Whether it’s everybody’s all-time favourite big-time movie featuring classic celebrities like Leonardo diCaprio, or whether it’s just a British sitcom like Only Fools and Horses, there always seems to be at least that one scene where the protagonist is seated round a table, surrounded by fancy people in suits and ties, perhaps with a drink or a ciggy in one hand, and a set of cards in the other, ready to play their hand at a good old poker game.
We might not always be able to explain why, but somehow, these particular scenes manage to instill a sense of excitement and suspense, as we watch on, waiting for the player’s next move, even though some of us have no idea what’s going on anyway. In Hollywood movies however, these scenes are sensationalised at their best, making it quite hard to miss an obvious blunder or inaccurate series of events.
One such movie, and I might be touching a nerve here, is the often hailed Casino Royale, usually found at the very top of the 5 best poker scenes in movies.
I know you’re probably thinking, “What? But this is one of the best poker scenes in the history of poker scenes!” Well, in terms of acting, we cannot argue that the scene was played quite realistically, however with regards to giving an accurate depiction of a Texas Hold’ Em Poker game, not so much. In fact, there are several moments where sheer disappointment takes over and ruins the entire scene, but for the sake of keeping things in retrospect, we’ll only mention 3 key points:
1. When the dealer refers to a “set” as “trips”
Although sets and trips look similar in that they are both “3-of-a-kind”, they are not one and the same thing and thus cannot be used interchangeably.
On the contrary, they are two different ways of how you can make a 3-of-a-kind.
In other words, the way you play a poker hand when you flop “trips” is different than when you flop a “set”.
A set is having a pocket pair and getting a third on the flop, whereas trips is having one card in your hand, and getting two more on the flop.
In easier terms:
- Trips = 3-of-a-kind using 1 of your holecards and 2 cards from the board.
- Set = 3-of-a-kind using 2 of your holecards and 1 card from the board.
Whilst this might seem like a small thing to point out, at the same time, why get it wrong in a blockbuster movie?
2. When No Limit Texas Hold’em literally has no limit
Yes the game in the movie is “No Limit Texas Hold’em”, but $115 million? Really? What happened to trying to make the scene realistic? If we had to look real-life instances, it quickly becomes evident how this ridiculous pot is far from realistic.
The biggest jackpot ever won in the World Series of Poker for No Limit Hold’em, was back in 2016 when James Gold won a whopping $12 million.
Meanwhile, in the history of live casino gambling, the most recognized high-stakes poker game was played at the Aussie Millions in Melbourne which was ultimately won by Phil Ivey who competed against Tom Dwan for $1.1 Million.
You could go to any of the best online slots with the highest progressive jackpots in the world, and still not be able to win anything close to that ridiculous amount of money. In fact, the highest amount of money won on online slots, is somewhere around $20 million on the Mega Moolah, a five reel, twenty-five payline online slot game. The win by British Soldier Jon Heywood also became the new Guinness World Record holder for the largest jackpot payout in an online slot machine game!
Therefore, once again, even this sum is completely far off from a 9-digit number. Yet, here we are in a James Bond movie where the stakes are a ridiculous $115 million!
Anything for sensationalism right? It’s Hollywood after all!
When they show their hands in order of strength for the sake of drama
Let’s re-track a bit to when James Bond makes the last raise. How come he is not the first one to show his cards? The last person who makes the final raise should be the first person to show his cards, but once again, for the sake of drama and sensationalism, Bond gets to show his cards last.
Also, not only that, but notice how the showing of hands, is done remarkably in order of strength, allowing Le Chiffre and Bond to go head-to-head with each other till the very end, when in reality, the dealer is supposed to settle the side pot between Bond and Le Chiffre first before dealing with any other pots.
Again, whilst this might seem as a minor detail, it does change the entire dynamic of the game, and overemphasizes the dramatic element.
The list of inaccuracies goes on, yet the bottom line is: don’t learn your poker from Casino Royale or any other Hollywood Blockbuster, it simply won’t happen.