Texas Hold ‘em in the Movies

Poker, in all its forms, is an exciting game, in which the course of events can change, dramatically, with each new card. Consequently, poker has become a mainstay of Hollywood films over the years, featuring in memorable scenes in ‘The Cincinnati Kid’, ‘The Sting’, ‘House of Games’ and ‘Ocean’s Eleven’, to name but a few. As far a Texas hold’em is concerned, even James Bond was in on the act, in Casino Royale, famously winning $115 million to deny his nemesis, Le Chiffre, funding for a terrorist plot. No less, exciting, though, is the final climatic scene in ‘Rounders’, in which the main protagonist, Mike McDermott, played by Matt Damon, faces off against Russian gangster Teddy ‘KGB’. At the start of the final hand, the camera reveals that McDermott has the eight and nine of spades in his starting hand. After the initial round of betting, the three ‘community’ cards dealt, a.k.a. ‘the flop’, are the six of diamonds, seven of spades and ten of hearts. Now, anyone with knowledge of the rules of Texas hold’em would have realised, at this point, that McDermott was holding 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 or, in other words, the best possible straight, known in poker parlance as the ‘nut’ straight. Nevertheless, on his turn to bet, McDermott checks, or defers his betting rights and, when his opponent bets $2,000, simply calls his bet. He also tells Teddy not to ‘splash the pot’, or toss chips directly into the pot – a practice frowned upon in poker circles – much to his annoyance. The fourth community card, a.k.a. the ‘turn’ card, is the two of spades, but McDermott checks and calls again this time for $4,400. The fifth, and final, community card, a.k.a. the ‘river card’, is the ace of spades, but McDermott checks again. Encouraged by the inactivity of his opponent, Teddy fails into the trap and goes ‘all-in’ and, after a final, expletive-riddled tirade, admits, ‘He beat me, straight up. Pay him. Pay that man his money’. So, as you can see, learning the rules of Texas hold’em poker will increase your enjoyment of ‘Rounders’ and other films featuring the game.