4 Card Game Techniques Films Have Taught

by Kevin Gardiner

Playing a card game is a thrilling experience. It takes wits, luck and mastery of the body. Some of the best examples of well-played card games can be seen in film. Action heroes sit at a table and stare down an opponent. Tension fills the air as an entire life’s savings is gambled. These scenes are not just thrilling cinematic moments. Each film with a high stakes card game contains the opportunity to learn. Film necessitates a clear cause of the hero’s win or loss, so pointers on playing are nearly always provided. Here are 4 card game techniques films have taught.

1. Don’t Go Too Far

This is a classic rule of gaming, whether you’re playing poker, blackjack, solitaire or anything else. Several card players in film have fallen victim to their own ego without it. These players lose everything that’s been won and regret the choice to keep going. In the film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels from 1998, the character of Eddie learns this lesson early on. Eddie is too confident in his hand, and he bets far too much. While you likely won’t be playing an unknowingly rigged game (like Eddie was), being overly assured in your hand could lead to disaster. Eddie lost a fortune, which led to several violent events taking place. Don’t be like Eddie.

2. Control Your Body Language

The main thing we can learn from James Bond is the importance of body language. Bond is the king of staying cool no matter what the circumstances. His opponents have no idea what he’s thinking. The master spy could have a terrible hand, but no one would know until it’s too late. This is a great strategy to keep in mind. The slightest tick can give you away. Become conscious of what your body does. Do you tend to laugh or twitch while lying? Work on it. It may help to ask a trusted friend (that you won’t play against) to determine your give away.

3. Play Safely

Just as you shouldn’t cheat, be sure no one has the chance to cheat you. If possible, try to play against people that you trust to be honest. This lesson can be learned in the classic film The Sting from 1973. The entire premise of the movie is a plan made by two grifters to con a dangerous mob boss as revenge. While siding with said mob boss is not an action the film encourages, you can learn from his mistake. Since you’re unlikely to be having a complicated con being played on you, this lesson can be simplified. Be vigilant. Make sure you’re playing at a reputable location. Keep an eye on the other players.

4. Stay Patient

Unless you’re having a lucky streak, it’s unlikely that the entirety of your game will go well. This is especially true if you’re playing a series of games. This isn’t to say that you should continue gambling your money if you can’t afford it, but don’t lose hope early on. In Casino Royale, the 2006 film that introduced Daniel Craig as James Bond, the titular character dealt with a major loss during the game. Due to the high stakes, Bond couldn’t back out. You won’t likely be in a similar position, but a smaller scale version of this setback could happen. Instead of losing all hope, Bond committed to the game and eventually won (spoiler alert). Bond was able to walk away with his pride and an impressive amount of money. Stay vigilant and don’t give up hope (as long as it makes monetary sense).

Emulating suave card games in film is the dream for many people. However, it can turn into a nightmare if not properly prepared for. Know the stakes and be safe with your finances. If you’ve somehow landed yourself in a film-like dangerous situation, which would be impressive in its own right, stay on your guard. Keep these methods in mind and you will be well on your way to winning a card game.