Gambling in Star Wars Part I

Garth: Canto Bight. I want to go there. How about you? Ken: I also want to go there. Garth: Hi and welcome to Sabacc Chat. Thanks for joining us.

Today we’re talking about the casino city from Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi. A lavish city rich with opportunity – but where the stakes couldn’t be higher. Spoiler alert!

We may talk about some things from The Last Jedi. And of course we’ll be playing our favorite gambling game, Sabacc. Ken: Very fitting.

Clearly they play Sabacc at Canto Bight. And clearly we’ll be playing Sabacc here today. Garth: Good luck Ken. Let’s cheers and play sabacc. Ken: Cheers. You have Alderanian Ale there?

Garth: No. It’s a rare vintage sherry called Amontillado. Ken: Ok then. Garth: I’m drinking it as a tribute to Canto Bight. Ken: Hm. Well I’m feeling good about this game.

Garth: It doesn’t surprise me that we don’t see much of the game Sabacc up close in The Last Jedi. A couple reasons. 1. Disney isn’t going to glorify gambling for children. The City of Canto Bight, while glamorous, is also kind of an unfriendly place.

There’s a sinister feel. Kind of like Eyes Wide Shut meets the Atlantic City boardwalk. Ken: Eyes Wide Shut … the Atlantic City Boardwalk? Those things aren’t for children.

Call 10. Garth: You have these weird rich eccentrics who are clearly enjoying themselves. But Fin and Rose are out of their element there, outsiders. Who knows how evil some of these people are? It serves as a warning for children: Gambling is wrong.

It might be glamorous on the outside. Ken: The outside of the casino looks like a brutalist compound. Garth: Yeah. And on the inside- Did you notice the low arches – kind of reminds me of a sinister underground catacomb. Ken: Look at that – a shift right off the bat.

Garth: Kind of reminds me of the wine cellar in The Cask of Amontillado. That’s a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. Ken: Oh really?

Basically this dude named Bib Fortunada goes to the local carnival dressed up as Harvey Quin – lookin like – well not Salacious Crumb like in our deck but in a regular poker deck, like the joker. Anyway, he just gets tanked. His friend Montresor says “Hey, Fortunada, follow me down here” and Fortunada follows him into the catacombs of a wine cellar with the promise that “there’s a keg full of Amontillado down here” – that’s this liquer. Fortunada is like, “great.” They walk deep, deep into this tunnel in the cellar. Finally, Montresor, who had been harbouring a grudge against him, and planning his murder, chains Fortunada to the wall at the end of the tunnel and lays bricks, bricking him in, alive.

And he calls to him from behind the bricks, “Fortunada, how you doin back there?” and all he gets in response is the dangling of the bells on his.. you know, long things. (gestures). Ken: Lekku? Garth: No like a jester’s hat… Ken: His lekku. I stand. He’s a Twi’lek right?

Garth: No he’s a human being from Italy. This was written in the 1840’s. Ken: No shift. I thought you said Bib Fortunada.

Garth: I said Fortunada. Check. Whatever.

If I said Bib Fortunada, what I meant was Fortunada. As in “fortunate”. That’s what it means. Ken: He gets bricked in alive?

That’s not too fortunate. 100. Garth: Well neither was Bib Fortuna.

He wasn’t too fortunate- he was a weak minded fool. Ken: And that reminds you of Canto Bight? Garth: Just in that they are reviling but actually rivaling. (Stand) Not all is what it seems on the surface.

So that’s a good warning for kids against gambling. Ken: Ok. Cool. I hope you enjoy your Amontillado. (It’s disgusting) I think the reason there’s no up close Sabacc is we have the Han Solo movie coming out which SHOULD DEFINITELY have Sabacc in it.

Because as we all know, Han wins the Millennium Falcon from Lando in a Sabacc game. And it seems like they’re paying attention to balancing the content of these movies. Garth: I agree.

They are balancing the content. Ken: 200. For example, Episode 8 is very force-centric.

Rey is trained in the ways of the force, Luke has new ideas about the force, they’re re-inventing the force and so on… Whereas the Han Solo movie may have zero force in it. Remember Han says, So since The Last Jedi has minimal Sabacc, the Han Solo movie can have lots of Sabacc. Stand.

Garth: You never know. If that quote from Han is indication of what we’ll see in the Han Solo movie, then we should see a lot of “strange stuff”, right? That includes Sabacc and as Han said, “simple tricks and nonsense.” That ALSO includes Sabacc. Han must be referring to Sabacc in that scene. Check.

So there you go. Sabacc is mentioned in A New Hope. Indirectly, but still. Ken: No.

No. Garth: Yes. Simple tricks? He cheated at Sabacc to win the Falcon. What’s simpler than a card trick?

Ken: It’s not personal. 350. Garth: Who are you talking to? Ken: I’m putting in a bet of 350. Garth: It looks like you’re talking to someone else.

Ken: I’m talking to whoever is accepting my bid. Just putting it on the record. Garth: No dealer here. There are dealers of all sorts at Canto Bight but unfortunately none on Sabacc Chat. Ken: Hmm. I always thought Han meant flying tricks when he said “simple tricks and nonsense”.

Like a barrel roll. He’s a pilot. Garth: He’s not paying the bills with a barrel roll.

Call 350. A simple card trick is what earned him the Falcon and by extension, his reputation and his living. It earned him the very ship they’re sitting on when he tells them of his experience. Ken: “No match for a good blaster at your side…” he’s talking about shooting Greedo. The old blaster under the table trick.

