It’s not every day that the poker community gets an in-depth look into the lives of high profile players. Luckily, that’s exactly what Above the Felt has in store with their upcoming documentary Dreamers.
The documentary showcases the lives and journeys of players on the Above the Felt roster, utilizing the recent WPT World Championship as the backdrop for their stories. PokerOrg spoke with members of the Above the Felt team to get a preview of what to expect from Dreamers and how the documentary came together.
Above the Felt is a poker marketing and talent agency, the brainchild of founder Tom Wheaton. Wheaton, also the creator of the Faded Spade playing card brand, started Above the Felt with a small roster of poker players. From the jump, Wheaton’s motivation was simple.
“I was driven by wanting to promote this new generation of poker players and influencers that the mass public didn’t really know,” he said.
The initial roster of Jamie Kerstetter, Darren Elias, Chris Moneymaker, and Matt Berkey–aka the “core four”–expanded quickly.
“We just started off like a rocket ship, working with different clients and providing value to them in the space,” Wheaton said.
The Above the Felt roster picked up rising stars Landon Tice and Ethan “Rampage” Yau, best-selling author Maria Konnikova, five-time bracelet winner Jeremy Ausmus, and many more. The already impressive roster found itself rounded out by a slew of notable names in the community.
With the right team in place, Wheaton decided that it was time to showcase his stars.
“At some point, it was really important to me to figure out how to show the world…who these people are and what our industry is all about,” he said.
And that’s where Dreamers comes into play.
Wheaton’s initial thought was to document his clients as they battled at the WPT World Championship last December. The plan at that time was to compile the footage into ten-to-twelve-minute vlogs.
As is often the case in the filmmaking world, the plan changed.
“All these things started happening…there was a whole journey in the World Championship for everybody. It became a story of resilience,” Wheaton said.
Suddenly, there was lot more than just a couple vlogs’ worth of material to work with.
Wheaton points out that the underlying story–the glimpse into these players’ lives–provides the real magic to the documentary.
“You get to see how special they really are. You get to see how competitive this industry really is,” he said.
The right poker people
The Above the Felt team is a powerhouse of poker profiles.
The poker landscape–from commentary to content creation to high stakes crushing–is well-represented.
Maria Konnikova spoke to PokerOrg, providing insight into her involvement with Above the Felt and Dreamers.
“When Tom first approached me, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but he talked me through his philosophy on the types of people that he wanted and what he was trying to accomplish,” she said. “It really aligned with what I wanted from the game in terms of people who are in it for the right reasons.
“The people who are on the Above the Felt team are people who love the game and have other reasons for playing it–and who truly enjoy learning, studying, and being there. They’re people who take joy in what they’re doing, who appreciate the intellectual challenges…what the game is actually about.”
That sentiment was echoed by Darren Elias, one of Above the Felt’s first clients. Speaking on Dreamers Elias said, “I think it’s gonna show a lot of different sides of the game and what our experiences are like.”
The documentary airs on Friday, April 14th and is free to watch on the Above the Felt YouTube channel.