According to Chad Holloway at PokerNews, author James Leighton has announced that he is in discussions to sell the movie rights to his book “Alligator Blood.” That book, released in 2013, told the story of Australian Daniel Tzvetkoff (pictured), who rose from middling circumstances to become one of the top payment processors for such online poker sites as PokerStarsand Full Tilt Poker.
“I can confirm that Robert Luketic (director of the popular blackjack film “21”) has made an offer for the movie rights and the offer has been accepted,” Leighton informed Holloway. “(My agent) has received the contract and is in the process of fine-tuning it before we sign. The script is already in the process of creation and (Luketic) is hoping to start casting after he finishes working on his current project.”
Leighton’s book examined not only online poker, but also the effect that Tzvetkoff had on the industry. Through his company Intabill, Tzvetkoff took in roughly $3 million per week at one point as, from 2004 to 2008, the company’s value expanded massively. Tzvetkoff reveled in his newfound fame as a person who went from baking pizzas to a multi-millionaire, demonstrating his lifestyle on several Australian newspapers.
In late 2008, however, the wheels began to fall off the Intabill train. With online gaming under scrutiny in the United States because of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Actand online poker companies either having money seized or held up, Tzvetkoff began to tinker with the books to keep that company and others he was invested in viable. A trip to Las Vegas in 2009 would eventually bring down not only Tzvetkoff, but also many in the online gaming community.
Facing the potential of 75 years in prison on money laundering and other charges, Tzvetkoff instead decided to turn informant and offer his entire knowledge of the online poker industry’s payment processing measures. That information led to the Black Friday indictments that forced the three major players out of the US market, led to the indictment of 11 individuals associated with those companies, and resulted in nearly $1 billion being seized by the Feds.
Today, he is far away from his millionaire lifestyle, living in the witness protection program somewhere in the state of New York.
Although it sounds like things are moving forward with Leighton’s book becoming a movie, there are still several hurdles that must be overcome. Finding the right studio to back the project, getting the right personnel in front of and behind the cameras, and actually beginning production are all mileposts that have to be met. “(If) ‘Alligator Blood’ hits the movie screens, it would be great for the events of Black Friday to become more widely known,” Holloway quoted Leighton as concluding.
The response to the potential for the book to become a film hasn’t exactly thrilled the masses on the poker forums. On Two Plus Two, Thomas “SrslySirius” Keeling mentioned, “The copy (of Alligator Blood) sounds exactly like Ben Mezrich’s awful shtick. This is going to be a train wreck.” We’ll have to wait and see.