The Most Famous Hold ‘Em Hand

[EE] Elias the Eagle interrupted the clacking of chips, “You guys ever see the comedy version of ‘Casino Royale’?”

[SS] A mixture of yeses and nos came from around the table before Stan the Stat grumbled, “It couldn’t have been any worse than the Daniel Craig version!”

[EE] “Well, it had the original Bond girl, Ursula Andress, and lots of great actors: Peter Sellers, David Niven, and even Orson Welles and Woody Allen. Not a usual 007 movie (non-canonical, I think they call it), but I liked it.”

[EE] “But why didn’t you like the remake?”

[SS] “Are you kidding me? The Texas Hold ‘Em hands kept getting more and more ridiculous until the final hand set a new cinematic low for improbability.”

[EE] “It was a James Bond movie! His whole existence is based on the unlikely meeting the unimaginable striking the inconceivable (oops, sorry, wrong film1).”

[EE] “The 1967 version featured baccarat (or rather Chemin de Fer) from the Ian Fleming novel. Modernizing that completely boring, skill-forsaken betting game to Hold ‘Em, allowed for more complexity, excitement, and suspense.”

[SS] Stan objected, “But c’mon, that last hand…”.

[EE] “Let me find it”, Elias interrupted. A moment later, he had the hand summary on his iPhone screen.

[EE] “The movie picks up the action with 24 million already in the pot and an A♥8♠6♠ flop showing on the board. The turn is the 4♠, and all four players remaining in the tournament check.”

[EE] “The river is the A♠, and Bond checks. Fukutu bets 6 million, all in, Infante calls with 1 million less, and the antagonist LeChiffre minraises to 12 million. Bond thinks a bit then reraises all in for 40.5 million. LeChiffre considers, but not for long, before calling for all his chips (Bond had him outchipped by a million).”

[EE] “Fukutu2 flips over the K♠Q♠ for the nut flush. Infante excitedly tops him with 8♣8♥ for a full house, Eights over Aces. Then LeChiffre reveals a bigger boat with A♣6♥ for Aces over Sixes. Finally, Bond completely unsurprisingly shows the 7♠5♠ for the Eight-high straight flush and the win.”

[SS] “Horrible poker.”

[EE] “Look at it more closely, it wasn’t as bad as you think. Let’s go back through the action now that we know everyone’s hole cards. We’ll have to fill in a few gaps that the movie skipped over, starting with presuming that the blinds were 750,000/1,500,000 (500,000/1,000,000 would also work).”

[EE] “Two players are running low on chips, Fukutu with 12 million and Infante with 11 million, LeChiffre has 45 and a half million, and Bond has a million more than that. If Infante and LeChiffre both limped in front of him, Bond but could reasonably limp with his Group 6 suited, one-gapper, with Fukutu checking his option after. Any objections?”

[SS] “Infante should have been in jam or fold3 mode. He’s too short to set-mine.”

[EE] “Maybe there’s been a lot of limping, so he’s pretty sure he can see the flop for cheap.”

[EE] “Anyway, with 6 million in the pot, the flop is A♥8♠6♠. First to act, Bond has a killer draw, with 2 outs to a straight flush, 7 to a flush, and 6 to a straight, but he may have checked planning to check-raise. Fukutu has the second nut flush draw, so he may have checked hoping for a free turn. Infante has a set of Eights and charges the draws with a bet of three-fourths of the pot (4,500,000). Each player can reasonably call that, with Bond aborting his check-raise because of the call in front, since his fold vig is now almost zero.”

[SS] “Fukutu should have shoved.”

[EE] “Maybe, but he’d definitely get called, so he’d be risking the rest of his chips for what…”

[SS] “At best a 9-outer (35%); worse as it turns out.”

