‘Call his bluff’: Edward Norton lays out poker-style Trump analysis we never expected

A portrait of Edward Norton
Actor Edward Norton is using poker knowledge to analyze Donald Trump’s lame-duck period.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Actor Edward Norton knows a thing or two about playing poker and is using that knowledge to call what he sees as Donald Trump’s bluff.

The Oscar-nominated star broke down the president’s “desperate endgame” on Friday, giving followers a nuanced political analysis that likened Trump’s lame-duck period — and reluctance to peacefully transfer power to President-elect Joe Biden — to a failed poker hand.

Alas, there is no trump card in this game play.

“The Illusionist” star called Trump’s actions a “contemptible, treasonous, seditious assault” on the stability of the country and its institutions, and that’s when he put it lightly. Norton has been a vocal opponent of Trump and GOP leaders enabling him for quite some time. He’s also an active proponent of Democratic candidates in the decisive Georgia run-off elections to determine party majority in the U.S. Senate.


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June 21, 2020

“I’m no political pundit but I grew up w[ith] a dad who was a federal prosecutor & he taught me a lot & I’ve also sat a fair amount of poker w[ith] serious players & l’ll say this: I do not think Trump is trying to ‘make his base happy’ or ‘laying the groundwork for his own network,’ or that ‘chaos is what he loves,” Norton said in series of tweets Friday morning.

“The core of it is that he knows he’s in deep, multi-dimensional legal jeopardy & this defines his every action,” he continued in the thread. “We’re seeing 1) a tactical delay of the transition to buy time for coverup & evidence suppression 2) above all, a desperate endgame which is to create enough chaos & anxiety about peaceful transfer of power, & fear of irreparable damage to the system, that he can cut a Nixon-style deal in exchange for finally conceding. But he doesn’t have the cards. His bluff after ‘the flop’ has been called in court.”

Trump was already destined to go down in history as a lousy president. Now he seems intent on shredding what was left of his reputation.

Nov. 17, 2020

The “Rounders” star, who’s played in several poker tournaments, broke down Trump’s “flop,” and what he also considers to be the outgoing president’s turn and river cards.

“[T]hey have to be called,” Norton wrote. “We cannot let this mobster bully the USA into a deal to save his ass by threatening our democracy. THAT is his play. But he’s got junk in his hand. So call him.”

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Oct. 30, 2019

The “American History X” actor wasn’t above name-calling the 45th U.S. president — some choice words were “whiny, sulky, petulant, Grinchy, vindictive” — and accused him of throwing “a wicked pout fest & trying to give a tiny-hand middle finger to the whole country for pure spite, without a single thought for the dead & dying.”

He continued to break down Trump’s actions as an effort to “leverage to trade for a safe exit.”


“Call. His. Bluff,” Norton tweeted.

“Faith in the strength of our sacred institutions & founding principles is severely stretched...but they will hold. They will,” he concluded. “He’s leaving, gracelessly & in infamy. But if we trade for it, give him some brokered settlement, we’ll be vulnerable to his return. We can’t flinch.

See the whole thread below: