The Card Counter (2021) - full transcript

The film, written and directed by Schrader, follows William Tell (Oscar Isaac), a gambler and former serviceman who sets out to reform a young man seeking revenge on a mutual enemy from their past. Tell just wants to play cards. His spartan existence on the casino trail is shattered when he is approached by Cirk, a vulnerable and angry young man seeking help to execute his plan for revenge on a retired military major. Tell sees a chance at redemption through his relationship with Cirk. Gaining backing from mysterious gambling financier La Linda, Tell takes Cirk with him on the road, going from casino to casino until the unlikely trio set their sights on winning the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. But keeping Cirk on the straight-and-narrow proves impossible, dragging Tell back into the darkness of his past.

I never imagined myself

as someone suited to a life
of incarceration.

As a boy, I was afraid
of confined spaces.

I feared elevators.

When I was old enough, I just
wanted to get in the car,

roll the windows
and drive, drive...

drive wherever my eyes
would take me.

I was an American kid.

Confinement of any kind
was terrifying to me.

So, to my surprise,
having been sentenced

to ten years in prison,

I found I adjusted quite well.

Section Seven,
full lockdown, 800 hours.

I liked the routine.

I liked the regimen.

Same activities,
same time, every day.

The same toothbrush,
the same clothes, same toilet.

Same stale sweat, stale smoke,

stale bodies,
stale cooking, stale farts.

Same conversations.

The faces change but not much.

No choice.

I found that I liked
reading books.

I'd never read a book before...
not all the way through.

I found a life for myself that
had been beyond my imagination.

It was in prison
I learned to count cards.

What separates blackjack
from other games

is that it's based on
dependent events,

meaning past affects
the probability in the future.

The house has a 1.5% advantage.

If a player knows the nature
of the cards in the shoe,

he can turn the house advantage
to himself.

To do this, he has to

keep track of every card
that is played.

Count is based on
a high/low system.

High cards...
ten, jack, queen, king...

have a value of minus-one.

If they are depleted,
player's advantage goes down.

The low cards...
two, three, four, five, six...

have a value of plus-one.

The seven, eight and nine
have no count value.

The player keeps track
of every card

and calculates
the running count.

Then the player arrives
at the true count,

which is the running count
divided by the decks remaining.

For example, if the
running count is plus-nine

and there are four and a half
decks remaining,

nine over four and a half gives
you a true count of plus-two.

As true count increases,

the player's advantage

The idea is to bet little when
you don't have the advantage,

more when you do.

Well, that's about
enough for me.

- Hey, man, good to see you.
- Good playing with you.


How we doing?

- Hi. How are you?
- Good.

And would you like large bills?

Yes, please.

That's one, two, three,
four, five, six,

seven and 50.

- That's $750.
- Thank you.

- Have a good day.
- You, too.

Good day.

Good day to you, sir.

I'd like a...
single, one night.

I'll pay now. I have cash.

- $56.
- All right.

Checkout's at noon.

Sign here.

Would you like some coffee?

How old is it?

I made it this morning.

I'm fine.

- Room 101.
- Thank you.


Mr. B.

- Long time, no see.
- Hey.

- Not so long, Slippery Joe.
- How you been?

No, they don't call me that
no more.

- Yeah?
- What are they calling you?

Do you have a suggestion?

You here for
the poker tournament?

Yeah. I like grand openings.

Reopenings. You know,
I don't know why they bother.

Well, they're working
things out.

Mistakes get made.
It always happens.

They got a new
high-stakes pai gow room.

Yeah, house odds 11%.

Yeah, and plenty of suckers.

I don't know. Those Asian
gamblers are pretty crafty.

No, you j-just seem to think
of them that way, you know.

What-what are you gonna play?

I'm gonna play
a little blackjack.

Oh, you know, there's some
great guys down here.

- Downtown Brown...
- Ah, I-I've met enough people.

No, you've got to meet 'em, man.
So, anyway, so...

All right, you know what?
Let's just go to Washa Casino.

It's 15 minutes away.

We can sit in on the poker game.

Ah, Slippery.

Come on, Mr. B.

We're going. We're going.

You know what?

This has been dead to me.

You can...

Kansas City's been
a bust for me anyway.

- It's like, ever since I...
- Never played Kansas City.

Washa Casino... where'd they get
a name like that?

It's indigenous.


Well, where's all
the Indian shit?




They're down to the final table.


World fucking tournament.

Kiss my balls.

What's your problem, Slip?

I ain't got no problem.


Look at this asshole, Mr. USA.

It's working for him.

Yeah, and he's working it
for all it's worth.

He was born in the Ukraine.

You know he's got
his own website?

I came all the way out here
for this shit.

Where you on to next?

