Casino Royale Poker – The Key Scene of the Bond Film!

A James Bond film is not a documentary. In this respect it is forgivable that in the Bond film “Casino Royale” the fantasy of the screenwriters outstrips reality a bit. It describes what happened in a million-dollar round of the poker variation “No Limit Texas Hold’em”. Poker expert Thomas Sandbrook was called in to film the film. Even more expert knowledge, especially about online poker, can of course be read here. And now to the key dramatic scene in which “Casino Royale” uses poker to bring the film to a suspenseful finale (Warning, the article reveals a key plot point of the film! 

What It’s About?

The British secret agent 007 (Daniel Craig) wants to stop the international terrorist financier Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen). In the film’s dramatic finale, he takes on the criminal in a multimillion-dollar poker game. There are four participants at the table in total, all of whom have trusted their cards to the point where the pot is worth more than $120 million. Le Chiffre is particularly sure of victory. The villain has a full house in his hand, a card combination that is hard to beat in poker. But of course Bond, James Bond, proves that this is possible.

Duel of the Masters of Strong Nerves!

This is not Bond’s first encounter with Le Chiffre at the gaming table. He’s played against him several times throughout the film – and lost. He observed his opponent’s tactics closely and now knows his feints and bluffs. And he’s aware of one of Le Chiffre’s telltale quirks: under pressure, he wipes the scar he has over one eyebrow. Much more informative than such a tick is the betting behavior of the opponent in real life at the gaming table: How does he bet? When does he step up, when does he hold back? Is he bluffing with high stakes on weak card hands? Bond knows: “In poker you don’t play with your hand. You play with the opponent you are sitting opposite.” Because of this, poker players often wear sunglasses at the table, even in the middle of the night and in artificial light: not, to appear cool, but not to reveal anything that could be read from their eyes. Le Chiffre has also familiarized himself with Bond’s player skills and believes he can see through and assess him. But he is wrong. Le Chiffre loses the duel of the masters of strong nerves, Bond of course leaves the table as the winner.

Spies at the Card Table

The film spends quite a bit of time showing us how a good poker player playing for high stakes evaluates his opponents. How he tries to read her character, see her strengths and weaknesses. The duel between the two opponents Bond and Le Chiffre shows them as tough, unimpressive daredevils with the proverbial poker face.

The film is based on a peculiarity that “Casino Royale” rightly attributes to poker: This card game is very much about information and disinformation, almost like in the work of spies and intelligence officers. Attentive players can benefit from even the smallest of observations and make the difference between victory and defeat. Of course it’s also about the cards. But all the trappings can be just as important. The professional poker crack complements the assessment of his fellow players with deceptive maneuvers about his own intentions.

No “Casino Real”

“Casino Royale” is not “Casino Real”. The film goes to great lengths to introduce us to the fascination of poker, but allows itself a few liberties that do not stand up to scrutiny in reality. That’s okay because it’s entertaining, but it’s not true. For example, real life poker hands will never end up with such high stakes as in the movies. In online poker, as in conventional casinos, there have never been amounts in the hundreds of millions. Macau is known as a place for high stakes poker games. But even there it’s not more than $13 to $15 million. In reality, nobody gambles for the fabulous film sum of $120 million.

Probability Not Considered

Also, the four players at the table in Casino Royale hold poker hands, all of which are extremely strong. So strong that all four players risk everything because they are sure they will win. The film doesn’t deal with the probability calculation: Such an accumulation of full houses and flushes in a single game is almost impossible. In Texas Hold’em, the statistical probability of having a flush is about 3%, compared to 2.6% for a full house. The straight flush that leaves Bond as the winner has a probability of 0.027%. Most poker games are decided by much lower hand combinations. An hour-long poker tournament can end victorious with a simple pair of fours.

Bond Used to Play Baccarat

“Casino Royale” does not describe a realistic round of poker, but wants to create excitement. Therefore, the film also ascribes betting behavior to the four players at the table that rarely if ever occurs in real life. Nevertheless, the film is great fun, or perhaps because of it. It’s very different from the previous version from 1967, which was also great but has a baccarat round as the finale. In the 1960s, this card game was considered particularly fashionable and nowadays it is not a problem to play baccarat online.

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