Stan’s Lists – Poker Movies


[RR] “You guys want to join us for Gutshot Straight?”1 Roderick the Rock asked.

[FF] “The new Steven Seagal poker movie?” Figaro the Fish inquired.

[LL] “Yeah”, Leroy the Lion confirmed. “We’re going to catch the midnight showing at the cineplex on Sunday night.”

[FF] “Sure. I can always sleep at work.”

[RR] “Isn’t that technically Monday at midnight?”

[LL] “I consider it the same day until I’ve gone to sleep and woken up.”

[SS] “I’m in”, Stan the Stat volunteered. “Haven’t seen a good poker movie in a while.”

[RR] “What do you consider to be a good poker movie?”

[SS] “Pretty much anything that revolves around poker, as opposed to a movie with just have a random poker scene or two.”

[LL] “And of course, you have a list?”

[SS] “You know me too well. It wasn’t much of a list a decade ago, but we’re in the prime of poker movies. My ten favorite poker movies, sorted alphabetically rather than ranked; Rounders would be number one by far:”2

The Best Poker Movies

Movie (IMDB link) Year Poker Summary
California Split 1974 Bill Denny (George Segal) and Charlie Waters (Elliott Gould) team up to gamble and have fun but go broke; pawning all their possessions, they head for the big poker game in Reno.
Casino Royale 2006 James Bond (Daniel Craig) plays in a $10,000,000 buy-in Texas Hold ‘Em tournament with the terrorist banker Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen).
The Cincinnati Kid 1965 The title character Eric Stoner (Steve McQueen) plays high stakes stud against the old master Lancey Howard (Edward G. Robinson).
Deal 2008 Retired poker pro Tommy Vinson (Burt Reynolds) trains hotshot Alex Stillman (Bret Harrison) then unretires and faces him in the WPT championship.
The Grand 2007 One Eyed Jack Faro (Woody Harrelson) and others improv their way through a poker tournament.
Lucky You 2007 Huck Cheever (Eric Bana) tries to beg, borrow, and steal $10,000 to play in the WSOP Main Event. Billie Offer (Drew Barrymore) is a love interest and victim.
Maverick 1994 The title character (Mel Gibson) tries to win a $25,000 buy-in, winner-take-all, 5-card draw poker tournament in the Wild West.
Poker Night 2014 Policeman Stan Jeter (Beau Mirchoff) plays poker with other cops, gets locked in a basement with a young girl by a psychopath (Ron Perlman), and needs to use what he learned at the poker table to escape.
Rounders 1998 Mike McDermott (Matt Damon) is studying to become a lawyer, but his heart belongs to poker. He and buddy Lester Murphy (Edward Norton) play in a variety of games to try to settle the Worm’s poker debts.
Shade 2003 A group of small-time con artists try for a big score in a poker game.

[SS] “The past decade has also seen the release of a number of poker documentaries:”

The Best Poker Documentaries

Documentary (IMDB link) Year Summary
All In: The Poker Movie 2009 The post-Moneymaker poker boom with interviews of many poker pros.
Bet Raise Fold 2013 Online poker from the early 2000s through Black Friday as seen through three poker players.
Drawing Dead: The Highs & Lows of Online Poker 2013 Poker perspectives from a successful online pro and a struggling gambling addict.
High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story 2003 The story of the 3-time WSOP Main Event champion, flashing back from his death bed.
No Limit: A Search for the American Dream on the Poker Tournament Trail 2006 The real-life story of a young couple trying to make it playing high-stakes tournament poker.3

Footnotes:

  1. Gutshot Straight is rumored to be debuting in U.S. theaters on September 1, 2014. {Update 9/1/14: alas, the release didn’t happen, so the wait continues. Update 11/25/14: finally debuting on December 2, 2014.}
  2. At least until Rounders 2 comes out.
  3. This film also deserves a footnote in the Poker Reality Television Shows post.

