Gambling is one of Hollywood’s “go-to” plot themes. The life of the hero is often changed dramatically by the turn of a card or the roll of the dice. Often players must face near life-or-death decisions at the table. And of course, a large number of the players, casino owners, and hangers-on are fall a bit short of respectable.
Hollywood typically gets movies with a gambling motif wrong. Which is somewhat unusual based on the number of high-profile writers, directors, and actors that are regulars at the high stakes tables in Las Vegas and around the world.
Here are some of the most flagrant Hollywood gambling misdeals.
There is no doubt that gamblers are a superstitious lot. The cooler delves into a number of them. A “cooler” is someone who brings bad luck to the players and good fortune to the casino. William H Macy plays the cooler who is employed by a casino to simply visit any table where players are winning too much. His ability to turn a hot table ice cold is amazing.
The casino scenes in the cooler are a mix of highly realistic and downright impossible. However, the main fallacy has to do with the concept of hiring a cooler.
Casinos really do not worry about players winning, and will routinely offer big winners free dinners or free rooms. So the next time you are on a hot streak online at Casino Cruise or your neighbourhood casino, enjoy your good fortune without worrying about a cooler being sent to your table.
The Cincinnati Kid
The Cincinnati Kid is considered a classic and a “must see” for poker players.
In the film “the Kid”, played by Steve McQueen, is a hot tempered up-and-coming poker player. To prove he is indeed the best he secures an invitation to a high-stakes game where “The Man”, Edward G. Robinson, will be playing.
The film has a number of minor errors throughout, but the most flagrant come prior to the climatic matchup between “The Man” and “The Kid.” The host of the game explains the rules, including that the game is played for “table stakes.” Table stakes means that players risk only the money already on the table and that opposing players cannot bet more than the player has. Throughout the game, especially during the finale the players reach into their pockets or are forced to borrow in order to stay in the game.
Lucky You was hailed as the “poker boom” movie. It missed the mark in a number of ways. The film focuses on Hank and rising poker star with a number of character flaws. It turns out that his father is also a very good poker player. In true Hollywood fashion they find themselves heads up at the final table of the World Series of Poker.
Hank’s father puts him all in; Hank calls and losses the hand, giving his dad the championship.
The movie goers get a glimpse of Hank’s cards and see that he folded the winning hand, giving his dad the championship. In the WSOP when players are all-in they have to show their cards, in part to prevent exactly such situations.