Casino Royale Opening Poker Scene


James Bond, designated Agent 007 (always articulated as “double-oh-seven”) in the British Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6, was the creation of British no.

  1. Casino Royale Opening Scene Stunts
  2. Casino Royale Opening Poker Scene 2
  3. Casino Royale - Poker Scene 2
10 Jan

How difficult can it be to make a good poker scene in a movie? According to James Bond director Martin Campbell the ‘Casino Royale’ remake poker showdown was as elaborate as any stunt 007 was involved in!

The 2006 movie grossed a monster $606million at the box office, with Daniel Craig’s ‘Bond’ and Mads Mikkelsen’s blood-eyed villain ‘Le Chiffre’ involved in the highest stake poker game of all time.

For poker fans, of course, seeing their beloved game depicted on the big screen is almost always more ‘miss’ than ‘hit’, so how did director Campbell manage to produce such an intense facsimile of a real highstakes game?

“What you realize is, it’s not just the card games — it’s the stakes. It’s also two guys eye-fucking one another, basically. That was the secret,” explained to

With No Limit Hold’em replacing the Baccarat Chemin de Fer of the Ian Fleming book version, and the 1967 movie version…

…the cast and crew had to be taught the game basically from scratch to ensure everything from continuity to poker tells would come across as realistically as possible.

  1. The script for Casino Royale worried director Martin Campbell. This was his second reboot of the James Bond franchise, and on the cusp of production.
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Not an easy task for poker consultant Tom Sambrook, the 2002 winner of the European Championships explaining:

“I’d just basically tell them what the absolute bare minimum was that they needed to know to look like they had been playing this game.”

Sambrook also admits to making a bit of money on the side, taking the actors for their ‘per diem’ in hastily-arranged games in the studios.

The Englishman, who finished ahead of Hendon Mobster Barny Boatman and EPT legend John Duthie to win his title, explained:

“We’d be playing games constantly between takes,” adding cheekily, “I saw it as their privilege to learn by paying me this money.”

Director Campbell somehow pulled together all the elements of the game in an almost believable series of poker scenes, mixed in with the usual action-packed adventures of a typical Bond movie.

He believes the 30 minutes of gameplay that made the final cut, showing three massive hands, was critical to the success of the film, admitting:

“It was the thing I sweated on more than anything else.”

After discovering Le Chiffre’s ‘tell’, Bond has to survive two assassination attempts in his bid to end the villain’s hopes of winning the $130million poker game.

“From a dramatic point of view, each of the card games has a good climax,” says Campbell, and if the final scene still grates with some poker fans, there is a reason.

The four-way all-in sees Le Chiffre’s full house lose to Bond’s straight flush, with most fans expecting a Royal Flush to win the day for the movie hero.

“He wins with an inconspicuous straight flush, rather than the royal flush,” Sambrook says, adding to Director Campbell’s vision of a “new Bond” , a less flashy, more believable hero.

Casino Royale Opening Scene Stunts

Check out the finale yourself!

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The James Bond movie ‘Casino Royale’ has one of the most highly regarded poker scenes in movie history. It expertly reflects the tension of high-stakes gambling, but its plausibility has often been called into question. Here we take a look at both the influence of the iconic scene and how far it pushes the boundaries of credibility with the audience.


Casino Royale Opening Poker Scene 2

Daniel Craig’s debut Bond film certainly had an impact in further popularising the casino industry with the character imbuing it with a sense of glamour and cool. Whilst the various locations featured in the film offered audiences a glimpse into the style and prestige provided by the casino environment. The film’s wider influence in keeping the industry current has also been apparent in the growth of the best casinos online, with slots like Mission Cash at LeoVegas incorporating a Bond-inspired spy theme.


The poker showdown in the exotic locale of the ‘One and Only Ocean Club’ in the Bahamas, is perhaps the most iconic scene in the film, and also the most effective in delivering a sense of the thrill and mystique which modern casinos can offer to the audience.

For context, Bond was taking part in a ‘winner-takes-all’ contest with nine other players including the film’s main villain Le Chiffre. The character, played by Mads Mikkelsen, is in dire need of victory having lost $100 million through a failed investment. Meanwhile, Bond has been entered into the tournament by MI6 as they felt defeat for Le Chiffre would force him to seek asylum with the British government in exchange for inside information on his terrorist clients.

Its controversy for poker enthusiasts and statistics nerds comes with the final hand where just four players remained. After the river is fully revealed as Ace (Hearts) – 8 (Spades) – 6 (Spades) – 4 (Spades) – Ace (Diamonds), the first two nameless characters both go all-in with respective hands of King-Queen (both Spades) and 8-8. This meant two extremely strong hands already with a flush and full house both in play, however, it was still well within the realms of plausibility.

Le Chiffre, however, had an even better hand than both of these men with an Ace-6 combination giving him the superior full house. Confident in his hand, the Albanian banker raised the stakes to $12 million only to see 007 go all-in with an enormous $40.5 million. Having started with a 7 and 5 of spades (which only gave him a 12.3% chance of winning before the flop) Bond knew that he had an unbeatable straight flush at his disposal.

Casino Royale - Poker Scene 2

This certainly brings the scene into the realm of the fantastical as a straight flush can be expected to occur around once every 37,260 hands. In tandem with three other players piling money in because of their particularly strong hands, more than a few movie-goers may have been struggling to suspend their disbelief. Bond wins the entire pot as the last man standing, before high-octane action hijinks follow.
In the scene’s defence, it does stay within the rules of Texas Hold ‘Em poker at all times and gives a dramatic but accurate representation of the game’s dynamism, as a weak hand transforms into something special. Some may feel it undermines the credibility of the movie to too great of an extent, but after all, this is a James Bond film, and it wouldn’t be complete without superhuman exploits and incredible luck. Perhaps the writers felt entitled to borrow Bond’s (artistic) license to kill.