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Shuffling

[SS] Stan the Stat declaimed, “In the 2006 movie The Prestige Michael Caine’s character Cutter explains:”

Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called “The Pledge”. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course… it probably isn’t. The second act is called “The Turn”. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call “The Prestige”.

[RR] “Interesting parallel to the flop, the turn, and the river in Texas Hold ‘Em”, Roderick the Rock noted.

[LL] “I’ve never heard anyone claim that poker’s turn comes from the magic term, but it makes some sense, as both are in the middle”, Leroy the Lion continued.

[RR] “Magic tricks can certainly flop if the sleight of hand isn’t performed well or the intended result fails.”

[LL] “And there’s plenty of prestige if the river card wins you a big poker tournament.”

[SS] “Good magic can be entertaining even if you know how it’s done. Great magic though, leaves you wondering how they did it.”

[LL] “What makes really great magic are the incredible skills that the magicians practice countless hours honing. Sleight of hand. Misdirection. Physical manipulations that you might have thought were completely impossible.”

[SS] “Like the perfect shuffle. Can you cut a deck of cards perfectly in half, so each half has exactly 26 cards? Can you riffle shuffle1 those two halves so that the cards are perfectly alternated from each half? Can you then execute each of those two skills eight times in a row without a single card getting out of place?”

[SS] “If you started with a sorted deck and did exactly that, you’d be right back where you started.2 And ready to perform any number of card tricks with your seemingly well-shuffled deck. If you did the first five shuffles ahead of time, you could then start the trick by fanning a seemingly already randomly shuffled deck to start with.”

[RR] “What would that shuffled deck look like, so we could spot it if we saw it?”

[SS] “Better yet, here are all eight permutations of a deck that starts with each suit sorted in order from Ace to King:”

