Professional Gamblers and Subpar Filmmaking Take Center Stage in ‘The Best of It’

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Over the past decade or so, gambling has become more acceptable in American society than at any other time in the nation’s history. While gambling’s central hub is still Las Vegas, one doesn’t have to be confined to the Nevada desert to place a bet these days, people can easily place a fantasy baseball bet online. Like the explosion of gambling, the documentary has become much more standard fare in the streaming age. As both gambling and documentary filmmaking have exploded, they each have attracted their fair share of wannabes that have tried to cash in on the growing forms of commerce. Now, I’m not trying to say that Scott Pearson Eberly is a wannabe filmmaker with his documentary about professional gamblers, The Best of It. However, I am saying that Eberly lacks the craft to find a compelling story despite having a number of interesting ingredients.

The Best of It focuses on four different professional gamblers, all of whom are living in Las Vegas at the time of filming in 2010. When we talk about Las Vegas, you can think that the movie is all about gambling there are online casino online that you can visit like 666 Casino and you might want to try your luck in playing in that game, it’s easy, you only need your phone or computer to play in it. There’s Alan “Boston” Dvorkis, a lonely and erratic soul living in his massive, empty home outside of the Strip; Ken “Shrink” Weitzner, a handicapper whose big mouth is only matched by the size of the suites he stays in; Lem Banker, an old-timer who was familiar with Lefty Rothstein, the inspiration for Martin Scorsese’s Casino; and Alan “Dink” Denkenson, a gambler and the inspiration for the gambling movie Lay the Favorite – he was played by Bruce Willis. Other gamblers and bookmakers appear in the film, though the bulk of the movie focuses on these four gamblers. Aside from gambling, there’s no through line to connect the stories of these intriguing individuals into a whole.

The most consistently overlooked aspect of filmmaking is editing, and the art of the edit is especially crucial in documentary filmmaking – look at the work of Errol Morris for a masterclass in documentary editing. When watching a documentary like The Best of It, editing comes to mind because this two-hour documentary can’t justify its running time. When Eberly presents conflict between “Boston” and “Shrink,” he then allows his movie to go into unrelated tangents about the other cast of characters. Once that conflict is finally resolved, it shows just how much The Best of It was lost in the edit. Intended to be a sprawling examination of the professional gambler, Scott Pearson Eberly fumbles this incredible human story presented to him, the kind of gift a much more adept filmmaker would craft into a rousing cinematic experience.

Of all the characters featured in The Best of It, Alan “Boston” Dvorkis is the most fascinating, and he does get a bulk of the screen time. Living in an expansive home that is barely furnished, “Boston” is an intriguing and emblematic character of the highs and lows of professional gambling. He’s a man with issues in connecting to other humans, and his canine relationships humanize his gruff exterior. The problem with the film is that it really goes out of its way to give everyone a bit too much time. Even if trying to get into the darker side of professional gambling, the lengthy diversion into the familial embezzlement of Lem Banker does little to drive home this point and instead offers another example of the film’s failed editing.

What it comes down to is The Best of It makes the least of the ample material provided it. Amazingly, all of these professional gamblers are incredibly willing to divulge various aspects of their game to the cameras, yet their willingness to confess shouldn’t translate to a willingness to present, and that’s the key mistake Scott Pearson Eberly makes. The Best of It tries to dispense all of the information cumulated during filming into the movie instead of crafting that information into a movie that informs and entertains. It’s frustrating to watch because all of the aspects necessary for that something more are there, but they never come together. Great documentaries find the human story in a compelling narrative. Okay documentaries tell their stories well without flair. Bad documentaries eithers are abhorrent propaganda or can’t find the narrative. The Best of It falls in the latter, and is incapable of finding the best of it.

The Best of It
  • Overall Score


With all the ingredients for a fascinating documentary, The Best of It fails to find a compelling story in its examination of professional sports bettors.

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