Uh, there's a law enforcement
convention in Atlantic City.

- GSC.
- Hmm.

Yeah, cops are always good.

They get a few drinks in 'em,

they think nobody
can touch 'em.

I ever tell you about

my brother Bobby
from Pascagoula?

State trooper.

- USA!

The man never saw
a day of service.

I'd like to run that
red, white and blue flag

straight through his mouth
and out his asshole.

But you just told
the story of his life.


That's it, baby.

May I join you?

Be our guest.

I recognize you.

- We've played before.
- Yeah.

You know, I'm gonna let you two
just... youngsters be.

I'm gonna go play some dice.

All right.

- Three times.
- No, four times.

Horseshoe Baltimore,

Caesars Atlantic City, Foxwoods

- and Harrah's Philly.
- That's right.

You binked a gutshot straight
at Foxwoods.

No explaining luck.

Linda, right?

La Linda.

LL, like "Lucky Lady."

Ah, okay.

I've watched you play.

You count cards, right?

I'm not that smart.

But you win,
so you count cards.

How do you avoid
getting backed off?

I've been backed off.

Yet here you are.

Yeah, well,
it's a matter of degree.

The house doesn't mind players
who count cards.

They don't even mind players
who count cards and win.

Oh, I'll have a Tom Collins
with Tanqueray.

- Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
- Soda water, please.

What they don't like are players
who count cards and win big.

It's about how much you win
and how you win it.

I stick to modest goals.

That's what I wanted
to talk to you about.

What's your name again?

William Tell.

I've watched you play poker,

and I wonder why you play
at such low stakes.

You're a crackerjack.

I keep to modest goals.

No, there's no reason for that.

You can get someone
to stake you... an MTT...

make seven million payout.

That's what you do...
you-you run a stable.

I'm always looking
for a good thoroughbred.

I can get someone
to back you 100%, on my word.

I prefer to work
under the radar.

I thought you were a gambler.

- Thank you.
- You're welcome.

- Thanks.
- You're welcome.

So, Bill...

you ever been to prison?

Why would you say that?

I can tell
when someone's been inside.

It's a gift I have.

Here's the problem
with a backer.

He puts up the money,
you split the winnings.

That's all good,
but if you lose,

you have to pay those losses
out of future winnings.

Right? That only makes sense.

And slowly, you build weight.

You go to any poker website,
look up the top ten winners...

millions in earnings...
50% of them are underwater.

Swamped in debt
they'll never repay.

If you don't play for money,
why do you play at all?

It passes the time.

So, Bill...

...why don't you pass
some time with me?

Let's play poker.

In poker, the player does not

play against the house.

He plays against other players.

The house takes a cut.

Two things are necessary:

knowledge of
the mathematical odds,

knowledge of your opponents.

Poker is all about waiting.

Hours pass. Days pass.

Hand after hand,

each hand like the hand before.

Then something happens.

There's a weight
a gambler can accrue

by accepting financial backing.

It's like any weight
a person in debt accrues.

It builds and builds,
has a life of its own.

There also is a moral weight
a man can accrue.

This is the weight created
by his past actions.

It is a weight...

...which can never be removed.

Your attention, please.

The Correctional Officers
Association mixer

- has been moved...
- Nice playing with you.

Welcome, sir.

Polygraphs have
historically been

the problem child
of investigation

in law enforcement.

This may soon change.

Vocat Electronics has developed

a 22-point facial recognition

...that uses
a proprietary algorithm

to interact with CQT detection.

This software, called STABL,

is in the beta testing phase.

Vocat will soon be offering
a test version of this software

to qualified law enforcement

and public incarceration

Vocat makes no great claims

but thinks this advance
of potential truth detection

needs some field experience.

How reliable is it?

How does it work?

That's what I want
to get into now.

I prepared this
PowerPoint demonstration

with a volunteer from the
Milwaukee Police Department...

Do you remember him?

...misclassifying innocent
subjects, false positives.

This is my number.

I'm staying at this hotel.

Cumulative research evidence

that CQT detects deception
better than chance

but with significant
error rates.

The smartest bet for a novice

is red/black in roulette.

Your odds are 47.4%.

No more bets.

You win, you walk away.

You lose, you walk away.

It's the only smart casino bet.

14, red.


Where's my shoe?

Hey! Get the fuck back!

Where's my shoe, guys?


Get the fuck back!


Get up!


Johnnie Walker, double, neat.

- Please.
- You got it.


Yeah, you gave me
a piece of paper

with your number on it
earlier tonight.

You awake?

I'm here. I'm at the bar.

The one by the elevators.

I'll wait.

You want a drink?

Yeah, I'll have one of those.

Another. The same.


Let's sit.

So, what was that all about?


You giving me a piece of paper
with your name and number on it.