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
A♣ A♣ A♣ A♣ A♣ A♣ A♣ A♣ A♣
2♣ A♥ A♦ 7♥ 4♦ 9♣ 5♣ 3♣ 2♣
3♣ 2♣ A♥ A♦ 7♥ 4♦ 9♣ 5♣ 3♣
4♣ 2♥ A♠ 7♠ T♠ Q♦ K♣ 7♣ 4♣
5♣ 3♣ 2♣ A♥ A♦ 7♥ 4♦ 9♣ 5♣
6♣ 3♥ 2♦ 8♣ 4♥ 2♠ 8♦ J♣ 6♣
7♣ 4♣ 2♥ A♠ 7♠ T♠ Q♦ K♣ 7♣
8♣ 4♥ 2♠ 8♦ J♣ 6♣ 3♥ 2♦ 8♣
9♣ 5♣ 3♣ 2♣ A♥ A♦ 7♥ 4♦ 9♣
T♣ 5♥ 3♦ 8♥ 4♠ 9♦ J♥ 6♦ T♣
J♣ 6♣ 3♥ 2♦ 8♣ 4♥ 2♠ 8♦ J♣
Q♣ 6♥ 3♠ 8♠ J♦ Q♥ 6♠ T♦ Q♣
K♣ 7♣ 4♣ 2♥ A♠ 7♠ T♠ Q♦ K♣
A♦ 7♥ 4♦ 9♣ 5♣ 3♣ 2♣ A♥ A♦
2♦ 8♣ 4♥ 2♠ 8♦ J♣ 6♣ 3♥ 2♦
3♦ 8♥ 4♠ 9♦ J♥ 6♦ T♣ 5♥ 3♦
4♦ 9♣ 5♣ 3♣ 2♣ A♥ A♦ 7♥ 4♦
5♦ 9♥ 5♦ 9♥ 5♦ 9♥ 5♦ 9♥ 5♦
6♦ T♣ 5♥ 3♦ 8♥ 4♠ 9♦ J♥ 6♦
7♦ T♥ 5♠ 9♠ J♠ Q♠ K♦ K♥ 7♦
8♦ J♣ 6♣ 3♥ 2♦ 8♣ 4♥ 2♠ 8♦
9♦ J♥ 6♦ T♣ 5♥ 3♦ 8♥ 4♠ 9♦
T♦ Q♣ 6♥ 3♠ 8♠ J♦ Q♥ 6♠ T♦
J♦ Q♥ 6♠ T♦ Q♣ 6♥ 3♠ 8♠ J♦
Q♦ K♣ 7♣ 4♣ 2♥ A♠ 7♠ T♠ Q♦
K♦ K♥ 7♦ T♥ 5♠ 9♠ J♠ Q♠ K♦
A♥ A♦ 7♥ 4♦ 9♣ 5♣ 3♣ 2♣ A♥
2♥ A♠ 7♠ T♠ Q♦ K♣ 7♣ 4♣ 2♥
3♥ 2♦ 8♣ 4♥ 2♠ 8♦ J♣ 6♣ 3♥
4♥ 2♠ 8♦ J♣ 6♣ 3♥ 2♦ 8♣ 4♥
5♥ 3♦ 8♥ 4♠ 9♦ J♥ 6♦ T♣ 5♥
6♥ 3♠ 8♠ J♦ Q♥ 6♠ T♦ Q♣ 6♥
7♥ 4♦ 9♣ 5♣ 3♣ 2♣ A♥ A♦ 7♥
8♥ 4♠ 9♦ J♥ 6♦ T♣ 5♥ 3♦ 8♥
9♥ 5♦ 9♥ 5♦ 9♥ 5♦ 9♥ 5♦ 9♥
T♥ 5♠ 9♠ J♠ Q♠ K♦ K♥ 7♦ T♥
J♥ 6♦ T♣ 5♥ 3♦ 8♥ 4♠ 9♦ J♥
Q♥ 6♠ T♦ Q♣ 6♥ 3♠ 8♠ J♦ Q♥
K♥ 7♦ T♥ 5♠ 9♠ J♠ Q♠ K♦ K♥
A♠ 7♠ T♠ Q♦ K♣ 7♣ 4♣ 2♥ A♠
2♠ 8♦ J♣ 6♣ 3♥ 2♦ 8♣ 4♥ 2♠
3♠ 8♠ J♦ Q♥ 6♠ T♦ Q♣ 6♥ 3♠
4♠ 9♦ J♥ 6♦ T♣ 5♥ 3♦ 8♥ 4♠
5♠ 9♠ J♠ Q♠ K♦ K♥ 7♦ T♥ 5♠
6♠ T♦ Q♣ 6♥ 3♠ 8♠ J♦ Q♥ 6♠
7♠ T♠ Q♦ K♣ 7♣ 4♣ 2♥ A♠ 7♠
8♠ J♦ Q♥ 6♠ T♦ Q♣ 6♥ 3♠ 8♠
9♠ J♠ Q♠ K♦ K♥ 7♦ T♥ 5♠ 9♠
T♠ Q♦ K♣ 7♣ 4♣ 2♥ A♠ 7♠ T♠
J♠ Q♠ K♦ K♥ 7♦ T♥ 5♠ 9♠ J♠
Q♠ K♦ K♥ 7♦ T♥ 5♠ 9♠ J♠ Q♠
K♠ K♠ K♠ K♠ K♠ K♠ K♠ K♠ K♠

[SS] “After the first shuffle, the cards are in pairs, with clubs and hearts together and diamonds and spades together.

After the second shuffle, the cards are sorted by denomination.

After the third shuffle, the cards are matched with their opposite denominations (e.g., deuces with eights and nines) and opposite suits.

After the fourth shuffle, the cards are in groups of four, spaced out denominationally, one of each suit.

After the fifth shuffle, the cards are five apart denominationally (decreasing), with suits almost paired.

After the sixth shuffle, the cards are four apart denominationally, with suits in groups of three or four.

After the seventh shuffle, the cards are two apart, with suits together (two batches).

After the eighth shuffle, the cards are back in their original order.”

[LL] “The conventional wisdom is that you should mix the cards using at least seven riffle shuffles,3 but apparently you shouldn’t do it too perfectly!”

