A Bad Beat Story

A Bad Beat Story - student project

ACT I: THE SETUP Essential Story Point #1: The Hook

  • We see a young man being escorted to a very private high stakes poker game, comprised of men who are regularly involved in organized crime and others who hold very high political positions in the city.  The escort is curious as to how such a young man received an invite to this game, as the majority of players are much older and well known powerful figures throughout the city.  The young man reminds the escort his only job is to see he's brought to the game safely and securely and the young man is not interested in sharing his story with the likes of someone like him.  They arrive at the game, and as he walks through a highly secured entrance, we fade to white, as the young man's story is about to unfold.

Hero's world:

  • Major US city in the 80s

Status quo of hero's life:

  • Hero returns to the life and environment that was once promised to him, as he's survived and improve his game frequenting smaller stakes games in low key but dangerous environments, all to avoid making too much noise ensuring his uncle is unable to find him.  

Hero's need for change:

  • Hero stays low key for years for fear of his life, one day realizing he would rather risk everything to reclaim what was once promised to him rather than further subjecting himself to play in demoralizing games frequented by disgusting individuals playing for nothing but mere peanuts.  

Hero's desire/goal:

  • To take back the position that was promised to him.

What's standing in his way:

  • Hero's uncle, who not only currently runs the big game, but threatens to kill the hero if he ever sees him again.

The stakes:

  • Hero must convince the regulars in the big game that themselves and the game will be better served in the future by allowing the hero to take control of the game from his uncle, both by proving and offering his skills as a player as well as revealing his true identity and what his uncle had taken from him as a child.

Optional: Save the Cat

  • Hero defends a player being verbally abused in a game, informing the abuser what his fate would be had he acted this way around the people and the game he'd grown up in.

Essential Story Point #2: Upsetting the Status Quo (What brought our hero to this point)

  • Hero receives a savage beating from a few players after defending another player receiving unfair abuse by one of them.  Hero shows more disgust with the fact he continues subjecting himself to these types of games rather than realize he is unable to properly defend himself in this environment.  Realizing he would rather die than spend one more day leading this life, the hero prepares to return to where he originally comes from.

Inciting incident forcing our hero out of his comfort zone:

  • Not only does the hero grow increasingly depressed and lonely with the lifestyle he's being forced to lead for years, but we see he desperately misses the family he hasn't been allowed to see for almost 10 years, as he clings to a photo of himself and his family from when he was a child.

Trying to return to the way things were:

  • Hero stayed quiet for years, doing his best not to draw attention to himself.  For an unknown reason, he feels the need to defend another player being verbally abused during a game, which is a regular occurrence in the games the hero finds himself in.  He informs the abuser as to what would happen to him had he behaved this way in the game the hero learned to play in.

Give your reader/audience a sense that there is more to the story than meets the eye

  • Audience is left to wonder where the hero originally comes from, as he hints to the abuser the kind of people he knew as well as the type of games he learned to play poker in.  Audience is also left to wonder as to how the hero became such a talented player at a very young age, yet finds himself playing in low class games, struggling to survive.  All we know of the hero's family is from a picture of himself, mother, father, and younger brother, while also having an uncle who promises to kill him if he ever sees him again.

Essential Story Point #3: Doorway of No Return

  • Hero tracks down his father's best friend and most trusted business associate, pleading his case to his father's friend to help the hero return to the life that was once promised to him.  The friend refuses to help the hero, fearing for the hero's life, as well as feeling he would be betraying his best friend for subjecting his son to this type of danger.

Take away all other options – make it so he has no choice but to go forward

  • Hero informs his father's friend as to the type of life he's lived up to this point, making him realize he's as good as dead anyway if he's forced to continue living this degrading lifestyle for one more day.  The friend realizes the hero will find his way into the game one way or another, so he takes the responsibility of getting the hero an invite to the game safely while also concealing his true identity.  It's been many years since anyone has seen the hero, so they both figure that no one, even the hero's uncle, will recognize him until the very moment the hero wishes to reveal his true identity to everyone. 

Force your hero to try to find a solution to the crisis he is in

  • Hero begins playing in games around the city where players have the chance to prove their worth and hopefully receive an invite into the big game.  It takes more than just being a talented poker player to receive an invite to the big game, so the hero does his best to display any and everything that may expedite this process.  He regularly runs into players he knows and admires, although they do not seem to recognize him.  Being recognized by any of these players could potentially block his path toward receiving an invite while also threatening his safety, as the hero is unaware of where any of these players loyalties currently lie after all these years.

Challenge him at his initial need for change

  • The hero and his friend realize a player in one of the games is studying him a little too thoroughly for either of their liking.  They are both unsure if the player actually recognizes the hero's true identity or if he's just interested in how the hero conducts himself at the table.  Regardless, they realize they must do something drastic to ensure the hero's identity is kept concealed, whether the player actually knows who the hero really is or not.


Essential Story Point #4: The Initial Plan

  • Hero plans to build his reputation to the point where he'll be invited to play in the big game, finally confronting his uncle after all these years.  To do so, he must play in smaller, although considerably higher stakes than he's used to, games around the city, while also concealing his true identity to other players.

Optional: Trouble Brewing

  • A player recognizes the hero, and the hero and his friend must take action to assure this player stays quiet.  There had clearly been a conflict between the hero and this player during a previous game, as other players question the sudden disappearance of the missing player following their conflict, clearly suggesting the hero had something to do with his disappearance.

Essential Story Point #5: Midpoint & Mirror Moment

  • Following the accusation that the hero had something to do with the disappearance of a regular player, the hero realizes his only means of survival is to reveal his true identity to these men.  The hero's only hope is these players realize who he is, where he comes from, and that their loyalties will now lie with him and not his uncle.

Optional: Mounting Forces

  • Some players loyalties lie within the hero, while others hold their loyalties with the hero's uncle.  A battle for survival between the divided group of men commences.

Essential Story Point #6: All Hope Is Lost

  • The hero is no longer able to play in the games he's been frequenting to build his reputation around the city.  He's succeeded in keeping his identity secured, but rumors of him causing disruption within numerous games have made their way around the city, ensuring he won't be invited to play in another game again.  The hero's only options are to disappear before his uncle passes judgement onto him for disrupting his games, whether the uncle knows the hero's true identity or not, or construct another plan to receive a second chance, continuing to pursue an invite to the big game and move forward with his original plan.

ACT III: CLIMAX & RESOLUTIONEssential Story Point #7: Transformation

  • Hero arranges another way into the big game while keeping his identity concealed.

Essential Story Point #8: Climax & Resolution

  • Hero finds himself playing in the big game, preparing to reveal his true identity to his uncle and some of the most powerful men in the city, providing them with the ultimatum to choose between himself and his uncle.  The hero plans on convincing these men to side with him by revealing who he really is, what he will be able to provide for themselves and the game for years to come, and revealing everything his uncle snatched from him years ago, ensuring they replace his uncle with himself and pass the proper judgement onto the hero's uncle.  At this point, we still know very little as to who the hero's family is, how he's become such a talent at a very young age, why control of this game and everything in it was promised to him, and what exactly his uncle has actually taken from him.  By revealing this information, the hero hopes the players will side with him, allowing the hero to take back control over everything he's been promised since he was a child.