Is the poker game in Casino Royale realistic?
In the fierce Texas Hold'em game in Casino Royale, James Bond looks down on a board showing As Ah 8s 6s 4s. The player to his left moves all in for $6 million, another player calls, and Bond's nemesis across the table mini-raises it up to $12 million. 007 over $40 million in his stack and is pondering what to do...
photo © 2006 Sony Pictures
But before we start analyzing the hand further, let's look at the game they are playing.
Obviously it's No Limit Texas Hold'em, the game to play when the film was released back in 2006. In Ian Fleming's original, however, Bond was playing high stakesChemin de Fer (similar to baccarat,) which alongside roulette was the number one high-stakes game in those days. There is a big difference between these games though. Whatever Baccarat or roulette strategy you choose, the games are unbeatable in the long run. Poker, on the other hand, is not.
"Today the big stakes game is Texas Hold'em. It's not unreasonable for ten, twenty million dollar pots to be seen. So, when we came to think about what the game would be, Chemin de Fer didn't seem appropriate but Texas Hold'em was," producer Michael Wilson explains.
The film team brought in Thomas Sanbrook as the poker expert and he taught the actors how to handle the chips, look at the cards and stare one another down. He managed to do this and the game looks realistic.
...Back to the Hand
James Bond is facing a $12 million raise and decides to push all in for $40. His opponent, portrayed by Mads Mikkelsen, says "I think I have to call you on that one" and the players reveal their cards.
The first player, who moved all in for $6, only has a flush - a surprisingly weak play. Next player has a pair of eights in the hole for a full house but Mikkelsen has an even stronger full house with A-6.
You can probably guess what Mr. Bond has. Yes, 7 - 5 of spades and an unbeatable straight flush. The $115 million pot is pushed towards him. Wait a minute. $115 million! Didn't the producer say that the game was going to be realistic?
What Is a Normal Pot Size?
If we start by looking at online poker, this pot is far from realistic. The biggest pot ever won on the Net was a little bit over $600,000. In comparison that is nothing...but only in comparison.
In the history of live casino gambling the most recognized high-stakes poker game was played between multimillionaire Andy Beal, a sucker for poker and blackjack games, and a group of poker players called the Corporation, including Doyle Brunson, Jennifer Harman, Ted Forrest and a few other pros,
The corporation had to play as a team because the stakes were too high - $50,000/$100,000 limit hold'em to be more specific.
That is also a nickel-and-dime game compared to Casino Royale.
Thomas Sanbrook and the film team managed to create a realistic poker game but they forgot about the money. On the other hand, if you want to see a documentary and real poker action, you probably won't choose a James Bond film.
© 2008 Andrew
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