[SS] “That advice is certainly useful for people who might only shuffle a couple times otherwise, but twelve or more shuffles should really be your target if you want a truly randomized deck.”

[RR] “Most people just want to play cards, not shuffle all day.”

[LL] “Well, at least cut the deck before dealing. The top card could still be on top no matter how many times the deck was shuffled.”

[SS] “That’s why professional croupiers throw in a strip shuffle after every couple riffle shuffles.4 The strip shuffle also adds randomness, reducing the number of riffles you need to do. My new shuffle routine is seven riffles with a strip after every even riffle.”5

Footnotes:

  1. The riffle shuffle is definitely the best of the six common shuffling methods. The Overhand Shuffle (pulling cards out from the side of the deck), the Hindu Shuffle (pulling cards out from the end of the deck), and the Strip Shuffle (basically just repeated cuts) are very inefficient. The Weave Shuffle or Faro Shuffle (forcing two half decks together along their edges) is too good and not good for the cards.
  2. Specifically, this is an out shuffle, where the top and bottom cards never move. If the top card of the bottom half of the deck becomes the new top card each time instead, it’s an in shuffle. While the out shuffle takes eight iterations to return the deck to its original order, the in shuffle inverts the deck after 26 shuffles and restores it after 52.
  3. Note: there are two main flavors of the riffle shuffle. The common method lifts the short edges of the halves high and merges them together, with or without a subsequent bridge. The casino method merges the corners of the halves together. This is better for the cards and much less likely to expose the card faces.
  4. See the beginning of this shuffling video (longer explanation).
  5. The entire sequence of riffle-riffle-strip-riffle-riffle-strip-riffle-riffle-strip-riffle will produce a shuffled deck random enough for anyone.

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A Clutter of Cards

[RR] “What’s in your wallet?” Roderick the Rock interrogated Leroy the Lion. “It’s so thick.”

[LL] “Not a Capital One credit card, that’s for sure”, Leroy answered. “I’m still haunted by their annoying David Spade ads.”

[RR] “I can’t even keep my wallet in my back pocket anymore. It’s so full of cards that sitting down would twist my back.”

[LL] “I have plenty of other credit cards though, plus ATM cards, loyalty rewards cards, warehouse club cards, a blood donor card, and a library card… The only thing I don’t have much of in my wallet is money!”

[LL] “But don’t get me wrong. I love cards. I collected baseball cards and other trading cards. I’ve kept every greeting card anyone ever sent me. I use CompactFlash cards and SD cards in my camera and Roku. I usually carry business cards for networking and playing cards for, well, playing.”

[RR] “I’ve seen some pretty cool business cards designed to look like playing cards.”

[LL] “You’re probably worn out with all this card talk, which is precisely the problem with normal playing cards made of plastic-coated cardboard, which don’t last very long before they need to be discarded.”

[RR] “A Brazilian company, Copag, solved that problem over a century1 ago (though over a millennium after playing cards were invented2): completely plastic playing cards. They last practically forever3 with normal usage.”

[LL] “I really like the Copags with the large numbers on them, although I admit that it’s easier to peek at your hole cards with the regular Copags.”

[RR] “We used KEM cards back in college, but now I find them overly expensive and too slippery when they’re new.”

[LL] “Maybe so, but KEM, which has been around since the early 1930s, has been the official playing card of the WSOP since 2007, three years after the U.S. Playing Card Company bought its manufacturing plants and artwork. The colors of KEM cards are definitely brighter, which helps on television.”

{ May 5, 2016 Update: Modiano, an Italian card manufacturer, supplied cards for the WSOP in 2015 but players were not happy with their quality, and Copag is back as the provider for 2016.4 }

Footnotes:

  1. Copag began producing plastic playing cards in 1908.
  2. Playing cards existed by the 9th century (middle of the Tang Dynasty). Ironically, the most famous Chinese card game is now played with tiles. Mah jong is based on a card game created during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644).
  3. Copag claims only that their cards last twenty to fifty times as long as plastic coated playing cards.
  4. CardPlayer published an article on the card switch on May 5, 2016.
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Card Protectors

[UU] “What’s that you’re using as a card protector now?” Umberto the Unlucky asked Deb the Duchess.