You remember Major John Gordo?

Of course,
he's not a major anymore.

He just uses that title.

What are you talking about?

PFC William Tillich.

Isn't that your name?

I've done my research.

I know your case.

Thank you.

- Who are you?
- Cirk Baufort.

Cirk with a "C."

My father was Roger Baufort.

Gordo trained my father in the
arts of enhanced interrogation.

Roger Baufort?
That name doesn't ring a bell.

Gordo was at Abu Ghraib.

As a private contractor.

My father, he visited him there.

Is this story going anywhere?

The beauty of his scheme
was that Gordo,

once he became
a private contractor,

he couldn't be prosecuted for
crimes not on American soil.

But my father...

wasn't so lucky.

He was dishonorably discharged,
got addicted to oxycodone.

He'd been injured.
He drank heavily.

He beat my mother.
He beat me.

My mother left one day
without saying a word.

Without a suitcase. Just...

That left only me to beat.

Until he shot himself.

That was four years ago.

So I decided I'd just
get into it.

Investigate it for myself,
find out what really happened.

Set things straight.

What does your mother say?

She made her choice.

Do you know where she is?


And how am I involved in this?

Well, there were
a handful of soldiers

that were bad apples,
who were punished,

but those who are
really responsible

are still walking around
out there,

giving lectures at conventions,

getting honorary degrees.

The apples weren't bad.

The barrel they came from
was bad.

You know, when I recognized you
at John Gordo's seminar,

I recognized you instantly.

I thought to myself,

"Here's a man who might want
a piece of what I'm gonna do."

This is how it starts.

Just a fleeting thought.

A daydream.

Then it builds...

and builds.

And what is that?

Capture him,
torture him and kill him.

They made you the fall guy.

They fucked you, PFC Tillich.

- My name is Tell.
- Whatever.

You were in the photos.
No one else was prosecuted.

Just the soldiers in the photos.

They put you in hell.

Then they blamed you for it.

You got the barracks
at Leavenworth,

and Gordo got R and R in Kuwait.


you need to back off.

I've spent a lot of time

the exact same thoughts
you're thinking right now.

They eat you up.

Are you gonna tell on me?


I'm not.

It's your life.

Cirk with a "C"?

It's Bill Tell.

You want to ride with me?

I'm a card player.

I go from city to city,
casino to casino,

card room to card room.

It gets lonely.

I'd like some company.

I'll cover the costs.

Who is it?



Come on in.

You live like this?

Well, I was packing.

All right. Let's get your shit
together, get on the road.

Turn it off.

Ah, come on.

Turn that shit off.

Who are you? God?

If you'd ever actually
been there,

you'd never want to hear
that shit again in your life.

So, where are we going?

You never told me.

You never asked.

There's a racino
at Delaware Park.

Delaware casinos are tied
into race tracks.

I'm not really into
playing cards.

Do you like sports?


Well, they have
a great sports book.

Yeah, but that costs money.
I mean...

how much is it gonna cost me?

'Cause I can't really go around

spending my money like that
on sports betting.

Who is this insolent
little prick?

I did play fantasy football

with the guys a while back,

I don't suppose that counts.

What about college?
What happened there?

It wasn't for me.

How much debt you got?


A lot.

And you want to go back?

I got out of the mood.

Do you have any interests?

What do you mean?

Interests, like...

anything you want to do:
an occupation, a business.

I got interests.

Sports betting is
a world unto itself.

There's a hundred games

going on around the world
at any given moment.

That's a lot of information.

But the algorithms here
at the house are faster

and better
and quicker than you,

so unless you have
inside information,

sports betting is just for fun.

Here's a couple hundred bucks.

You pick two teams,
place some bets, have some fun.

I'm gonna go play
some blackjack.

Here's walking-around money.

Just, uh, a second.

It's just a little damn noisy
out there.

Oh, that's a lot better.

Hey, La Linda, you there?

Uh, I'm at Delaware Raceway.


So, uh, I've been thinking
about what you were saying

and having some second thoughts.

I might be interested in, uh,

in what-what you were
talking about.

Yeah, I realize that.

I just think that we could take
the conversation to the...

the next step.

After this, back up to AC.


All right.

Is there an end to punishment?

Is there a limit to
the amount of effort it takes

to merit expiation?

Is it possible to know
when one reaches the limit?

Well, here she is.


Join us.

La Linda, I'd like
to introduce you

to the young man
formerly known as Cirk Baufort.

Now we just call him the Kid.

Yep. That's Cirk with a "C."

- Yeah.
- Pleased to meet you, Kid.

King of sports book, the Kid is.

Yesterday, played two games,
hit 'em both on a double pop.

Oh. Give me some of your luck.

