DR NO: Chemin de fer

James Bond and gambling seem to go hand-in-hand. In the first Bond film Dr No, Bond is playing a game called chemin de fer also called Baccarat. He’s playing against Sylvia Trench, which is of course losing, big time. There are a lot of gambling games in the bond films, I think the most memorable game was the Texas Hold’em variant of Poker in Casino Royal.

While gambling is omnipresent in the Bond films, it remains absent in the book version of Dr No. I haven’t read the other books yet, but Chemin de fer is not mentioned in the book whatsoever. Probably I’m going to read more about Bond’s adventures with gambling in the first official novel: Casino Royal. But I’m not quite there yet.

Chemin de fer is played with six decks of cards. One of the players is designated as banker (in the scene above, Bond is playing as bank) while the other players are “punters”. The bank wagers the amount he wants to risk. In the film this is portrayed by Sylvia Trench (playing as a punter) wanting to raise the wager, but was not allowed to do so by the casino.

Each player typically receives two cards (and by a more complex third card rule a third) and the values of those cards are totaled together. The cards 1 through 9 have their respected face value, while cards 10 through king are valued at 0. When your hand is worth more than 10, we will need to subtract 10 from its total. For example if a player has a hand of 7 and 8, it would total 15. We therefore subtract 10 and the hand value is totaled at 5. The maximum hand value in Chemin de fer is therefore 9.

Bond keeps winning from Sylvia Trench which is intrigued by Bond’s appearance. Maybe he’s just lucky.