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I just watched Casion Royal again and though having no experience with playing poker still find the whole premise a huge gimme, but anyway...
It just occured to me that Bond (and incidentally another agent from a different organization with the same idea; note-to-self: never watch Bond movies twice....) didn't have to win. All that was needed was the villain not winning.

So, my question is: Would that have been a slightly more viable option? Is there a more or less reliable way to make a specific player lose or at least reduce his/her chances of winning in a set as depicted in the movie?

  • A lot of the poker was not realistic. Yes you could target a player but collision is cheating. – paparazzo Jul 12 '17 at 13:14
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I haven't seen the movie, but I read your question as asking: rather than focusing on winning for themself, are there strategies that a player can use to cause another player to lose? The answer is yes, but since there are elements of chance involved, it could never work 100% of the time. After all, if the villian is being dealt the best hands possible, there's really nothing you can do.

You describe a hand with two agents at the table with the same goal in mind. The first and most likely option for accomplishing the goal of making the villain lose is for the two agents to collude--to work together--something is that considered cheating but is hard to catch when the players are good at it. They could have signals or cues between each other that let their partner know how strong or weak their hand is or what action they'd like their partner to make. For example, Agent A has a very good hand and makes a bet followed by the villain calling the bet; Agent B knows Agent A has a good hand so he increases the bet knowing that he, himself, will probably lose, but that the villain will get stuck putting more money in as a loser.

Another general strategy is to simply keep as many players as possible in the hand who are not the villain. No matter what the villain has, his probability of winning a hand is lower when he's faced with 4 other players at showdown compared to just 1 other player at showdown. Now, you'd have to be careful to not simply have a bunch of people paying off the villain when he has the best hand, but the strategy is just to not needlessly chase out other players; this conflicts with normal strategies where you often want to dwindle the field of opponents and increase your own chance of winning.

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I haven't seen the movie so I can't speak on scene. But in poker there are scenarios where playing not to win* or to prevent someone from winning is a strategy.

If a short-stacked player pushes in a tournament, other players, that can afford to call, will call in hopes of catching the right card to knock the player out and move up the ranks.

Other situations where the goal is more about preventing someone else from winning include stealing blinds, raising weak players knowing they're likely to fold, calling passive players to out-draw them, and even folding to a player on a streak.

  • The goal is always to win but there's a variety of indirect ways to get there.
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