The Poker Scenes…Explained

Overview of the poker table in Casino Royale (2006)
Overview of the poker table in Casino Royale (2006)

So just how did Bond beat Le Chiffre in the famous final poker game in Casino Royale? Bond had the best poker hand – especially when it mattered most, of course. Let’s break it down:

Scene 1 – First Blood

The first scene pitts Bond against Le Chiffre in heads up play. Bond hints at seeing Le Chiffre’s tell and eventually mucks on the river (fifth) card (the term ‘muck’ means to throw your hand away, basically acknowledging that another hand shown has beaten your hand – very similar to folding):

Le Chiffre had a great Full House for his first hand
Le Chiffre had a great Full House for his first hand
Bond knew he was beat, so he folded his cards (without revealing them)
Bond knew he was beat, so he folded his cards (without revealing them)
Simply Put:

Casino Royale Scene 1

As you can see, Bond mucks his hand whilst Le Chiffre reveals his Full House of 2’s and 9’s. Bond lost ~$50,000 from this hand.

Scene 2 – Lucky Le Chiffre

In the next scene, Bond uses Le Chiffre’s “tell” to his advantage and thinks he has him beat. Unfortunately for Bond, Le Chiffre picks up on Bond’s “tell” and uses it to his advantage by faking a bluff and winning the hand.

Le Chiffre wins
Le Chiffre wins
Simply Put:

Casino Royale Scene 2

As we can see here, Bond’s Full House (Aces and Kings – an excellent hand) cannot compete with Le Chiffre’s four Jacks – a rare and superb hand in poker. Bond loses $14+ million dollars from this hand, and eventually gets CIA Agent Felix Leiter to stake him another $5 million to buy back in the game.

Scene 3 – Bond Wins

The final and decisive hand may be the most outlandish of them all. As one of my friends (an avid poker player) said leaving the theater – “If I ever got beat like that I would probably stop playing poker forever” – certainly a rare beat for any poker player.

After calls of “all-in” by a total of four players at the table, Le Chiffre’s hand is the best up until Bond reveals his. Le Chiffre’s Full House of Aces and Sixes seems to be the ultimate hand:

Le Chiffre's "almost" winning hand
Le Chiffre’s “almost” winning hand

However, Bond slyly reveals that he has Le Chiffre beat – with a straight flush:

Bond's 5/7 suited (spades)
Bond’s 5/7 suited (spades)
Bond's ridiculous final hand...he should probably think about playing poker professionally
Bond’s ridiculous final hand…he should probably think about playing poker professionally

Bond’s 4-5-6-7-8 (Spades) sequence finishes Le Chiffre, and wins Bond a cool $120 million, much to the relief of the British and American governments.

Simply Put:

Casino Royale Scene 3

Bond's winning look
Bond’s winning look
Le Chiffre loses and is crushed, shedding a (bloody) tear
Le Chiffre loses and is crushed, shedding a (bloody) tear

Bravo, James!