the very next hand, L.C. gets all in with a pocket pair against over cards and busts when his opponent sucks out a card on the river to give him a pair higher than the one L.C. is holding.
  • Artistic License – Sports: Huck's repeated refusal to show his cards to the hole card cam allows him to muck the winning hand and allow his father to bust him but it wouldn't be allowed in any real-life broadcast poker tournament, and he'd be getting warned and penalized repeatedly until he followed the rules, not only because the showing of the cards is for the audience benefit, but it's also a step to prevent a player doing what Huck does in his final hand. A real-life example of this was on display an episode of the World Poker Tour featuring Gus Hansen and Hoyt Corkins. Twice, Corkins lifted his cards to the hole card cam and missed, and both times, a member of the production crew was visible in a shot telling Corkins he needed to show his cards to the hole card camera again because they weren't visible the first time he attempted to show them. In Corkins' defense, he wasn't attempting to be intentionally misleading, like Huck is in the film, in both instances, it was an accident on Corkins' part.
    • As the final table plays, the "ESPN announcers" occasionally break in and provide commentary of the final table hand action as the tournament is in progress. While in recent years, this has become available on a tape-delayed basis in live streams, in 2003, the final table of the real WSOP (And the tournament coverage of the days leading up to it,) was filmed, edited, and then had the commentary taped over it for episodic television.
  • As Himself: Virtually all of the poker pros who provide cameos are billed "As themself."
  • Bittersweet Ending: Huck deliberately loses the World Series of Poker against his dad, going out in third place (and to make it worse, his dad himself loses, going out in second place), but their relationship is restored, as is Huck's and Billie's.
  • The Cameo: Or in this case, CAMEOS. To make the film as authentic as possible, the film boasts the largest cast ever of professional poker players in cameo roles, including Doyle Brunson, Chau Giang, Sammy Farha, (Runner-up in the real WSOP in 2003,) third and fourth place finishers Dan Harrington and Jason Lester, Phil Hellmuth, Mike Matusow, Daniel Negreanu, John Juanda, Antonio Esfandiari, Mihn Ly, Barry Greenstein, Johnny Chan, Hoyr Corkins, and Erick Lindgren to name some. Also, three pros, Jennifer Harman, John Hennigan, and David Oppenheim play fictional characters. Harman is busted from the satellite by Huck, and Hennigan and Oppenheim are at the fictional final table.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Of all the pros playing cameo roles, the only one who gets any characterization (and lines) is Sammy Farha, likely do to the fact that his personality and humor during the real-life final table won over many poker fans who also got to see him be the cameo standout in the film.
  • I Let You Win: Huck has pocket aces and calls all in against L.C. who is holding pocket kings. After L.C. turns over his cards, Huck mucks them and (unbeknownst to L.C.,) lets him win.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Huck Cheever means well, but in various stages of the film, he steals money from his love interest, and gets a $10,000 stake in the main event that he promptly loses due to his problem gambling addiction. He makes amends with the love interest, allows his father to bust him by mucking his winning final hand, and patches up his relationship with his father by the end, however.
  • The Magic Poker Equation: Mostly subverted.
    • Most of the hands are pretty average for a regular poker game, such as a set vs. two pair, or a pair beating a high card. The final hand is even an accurate coin flip, with a medium pocket pair against two over cards. The pair gets cracked, as often happens in tournaments, when the player hits one of his over cards on the river. There aren't any dramatic four of a kind hands being bested by a straight flush, for example, and the movie really goes out of its way to keep the poker play straight.
    • Also, unlike a certain James Bond film, there are no climactic final hands between four players that feature a flush, a full house, a higher full house, and a straight flush.
    • Checking, an action in which the player checks to the opponent without betting, letting them take the action, is accurately portrayed here, and at one point, Huck believably slow plays a set and checks to his opponent who Huck busts when the player hits top two pair and doesn't make a full house on the river after going all-in and being called by Huck.
    • It's not subverted when Huck is teaching Billie how to play Texas Hold 'em. Additionally, she says that Huck needs one more card to hit a flush and everyone else in the pot folds, which makes no sense as he hasn't hit his hand yet and isn't a huge favorite to do so at that stage of the hand.
    • It definitely comes into play in the finale, Which sees Huck AND his father outlast the majority of the field to be in the last three players remaining. While amazing feats of poker have taken place, such as Dan Harrington making both the 2003 and 2004 WSOP final tables in real life, the odds of both Huck AND L.C. Cheever both making the final table are so astronomical it could only happen in a movie, especially due to the risk factor of coolers and bad beats they'd have to avoid in order to outlast the majority of the field.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The golf bet that Huck takes part in was based off of an actual bet professional poker player Huck Seed took part in. Seed won the bet.
    • The entire third act of the film is basically a type of alternate universe version of the actual 2003 World Series of Poker. L.C. Cheever is a stand-in for actual runner-up Sammy Farha, who was an old-school pro, and Jason Keyes is a stand-in for real-life winner Chris Moneymaker.
    • Sammy Farha, who has an extended cameo in the film as himself, laments to Huck during the tournament that he was busted out by an internet amateur that had never played live poker before, and this is actually what happened to Farha in the real tournament. The film has Farha eliminated before the final table, but they make it so that the Jason Keyes character (Moneymaker's stand-in) is the one that busts him, shadowing the real-life events of the actual 2003 main event.
    • Michelle Carson (Jean Smart) is based off of real-life professional poker player Barbara Enright. While she wasn't at the table in the real WSOP in 2003, she was in 1995. The film references Enright's run by having the Michelle Carson character finish in the same position Enright did in 1995, fifth place.
    • Matt Savage, a well-respected tournament director, basically repeats what he did at the real-life 2003 WSOP final table in the film, serving as tournament director of the faux WSOP tournament.
  • Real-Person Cameo: Huck Seed, the 1996 WSOP main event winner that Huck Cheever is named after, cameos as himself in the final tournament. Also, L.C. Cheever's playing arc references that of Sammy Farha, who finished second in the real WSOP, and Farha cameos as himself as well, and in one of his scenes at the Bellagio, Farha plays opposite Robert Duvall who is his tournament stand-in in the finale.
  • 20 Minutes into the Past: The film was released in 2007, but is set in 2003. (Mixing things even further, it was actually shot in 2005.)
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Huck is certainly haunted by his relationship with his father.