Years ago, as gambling became more widespread, the casino industry managed to extend its reach and affect the pop culture, providing us with dozens of movies, TV shows and even songs inspired by gambling.
While the majority of directors shot only a few scenes in casinos, some movies are completely based on gambling. However, instead of providing the viewers with an authentic gambling experience, Hollywood had to be Hollywood and exaggerate certain events for the added dramatic effect.
Now — cue 21st Century Fox intro music — here’s the most unrealistic and improbable gambling moments that have ever occurred on the big screen.
1. 21 (2008)
The film “21” is considered one of the best gambling movies of all time. The movie is based on a book titled “Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions” by Ben Mezrich. However, while the story of the MIT blackjack team is true, many pivotal events from the movie never occurred in real life, and others were extremely exaggerated.
Anyhow, speaking of the story, one of the most unrealistic moments in the movie is how Jim Sturgess was recruited to join the team. Namely, counting cards is easy, and you don’t need to have an exceptional mind or be a rocket scientist to do it. However, while it’s not difficult to learn, it takes time to master, and the only way to do that is to practice. As we all know, repetition is the mother of learning.
What’s more, even after you learn to count cards, you need to know the rules of blackjack inside and out. Then, you have to know the basic strategy of blackjack to be able to make use of your newly gained skills.
Finally, you need to be able to do that under pressure because, while counting cards isn’t illegal, casinos won’t tolerate you doing it. Not to mention they won’t like you bringing down the house. In reality, you would most likely be asked to leave the premises.
Apparently, casinos make the best shaken — not stirred — martinis out there because, be it Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan or Daniel Craig, our beloved James Bond always seems to find his way to a nearby casino. (Well, either that or all the supervillains are casino regulars, so make sure to keep those chips safe.)
There is one particular gambling scene in “Casino Royale” that grabbed our attention however. Namely, our protagonist is involved in a hand against three other players. If you watched the movie, you know that James is holding a straight flush, and the odds of getting it are around 1 in 72,192. Entirely plausible, if you ask us.
However, this is where it gets interesting. The other three players are holding a flush, a full house with eights full of aces, and yet another full house with aces full of sixes. If you do the math, the chances of that happening are around 1 in 158,551,976.
For reference, the odds of being struck by lightning are 1 in 114,195, and the chances of being attacked by a shark are 1 in 3,748,067. Granted, while the situation is not impossible, it is quite improbable.
One thing is for certain though: If Le Chiffre was portrayed by Phil Hellmuth and not Mads Mikkelsen, there would 99% chance that he would get off the table and walk around the casino, throwing insults Bond’s way for slow rolling with a straight flush.
Unlike other movies on our list, “The Hangover” isn’t a gambling-related movie. However, it does have a casino scene that grabbed our attention, so we felt we shouldn’t leave it out.
Again, the movie makes the whole experience of counting cards into something extremely trivial. As if someone can sit down and tell themselves: “All right, I’m going to become a card counter right now.”
However, there’s more. Even if Zach Galifianakis’ character can actually do it, the casino staff clearly notices them making big bucks, yet nothing happens due to their “diversion.” I mean, how did they cash in the chips? You can’t walk into a grocery store and pay the clerk in casino chips or Monopoly money, you know.
Before we get started, let’s get one thing out of the way. We absolutely loved “Rounders” and consider it to be one of the best, if not the very best, gambling-related movies of all time. However, not even a masterpiece like “Rounders” can avoid being scrutinized by the watchful eyes of poker enthusiasts.
In one of the scenes, Mike, portrayed by Matt Damon, is playing against his arch-enemy, Teddy KGB. Now, since we’ve watched the movie, we know that Teddy has pocket aces and Mike has A/9 clubs. The flop is ace of spades, nine of spades, and eight of clubs, while the turn and the river cards are nine of hearts and three of spades. With these community cards, both full house and flush are quite possible. However, while things worked out for KGB Teddy, the outcome was determined by sheer luck and not skill.
First things first, Teddy has guts. Since there is no way that anyone could predict the five community cards, statistically, pocket aces are the best hand you can get at the beginning of each hand. However, they are the strongest during pre-flop and lose their potential with each subsequent community card.
Granted, this might very well depend on the cards that have been dealt but the general rule when you have pocket aces is to raise and re-raise and get as much value out of a good hand you’ve been dealt, which isn’t something Teddy was doing.
Because the whole movie is based on the fact that these guys are one of the best poker players of the underworld, decisions like these made the entire scene quite improbable. Moreover, we’re sure that it made quite a few professional poker players around the world pull out their hair in frustration.