Uh, La Linda and I just have
something we want to discuss.

- Maybe...
- Yeah.

I'll, uh,
give the slots a whirl.

All right.
Bet small, lose small.

He's a good kid.

What was this thing
you wanted to talk about?

Uh, well, I may want
to build up a nest egg,

and, uh, to do that,
I need a backer.

Well, that's a dramatic turn.

You woke something in me.

I don't know.

It's the Kid. He needs help.

And money will do that?

He's got debts.

So, where do we start?

Well, jump on one
of these WSOP tours.

They got an event every week.

And you'll come up fast
if you're willing to travel.

I am.

We'll start
on the East Coast for now.

Tease 'em.


That's where the money is.

Do I have to meet the backer?

For some people,
it's an ego thing.

- Others don't care.
- Mm-hmm.

I'll find something
that suits you.

I build my nest egg, I bail.

One year max, then I'm out.

I wish I could believe that.


I'm too old for this.

- Mwah. Bye.
- Bye.

The other day, you asked me,

"What was the greatest hand
of poker ever played?"

And I can only speak
for what I have seen,

and this...

is the best hand I ever saw.

2012, Indian casino in Iowa.

Blackbird Bend, Omaha Nation.

10K tournament.

Goldie... Asian player,
wore a lot of gold...

and Alex Karesco,
WSOP champion.

You may have heard of him.

Alex has pocket queens,

clubs and diamonds.

Goldie has
eight, nine of diamonds.

How'd you do that?

Practice. I was in a place

where I had a lot of time
on my hands.

Now the flop.

Ten of spades,

jack of diamonds,
queen of hearts.

There's blood in the water.

Both players think
they're ahead.

It goes check, raise,

reraise, re-reraise,


Alex and Goldie head-to-head.

Now the turn.

Ten of diamonds. Now...

there is only one card
that gets Goldie out.

There's a two percent chance

the river will come
the seven of diamonds.

Alex has a 98% chance of winning

with queens full of tens.

Goldie looks at the damage.

He doesn't even have
a pot-sized bet left behind.

Makes this little sucking sound
that the Japanese do.

Then he goes all in.

Alex calls.

Now the river.

Seven of diamonds.

Straight flush beats
a full house. Goldie wins.

You saw that game?

Haven't been to Iowa since.

Could you top us off, please?

So this, um...

...this plan you have

about Major John Gordo...

you given it more thought?

He's all nails.

You're not.

He's right out of fucking
Call of Duty.

How you gonna do that?


there would need to be
a tranquilizer.

Ketamine, combined with Telazol.

It can be administered
by a dart pistol.

Where'd you find out about this?

- The Internet.
- And you have it?

Just the ketamine.

But it's amazing how easy
the stuff is to get.

I mean, I ordered it on a lark.

Three days later, it arrived.

This isn't
very well thought out.

And that's why I need a partner.

Somebody with experience,
somebody with expertise.

And motive.

A strong guy.

A guy like you.


roll back your scenario
for a moment.

You've located John Gordo.

You shot him with a dart.

He's gaga.

What next?

Strip him naked.

Put a hood over his head.

One of those green
military sandbags.

You can find them on eBay.

Handcuff him.

Hang him from the ceiling,
keep him from sleeping.

Make him try to jerk off
while I hit him in the legs.

Did your father tell you
about this?

No, he never talked about it.

He kept it all inside.

He beat you.

That's in the past.

The body remembers.

It stores it all.

Do you want to hear about it?

Would that interest you?

- What?
- You know what.

You're dying to hear.

The noise.

The smell.

Feces, urine,

oil, explosives,

bleach, sweat, smoke.

All day, every day.

Sand spiders, camel spiders,

ants as big as cockroaches.

The heat, the fear,

the adrenaline jack, mortars.

The sheer noise of it.

And blood.

And the only way to survive
was to rise above.

Rise and laugh.

Surf the craziness.

To see a grown man shit
and piss on himself.

Sing the song, man.

The noise, the fucking noise.

The noise.

We were all just trapped
in there,

in the same shit,
sh-sh... shithole.

Them and us.

And am I trying to justify
what we did?



Nothing can justify
what we did.

Your father understood that.

If you were there,
you could understand.

Otherwise, there's no...



When was the last time?


Oxford Downs. That's right.

- You were with Clickity Dick.

I'd like to put a cap
in that motherfucker.

Now, take it smooth, Minnie.

And exercise those legs.

They call him Minnesota Fats
after the movie.

You know, there's not
a lot of fat people

that play
professional poker anymore.

I like to call him
Charlie Two Chins.

Why is that?

'Cause he got more chins
than a Chinese phone book.

Thanks for the straight line.

Minnesota Fats played pool
in that movie.

