James Bond's Favourite Casino Games

James Bond playing chermin de fer in Dr No

Bond Playing Chermin de Fer in Dr No

The name James Bond conjures many images. Girls, gadgets and guns are some of the more prominent themes while casino gambling has also often made it into Bond films.

The very first time we saw Bond on the big screen was at a chermin de fer table in the post-title scene of Dr No in 1962. It was here that Sean Connery delivered the first ever "Bond…James Bond" and the legend was born.

Ever since, the worlds of Bond and casinos have often collided. So much so that in the 22 films to date (not included Skyfall), 11 of them have included scenes involving gambling – most often in a casino.

Even in Ian Fleming's Bond novels there are plenty of references to gambling with the Spy Who Loved Me and You Only Live Twice getting in on the act. When James Bond is introduced in Fleming's first book Casino Royale, on the very first page, Bond is at a roulette table in the early hours of the morning.

Although we never see him at a roulette table in any of the films to date, it's safe to say that Bond knows his way around a casino. Below are the casino games that we've seen the MI6 agent play during his on-screen tenure.

Chermin de Fer

Films it Appears in:

  • Dr No
  • Thunderball
  • On Her Majesty's Secret Service
  • For Your Eyes Only

James Bond playing chermin de fer in Thunderball

Bond Playing Chermin de Fer in Thunderball

The most common casino game in James Bond films is chermin de fer which is often mistaken for baccarat (the difference is explained in the baccarat section below).

The famous scene in Dr No where Sean Connery first utters the words "Bond…James Bond" is at Les Ambassadeurs Club in London. At the time he is playing chermin de fer against Sylvia Trench but has to end his game after he receives a message.

In Thunderball, Sean Connery's Bond takes on the film's villain Emilio Largo in an iconic scene that was spoofed by Austin Powers. George Lazenby also took a trip to the chermin de fer table in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. He begins playing but stops to offer to pay Tracy's 20,000 franc debt.

Later on, For Your Eyes Only saw Roger Moore take copious amounts of money off a pretty hapless man who goes by the name of Bunky.

Overall, James Bond has done pretty well when playing baccarat. He wins several hands in a row in Dr No and in Thunderball he wins three hands in a row (with scores of 8, 7 and 9). Finally, he won 1 million drachma in For Your Eyes Only – not a bad night's work!

Baccarat

Films it Appears in:

  • Goldeneye (sort of)
James Bond playing baccarat in Goldeneye

Bond Playing Baccarat in Goldeneye

Baccarat is commonly referred to as James Bond's favourite casino game. However, it's not quite as simple as that. Baccarat is extremely similar to punto banco and chermin de fer with the only real difference being that in chermin de fer the players deal the cards themselves.

Distinguishing between these games is obviously an issue even the filmmakers of Goldeneye had. In the 1995 film Xenia Onatopp refers to a casino game that she previously played against Bond (Pierce Brosnan) as baccarat. However, as the players dealt the cards themselves, it was actually chermin de fer.

In the film we see them play two hands in total with Onatopp winning the first with a score of eight compared to Bond's seven. However, Brosnan gets his own back by winning the second hand with a score of seven while Onatopp has a six.

The action takes place in the Monte Carlo Casino - a popular hangout for Bond where he was also seen in the unofficial film Never Say Never Again.

Craps

Films it Appears in:

  • Diamonds are Forever
James Bond playing craps in Diamonds are Forever

Bond Playing Craps in Diamonds are Forever

007 couldn't visit Las Vegas without getting in on some of the gambling action there. And in true US style he opts to play a bit of craps – the only time we see him do so in all of the films.

It's a shame that he hasn't played more of this dice game as it ended so well for him here. As well as attracting the unfortunately named Plenty O'Toole, Bond wins $65,000 by making some pretty ludicrous bets. If you play craps yourself, we'd recommend that you don't copy his betting patterns – unless you don't like money.

