The poker documentary “Grinders” is not really a documentary about the game of poker. If you’re expecting to see exciting action at the tables or flashy card-playing at tournaments, this isn’t the documentary for you.
Instead, “Grinders” is the director’s journey into the “unconventional, often bizarre, underground world of illegal poker clubs.” Instead of portraying the glamor of the World Series of Poker, director Matt Gallagher ”wanted to show these guys who call themselves ‘grinders,’ who sort of grind through their daily existence just trying to make their $ 200 a day or $ 500 a day. They treat poker as a 40-hour-a-week job that they go in at 8 o’clock and check out at 3 o’clock or 4 o’clock in the morning.”
The Toronto underground poker scene clashes with the posh lifestyle of Daniel Negreanu, the Toronto native who successively made his way from being a grinder to poker stardom. Negreanu is interviewed in the documentary at his Las Vegas mansion.
Gallagher dabbled in poker when he was out of work, with a new baby and wife to support. Although he considered himself a good poker player, his plan to use poker winnings to pay the mortgage and buy diapers for his new daughter “takes the game – and the idea of risk – to a whole new level.”
The documentary was released in the spring of 2011. In it, “Matt’s intimate, first person narrative is joined by the voices of other grinders with stories that range from tales of ultimate success to personal disaster.”
“Grinders”, a Borders City Picture production, was an official selection of the 2011 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. It’s not for everyone, not even for those who have a passion for poker.