- No, poker.
- No, that's Cincinnati Kid.

Oh, whatever.

The preferred poker variant

for multi-table tournaments
is no-limit Texas Hold'em.

It encourages large pots
and large raises.

The prize money is split
between the top five players.

Before the hole cards are dealt,

the player to the left
of the button must post

small and big blinds.

This stimulates action, and
the blinds go up every hour.

The rest of the cards
are common cards.

The flop, three cards.


The turn.

And the river.

The river can instantly turn
a losing hand into a winner.

That's Hold'em's
betting appeal.

All in.

What happened? You get bored?

Played some slots.

You should read some books.

I'm gonna buy you one.

I've read books.

What is it with her?

- Name one.
- One what?


How 'bout Poker for Dummies.

I believe you may have read it.

I like him.

Wow. You made it
to the second dinner break.

I must have fired
two dozen tournaments

before I lasted that long.

So, how many are left?

Four tables,
so should be done tomorrow.

How much cards do you play?

40 hands an hour,

eight to 12 hours a day,
six to seven days a week.

Do you do anything else?

Like what?

Like anything.

Go to a park,
a concert, a museum.

- Museum?
- Yeah.

I'll buy you a book on it.
It's called...

Museums for Dummies.


No, but seriously,
you should do something else.

Just for variety.

I like playing cards.



That's $800,000.

Where do they get their money?

Geez Louise.

Slow down, Kid.

You see the purple chips?
What do they say?


5,000 what?

5,000 grains of rice?

That's not money.

Those are tournament chips.

We just call them dollars.

It's good publicity.

So, how much is it?

Depends on the buy-in
and the split.

A game like this,
there's about 500,000 in play.

The winner will get 150,

runner-up anywhere 70 to 80,
and so on.

- Oh, yeah!


You know who he is?


Bill Tell or whatever
his real name is.

You know who he is, right?

All I've ever heard was
William Tell.

Why do you think
he has another name?

You've been around him.

He's a mystery.

And I don't know if that's
a good thing or a bad thing.

Am I in any danger?

Of what?

Falling in love?

Don't be a child.

What is his past?

I haven't asked.

Well, what are you two
doing together?

I don't have any goals.

I'm just along for the ride,
one day at a time.


What do you think
he's holding?

I don't know, but if
you be quiet, we'll find out.

All in.


Oh, yeah! USA!



- USA!
- That's it, baby.

All right.

54,000 for a night's work.

Hope you're not disappointed.

That's, uh, 27 for you,
27 for me.

Let me sign this.

Hey, uh, excuse me a second.

Got to hose it.

All right.

I'll have a Manhattan.

I'll have the, uh...
the same, please.

Here you go.


Thank you.

- Cheers.
- Cheers.

What did you mean when
you said that the other day?

Said what?

I woke you.

What does that mean?

I don't know.
It was just something I said.

It's just a comment.


It's a odd thing to say.

So, what's your story?

Everybody's got a story.

What's your story?

Why poker?

Let me guess... it has
something to do with a man.

- Bingo.
- Where was this?

East Saint Louis.

He went outside his zone.

He tilted.

Which direction?


But he had some good friends
who liked me,

and they were gamblers,

and I drifted
in that direction.

And... they said I have
very good people skills.

Yeah, I found something
I'm good at.

I like you.

I like this friendship we have.

So, um...

what are your plans?

I like, uh...
I like where it's headed.

I mean tonight.

I got to go back to my motel.

I got some work to do.

You're not staying here?

No, I don't like staying
at casinos.

They know everything about
you... the maids and the staff.

Corridor cameras, noise.

It's not for me.

See you down the road,
La Linda.

Cleveland, right?


His real name was John Rodgers.

"John Gordo" came
sometime later.

He was born in Georgia.

He first came to the attention
of the CIA

during the Contra

He was trained in interrogation
in Nicaragua.

From there, he entered
the SERE program.

Survival, Evasion,
Resistance and Escape.

The program was devised
to help captured U.S. soldiers

withstand hostile

Get the fuck up! Get up!

They were put
into stress conditions.

Sensory deprivation,

confinement in close spaces,

given bombardment with
dangerous decibels of noise.

Starvation, sleep deprivation.

And sexual humiliation.

After the foreign fighters at
the Guantanamo detention camp

were unresponsive
to interrogations,

a decision was made
to reverse engineer

the lessons learned
in the SERE program.

SERE psych op instructors
were brought to Gitmo

to devise enhanced
interrogation techniques.

One of the first to arrive

was consultant John Gordo,
now a civilian.

Lessons learned at Gitmo
were conveyed

to interrogation black sites
around the world.

In 2003, a decision was made

to Gitmo-ize
the civilian prisons

at Bagram Airfield
and Abu Ghraib.