As well as the fictional Whyte House Casino (owned by Willard Whyte - a man remarkably similar to Howard Hughes) he visits, Bond also frequents Circus Circus during his stay in Nevada. He even finds time to get involved in a car chase with several police cars around Las Vegas.

James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever: "I'll take full odds on the ten, 200 on the hardway, the limit on all the numbers, and 250 on the eleven, thank you very much".

Sic Bo

Films it Appears in:

  • The Man with the Golden Gun
James Bond playing sic bo in The Man with the Golden Gun

Bond Playing Sic Bo in The Man with the Golden Gun

In The Man with the Golden Gun, James Bond makes his first trip to Macau and gets into the local spirit by playing some sic bo at the Casino Lisboa.

Sic bo is a traditional Chinese game that bears plenty of similarities to craps as players bet on the outcome of dice or dominoes (it varies depending on where you're playing).

The money baskets that are used to hoist cash, as well as some golden bullets, up and down to the tables aren't often used in casinos. They are simply a way of allowing more players to play on the same table at any one time.

Blackjack

Films it Appears in:

  • Licence to Kill
James Bond playing blackjack in Licence to Kill

Bond Playing Blackjack in LTK

Timothy Dalton makes his only appearance at a casino table as James Bond in Licence to Kill. He heads there with the intention of attracting the attention of villain Felix Sanchez (not to be confused with the crying Dominican athlete from the London 2012 Olympic Games) and winds up at the blackjack tables.

In true Bond style, he happens to go on a bit of a lucky streak and is $250,000 up in no time. This is the only time we've seen Bond play blackjack in the film series as he usually opts for the supposedly more exclusive game of baccarat.

Despite only featuring once in the real films, blackjack has been involved in a James Bond spoof which formed a 'deleted scene' from The Simpsons. In this scene, Homer is working as a blackjack dealer and makes a mistake causing Bond to lose to Blofeld while Jaws and Oddjob watch on.

After Blofeld makes 20, Bond asks for a card and is given a joker followed by a card with the rules for draw and stud poker written on it. Having subsequently lost the hand Bond is dragged out by Jaws and Oddjob while blaming his loss on Homer.

Texas Hold'em Poker

Films it Appears in:

  • Casino Royale (2006)
James Bond playing poker in Casino Royale

Bond Playing Poker in Casino Royale

Given the title of Casino Royale, it's no surprise that gambling is a pretty central theme to the film.

In the original book titled Casino Royale, Bond actually took on Le Chiffre at chermin de fer. However, in order to appeal more to the modern audience the producers of the 2006 film chose to use Texas hold'em poker instead of the French card game.

After going bust, Bond is able to buy back into the game thanks to CIA agent Felix Leiter stumping up the cash for him. It comes down to one final hand where there the eventual pot won is in excess of $100 million. Bond wins it with a straight flush beating Le Chiffre's full house with A-6 in the hole. This marks the end of Bond's first foray onto the poker tables and from there it can only be downhill.

Other Games in Bond Films

Films they Appear in:

  • Gin Rummy in Goldfinger
  • Backgammon in Octopussy
  • High Card Draw in The World is Not Enough

The gin rummy scene in Goldfinger is the first gambling scene of the Bond series where Bond himself is not playing. However, since it's not actually in a casino we can forgive him for that.

The scene sees Goldfinger cheating in order to beat an unnamed man at gin rummy by a hotel pool along Miami Beach. Bond figures out how Goldfinger is cheating, stops it and steals Goldfinger's girl – all in a days work for 007! Unfortunately, the girl he steals ends up covered in gold, one of the many iconic images of the film series.

In Octopussy Bond plays backgammon against the film's villain Kamal Kahn. Backgammon isn't often played in casinos in the UK but that doesn't stop Bond turning the tables on a cheating Kahn to win 200,000 rupees.

Finally, Bond is a witness as Elektra King loses a game of one card high draw to Valentin Zukovsky in The World is Not Enough. Bond later finds out that it was actually just a way of paying Zukovsky.