Final Part of the Analysis of Casino Royale
Newsletter author: Anne Larson
Thank you all again for those of you who have followed me and the Wizard this far in his series of James Bond movies where we conducted analyses of clips from the movies that contained gambling/casino shots. Even those of you just now popping into these articles should find the analyses entertaining at the very least and you may find both the math breakdowns enjoyable as well as the comparisons that have been done in these clips compared to real-life situations.
While the Wizard analyzed the bulk of scenes throughout the Bond series, I was brought on to analyze the multiple poker scenes spread out within the 2006 version of Casino Royale. This newsletter today will complete the analyses of all the movies to be covered in this series so far, and the analysis in this specific article will cover the last part of the final clip, which on YouTube can be found here.
Having already covered the first part of this clip in the previous newsletter, I now pick up where we left off where I asked, “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?”
The answer is: pretty much no. First off, the dealer did not count out Le Chiffre’s stack, nor announced he was all-in. Secondly, it would be very hard and nearly impossible in this case for a spectator to actually know the exact amount of chips a player has in front of them, both because of the distance between the spectator (in this case Mathis) and a player (in this case Le Chiffre), and also because of the fact that the spectator would have to visually, without handling the chips themselves, count the exact amount the player has in front of him. So, to simplify everything for the movie-viewing audience, the filmmaker chose to consolidate everything into easy-to-understand flow of the poker action and overlook that an onlooker couldn’t actually know the exact amount.
Also, I’d like to add something the filmmaker is doing here that is inconsistent with tournament poker. The moviemaker is trying to make the movie-viewing audience assume that the $115 million in the pot is the actual cash value of the pot, which would also indicate there were ten original $10 million buy-ins and three $5 million rebuys. As any poker player would know, and as I pointed out previously in an earlier newsletter, tournament chips have no cash value in and of themselves and the denominations on the chips are merely for tournament play. They are trying to make it sound like that is the exact amount up for grabs, but cash games and tournaments are totally different in that regard. All of these short-cuts could be common practice in Hollywood movies in typical scenarios, but here any real poker player watching these poker scenes might just cringe at seeing the cluster of back-to-back flaws throughout all of these poker scenes.
So, what becomes of this hand and how does this final climactic poker scene conclude? We left off where all four remaining players in the tournament were all in, with the final action we saw was Le Chiffre calling Bond’s all-in. At the 2:47 mark, the dealer announces, “Gentlemen, showdown, please,” to which Fukutu immediately tables his cards and the dealer shows and announces, “Flush. Ace-King-Queen,” which is the nut flush. But wait! Before we proceed, I must interject here (since it’s my job). Firstly, the way the dealer lines up the cards on the board was just for the camera to show more concisely to the movie audience his best 5-card hand. You do not mix the cards around like that! The dealer actually continues with this totally improper card handling with the rest of the hands as well (yuck). Additionally, proper tournament procedure dictated by TDA rules (Rule 16, specifically) says if there is at least one player in this hand who is all-in (and specifically there are three players all-in here) AND when there is no more action, all players must table their cards, and simultaneously. We don’t see this happen here in this scene.
On top of that, when all players’ cards have been tabled, since in this case there are two side pots in addition to the main pot itself, standard procedure would require the dealer first determine who the winner of the second (and last created) side pot is, which here is the pot Bond and Le Chiffre are in alone. After determining that, he is supposed to determine who is going to be awarded the first side pot, and then finally the main pot. So, of course, for the sake of Hollywood entertainment and to continue building the climax of this scene, the action we see here doesn’t follow typical procedure and does everything completely backwards throughout the entire evaluation including the other upcoming hands.
After announcing Fukutu’s hand, the dealer moves clockwise to Infante’s hand, where at the 2:59 mark, Infante smugly turns over his cards to show he has a “Full house, Eights full of Aces,” as the dealer announces. Le Chiffre now tables his cards showing his higher full house as the dealer announces coupled with an audible reaction from the on-screen spectators. The dealer now asks Bond to show his cards, which he does alongside the increasing intensity of the movie score orchestral strings, and Bond shows he has what makes a straight flush. The on-screen spectators give an even more exuberant response and claps at Bond’s win.
Now, even entirely setting aside all the ways the filmmaker rearranged proper play and procedure for the sake of the flow of the movie to the viewer, in so many ways thus far, I still have things to say about this exact hand and how humorously unlikely pretty much everything in this hand was.
One of the main things that was pretty over the top within this particular hand alone was the actual odds of this hand even lining up like this. Even just the probability of Bond having a straight flush while Le Chiffre has aces full in a single hand is so low. The probability is so low, in fact, that it’s equivalent to the odds that go along with most casino poker rooms’ “Bad Beat Jackpot” promos in their cash games. And that’s only looking at just the two top hands, Bond’s straight flush beating Le Chiffre’s aces full of sixes.
To look at it from the broad perspective of including everyone’s hands here, a straight flush beating aces full which beats eights full which beats the nut flush is just so unlikely. So unlikely, that I actually needed the assistance of the Wizard to determine the precise odds of this happening. After running all the right numbers, the Wizard shares with us in his own words: “In a four-player game of Texas Hold “Em, where nobody folds, the probability of the first player having a flush, to be beaten by the next player having a full house, to be beaten by the next player having a higher full house, to be beaten by the next player having a straight flush, is about 1 in 7 million.”
Now, another far-fetched thing that happened here is if you noticed, four players of the original ten were still standing up to that point, so after days of play and still having 40% of the players live (which in this case could be more than expected), all of a sudden the game ends in a triple knockout all at once (with a triple knockout in any real poker game being a rare occurrence), and of course Bond is the one left standing and wins the whole tournament.
For my final remarks towards this scene, I will point out a few things. Even setting aside how Bond got the glory of knocking all the remaining players out in a single hand, I will point out the fact that Bond having held the two cards that made a straight flush was pure luck. He didn’t do any special maneuvers to acquire the necessary cards to make such a high hand (which is not a likely hand to make in poker). I point this out to the lay person not familiar with poker, he literally just played the cards the dealer randomly dealt him.
Also, I will admit, to my surprise, Le Chiffre did not at any point seem to have “an ace up his sleeve” so to speak, and did not show any signs at all of trying to cheat to win. This boggles my mind since he went through all of this time and effort to set up a poker game that he intended to win, and he did it with having the same amount of chance of winning as any of the other nine players there to play against him. So, literally he (as well as Bond) was basing winning this whole tournament purely on his overconfident ego and his very bloated assessment of his poker skills coming into this game. Wow. Funny enough, this is something you come across with the majority of humans who play poker (and pros seem to chuckle about this) - everyone who plays, yes EVERYONE, thinks they are a great poker player.
And finally, for my last comment, in this movie, we see at the 4:08 mark Bond thanking the dealer while tossing him a red plaque, which the audience is to assume is his tip to the dealer. As we determined previously, the estimated denomination of the red plaques were $500,000, and that is a huge amount of money to tip a poker dealer. Ah!... But remember: These are tournament chips/plaques and have no value, but once again we are supposed to overlook this and assume he generously tipped the dealer a cool $½ million.
Well, maybe I’m far from an action movie expert, since I personally don’t enjoy action movies, due to all the over-the-top, unrealistic things that seem to happen in these movies for the sake of entertainment. I will say though that I was honored to have been brought in to analyze the poker scenes based on my own knowledge and experience in the No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em poker world. I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed my analyses throughout this movie and hope to be given the opportunity to contribute more in future newsletters.