Civilian consultant John Gordo
arrived in May.

Did you go to college, Tillich?

Community college, two years.

They teach you
creativity there?

No, sir.

Well, that's what
it takes here.

Not everything's

You got to use
your imagination.

This isn't about
following a manual.

It's about getting answers.

Answers that'll save
American lives.

What if they don't know
the answers?

They all say that.

That's their culture.

Follow me.

Wake him up!

Baufort, get in there.

Time to talk, little buddy.

Up! Let's go!


I'll be right back.


I like you.

I think you got what it takes.

You got the right stuff.

I'm gonna put you
on night shift.

That's where all
the good stuff happens.

Okay, let's fuck this Ahmed up!

Greer. Wipe that shit
off of him.

Your easy days are over, Ahmed.

Come on.

Get him up. Get him up.

Gordo was right.

I had it in me.

I had the right stuff.

The Kid was right.

When those photos came out,
Gordo vanished.

The only ones prosecuted
were in the pictures.

Not their superiors.

Not their superiors' superiors.

Gordo moved on, started
his own consulting company.

I heard he was
working in Cairo.

In the military,
rank means everything.

In USDB, it means nothing.

The f...

- What you doing, man?
- What?

- You got a problem?
- No. I'm sorry.

- You got a problem?
- I'm sorry.

Sorry about that.

Do it. Do it.


Prisoner's name
was Clay Williams.

I don't know if he's
alive or dead.

If he were alive,

I wonder if I could hire him
to finish the job.

You know,
this ain't such a bad life.

I think I could
get used to this.

It's a thin margin.

It's 24-7.

Most cats can't cut it.

So, how'd you meet La Linda?

I like her.

She runs a stable.

That's what they call
a group of gamblers

backed by investors.

The gamblers are the horses.

The investors put up the money.

Split the winnings
with the, uh... the stable.

But why don't they just
use their own money?


Other people's money.

Casino, the TV, the websites...
they all want big pots.

It's entertainment.

Hey, where are we going, anyway?

I thought Saint Louis
was back that way.

Taking a detour.

We're gonna take a little trip
down memory lane.

This was my home
for eight and a half years.

Since we were near,
I thought we'd drop by.

Up there, second floor.

202 B Pod.

I got my own place
after the first year.

Then, um...

another place
on the other side.

You know that fella
I told you about,

the one I wanted you to meet?

He's here.

Thought I'd pay him a visit.
I've arranged it.

Want to join?

Go into a military prison?

No. No, thanks.

Well, it's pretty good
as far as prisons go.

You know, built in 2002.

Things still work, like toilets.

Shit, man, I mean,
you walk in there

and those doors close
behind you, that's fucking it.

I'm going in.

Come on.
Think of it as a field trip.

As a teachable moment.

I'll wait in the car.

I'm inviting you.

I ain't going.

Just park the car.

Hey, you ever been
on Google Earth?

What is that?

It's where I was when I was
waiting for you. It's amazing.

Look, you can enter any place
in the world.

It comes right up.
Street View.

Look at that.
290 Great Hills Road.

Rockville, Virginia.

The house, the surroundings,
latitude, longitude.

That's John Gordo's house.

Front entrance, back entrance.

You still got him on the brain?

Yes, sir.

I don't think that's
such a great idea.

How'd it go at Leavenworth?

You still pissed at me?

Hey, wasn't La Linda
supposed to meet us here?


She'll be here tomorrow.

Meet us in Saint Louis,

then do a deep stacks
in Biloxi.

Tunica, and on to Panama City.

You like her, huh?


Yeah. Me, too.

You ever been married?

When I was in the service,
I was a bit of a ladies' man.

Thought I was.

But, uh...

then the other stuff happened.

The narrative was broken.

So, how long's it been
since you got laid?

How long has it been
since you've seen your mother?

I wouldn't know
where to find her.

That's bullshit.

What business is it
of yours, anyway?

- You remember her?
- Sure.

Yeah? She reach out to you?

She try and contact you?

I'll make you a deal, Kid.

You go see your mother,
and I'll fucking get laid.

About earlier:
I don't like prisons.

Even seeing them
on the highway here,

looking at it and...
you realize,

"Oh, my God, that's a prison."

My dad used to send my mom
letters from Bagram,

and she'd cry.

There's something
quite similar in poker.

You know the phrase "tilt"?


When a player gets
caught up in winning,

plays outside his zone.

Just like in pinball.

And there's something similar
in interrogations.

It's called "force drift."

It happens when
the interrogator applies

more and more force to
the prisoner with less results.

The interrogator
becomes intoxicated

by frustration and power.

Any man can tilt.

I can tilt.

Your father can tilt.

You can tilt.

I said ride with me.