[EE] “With 24 million in the pot, the turn is the 4♠, improving both Bond and LeChiffre, yet all four players check. Bond has the obvious slowplay with the unbeatable nuts. Fukutu also checks despite hitting the second nut flush; not a terrible play given that his remaining stack is only a fourth of the pot, so a raise wouldn’t necessarily fold anyone. Infante still has just a set, so his check with a possible flush out there is reasonable. And LeChiffre still has just his two pairs, so his check is good.”

[SS] “No problem with those plays.”

[EE] “The river is the most exciting card in the deck, the A♠. Bond continues his slowplay with a check. Fukutu has upgraded to the nut flush and pushes in his remaining 6 million. Infante has filled up, so calling with his remaining 5 million is clear. LeChiffre’s minraise here is solid. He’s only losing to the A8, for a better boat, and the unlikely straight flush. Up until now, Bond has done nothing but limp, check, and call, so when he shoves all-in for about two-thirds of the pot, LeChiffre has a fairly easy call to make.”

[SS] “Incredibly unlikely hands.”

[EE] “Standard artistic license for any movie, let alone a 007 thriller. We don’t see much of the tournament’s action, so we know little about the players’ styles except that they all seem to like tricky play. In isolation, each of the checks, bets, raises, and calls appears defensible.”

[TT] “I’m still rather Fond / Of typical Bond / With fiction beyond / The conner gets conned”, concluded Tyrone.4

Footnotes:

  1. One of the all-time funniest movies for all ages, although it’s disguised as a children’s bedtime story, is The Princess Bride.
  2. Casinos can have their own rules about which order players reveal their hole cards, but the order here is for maximal dramatic effect.
  3. A future post will cover the very short stack strategy known as jam or fold.
  4. If you have any hands that you’ve played (they don’t have to be against THETA Poker Pro) that you want to share, please email them to hands@thetapoker.com. Good reads, bad beats, interesting stories, and more are all welcome!

Flash replayer version of the hand:

Full Tilt Poker formatted version, suitable for inputting into various poker analysis tools:

Full Tilt Poker Game #0000000123: $10,000,000 + $0 Casino Royale (000001), Table 1 - 750000/1500000 - No Limit Hold'em - 00:00:01 GMT - 2006/11/17
Seat 1: Fukutu (12,000,000)
Seat 2: Infante (11,000,000)
Seat 3: LeChiffre (45,500,000)
Seat 4: Bond (46,500,000)
Bond posts the small blind of 750,000
Fukutu posts the big blind of 1,500,000
The button is in seat #3
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Bond [7s 5s]
Infante calls 1,500,000
LeChiffre calls 1,500,000
Bond calls 750,000
Fukutu checks
*** FLOP *** [Ah 8s 6s]
Bond checks
Fukutu checks
Infante bets 4,500,000
LeChiffre calls 4,500,000
Bond calls 4,500,000
Fukutu calls 4,500,000
*** TURN *** [Ah 8s 6s] [4s]
Bond checks
Fukutu checks
Infante checks
LeChiffre checks
*** RIVER *** [Ah 8s 6s 4s] [As]
Bond checks
Fukutu bets 6,000,000, and is all in
Infante calls 5,000,000, and is all in
LeChiffre raises to 12,000,000
Bond raises to 40,500,000, and is all in
LeChiffre calls 27,500,000
Uncalled bet of 1,000,000 returned to Bond
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Fukutu shows [Ks Qs] flush, Ace high
Infante shows [8c 8h] full house, Eights over Aces
LeChiffre shows [Ac 6h] full house, Aces over Sixes
Bond shows [7s 5s] straight flush, Eight high
Bond wins the pot (71,000,000) with straight flush
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 71,000,000 | Rake 0
Board: [Ah 8s 6s 4s As]
Seat 1: Fukutu (big blind) showed [Ks Qs] and lost with flush, Ace high
Seat 2: Infante showed [8c 8h] and lost with full house, Eights over Aces
Seat 3: LeChiffre (button) showed [Ac 6h] and lost with full house, Aces over Sixes
Seat 4: Bond (small blind) showed [7s 5s] and won (71,000,000) with straight flush, Eight high

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