The girls, the cars, the casino gaming – Judi Dench’s M probably had a point when she described James Bond as a relic from a bygone era. Nevertheless, that original tagline of women want him; men want to be him still strikes a chord, even in these politically correct times.
Over the years, Bond has made only the slightest concessions to changing times. The barely concealed misogyny of the 60s has evaporated, and Bond finally kicked his nicotine habit when Pierce Brosnan took over in the 90s. But Bond’s love affair with fast motor cars and high-stakes casino games remains undiminished.
We will save the Aston Martins for another day but will set you a brief challenge. For over 60 years, Bond has played no less than seven casino games. How many can you name before reading on?
In the opening scene of the first Bond film, Dr. No, 007 is immersed in a high-stakes game of baccarat in a casino somewhere in the Caribbean. Baccarat was Bond’s favorite casino game and one that he also played in Thunderball, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and GoldenEye. Baccarat remains popular in present-day casinos, but mostly as punto banco, played against the dealer, while Bond was seen playing the traditional French version of chemin de fer.
2. Gin rummy
A popular game to play with your grandmother but less common in the casino; gin rummy was megalomaniac Auric Goldfinger’s game of choice in Bond’s third movie. Bond’s participation in the action is vicarious – on discovering Goldfinger’s secretary is feeding him information through an earpiece, Bond sees that he loses everything – including the secretary herself.
Diamonds are Forever marked Sean Connery’s swansong as Bond. It also ushered in a new era of double entendres, such as the magnificently named Bond girl Plenty O’Toole. She and Bond hit the craps table, where he soon clears up with a $50,000 win.
4. Sic bo
Congratulations if you got this one. The Man with the Golden Gun was a Bond film of its time and does not enjoy as many reruns as other movies of the era. Scaramanga, played by Christopher Lee, uses a game of sic bo as a way to exchange money for bullets, and Bond briefly joins the table as he uncovers the plot.
Here’s a third dice game and another tricky one from the Roger Moore years. In Octopussy, Bond goes head to head with supervillain Kamal Khan in a rigged game of backgammon but still manages to emerge victorious.
It’s the most popular casino game in the UK and the US, whether in the real money casinos at bestuscasinos.org or the high-stakes casino tables of Monte Carlo. Yet blackjack did not feature in a Bond movie till the Timothy Dalton era. In Licence to Kill, Bond boldly walks into a casino owned by drug lord Franz Sanchez, takes the house for $250,000, and calmly awaits an invitation to meet the boss.
7. Texas Holdem poker
Last but also first, Casino Royale was Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel, and in it, the game was baccarat. In 2004, Daniel Craig took on Le Chiffre at poker instead, and the change worked perfectly. It is surely the tensest and most memorable moment in Bond casino history – at least, so far.