James Bond is the quintessential super-cool spy—a man of many talents who can be just as at ease piloting a jet as he is sultrying bargirls. He is a sniper with a rifle, knows practically every language you can imagine, skis like a native of the Alps, and is nearly invincible in hand-to-hand combat.
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Not only can he outmaneuver anyone in a car, but he also knows which vintages of Bollinger and Bordeaux are the greatest (see Goldeneye). Put another way, he is the man for whom the adage “Women want to be with him, men want to be him” was essentially created since he can do it all.
Bond is also a frequent visitor to casinos, presumably because that’s where the powerful and the wealthy like to congregate and because he is unstoppable when it comes to the tables. Several Bond films (and, of course, books) include card games and casinos, where the ex-Royal Navy Commander always wins, much to the dismay of the lovely but flawed woman or nasty and insane guy he is playing against. What game, though, does Bond constantly play?
As the title suggests, Bond’s preferred game is usually baccarat, specifically the chemin de fer variation of the well-known casino game. However, why does Bond play baccarat every time?
In these movies, he engages in a variety of games. In some, he visits casinos but doesn’t really bet there (in The Man With the Golden Gun, for instance, he takes several golden bullets out of one). He notably stops Auric Goldfinger from cheating at high stakes gin rummy instead of going to a casino or playing cards or other games in one of the most memorable movies in the wildly successful Goldfinger series. He even plays a slightly strange version of a video game in Never Say Never Again where the loser is shocked with electricity.
Bond plays a variety of table games, including backgammon in Octopussy, roulette (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service), Sic Bo (SkyFall), craps (Diamonds Are Forever), and poker (Casino Royale). But baccarat is the game that appears the most frequently.
Four years after the publication of the novel of the same name, Sean Connery starred in the first Bond movie. The legendary phrases “Bond… James Bond” are first said by Bond at a fictitious Le Cercle Casino in London, where he is introduced to Eunice Gayson’s character Sylvia Trench (who also makes an appearance in the second film, From Russia with Love).
Bond creator Ian Fleming said in his book The politics of James Bond: from Fleming’s books to the big screen that his most well-known character was depicted in casinos because “skill at gambling and knowledge of how to behave in a casino were seen… as attributes of a gentleman”. Naturally, the notion seems antiquated, but at least it helps explain why Bond is frequently portrayed as a gambler.
Bond plays a game of chemin de fer against Trench in Dr. No, of course, and wins. The entire sequence is regarded as one of the most well-known in movie history. It’s not quite apparent why Bond is playing baccarat in particular, but it’s fantastic how he lights up his cigarette in a casual manner before uttering the famous sentence for the first time, the theme song playing in the background. And we’ll see him playing his preferred card game at the casino again soon.
Does Bond Play Chemin De Fer or Baccarat?
Even while we don’t know why Bond like baccarat so much, at least we know that he plays chemin de fer. Since this is a variation of baccarat, it is correct to claim that he plays chemin de fer and truthful to say that he plays baccarat.
It’s also known as shimmy, chernay, or chemmy. It’s said to be the original version of the game, and its literal translation from French is “iron path,” but it commonly refers to a railroad. Punto banco and baccarat banque are the two other main variations of baccarat. These days, the first one is practically interchangeable with baccarat; if you ever see the game at a casino, especially an online one, you’ll almost certainly be playing punto banco.
Although its exact roots are unknown, baccarat is widely thought to be an Italian game. It is often believed that chemin de fer is a French variation, and it is undoubtedly more common in France than it is elsewhere. The baccarat family of games does not contain any particularly difficult games, although chemin de fer allows the player to participate in the action rather than being completely passive, unlike punto banco.
Fleming could have decided to have Bond play chemin de fer instead of punto banco because of the aspect of player autonomy. In actuality, though, we believe that poker ought to be Bond’s game as it offers far more room for true skill, player impact, and psychology—all of which let him once more demonstrate his prowess as a modern-day Renaissance man and polymath.