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Online poker in focus as Runner Runner movie hits theatres

Runner Runner stars Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake but is not really an online poker movie. Nor is its Friday debut intended to challenge Rounders as a great poker flick.

Jeff Bottari

Runner Runner is the latest work for Hollywood writer/producer team Brian Koppleman and David Levien.

Set to release this Friday, we were able to spend some time with the writers and get some insight on how this movie could be interpreted as an online poker review and how it could affect the online gaming industry's regulatory push in America.

Q: Runner Runner paints a dark picture of online gaming. Ben Affleck's character is ruthless and makes the online poker industry look like everyone is being cheated out of their money. Were you guys concerned that the movie could have an adverse affect on the online gaming industry?

A: The best way to answer that question is to say when Rounders came out in 1998 the poker industry cried about how that movie was going to hurt poker because it showed cheating, and as you know it instead brought million and millions of players and money into the game. It was quite the opposite effect.

We're not concerned about that at all. We're story tellers and we're just trying to tell a story the most compelling way we can. For us this was just a really rich world to set up the story. As poker players, as guys who play online and were burned by what happened, we thought that we should dive into this and create a fictional story that would have some kind of impact.

Q: So Runner Runner is completely fictional? You guys are not basing it on any of the shady incidents have really occured in online poker over the last few years like the Absolute Poker scam?

A: We started working on this movie before these things had unfolded and we realized once they were reported that we were on to something. U.B and Absolute happened before we were finished but it showed us that our concerns about an organized level of cheating could indeed happen.

In any real industry there are concerns people have, do law firms carry the level of corruption like we saw in The Firm? No, but you can take the metaphor of that movie and draw your own conclusions about the type of concern.

Q: You guys have been a team for a long time, what can fans expect to see next from you guys? There have long been rumours of Rounders II and there's talk about a new poker network in the works, do you guys have any plans for that sort thing in the near future?

A: We haven't heard about the new poker network but please feel free to tell them to give us a call. As far as what's next for us we'd love to do Rounders II but there are few specific issues that have to be worked out. Currently our next project that we're writing to produce is based on a wonderful novel by Alan Glynn called Graveland. On October 29th ESPN will air an episode of 30 for 30 we worked on about Jimmy Connors called "This is What They Want."

The movie stars Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck, himself a rumored victim from his days of playing online poker.