If there’s anyone who loves gambling and winning big, that’s James Bond.
Agent 007 not only survives against all odds in the field, he also manages to defy them in the casino in any game he tries his hand at.
For an MI6 operative who regularly complains in the books that his government pay isn’t enough, winning all that money must be welcome addition to his monthly salary, and probably keeps the ladies happy as well!
In this article we list the three top James Bond casino scenes and take a closer look at some of the games that James likes to play.
1. Dr No (1962); game played: Chemin-de-fer (Baccarat)
Dr No was the film that for the first time took James Bond from the pages of Ian Fleming’s novels to the big screen.
Released in 1962, this movie cemented the image of 007 as a suave, sophisticated and utterly irresistible spy extraordinaire thanks to Sean Connery’s masterful portrayal of the character.
Set within the lush landscape of Jamaica, despite being a low-budget production, Dr No went on to become a financial success and popularised the ‘secret agent’ genre in the sixties and the years to follow.
It is no coincidence that we hear 007 utter the immortal words: ‘Bond… James Bond’ while busy playing a classic casino card game. Just like the James Bond in the book version, the super-spy is playing an old-fashioned version of baccarat known as Chemin-de-fer at a London club.
Very appropriately, James Bond indirectly introduces himself to the viewers while meeting a lady, Sylvia Trench, who has been observing him play the game. The scene is memorable for the way Sean Connery nonchalantly opens his cigarette case and gazes silently into her eyes before delivering the line.
One could say that this one scene defined Bond for the decades to follow and made Connery’s interpretation the definitive one against which all future actors playing the secret agent are compared too.
Chemin-de-fer isn’t a game you’ll typically find online or at a land casino nowadays. Chemmy, as it is called by aficionados, is the original variant of baccarat which is still popular in the country it originated from; France.
Like other variants of baccarat, it is played by shuffled six deck of cards and the player who achieves a total of 8 or 9 wins.
The main difference between Chemin-de-fer and other variants is that players deal the cards themselves and take turns to be the banker.
2. Diamonds Are Forever (1971); game played: Craps
Nearly a decade later, Sean Connery returned to the set to play the part of James Bond for the sixth and final time.
After missing out on the previous film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which starred George Lazenby instead, Connery donned his tuxedo again, this time to infiltrate a diamond smuggling band which turns out to be the mastermind of Bond’s arch-nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
Diamonds Are Forever is known for introducing more humour in Bond films, as well as for its powerful title song which was sung by Shirley Bassey and composed by John Barry, the man behind the iconic James Bond theme.
Since the film opens with James Bond pursuing a lead in Las Vegas it was inevitable that Her Majesty’s finest agent would indulge in a spot of casino gambling action.
Always keen to try out local customs, Bond naturally opts to join the craps table while in Sin City — this is the only time where he does so in all of the films. As always, Bond not only manages to win himself $65,000 by playing in his usual aggressive style, but also attract Plenty O’Toole, the first woman to be seduced by Bond in the film.
Craps is a dice game which can be played by single player competing against the casino, or amongst multiple players.
Unlike other casino games, wagers when playing craps are made in cash not chips and the player must make bets on different outcomes which are represented on the table layout.
Whether a player wins or not depends on to total value on the dice rolled and in certain cases they may ‘shoot the dice’ more than once to establish a winner. Nowadays this can be done online – of course, there’s less glamour to it and we can’t imagine Bond sat in his house playing on his laptop. But it’s still easy and fun!
3. Casino Royale (2006); game played: Texas Hold’em
Widely hailed as a much-needed reboot of the Bond series, Casino Royale injected fresh energy in the franchise which had lost its ground somewhat in the previous installments.
The role of 007 was taken by Daniel Craig whose Bond was a tough, gritty man who used his fists more often than the high tech equipment we were used to see in the films.
Ironically, for a man who loves gambling as much as Bond does, this was the first film in the series whose plot revolves entirely around gambling, with 007 going head-to-head against enemy Le Chiffre in a series of Texas Hold’em games.
The movie culminates with an exciting showdown at Casino Royale in Monte Carlo where Bond joins a poker tournament and has to wager using his own government’s funds with a British Treasury agent breathing down his neck and refusing to give stake him the money he needs to keep up with a game that seems all but lost.
The scene also re-introduces Bond’s faithful companion in many of the previous films, CIA agent Felix Leiter who offers to stake Bond and help him defeat Le Chiffre in a nerve-racking ending.
Texas Hold’em is currently the king of gambling games online and in land casinos. It is the most well-known variant of poker and, when it was released, Casino Royale contributed significantly to the rise in interest in this game.
Blending skill and luck, Texas Hold’em has players compete against each other for the pot, however the game doesn’t simply depend on holding the best cards in every round but on making correct and timely decisions on when to bet, call, raise or fold.
Playing like Bond
All the men want to be like him and all the women want to be with him. That’s the Bond standard.
Although shutting down nuclear warheads and battling villains in outer space might not be the easiest (and most realistic!) way to be like Bond, beefing up your gambling skills and taking a chance at winning big certain is. You can try all the games listed in this article and many more online, for free and for real money.
Try it out for yourself. Simply create a gaming account, deposit some money and you’re well on your way to living the Bond life.