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While we can agree that the James Bond franchise can get a bit larger than life at times, there are moments that provide grounded stakes and solid thrills. Casino Royale happens to be one of the films that best shows off both of those facets, as one minute Daniel Craig’s Bond is chasing down a man from a snake pit to an embassy, and the next he’s playing cards for the fate of the world. But while this gritty reboot is a little more believable than some of the other 007 adventures out there, the scenes where James Bond plays cards against Le Chiffre seem to have some problems, at least according to an expert in how casinos actually work.
In a recent episode of GQ’s web series The Break Down, guest Dustin Boshers broke down how Casino Royale’s poker scenes got it absolutely wrong. As Red Rock Casino’s Casino Operations Director, Boshers knows the ins and outs of that sort of thing, and he applied his professional gaming acumen to other high stakes films, like Ocean’s Eleven, 21 and Casino. In terms of where Casino Royale’s 2006 reboot of the Bond series gets it wrong, here’s where Dustin Boshers started his takedown:
I think they’re doing this for cinematic reasons, but the dealer is talking way too much. Especially in a high-end game like this, these are all professional poker players. You’re not gonna have a dealer sitting there going, ‘He checks, he checks, he checks.’ No. The player says check, so this is way out of character. In those really high-end games, the dealer is not going to say a word unless they have to because they know what kind of money is being played on the table.
Dustin Boshers is absolutely right when it comes to Casino Royale trying to make the world of big money gambling a little more accessible to a common theatrical audience. It’s one of the reasons why instead of featuring James Bond’s traditional game of choice, Baccarat, the 2006 relaunch switched to No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em. As that particular card game was seeing quite a bit of popularity attached to itself, it only made sense to have Daniel Craig, Jeffrey Wright and Mads Mikkelsen playing a five card draw to the death. And as you’ll see in the clip included below, there’s quite a play-by-play nature to the pass time that makes for a pivotal plot device in Craig’s first film in the tuxedo:
Sure, if you were actually playing No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em, you wouldn’t be calling all of this action out. But when a movie like Casino Royale dedicates quite a bit of screen time to such an enterprise, you need to keep it interesting. That’s the same reason that the other big flub pointed out by Dustin Boshers happens to be in the film, as he also pointed out this no-no of professional card playing:
This is also something that you would not do. What would happen is the players would flip over their hands show what they would have. All those players are professional poker players; they would instantly see each others’ hands and know who’s the winner. In this scene, the dealer’s like taking each guests hand and adding it to the board, which can also cause problems. Because ultimately a guest could say, ‘That wasn’t my hand.’ So that is not a normal procedure.
In the case of explaining to the audience why James Bond suffered such a crushing blow in Casino Royale, announcing the stakes on a constant basis at the card table makes sense. But if you’re trying to actually play No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em in the real world, don’t expect the dealer to help you figure out what’s going on. If you really want to go all in to call your competitor’s bluff, make sure you can do the math on whether or not that full house is as strong as you think it is.
But if you want to bet on a sure thing, the rest of Dustin Boshers’ expertise in this episode of The Break Down is a good way to learn more about how the casino industry measures up to Hollywood’s interpretation. It will certainly pass the time between now and the longer wait for No Time To Die’s release into theaters on April 2, 2021. Though if you’re looking for some more action, you could always bet on what movies will stay put on the 2021 release schedule, and those you think will move.