You did.

You came along.

What do you think we're up to,
you and me?

La Linda!

Here, I preregistered you
with a buy-in.

Now, your name is getting
some recognition value.

Well, that's always
a good thing.

How's the turnout?

- Uh, it's normal.
- Oh.

You know that guy, uh,
that's always doing like this?

- Religious Ronnie.
- Yeah. He's here.

Got the Santa Tanita
and all that stuff with him.

- Santeria.
- Santeria...

Mm, mm, mm.

Let's get the cards in the air!


Clock on 38.

Okay, okay.

A great player can see

right into your soul.

He can wear earplugs,

a hoodie, a baseball cap,

mirrored glasses, a ski mask,

but he'll see right
into your soul.


- Where's Cirk?
- He must have crashed.

I'll call him and wake him up.

No, that's all right.
Don't bother.

I want a drink.

What can I get you-all?

Uh, I'll have a Tanqueray
on the rocks.

I'll have a Jack, uh,

double, neat.

You talk to him.

Have you noticed anything
about him lately?

Like what?

Moody and...

I don't... I don't know.

Well, I got a offer for
a sponsorship from Rock Poker.

10,000, for you.

That's the one with the, uh,

little pony logo
on the titty, right?

Yeah, the rocking horse
with the word "poker."

Are you all right?

Yeah. I'm fucking all right.

"Fucking all right."

Crying and shit.

- What do I have to do for this sponsorship?
- Mm.

You just have to wear
their T-shirts

during the tournaments.

I-I had to ask.

It was an offer.

I wish the Kid had been here.

- Well, let me call him.
- No, it's all right.

Leave him alone.

You know you made the cut.
This is your moment.

You know, I think that you have
the wrong idea about me.

Yes, I-I want to win the money.

I want to go
to the World Series,

but then that's it.

This kid Cirk, he needs help.

He's got financial debts.

And I understand him.

And if I can help him,

maybe he has a chance
to start over again,

resume his education
and start a life.

And you would do all that?




You have to be the strangest
poker player I ever met.

- Oh, you have no idea.
- Mm.

What you doing tomorrow?
You're off.

I got no plans.

She said to me,

"Did you ever see a city
all lit up at night?"

I said, "Yeah, I've seen
a whole city on fire."

"Not like that," she said.

Bobby, you must see this.

I didn't have it bad.

Come on, trust me.
This is amazing.

That's not what I meant to say.

Of course you know
other people have it better.

And you learn to be careful
around certain people.

But I had friends,
and I had family, of course.

They had a park.

They lit it up like this.

Much bigger.

How would I know?

I was just a little kid.

Everything was bigger.

- This was Saint Louis?
- Yeah.

You know,
it doesn't matter to me

if you did something bad
in the past.

You can tell me about it.

Yeah, I don't know.

What could be so bad?

I was just a kid.

Everything was bigger.

Just in your mind.

I'm glad you suggested
this place.

No! In the name
of Jesus and Mary,

what have you done to me?

I have done nothing to you!





Where were you?

Oh, played a little blackjack.

How'd that go?

Came out ahead.


How do you like it?

- Like what?
- This.

This life...

we have, you and me.

Yeah. It's cool.

That's for sure, but...

But what?

It's all the same.

You know, it's...
it's repetitive.

It's, uh...

I don't know if it really feels
like it's going anywhere.

Well, you know, you just go
around and around

until you work things out.

How's that going for you?

You given it any more thought?


You going to
the World Series of Poker?

Already registered.

That'll be cool.

Yeah, that'll be it for me.

You gonna quit?
Quit the circuit?

I've done my time.


I don't know if...

I'm up for going to Vegas.

Yeah? You gonna bail?

It's late,
but you got a second?


I want to show you something.

You have a moment?

I got a proposal.

Come here. Follow me.

Come on.

You live like this?

Sit down.

Need anything?

Some water?

No, I'm fine.

How about...

a sandbag
to put over your head?

They sell them on eBay.

When civilian contractor
John Gordo

first approached me
in Abu Ghraib,

he said I needed
to be more creative.

He said I had talent
but I lacked imagination.

Would you agree with that?

Bill, what the fuck
is going on here?

Real life is going on.

World Series of Torture.

- I'm gonna sp...
- Stay seated!

You sure I can't get you
any water?

You may wish
you had accepted later.

Do I have
your attention now, Cirk?

Do I? Do I?!



Are the little nerves at the
ends of your fingers and toes

and the tip of your dick
starting to tingle with fear?


Let me enhance this
a little bit.

I've been doing a little
investigating about you,

Cirk with a "C."

About your father...
I did meet him at Abu Ghraib.

I lied about that.

Your mother,
your time in college,

your scrapes with the law.

