Bond, James Bond. It’s a name synonymous with everything cool – from cocktails and cars to beautiful women and exotic hotspots around the world. And don’t forget the trips to the casino.

Bond has played cards at some of the most luxurious casinos and locations imaginable and competed against a rogue’s gallery of villains and bad guys. Unlike regular players, those gambling trips rarely turn out to be losers for Mr. Bond. He just has a knack for hitting the perfect card and walking away a winner. That’s part of the fun of being a Bond fan and here’s a quick look at Bond’s life at the casinos.

Secret Agent and Big Winner

A bit of casino gaming has become a major part of author Ian Fleming’s famous secret agent. But 007 isn’t out for some fun at the slots followed by hitting the buffet and a show. Bond is playing a bigger game, using his prowess at the tables to gain information about criminals and enemies or to run some surveillance on a target.

It only seems fitting that Fleming’s first Bond novel was named Casino Royale, which was released in 1953. Gambling plays a major role in the film as Bond squares off against the criminal Le Chiffre in a casino in the fictional town of Royale-les-Eaux, France. Bond aims to bankrupt the villain and member of the Russian secret service.

Fleming used his time as a member of British naval intelligence as inspiration for some of his writing in the Bond books. That apparently goes for a trip to the casino as well. While heading to the U.S. during his naval days, Fleming and a British admiral took in some gambling in Portugal’s Casino Estoril, located on the coast and still operating today.

Because Portugal was neutral during World War II, spies and undercover agents converged on the country. Fleming took in some chemin de fer, a French card game similar to baccarat, and claimed he lost big while playing with a “chief German agent.” Contemporaries believe Fleming may have taken some liberties with the truth regarding those gaming foes, but the experience served as some inspiration.

Casino Royale was a hit with readers and with critics. The American television network CBS released a version of the book in 1954 and a parody film was released in 1967. A 2006 version starred Daniel Craig and was produced right in the middle of the 2000s poker boom. Producers in this case changed Bond’s game of choice to Texas Hold’em and the final battle sees Bond best Le Chiffre and of course eventually save the day.

Baccarat, Blackjack, & Booze

Like Fleming’s own trip to that Portuguese casino, Bond’s game of choice for most novels and books tends to be baccarat (or similar games like chemin de fer or punto banco). The game is one of the oldest in the casino and has the reputation of appealing to an upper-crust level of player.

With his good looks and stylish tuxedos, Bond fits right in in that regard. However, baccarat is a fairly easy game and can now be found at lower stakes as well. Game play is fairly simple, with one player against a player known as “the banker.” The goal is to get as close to 9 as possible. Those at the table can wager on the player or the banker.

As a gambler, Bond inevitably always seems to draw just the right card. The game plays a major role in numerous books and films with Bond visiting luxury casinos around the world. And with a visit to any casino, a cocktail always seems in order and that goes for 007 as well. His beverage of choice? A martini – shaken not stirred – which was first mention in Dr. No in 1962.

The film adaption of that book also features a great example of Bond, played by Sean Connery, at the baccarat table. The scene is a luxury casino and this isn’t a property many gamblers might experience on the Las Vegas Strip. The men are in tuxedos and the women in glamorous gowns – and Bond can't seem to lose at the table. As he often does, the spy also makes quite an impression on a beautiful woman at the table as well.

More gambling would come in future Bond films as well. Timothy Dalton played Bond in 1989’s License to Kill. However, this time 007 took a seat at the blackjack table. He buys in for $250,000 and immediately raises the minimum stakes to $5,000 per hand.

After losing the quarter-million, he gets in for another $500,000 as he works to crush the casino run by the crime boss he’s after. Bond doubles his bets and then can’t seem to lose. This scene also includes Bond ordering his favorite martini. Gambling fans may also like the appearance of Las Vegas legend Wayne Newton in the casino scene.

With Pierce Brosnan taking up the role of Bond in 1995’s GoldenEye, the secret agent heads back to the glamorous Casino de Monte Carlo. In this game, Bond once again chats up a beautiful lady but just can’t seem to win initially. However, the final hand sees Bond dealt a King and Queen (face cards are worth zero) and a six.

