Poolhall Junkies Director Goes Deep in Main Event

Mars Callahan
Mars Callahan

Actor/director Mars Callahan traded the pool hall for the poker room at the 2011 WSOP Main Event.

Callahan, who directed, wrote and starred in the 2002 film Poolhall Junkies, has already outlasted over 6,700 players to make it into the final 142 players this year.

It’s a case of fiction becoming reality as Callahan originally started entering WSOP events to immerse himself in the poker world as he’s working on a new film called Poker Junkies. 

“It’s unbelievable,” he said on the last break of the day. “I started the day with 150,000 chips and I’m up to 1.5 million. It’s been a miracle run, I keep pinching myself.”

It’s been a roller coaster ride for Callahan as he dominated his first two days at the 2011 WSOP and then got into serious problems on Day 3 going extremely card dead.

The situation got worse on Day 4 and Callahan thought his time in the event was at an end.

“It was terrible,” he said. “I have no idea how I stayed in the tournament.”

Of course Callahan ended with 150,000 and then made his big run on Day 5.

Callahan, who is also an accomplished pool player, has been playing poker since he was a kid although then, he said, it was all about Seven-Card Stud.

“Texas Hold’em wasn’t really the game back then,” he said. “I had a weekly poker game at my house for years though.”

Right around the time Callahan’s film Poolhall Junkies debuted in 2002, the poker boom was effectively in full swing and that once again piqued his interest in the game.

Callahan started to develop a sequel to Poolhall Junkies that involved poker and wanted to surround himself in poker culture.

He opted to play the WSOP Main Event for the first time last year and made it through Day 1 but had to dash to a close friend’s wedding the next day.

“I had to basically show up and jam all-in and then catch a plane and go,” he said. “This is my first official run at this thing.”

Callahan wouldn’t be the first successful poker player to come from the pool world as Daniel Negreanu famously went from a pool shark in Toronto to one of the most celebrated card players in the world. 

Poker fans will be excited to know that Callahan’s poker film – Poker Junkies – is still in the works and should be out in the next few years.

“I’ve written the script, I’ll direct the movie and since I played the lead role in Poolhall Junkies I’ll be coming back to play the lead role in this one too,” he said.

Callahan said the tentative plan is to start shooting the movie next year so the film should be hitting theaters sometime in 2013.

He also mentioned there were several actors already involved with the project but he wasn’t able to release their names yet.

The 2011 WSOP continues through July 19. For comprehensive coverage live from Las Vegas check PokerListings' Live Updates brought to you by PartyPoker.

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