California Split starred Elliott Gould and George Segal, as a pair of gamblers. It was made in 1974 and directed by Robert Altman, and was the first non Cinerama film to use eight track stereo sound. California Split is a funny movie, cynical as well, and the gamblers’ compulsion is so strong it carries all viewers along.
Story of the Film and the Two Gamblers
The main plot in the movie California Split, is about the friendship that develops between Bill (George Segal) and Charlie (Elliott Gould) over their mutual loved of gambling. Charlie is a wise guy always cracking jokes, and an experienced gambler always on the lookout for the next big score. At first Bill is not so fond of gambling, and works at a magazine during the day. But he becomes more and more involved with the games at the casino. The two become friends when they are accused of colluding at the poker table by an irate fellow player. Actually, that time they were wrongfully accused.
As California Split continues, the two men spend more time together at the casino. Bill becomes addicted to the lifestyle and wins that can be made. He goes into debt, however, to his bookie Sparkie. Bill pawns some of his possessions so that they can afford a trip to Reno, where the two pool their money to stake Bill in a poker game. One of the players is a former world champion, who plays himself in the movie. Bill wins a good amount, goes on to play blackjack, and then roulette, and finally craps. He has some really good wins, and is convinced he is on a winning streak.
Bill changes at the craps table, however. He feels too tired to continue. He tells Charlie he is quitting and going home. Charlie does not understand this, but they split the huge winnings, and each go their separate ways.
Different Variants of Poker
Poker is the main game played in California Split, although Bill and Charlie do try their hand at roulette and craps. The inclusion in the cast of a real former World Champion gave the movie a authentic feel. Poker is a family of gambling card games. All forms of poker involve betting as an integral part of play. The winner is always the player whose hand has more value than all the other players’ hands, some of which can remain hidden until the end of the game. Poker games can vary according to the number of cards dealt and the number of cards that remain hidden, and also the role of the dealer as well as betting procedures.
Poker has many variants, all following a certain pattern of play. The four main variant families, like straight poker, Stud poker, the most popular of which is seven card stud. Draw poker is another often played variant, and five card draw the most famous. Community card poker is the last well known variant. The most famous is of this version is Texas Hold’em poker and Omaha.
A Great Experience
California Split is not only a comedy, but also takes us into the American nightmare of gambling addiction. All the characters feel real and genuine. The movie was acclaimed as a great experience and awarded four out of five stars by the New York Times. Elliott Gould and George Segal were both praised for their performances, as well as the supporting cast.