It's all on the Internet,
of course.

I'm gonna make you a proposal.

Sit up.

You have approximately $20,000
in college loan debts.


To go back to college...

tuition, expenses,
condoms and so forth...

it adds up,
so let's say another...


On top of that, you've got
$5,000 in credit card debt.

Your mama... bless her,
she's got her problems...

she's about 35 grand

with the mortgage and all,
so let's say 40 grand.

And for the heck of it,
let's throw in

another ten grand pocket money.

That's 150 grand, cash,
tax free.

All that's yours
on one condition.

And what is that?

Go see your mother.

She lives
in Fall River, Oregon.

I have the address.

I spoke to her.

I didn't tell her
who I was, of course.

Go visit her.

Forgive her.

Make things right with her.

Clear up her debt.

Tell her about
your college plans.

Then put her on the phone
with me.

I want to hear her say
these things.

I want to hear her voice.

You serious?


And if I don't?

This is not a proposal
you can afford to reject.

And if you cheat me,

I'll find you.

You don't want that to happen.

I don't like celebrity gambling.

I like anonymous gambling.

I did this for you.

You hear what I'm saying?


Do we have a deal?

Yeah, we have a deal.

Thank you.


Let's give her a call.

She'll still be up right now.


One sec!

Who is it?

It's William.

What's up? Thought we were
meeting in the pit.

- You cool?
- Yeah.


Uh, we got final table

Yeah, no, I know.
2:30, right?

Hey, where's your sidekick?

Oh, yeah, he had to...
he had to go home.

His mom's not feeling well.

- He has a mom?
- Yeah.

Believe it or not.

So, what's on your mind?


I made a promise to Cirk
before I left.

You know, he talks about you.
He fancies you.

You mean he
fancies himself a matchmaker.

I promised him that I'd...

act on these feelings I have.

These feelings towards you.


I think you may have them, too.

You do, huh?

Yes, I do.

The feeling of being

forgiven by another
and forgiving oneself

are so much alike...

...there's no point in trying
to keep them distinct.

How much time we got?

Come look at this.



My God, Cirk, is that you?

- Yeah, Mom. Yeah, Mom, it's me.
- What? Where are you?

I'm in Panama City.

Well, what's happening?

It-it's been so long.

Mom, I've been thinking, and...

I haven't been fair to you.

I want to come and see you.

Are you... are you all right?

So it goes on
like that for a while.

Got a little maudlin.

She lives outside of Portland.

He'll be there in a day or two.

- He'll call me from there.
- Mm.

How'd you get him to do that?

He wanted to.

Just needed an excuse.

I may go visit them.

I never played the Northwest.

And welcome to the final table.

You keep tabs on this.

- I'm expecting a call.
- Mm-hmm.




Well done.

All right, players.

That's the end of the level.

90-minute dinner break.

Your phone was buzzing.

It's from Cirk.

"Wish you were here."


You got about ten minutes.

Good game.

Good game, man.

I need a minute.

What's going on?


Thanks for joining me
here in Rockville, Virginia.

Ryan Choi
with Eleven Alive News.

We are currently on the scene
of Major John Gordo's home.

Now, what we do know is that

there has been
a unidentified suspect

that was armed
with a pellet pistol.

The suspect fired and missed.

Major Gordo returned fire,
killing the suspect.

Earlier today,
I spoke with Major Gordo.

You purchase security

thinking something like this
might happen,

but you don't think
it ever will.

In other news, a fire
in the warehouse district

of suspicious origin.

Four fire companies responded.

There were no
reported injuries,

and the fire was brought
under control

after roughly 90 minutes.

Fire investigators
are on the scene.

It's turned off.

Come sit down, John.

Don't be stupid.

You remember me?

Should I?

Tier 1A, Abu Ghraib.


Bill Tillich.

You look pretty good,
all things considered.

How long were you
in Leavenworth?

- Eight and a half years.
- That's a bitch.

That boy that you shot...

...he wanted to kill you.

I assumed that.

You trained his father...

his name was Roger Baufort...

just like you trained me.

What happened to him?

He shot himself.

So I'm to blame?

That's a pussified defense,
PFC Tillich,

and you know it.

We are each responsible
for our own actions.

I believe that.

We are going to go
into the next room,

you and I...

...and we are going to have
a dramatic reenactment.

Only one of us
will come out alive.

I'm going to make things right.

Either that, John Rodgers...

...or I'm going to blast
a bullet

straight through your eyeball.

Lead the way.

After you.

I got some cigarettes.
Do you want one?


Neither do I.

Who goes first?


Emergency services?

I'd like to report a homicide.

290 Great Falls Road.

I never imagined myself

as someone suited
to a life of incarceration.

Inmate Tillich.

You got a visitor.