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Whether it’s a 1/158,000,000 scenario or betting in a way that wouldn’t happen in real life, gambling moments in film are frequently inaccurate. Below I’ve explained how gambling scenes from three great films are totally unrealistic.

Recommended reading: Five Greatest Casino Movies of All Time

Casino Royale: The crazy odds all in

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James Bond films frequently play fast and loose with the truth. Casino Royale is no exception to this. In the final hand, we see James take on three other players. Everyone goes all in on the river and our hero takes down the pot with a straight flush.

The odds of getting a straight flush is about 1 in 43316, but that’s not what makes Casino Royale unrealistic. It’s what James’ fellow players have that push the hand into the realm of fantasy.

James is up against the following hands:

  • Flush (King high)
  • Full house (eights full of aces)
  • Full house (Aces full of sixes)

The odds of that combination of hands happening is around 1 in 158,551,976. So pretty much the most unrealistic gambling odds you’ll ever see in a film. Check out the final hand below:

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Rounders: Teddy does not have spades

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Rounders is a film which has near universal approval in the poker community. The pacing is great, the acting is sublime, and the characters are (mostly) likeable. But most importantly, it gives one of the best depictions of what it’s like to play poker. Despite all that, it still has some moments which any half-assed poker player know are unrealistic.

I focus on the scene in which Mike loses big to Teddy KGB. The two characters are playing heads-up and Mike opens the bet with A/9 (clubs). He makes a pretty standard opening bet of $500. Teddy flats and calls his bet with A/A (hearts and diamonds).

We then see a flop of:

  • Ace of spades
  • Nine of spades
  • Eight of clubs

Mike explains that he over bets the pot (twice the total at $2,000). Again, Teddy flats, with Mike telling the viewer he thinks Teddy is on a flush draw. The turn card is a 9 (hearts). Both players now have a full house, and the odds of that happening are long. Both players check the hand and the river is a 3 (spades). The board has made a flush possible.

Teddy then bets three times the pot. Mike thinks about what to do, goes all in. As he does so he tells Teddy that he doesn’t believe he has the spades (knowing this would lose to his full house). Teddy snaps him off by calling it. Mike loses his college tuition money and does

So, what makes it totally unrealistic? Here are a few things:

  • Teddy has the best starting hand but chooses not to raise. This could cost him value from Mike or, worse, allow a bad hand to become a good one
  • Mike decides Teddy is on a flush draw despite making a bet twice the size of the pot. While it’s possible the likelihood is that Teddy has a big hand (as he does)
  • Teddy bets three times the pot when he has the nuts. While it works out well for him, it’s a strategy that prices out a lot of potential bets

The Hangover: Who cashed out those chips?

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Card counting is extremely difficult, as Online Casinos explains. First, you need to learn the basics, this means you need to know 250 different playing outcomes. Once you’ve done that, you need to master a counting strategy. After this, there a more than a dozen playing indices to learn and an awareness of risk tolerance.

It’s why so few people can count cards. But that’s not what’s most unrealistic about Alan’s card counting in The Hangover. It’s the ending to the gang’s card counting which is just crazy.

After being caught by the casino, Alan and his pals are in a race against time to get away with their chips. They create a distraction, make a run for it, and we’re told they escaped with thousands of dollars. Great. But their winnings were in casino chips, which are completely worthless until they’re cashed in. Would the casino have cashed them in? No. You can see the scene below:

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Film and gambling have gone hand in hand for years. While the three films I’ve mentioned are great to watch, they have some gambling moments that are totally unrealistic. So next time you play poker and start with A/A, don’t flat call your opponents bet!

Tom Parillo

Tom Parillo

I am interested in all things technology, especially automation, robotics and tech that helps change how society will live in the future.