Lisa Dean Ryan in Playing to Win: A Moment of Truth Movie (1998)

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It is at the arcade that Marshall (David Lacher) sees Dana Erikson (Lisa Dean Ryan) and has a bet with his friend he can't get her number within 15 minutes. Despite losing the bet Marshall is persistent and a charmer with a million dollar smile who shows up at Dana's school where she is playing football. Agreeing to go on a date Marshall takes her to the track where he introduces her to the world of gambling. With money tight back home the lure of easy money becomes very attractive especially when Marshall takes her gambling at a casino. But soon Dana's gambling is about trying to make back the money she is losing, having taken money out of her college fund and then started to steal to fund the gambling.

I know first hand that sickening feeling when you have found yourself gambling away money which you couldn't afford to lose; in fact just thinking about it brings back that feeling despite it having been many years ago. There is a scene in "Playing to Win" where Dana experiences that for the first time having used money from her college fund to try and win money back she had already lost. It is one of the scenes in "Playing to Win" which works and there are others such as after losing money on gambling which isn't even hers Dana starts begging friends for loans as well as ending up stealing to try and make some money to gamble again.

But whilst "Playing to Win" features many a scene which is painfully true to real life when it comes to what gamblers do to finance their addiction and cover their losses it is a made for TV movie with made for TV movie flaws. These flaws range from things happening too quickly to too many elements of gambling addiction being squeezed in to one movie. But the biggest problem is that "Playing to Win" is one of those movies where we have real situations, fake people and false dialogue which makes it all too forced and unbelievable.

What this all boils down to is that whilst "Playing to Win" does a good job of bringing many aspects of gambling to the screen from the highs and lows of gambling to what it makes people do to cover their losses. But like with many a made for TV movie all the good bits end up suffering because the characters and dialogue through out the movie end up coming across as false.