• »
  • News
  • »
  • Anish Patel’s ‘Final 9’: The Ultimate Poker Comic Adventure

Anish Patel’s ‘Final 9’: The Ultimate Poker Comic Adventure

Anish Patel’s ‘Final 9’: The Ultimate Poker Comic Adventure

We are pleased to introduce you to the newest member of The Festival family. Anish Patel, with a background from the UK, has dedicated the past fourteen years of his life to one thing - writing a completed comic book based on poker. In the second half of last year, he succeeded and we must admit, it is a fantastic read. Here, we bring you an interview with him and by the end of the article, you will also understand the reasons why he has joined our partners' family.

Bringing the Thrills of Poker to Life: The 14-Year Journey of Comic Writer Anish Patel and his New Book 'Final 9'

The Festival: Hey Anish! Where did Final Nine idea come from?

  • Anish: The idea came to me back in the summer of 2008, I was in the middle of putting some ideas together for story stories and short films. At the same time, I was often playing poker with friends and when I had the chance in poker clubs. One of the ideas of a short film was about poker but the storyline was very dark. A story about a back alley game but instead of playing for money it was for body parts. The script was written for a short film but never got produced. Later in the year, I revisited some of the ideas I had and during that time I had the WSOP Main Event November Nine on the TV in the background.
  • That was the very first time I watched that tournament and I enjoyed how they produced the show. It wasn’t live but the episodes they aired showed the game, the format, the background of the tournament, and Las Vegas. But what caught my attention was how they introduced each of the November Nine players. Talking about their style of play, the background, and other interests. It showed me that you can be anyone and still sit down on the poker and try and become a world champion. It also made it hard to choose a favourite player. But watching Peter Eastgate win the bracelet and become at that time the youngest winner, gave me the idea on basing the book around this tournament and producing a character-driven story.

The Festival: Why did you pick a comic book/graphic novel format?

  • Anish: After coming up with the idea of a poker story, I looked at what type of format I can produce it in, a feature film script and eventually it is produced or book novel. I knew the feature film would take a lot of time and money to put together and at that time I don’t think I was able to write it in book format. However, near the same time I was reading graphic novels and one of the books was ‘Watchmen’ written by Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons. I really enjoyed reading this book and both the author and artist collaborated in producing great characters, the story plot, and the format of the book.
  • I thought how interesting it would be to create a comic book/graphic novel about poker. Showing the readers, the actual card game, the emotions of the characters, and the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas in colorful pages. But also what ‘Watchmen’ graphic novel also gave is between each chapter they included extra bonus materials in an article format. This gave me the chance to do something similar and talk about the history of the poker tournament, Las Vegas, and other backstories.

The Festival: Was it easy to create the plot of the story?

  • Anish: Producing the story plot was quite easy for me, especially after watching the November Nine final table. Not knowing who is going to win the tournament made me want to watch right till the end. Most poker stories or films are based on one main character and you end up following their story and at the end see if they are either the winner or the runner-up. I did not want that type of story, the story I wanted to tell is about Nine poker players around a table. Giving the background to each character so the readers have the chance to pick their favourite character and see if they survive to the end and become world champions. This plot is very similar to a murder mystery story, the readers do not know who the murderer is until the final part of the story, but during the story, there are many twists to the plot, similar to an actual poker game.

The Festival: Where did you get the inspiration for the characters?

