The Most Famous Poker Hands in Movie History and the Odds Against Them

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In a rather novel most, Jamie Waddell of Geekosystem has rounded up 5 great scenes of high-stakes poker from movie history and crunched the numbers about their probabilities. Embedded above is a climactic scene from the 2006 James Bond movie Casino Royale. Waddell explains just how lucky Bond is here:

All four players push all-in after the final card (the river) has been turned – already something that would never happen in a no-limit Texas Hold’em game. After the flop (the first three community cards), the wispy-haired Asian man has a flush draw, the big black guy has triple eights, La Chiffre has two pair, and Bond a straight flush draw.

Why is everyone slow-rolling their incredible hands? It’s not as though they’re playing tight with their money: the final pot reaches $115 million – an unprecedented size in poker history.

When they do reveal their hands in the final showdown, the Asian guy has the nut flush (the chances of this happening are 508 to 1); the black guy has a full house (693 to 1); La Chiffre, the villain, has an even better full house; and Bond has a straight flush (72,192 to 1).

If we add these probabilities together, the likelihood of all these monster hands being dealt at the same time is 18 trillion to 1. To put that into perspective, there are only 300 billion stars in our galaxy – so one star within sixty Milky Ways is the probability of Bond winning against all those hands.

If you like poker movies, then I highly recommend A Big Hand for the Little Lady, an underappreciated western from 1966 starring Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, and Burgess Meredith. I won’t say anything more, lest I reveal spoilers. Just this: it has a delightfully unexpected ending.

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