Michael Madsen as Don ‘The Matador’ Everest
Chris Bauer as Lee Nickel
Kristin Lehman as Miami
Todd Williams as Clark Marcellin
Don McManus as Bart ‘Lowball’ Rogers
Eddie Cibrian as Eddie Towne
Michael Murphy as Jimmy Malloy
Fulvio Cecere as Skip
Amelia Cooke as Dee Everest
Fab Filippo as Dean
Barry Flatman as Sheriff
Exclusive Alternate Ending
Never-Before-Seen Footage From The 1998 World Series Of Poker, Final Table
Behind The Scenes
Episode 1 Commentary with the Creators & Executive Producers: Brian Koppelman & David Levien
On The Set with ESPN’s Mike & Mike
Virtual Tour of the Colorado Casino with Eddie Cibrian
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Running Time: 419 Minutes
The following is the description from the DVD cover:
“From the writers of the hit film Rounders comes ESPN’s thrilling, new original series Tilt. In the dark back rooms of Las Vegas’ gambling underworld, Don “The Matador” Everest (Michael Madsen) is king. But, as the World Poker Championships approach, three professional players will team up to try to take him down. In their world of constant misdirection, the stakes prove even higher outside the familiar walls of the casino. Experience every episode of TILT’s spectacular first season, complete with deleted scenes, an alternate season finale, and never-before-seen footage from The World Series Of Poker. It’s a winning hand of drama and excitement you can bet on.”
Tilt is rated TV-14-L.
If you liked Rounders then there’s probably a good chance that you’re going to enjoy Tilt. And there’ a good reason for that. The writers of Tilt were also the writers of Rounders. They have a lot of the same elements. Both feature the mysterious world of poker. Both feature professional players and cheats. Both feature a young hotshot trying to take down a seasoned pro. But Tilt departs from Rounders in that it has a bigger cast, a Las Vegas setting, and a lot more secondary characters that end up playing important parts in the plot.
It took a while for me to get into Tilt, but once I gave it a chance I was more or less hooked. I have to confess that I know nothing about poker. If I did, I think I would have enjoyed Tilt a lot more, but you don’t have to be familiar with it to follow the story. (I also have to add that I wonder why poker is considered a ‘sport’ and is on ESPN.) With the poker element put aside, Tilt is an interesting drama about the Las Vegas underworld, competition to be the best poker player, psychological games, and revenge. Several sub-plots all unfold at the same time. You have the three rookie card players trying to overthrow the Matador. You have the conflicts within the casino. And you have the cop seeking revenge against the Matador for his brother. The poker is just the icing on the cake. That being said, I think Tilt would have been more interesting as a 2 hour movie. The story takes so long to develop that it becomes tiresome at times.
The cast of Tilt is pretty good. Most notable among them is Michael Madsen as Don ‘The Matador’ Everest. As you already know from his many film roles, he’s good at playing a bad guy. He’s perfectly cast as the smug, cocky card shark. He makes it easy to root for every other character on the show to bring him down. Making up the young trio of card players trying to take him down are Kristin Lehman as Miami, Eddie Cibrian as Eddie Towne, and Todd Williams as Clark Marcellin. They’re a great looking band of hotshots. (Eddie Cibrian even looks like a young Superman.) Chris Bauer also stands out as Lee Nickel, the sheriff obcessed with taking down the Matador. As he faces the corruption in Las Vegas and eventually takes the law into his own hands, you can’t help but root for him to succeed even though he has exceeded his authority.
If you’re into poker or Rounders, then I think you’re going to want to check out Tilt. It has something for both card players and those who enjoy a good drama.
There are actually quite a few bonus features on this DVD:
Deleted Scenes There are a few deleted scenes and all are included with introductions. Some of the scenes show Miami with Seymour’s estranged daughter. In one scene you learn about their history as well as Miami’s real name. In another deleted scene the Matador reveals that Dee may not be his biological daughter. There are a few other deleted scenes, but as you can see a number of them expand on the characters quite a bit.
Exclusive Alternate Ending In this alternate ending, things don’t turn out quite so good for The Matador and Nickel. Rather than returning home to his wife and child, Nickel’s family is gunned down in their home by an anonymous thug. Nickel retaliates by killing The Matador outside the courthouse. It’s a much more depressing ending to the show and it definitely ends any possibility of a second season with those characters. I think they made the right decision by changing it.
Never-Before-Seen Footage From The 1998 World Series Of Poker, Final Table What’s funny about this intriguing footage is that nobody at this final table looks like the studs or hotties shown playing poker on the TV series. They are geeks and middle aged men all competing for the title. It’s an amusing contrast after watching the series. But I was certainly surprised by some of the drama that took place as one of the final players left the table at a crucial moment to go to the bathroom (to keep from being read).
Actor Auditions The original auditions by Kristin Lehman, Amelia Cooke, and others are shown alongside their final performances in the series.
Outtakes This is your standard blooper reel featuring flubbed lines, but there’s also a practical joke played on one cast member when they put toilet paper on his heel as he walks into a scene.
Behind The Scenes This is a big promotional show created for ESPN to hype Tilt before it was released. There are interviews with the cast and crew as well as a lot of clips from the show.
On The Set with ESPN’s Mike & Mike A couple of talk show hosts from ESPN radio chronicle their guest appearances on the TV series.
Virtual Tour of the Colorado Casino with Eddie Cibrian This is a very brief tour of the set with one of the leading actors.
The Bottom Line:
If you liked Rounders or if you’re a poker enthusiast, then I think you’ll enjoy Tilt. Even if you don’t follow the card game you may find it to be an intriguing drama.