[DD] “It’s a THETA Poker chip, for my favorite app, THETA Poker Pro”, Deb replied. “I used it for the first time at last month’s home tournament and took first place!”

[UU] “Can I borrow it from you? I sure could use a boost of good luck.”

[DD] “Are you kidding me? That would be like the irresistible force meeting the immovable object. One of you might explode.”

[SS] “Maybe you could charge him to use it”, Stan the Stat suggested, “like Doyle Brunson does with his Casper Ghostbuster card cap.”

[RR] “I thought he sold that to Howard Lederer”, Roderick the Rock informed.

[SS] “He did, but he bought it back. I think Texas Dolly’s will bequeaths it to the Professor though.”

[UU] “How about if you give me the THETA Poker protector if I knock you out of tonight’s tournament, like how Greg Raymer signs a fossil for his conqueror.”

[DD] “After I win the World Series of Poker Main Event, I’ll consider it.”

[RR] “How did you get it anyway?”

[DD] “I bought a customized card cap on eBay and submitted this graphic of the chip from the App Store. I thought it came out really well:”

THETA Poker Icon Card Protector
THETA Poker Icon THETA Poker Card Protector

[DD] “And it’s already paid for itself many times over.”

[SS] “I like it; it’s appropriate, subtle, and actually legal for WSOP use.”

[RR] “What do you mean by that?”

[SS] “Brunson’s rock is within spec as are the Fossilman’s flat fossils, but Humberto Brenes’s shark, Steve Dannenmann’s globe, and many other card protectors I’ve seen1 are too tall. The WSOP rules state:”

There will be no foreign objects on the table except for a maximum of one card cap (also known as a card protector).
Card caps can be no larger than two (2) inches in diameter and no more than one-half (1/2) inch in depth.2

[RR] “Not high on their enforcement list, apparently.”

[SS] “Why did you suddenly start using a card protector? Most of us don’t.”

[DD] “I was scared straight by these two Poker News articles, which include the painful way Estelle Denis was crippled at the 2009 WSOP Main Event. I never want that to happen to me!”

Footnotes:

  1. Like Yoda, Stewie, the Buddha (first Poker News article), Bugs Bunny, and the dragon (second Poker News article).
  2. Quoted from the 2014 WSOP Rules, Section 106 (Foreign Objects).

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Full Tilt Poker Bankroll Reimbursement Wrap-Up

[LL] “I’d almost given up”, Leroy the Lion began. “After three years and three months, and a full month after the last promise, my Full Tilt Poker bankroll has finally been returned! I didn’t get an email, but I happened to check my bank account online and saw this lovely line:”

Deposit – ACH DOJ POKER STARS / – POKERPAY01 Payment in connection with the Full Tilt Poker Claims Administration1

[SS] “I got mine too”, Stan the Stat seconded. “Wasn’t much, and I’d really rather keep it somewhere where I could play online poker!”

[LL] “There are still sites that let you play in the U.S.”

[SS] “And risk losing my bankroll again? Too bad we don’t live in Nevada, New Jersey, or Delaware, where online poker returned legally last year.”2

[LL] “I think you’d be disappointed. Before, you could play with anyone in the world. Now, the player pools are so small that the game selection is terrible. Nevada and Delaware residents can play against each other, but they’re only the 35th and 45th most populous U.S. states, with less than four million people total. New Jersey is a little better but still has under nine million residents.”

Footnotes:

  1. ACH is short for “Automated Clearing House”, an electronic banking network. DOJ is the “Department of Justice”. PokerStars bought Full Tilt Poker on July 31, 2012.
  2. Nevada legalized online poker on April 30, 2013, Delaware half a year later, and New Jersey another month later. See the legality section of the Wikipedia article on online poker.

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