Monday, October 4, 2010

The Arnold Rothstein Poker Scene

This scene was really weak. Do the writers and directors really have no concept of poker? I guess the game was played differently back then, but some parts of it were the same, especially to an odds-man like Rothstein.

The first annoying part was the string raising. I guess that it was allowed back then, but it's hard to know. Now, you fold, call or raise. You don't "see" someone's bet (call), gauge his reaction and then decide to either stay with the call or throw in a raise. It's been that way for a while, but given this takes place  in between when Maverick was set and present-day, who knows what the table culture was like back then.

The worst part was the distributor's raise.
It looked like they were playing 7-card stud, likely pot limit. Rothstein's opponent raised $2,000 into a $20,000 pot on a bluff. This is so absurdly stupid that not even the worst players would attempt such a move, regardless of era. In no context does it make sense. If he was low out of money and running a naked bluff, he'd have gone all-in earlier than 6th street. If it was a semi-bluff, Rothstein's likewise meager raise of $5,000 shouldn't have pushed him out. He'd be getting decent odds to see 7th street.

In a side note, a $300,000 unpaid poker debt led to Rothstein's murder. He claimed the game was rigged, but there's not much evidence either way. While he seemed to be good at calculating the odds, not knowing when to quit has done many a gambler in, regardless of whether he has an edge.