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“Cracking Aces” tapped to open the Silver State Film Festival, wins awards

Aug 10, 2018

Professors H. James Gilmore and Tracy Halcomb didn’t set out to do a documentary that looked at the poker industry. But while in a city built on the idea of luck, the story found them. And when it did, these two filmmakers went all in.

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“Cracking Aces: A Woman's Place at the Table,” is winning awards, screening at sold-out shows at film festivals across the nation and getting industry attention. The 67-minute documentary focuses on how poker-playing women have challenged the old boys’ club mentality and chipped their way through professional poker barriers.

The Acadia Pictures documentary has played at film festivals across the country, including both the Sarasota and Sunscreen Film Festivals in Florida, the Silicon Beach Film Festival in California and the Hobnobben Film Festival in Indiana. “Cracking Aces” has won two Telly Awards – a silver Telly for stand-alone documentary feature and a bronze Telly for low-budget production. The entire film was shot on a budget of under twenty-five thousand dollars. Cracking Aces was also recently honored with an Award of Merit in the 2018 Impact DOCS Awards Competition.

Linda Johnson, a World Series of Poker bracelet winner who began her poker career in the late 1970s, reflected that she was happy to see other players comment and contribute to the film. “It was really cool to see that others appreciate what we went through and that we have earned respect. It’s exciting to see how far women have come in poker and how different it is today from when we first started. Today women are treated with respect at the poker table. Abuse is not allowed. It is a pleasure to go into a poker room these days,” she said.

But there is still a long way to go. “Even today less than five percent of players competing in major poker tournaments are women,” said Halcomb. “Change is coming, but it’s coming very slowly.”

Next up is Las Vegas’ Silver State Film Festival in September, where “Cracking Aces” is the opening night feature on Thursday, September 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the Century Orleans 18 Cinema. The screening will also serve as a fundraiser for the charity Poker Gives. Audience members will get a chance to meet and chat with some of the women featured in the documentary at a panel discussion immediately after the screening.

Halcomb states that the documentary is more opportune now with the #MeToo Movement shining a light on gender harassment and inequities. “We’re all very pleased this story is now out there,” Halcomb said, adding that she and Gilmore are in talks with multiple major distribution companies. “It’s also a good reminder that we should make room for others to have a seat at the table. Through these women’s stories, it’s inspiring to see that if room isn’t made, that it’s possible to get one [a seat] through empowerment and advocacy.” 

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