You misdirect the guy’s attention- Misdirection is a staple of basic magic- and then pull the trigger from under the table. Han pulls it off perfectly by touching a crack in the cantina wall. That would have been fresh on his mind and is most likely what he’s referring to, if anything in particular, in that scene. Garth: Check. Actually that was no trick.

It was self defense. According to the Special Edition, Han was just ready and waiting, should the need to return fire arise. Ken: Let’s not get into that.

We’re here to talk about Canto Bight. 360. Garth: Call. Ken: We’ve established that Sabacc should be a major part of the Han Solo movie which is why it’s a minor part of Episode 8. Garth: Or will they change the way Han wins the Falcon to Dejarik?

Because why waste a chance to call-back to the original? Ken: Well according to you sabacc IS mentioned in the original so, they are calling back. Garth: that’s true. I stand. Ken: But I don’t think they’ll change it to Dejarik.

I might have agreed with you but for the fact that they already called-back Dejarik in Rouge One. That call-back has been used up. Stand. Garth: Good point. So you’re happy with your hand?

You don’t want to- Ken: I’m very happy with my hand. Garth: add a card? The cards you’re holding are satisfactory to you? I’m just – I’m not buying it frankly. Ken: I’m very happy with my hand. Um.

Well what did you want to see anyway, Fin holding cards, check-raising… pocket cams in the middle of the Star Wars film? Garth: I guess you haven’t seen the deleted scene from TFA of Finn playing poker badly… Ken: What? No. Garth: Here, take a look… No. That’s actually John Boyega playing poker badly.

Nobody plays poker in TFA badly or well. Especially since why would they include that in the plot? Fin and Rose are on a mission there, not a vacation. Ken: Fin is an an ex-stormtrooper- and here WE are. Maybe he enjoys it. Garth: He’s got the First Order looking for him.

He’s …got everybody looking for him. It’s not time for leisure. Plus it wouldn’t serve the plot at all. Ken: Maybe it’s a Casino Royal situation. The Resistance has thwarted Snoke’s attempt to blow up a starship and so in an attempt to cover his losses, Snoke sets up a high-stakes Sabacc tournament. Fin agrees to play and win so Snoke will have to claim assylum at the Resistance embassy.

Garth: 400. Right. Well, Rian Johnson did say of Canto Bight that it’s, “A little James Bond, a little To Catch A Thief” so Casino Royal was part of its inspiration.

I can see that playing Sabacc at Canto Bight is a fancy experience. Not like at Old Jho’s Pit Stop in the episode Idiot’s Array from Rebels season 1. Zeb and Lando play Sabacc in a shady room on a bare metal table.

Remember? Lando wins Chopper with an idiot’s array. Ken: Yes I remember fondly. Lando is good.

He’s good. Garth: I call that luck. I call 400. (coughs) Garth: Why didn’t they have a droid dealer to shift the sabacc cards in any of these depictions?

That’s the traditional way Sabacc cards are shifted. Ken: It is? There was no droid shifting them in Rebel Dawn, part 3 of the Han Solo trilogy. Garth: Non-canon alert. But. Ken: They had a “randomizer” that transmitted electrical impulses and shifted the cards.

Why would you need a whole droid just to shift cards? Garth: Non-canon alert. I stand. They don’t JUST shift cards, Ken. Droid dealers stop cheaters using high speed photoreceptors. And as a bonus they do not accept tips.

And they translate. Yep… There’s an old saying that goes, to play poker all you need’s a chip and a chair. To play Sabacc, all you need’s a chip, a chair and a robot fluent in over 6 million forms of communication.

Or a good, solid pair of dice. Ken: Double fives. Sabacc shift. Garth: Oh my god. Ken: I think I prefer Old Jho’s Pit Stop to Canto Bight myself.

A dank and smoky gambling environment is more my speed. Like this. At Canto Bight they’re are all well-dressed. I know if I walked in with my Stormtrooper helmet and t-shirt, everyone would turn and look at me.

Garth: Why would you would prefer a hole-in-the-wall to a luxury resort? Who cares man? Whenever I go gamble I want to be treated like royalty.

I want luxury and lush waterfalls. Ken: Whenever I go to gamble- Whenever you go to gamble you want lush waterfalls? Is that what you said? Garth: Yeah, like prestigious decor. I’m giving them my money, I should at least get an experience out of it. Dazzling lights, that sort of thing.

Ken: No. Not me. I want a dimly lit lounge where no one can see what I’m doing or what I’m up to… how much I’m betting… Garth: Presumably you’d want the dealer to see how much you’re betting. Ken: Maybe. Garth: That would cause significant confusion if it was so dim that, that- Ken: Maybe that’s why droids would come in handy. They don’t need to see.

It’s all registered electronically. Garth: Hmm. So you can play in the pitch black if you want. I check. Ken: Yep. I’m here to make money not spend it on waterfalls.

Garth: Canto Bight is definitely not dim – even though it does have its dark side- the name itself seems to suggest “candel” and “bright”. It’s like Las Vegas. Ken: Check.

I find it kind of troubling actually. We have all these questions. How did the map to Luke come to be? Why did Rey’s parents abandon her. And so on.

Answer… we’re going to VEGAS!! Garth: Yeah!! Ok… Alderaan. Ken: Some unanswered questions require careful, complex answers. How did Maz Kanada get Luke’s lightsaber? Luke’s story between episodes 6 & 7.

I’d like to get to as many of them as possible. Garth: Ken, you’re worrying too much. Here have a sip of my Amontillado. Ken: That stuff’s gross. And I’ve got this helmet on… I can’t… I can’t do it.

Garth: Ok so I Alderaaned… what are you going to do? Ken: I guess I’ll try a hail mary pass. Ken: 14. Garth: 17. Ken: Ouch.