Most movies are not made to be real. As Thanos in the Avengers said, reality can often be disappointing and we need something more to be entertained. But, for those in the know, there are multiple times movie makers took it too far in their imagination.
This is especially the case in gambling. Because most of the effects happening when we gamble are internal, they feel like they need to spice them up to make everything fun.
And, while there are a lot of examples, three sand out:
- Last poker hand in Casino Royale
- Blackjack scene from the Hangover
- Card counting in Rain Man
Poker and blackjack are favorites in movies. But, it always seems that the main character has luck that defies all laws of mathematics and probability. For people that are so often unlucky, they really have a lot of luck when it comes to cards.
The Rule of Cool
First proposed by the producer Donald Bellisario (Quantum Leap) and reinforced by Steve Loter, this is the idea that the fact something is impossible should be overlooked if it is simply cool. But, many people argue that non-immersive is the same as uncool.
Generally, there is more leeway with items that don’t impact the main story. Can Tolkien’s dwarves play electric guitars using eldritch magic instead of electricity? Yeah, sure, why not.
But, if The Chosen One uses a magical device to quickly solve any problem, that simply places us out of the story entirely.
Similar is with gambling. If the main character has so much luck and skill when gambling they should leave their life as the international super-spy /playboy /inventor /detective /cowboy /astronaut and simply spend their life in Las Vegas.
#1 James Bond: Casino Royale
There is actually a bigger chance to win the lottery than to play the last hand from James Bond: Casino Royale. The chances for that hand are so slim and improbable that nobody in their right mind would aim for it.
Is it cool? Yes, very much. But, it was portrayed as the villain was outsmarted by Bond and overplayed his hand. When, in fact, the actions of the villain were completely reasonable.
And how you would feel by this divine slight would explain the torture scene that followed.
#2 The Hangover
A lot more is allowed in The Hangover as it is mainly a comedy. But, for anyone that has ever played blackjack, and especially if they know how card counting works, the scene is more eye-rolling than funny.
The character of Alan played by Zach Galifianakis sees some math floating over him and just wins huge amounts with the help of a friend. The problem is that the math he sees is trigonometry, which has nothing to do with counting cards.
Also, he is counting cards in live dealer blackjack where the dealer has a constant ability to simply shuffle the cards and put you back to square one.
#3 Rain Man
Finally, the scene from the cult-classic Rain Man is not only iconic but can be seen as somewhat offensive. It portrays high-cognitive autism as a superpower that can be misused, which it is not.
Even if we allow the fact that someone can do multiple probability calculations in an instant with a speed of a powerful computer, Dustin Hoffman’s character still can’t see all of the cards and wouldn’t be able to guess correctly every time.
Best card counters work to gain an edge over the casino, pushing their chances over 50% on average. You don’t win every hand, you just win most of them.
Bonus: Austin Powers
In the end, it is not bad to mention the scene from the 1997 Austin Powers, which plays the casino tropes for a laugh. In the scene, the titular character stays at 5, which is rather ridiculous.
Ironically, even in this state, you can win. That is if the dealer has a six and the next card is six or greater. But, you are lowering your chances without much to gain.