01 December 2006

Do I look like I give a damn?

I saw Casino Royale last night and thought it was pretty awesome. Seeing this tougher, leaner Bond made me realise how much of a self-mockery Brosnan's version had become (not necessarily through his fault — the last two films he was in had outrageously unrealistic plots).

One thing that amused me was the poker scenes in the film. Evidently Hold'em is so mainstream now that lengthy exchanges make it into a Bond flick. One thing that annoyed me, however, is how mainstream media still portray poker as if every hand is won by a boat or better. Consider the following (semi-spoilerish) moments:

When we're introduced to Le Chiffre (an excellent villain) he's playing Hold'em on his superyacht. One of his opponents goes all in and turns over pocket kongs on an AKxxx board to make a set, and of course Le Chiffre coyly reveals his pocket aces for a higher set. I mean, how often do you ever see a set of aces over a set of kings? This is the kind of hand that makes mortals start screaming at their friends about how they were robbed. But this is the least ridiculous hand in the film!

A critical piece of the poker subplot involves Bond picking up a tell from Le Chiffre. Later on he is holding AK on a board of AKKJJ and detects Le Chiffre's "bluff tell" so he calls his all-in bet in a 30 million dollar pot. Le Chiffre predictably turns over JJ and rakes the pot. The plot then turns around how Bond rashly called Le Chiffre to expose a bluff and got burned. But Bond would've been insane not to call the bet! He had an outrageously strong hand and could only be beaten by AA and JJ — he wasn't calling a bluff, he should've believed he easily had the best hand.

The icing on the cake is the four-way final hand with a board of AA468 with four spades. All remaining players are all-in for a total of $150 million. The following hands are revealed in this order:

  1. Rube A: KQ spades for the AKQ-high flush.

  2. Rube B: 88 for a full house, eights full of Aces.

  3. Le Chiffre: A6 for a full house, Aces full of sixes.

  4. James Bond: 57 spades for straight flush.

Sigh. The rest of the film, however, was the balls, including the introductory "freerunning" chase through the construction site and Vesper Lynd's huge tracts of land.

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