Accuracies and inaccuracies in ‘Casino Royale’ compared to professional poker strategy

Casino Royale

It’s been ten years since Daniel Craig’s first outing as the iconic 007, complete with tuxedo, a Walther and of course an Aston Martin or two.

After Pierce Brosnan’s overly cartoonish final Bond film, Die Another Day, the Bond producers decided on a different tack and took 007 back to his original roots, which meant casting a younger actor. Enter Merseyside’s Daniel Craig, who took over the role aged 38, with Pierce Brosnan leaving aged 49.

Casino Royale is set at the beginning of Bond’s career as the world’s most famous secret agent, just as he first earns his license to kill. As Bond is the best poker player in the service, his boss, M (portrayed by Judi Dench), enters him into a high-stakes poker tournament in Montenegro where Bond is tasked with defeating Le Chiffre, a financier of international terrorism, mathematical genius and chess prodigy.

In the original 1953 novel, the game played between Bond and Le Chiffre was baccarat but the producers decided to update the game to that of Texas Hold ‘Em poker. However there are a number of inaccuracies within the film that wouldn’t happen in a real casino.

Casino Royale

For example, at the climax of the big game, the dealer mixes the players cards in with the community (board) cards to illustrate the various hands. This would never happen as in a real casino the players cards are always kept separate from the board. This is clearly done for dramatic effect, as a real dealer would not do this. Doing so could cause confusion as to which cards were on the board and which cards belonged to the player. The correct procedure is to leave the board intact and place the player’s cards just below it and then construct the appropriate hand.

After the major tournament is finished, Bond passes a chip to from the table to the dealer as a tip. While this is commonly done in cash games, in a tournament the chips have no actual value. The chips are only used as markers to play with as the actual money is pooled together and paid out to the winner in cash, in this case the special account that is password protected. If the chip had any value then Bond would be tipping the dealer with the casino’s money as all the winnings were in that account.

Before showdown of the final poker hand, given that two side pots have been created by Player 1 going all-in with his remaining $6M, Player 2 going all-in with his remaining $5M, and both Bond and Le Chiffre committing their chips to the pot, the dealer should have arranged the side pots and directed (or at least asked) the players to show their cards in conventional order to ensure proper allocation of winnings.

Casino Royale

Proper convention would be that Bond and Le Chiffre show their cards for side pot #2 (the largest pot), then Player 1 shows for side pot #1 (for $3M) then Player 2 shows for the main pot (for $44M). The order of card reveal in the movie was done for obvious dramatic effect.

Craig has now done four films and during interviews for 2015’s Spectre fuelled rumours that he is done with the role, spurring bookie odds on the next actor likely to play 007. Luther actor Idris Elba has recently ruled himself out, citing himself too old, as the 25th Bond film will not arrive in cinemas until 2018 at the earliest.