  • Anish: All the characters are inspired by real players. There are players that people watch on TV as well as players that I have come across while playing the game myself. Legendary players like Doyle Brunson, Johnny Moss, Walter ‘Puggy’ Pearson and Johnny Chan have influenced the story and the characters. These sorts of players have developed the game from 6 players on a table to thousands of players in a huge room. The comics include aspects like Phil Hellmuth's collections of bracelets and his Vegas-style entrances to the tournaments as well as Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu involvement in getting a further reach on new poker players.
  • Chris Moneymaker story is one that has instant appeal.  From winning a seat in a satellite tournament to becoming world champion. It’s a great story on how in one year the main event had 800 players and after Chris Moneymaker won, the following year the tournament held 2500 players. It was these sorts of players that inspired me while writing the book. The legends, online players, the multiple champion winners, the international players, cash games players, amateur players.... they all played a part and helped me create a group of characters that people will hopefully want to read about.
  • One of the challenging parts of creating characters in 2009 was coming up with a female character.  In the early days of creating my characters I needed to do research on female poker players which was difficult to find but then watching and reading poker blogs I was very impressed with how many female players there are in the circuit. Players like Vanessa Selbst, Liv Boeree, Barbara Enright and Jennifer Harman helped grow female participate in the game and which is why instead of having one female character in the book I included two.

The Festival: What inspired you to base the story about the WSOP Main Event?

  • Anish: I was watching the WSOP program in 2008 and I found the program interesting, it covered the card game but also the individual players of the table. In that particular time the organiser of the tournament had change the format. Once the Final Nine players were decided the tournament took a 4 month break and they concluded the game in November calling it ‘The November Nine.’ It allowed the players to go home or continue playing poker in other tournament and locations. During that time, it gave the players a chance to promote them themselves (Interviews, TV spots etc) so when they do arrive back to play in the final table they would have a following and supporters.
  • For me this made it hard to decide whom I would root for. And after watching Peter Eastgate win the championship, I thought how great would it be to write a story about poker in a similar format to WSOP ME in 2008.

The Festival: Why did it take 14 years to release the book?

  • Anish: Like any project, once you have an idea you want to complete as soon as possible, but there are key factors to it, the finances and the team. During the time I came up with the idea but I wasn’t sure how I would produce it. I was not a full time comic book writer or even an Artist, so I could not just approach comic book publishers with just the idea. Once I created the plot, the characters and produce the manuscript for the first chapter, I reached out to literature agents and publishers. However, I was a nobody, some publishers wrote back and decline the idea and others never came back to me.
  • Later I gathered some money and decided to produce it independently, but I still needed an Artist. In late 2010 I started to research on comic book artists. After sending out countless emails, one particular artist Calvin Innes replied back and was interested in the project. We spoke a few times and agreed to work together in producing the first issue. Calvin had a lot of background in publishing and gave great guidance. He helped to produce the characters on the comic book pages and he bought the colour and style which I wanted from the start. The first chapter was produced and looked great.
  • We started to plan on how to continue with the project but without any finances or sponsors to produce this book, the development of the next few books took longer. I was scrapping as much money as I could to produce further chapters. Eventually around 2014 Calvin Innes commitment to drawing the book faded away. We decided to go apart in good terms and the book was on hold. I tried a few times to find a new artist in 2015 and 16’ even when I knew I did not have the full finances to produce the whole book. But again the commitment of the Artist was not there and the project was on hold again. Finally, in late 2017 I made a decision, either completely scraps the project or give it one more shot. I was very close in ended the project but I knew this was still a good story and I knew people would like it. So I attempted one more time and by then I had the finances to produce the whole book. I found a company called Line Art Studios which were based in Brazil. What I like about them, as they knew the style of book I wanted to produce and they were a team. They had separate Penciler, an Inker, and a Colourer, which meant they can get more done. Previously I only had the one Artist would do all development and take a lot longer. So in late 2017 I restarted the comic book again and made few changes to the story which tailored to the current times.

Final Nine is available on Amazon in an E-book or Paperback.

In less than 5 days, we will all meet in Nottingham. For those of you who plan to win one of our scheduled tournaments, in addition to the unique trophies, you will also be greeted with Anish Patel's comic book "Final Nine." Anish himself will visit us on February 18-19 at Dusk Till Dawn. So, for those who want more information about the book, be sure to visit our Welcome Desk where Anish can be met on the aforementioned days. See you in Nottingham.