Casino Royale Analysis (part 4)

This week we resume our analysis of Casino Royale by guest writer Anne Larson. Since this will be our last newsletter of 2021, I wish you a happy new year and for a healthy 2022.

Thank you to those of you who have followed along this far with me and the Wizard through our analyses of the casino/gambling scenes in all the James Bond. As you know, the Wizard covered all the James Bond movies with casino and gambling scenes throughout the decades of James Bond movies and I was given the opportunity to analyze the various scenes in the last movie in the series that featured the casino poker action, which is the 2006 version of Casino Royale. This last clip that I’m about to analyze has given me plenty of bits to pick apart, and I find this clip most entertaining for the way they directed this scene compared to how the poker procedure would actually flow in real life.

Due to the high number of things to analyze, and keeping the readers in mind, I’ve split the analysis of this last clip into two separate newsletters, the first part to be covered here in this newsletter, and the rest of the clip to be covered in next week’s, which will then also wrap up the complete analyses of the James Bond gambling scenes throughout the years.

After personally covering the multiple poker scenes in this movie, I now present to you… (drumroll, please)... the first part of the final and climatic poker scene in this movie. Here is the clip for this final scene.

Casino Royale Poker Scene

The clip starts off with the tournament director announcing that there are no more rebuys and that the Big Blind is now $1 million. Before this final scene, there is a smaller scene that occurs between the last scene I analyzed in my last newsletter and this one. That small/short scene shows Bond rejoining the tournament at the $200,000 Big Blind level after Leiter generously offers to stake him for the $5 million rebuy amount. So, taking what occurred in that short scene coming into today’s scene, we can see here in the beginning of our clip some time has passed due to the Blind now being much higher. Also, I want to point out that generally, in a professional tournament, rebuys or re-entries are allowed only through a small percentage of total levels, about 25% or so. For example, if a tournament is expected to run through about 46 levels or so, they may only allow re-entries through the first 12 levels or so. So, already, the fact that this clip shows the tournament director announcing no more rebuys at this point was purely for our, the viewers’, information, as rebuys should have already ceased several levels before this point.

We now come to the 0:15 mark where we can tell time in the game has elapsed since the start of the clip due to the fade in and we are brought into the middle of a hand already in progress. The dealer announces there are four players in this hand. The game is now at the point where the dealer deals the turn card, which is a 4 of spades, making the board now:

Ah 8s 6s 4s

It then cuts to a shot of the table from the side which shows chips in front of each of the players past the betting line, which I must criticize. If this is to represent the chips the players just put in on the previous betting round on the flop, all of them should have already been brought in by the dealer, joining these chips with the main pot before he even dealt the turn card. Also, if we are to assume that the chip denominations are…

Black chips $100,000

Red plaques $500,000

Blue plaques $1,000,000

…, then if you look at the chips set in front of each player and count how much was bet by each of them, you can quickly see they are not all equal amounts to each other’s bets. In order to proceed to each next betting round, you have to have called an equal amount as anyone else in order to see the next card. Also, from this shot of the table you can pretty much see the four players in this hand are the final four players left in the tournament. We can also see here that Le Chiffre is on the button again and Bond is first to act out of all of them. Bond chooses to check his hand here on the turn.

The movie now interjects a shot of Bond’s undercover cohort Mathis quietly informing Vesper at the 0:27 mark that the pot is now $24 million. The rest of the players check their hand as well and the dealer now deals an Ace of spades to the river. So, we now see the complete board is

Ah 8s 6s 4s As

Casino Royale Poker Scene

Bond checks his hand (and we are still uncertain what he’s holding as well as the other players since they haven’t shown us any of their hole cards yet) and next to act is character Fukutu, who goes all-in announcing his $6 million bet. The next player, Infante, shoves all-in for less, indicating with his hand he is in for $5 million which the dealer verbally announces. Let me point out that a dealer can’t announce the chips a person bets without actually handling and counting the chips his/herself. But let’s set that aside for the sake of the flow of the scene. With Le Chiffre next to act, the dealer says, “Bet is $6 million.” He is letting Le Chiffre know if he decides to call or raise it would be based on the highest amount bet before him, which is the $6 million bet made by Fukutu, but a typical dealer in real life would normally announce something like, “We’ve got an all-in for less, it’s $6 million to call”.

It is now Le Chiffre’s turn to act and he stacks chips and plaques in front of him and pushes them past the betting line as he announces he is raising. The dealer announces, “Raise, $12 million. Heads up.” Again, the dealer flaws by announcing the total amount just by eyeballing Le Chiffre’s stack. Given that Le Chiffre pushes forward stacks with additional stacks behind the front stacks pushed out, this should also prompt the dealer to make a manual count of the chips and not just eyeball it and announce some unaccounted for amount. And the dealer simply announcing “Heads up” was not exactly the correct lingo. He could have said “Raise, $12 million to call.” They are not technically heads up yet, and if they were, they would only be heads up for a side pot, and that would only be if Bond calls or raises at this point. And technically there already is a side pot because Fukutu put in $1 million more than Infante did (Fukutu’s $6 million and Infante’s $5 million), so there should already be a $2 million side pot, the combined amount of $1 million from Fukutu and $1 million from the $12 million of what Le Chiffre just put in, with action still pending from Bond.

At this point, 1:21 into the clip, Bond now needs to decide what to do. He chooses to go all-in with what he announces as $40,500,000. If we look at the chips and plaques he shoves in, according to the colors of them, it appears he has just over $30 million, but we are to overlook that because the chips handled in this movie are just props and we are to assume, in accordance with the storyline, he is in fact betting $40.5 million (which, of course again, the dealer doesn’t count). Bond and Le Chiffre are now officially heads up for the second side-pot, because they have both now entered that pot. It is now Le Chiffre’s decision to call or fold. We get to see a shot of the board again and then see here 2:14 into the clip that Le Chiffre is holding Ac 6h. When we connect his cards with the board, we see he has a full house - Aces full of Sixes. Le Chiffre, pretty confident in the strength of his hand, calls Bond’s raise, which prompts Mathis to inform Vesper there is now $115 million in the pot. Let’s see how Mathis could be right.

Casino Royale Poker Scene

Main Pot of $44 million ($24m + $5m + $5m +$5m $5m) - All four players

First Side Pot of $3 million ($1m + $1m + $1m) - Fukuto, Le Chiffre and Bond

Second Side Pot of “up to” $68 million ($6m + $6m + $27.5m + $27.5m) - Le Chiffre and Bond

Now if you notice in the second side pot, I only accounted for $27.5m of the remaining amount of Bond’s $40.5m bet ($40.5m - $5m - $1m - $6 m technically leaves Le Chiffre with $28.5m to call), but that is the only way we can come up with the $115m in the pot Mathis was informing Vesper about. This would also indicate that Bond had Le Chiffre covered (meaning Le Chiffre would get knocked out if Bond has a hand that beats him, therefore losing all his chips). Before we proceed with the results of this hand, let me point out a couple unrealistic things here, since that is ultimately my job here to analyze what’s going on.

Our question now is: Is it possible Mathis actually could have known the exact amount Le Chiffre was calling Bond’s all-in with in comparison to a bystander in a real-life poker game knowing in the same way? I will answer this question and complete the wrap-up of this scene in next week’s newsletter.