His opponent has only a 5 and Bond takes a huge win. The hand also shows some hidden meaning as well with his hands equating to 0-0-6. In the film that’s the spy code for his lost friend, aka 006. Bond once again orders his favorite martini and seems to win over his female foe as well.

Always a Winning Session

Casino gambling can be seen in numerous Bond films. Australian actor George Lazenby played the role in one film, 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. He may have had the shortest run as Bond, but also made a trip to the casino as part of saving the world. The spy once again hit the baccarat table, again meeting a beautiful woman in the process.

Roger Moore is a frequent casino visitor when playing the British spy. In For Your Eyes Only from 1981, he once again chalks up a nice win at the baccarat table. When an acquaintance tells him that the odds favor standing pat, Bond replies: “If you play the odds.” Instead he takes another card and hits it just right, much to the chagrin of his opponent.

The man just never seems to lose. Moore was back as Bond again in Octopussy in 1983. This time the game was backgammon. In this case, Bond detects a cheater – via some loaded dice used by his foe. Bond takes on some big stakes and rolls doubles sixes just when he needs them – turning the tables and using his opponent’s loaded dice for his winning roll. The loser orders his henchman to hand him a checkbook, but responds: “I prefer cash.”

Diamonds Are Forever from 1971 sees Bond, again played by Connery, in a game that might seem a bit out of the norm for the world’s greatest spy. The film has Bond actually heading to Las Vegas and finding a spot at the craps table. Despite the change in scenery, Bond is still decked out in a tuxedo.

His female companion, Plenty O’Toole, can’t seem to win but Bond takes the dice and immediately rolls a 10. He then bets big on himself with full odds on the 10 with an additional $200 on the hard way 10 along with even more action on the table. This gambler and spy walks away with a $50,000 win, minus a nice tip for the dealers and of course, $5,000 for Plenty. Here’s a look at every Bond gambling and casino scene.

007 is the Name – and the Game

When it comes to casino gambling, 007 is quite the winner and his secret code number almost seems designed by Fleming to harken to some time at the gambling table. Seven is of course a huge number when it comes to playing craps. Roll a 7 on the comeout roll and everyone with a bet on the Pass Line is a winner. Roll a 7 after a point number has been established and everyone is a loser.

Perhaps this is a bit like the spy himself. He’s an affable, gentlemanly British cad when undercover, but when needed Bond can be a ruthless cutthroat killer in defense of the crown and the western world. Players win with the 7 at times but can lose big with 007 as well.

In Bond’s favorite game, baccarat, a 7 is a solid hand that doesn’t receive an extra card. A natural is an 8 or 9 for an almost guaranteed win. However a 7 is nice as well. Players can feel good but may face some tough times with that hand along the way. Bond faces some similar ups and downs along the way facing global criminal enterprises, Russian operatives, and crazy uber-bad guys like Goldfinger, Blofeld, and Le Chiffre.

The Bond books will celebrate 70 years in 2023 after Fleming’s first was released in 1953. The author penned 12 novels and several short stories, but  other authors have taken up the mantle of telling Bond’s stories since Fleming’s death in 1964. There have been numerous other books and they continue to be published. A new trilogy was to begin in the fall of 2023.

In 2022, James Bond films also celebrated 60 years on the silver screen and the franchise has produced more than $7 billion in box office receipts during that time. The next film will bring a new actor to the role after Daniel Craig bowed out after No Time to Die and five turns as the superspy.

The next actor will have some big shoes to fill. Nothing has been announced as of mid-2022, but Bond fans are anxious to see who might fill the role next. Whoever picks up the pistol and puts on the tuxedo next, it’s a good bet Bond will again find some time for some casino gaming on that next mission. With 007’s track record of winning, who could blame him?

Credits for main photo in this article belongs to AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth
 

About the Author
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Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas. His work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions. He is also the host of the True Gambling Stories podcast, available on iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn Radio, Spotify, Stitcher, PokerNews.com, HoldemRadio.com, and other platforms.