“The name’s Bond, James Bond.” Those immortal words were uttered on screen by Sean Connery in Dr. No and a film franchise was born. It has been said by numerous actors since, sometimes well and sometimes in a way that makes you wish that the producers had re-cast the film a little more wisely. Generally speaking, there are a few things that make Bond films Bond films, including the main character telling someone his name, him drinking a vodka-martini (shaken, not stirred) and him sitting down at a casino to play a table game.
Until the film franchise was brought up-to-date in Casino Royale, with Bond playing Texas Hold’em poker, the eponymous spy was usually to be found playing chemin-de-fer, which is a version of baccarat. Translating from the French to mean ‘iron path’, chemin-de-fer is the oldest version of baccarat and, for some reason, our hero has long favoured it over other versions of the game like punto banco. That can be frustrating for Bond fans, considering it is the latter that you’ll usually be playing in a modern casino.
The Films in Which Bond Plays Baccarat
Given that James Bond will almost certainly be around forever in official form, it is fair to say that this list is going to be far from exhaustive. It is also worth noting that he plays baccarat in Never Say Never Again, with Sean Connery in the lead role, and in 1967’s Casino Royale once more, but as they are not considered to be official films in the canon, we’re not going to discuss them here. Here are the films that he has played chemin-de-fer in on screen, complete with their year of release and the actor who played Bond in said film:
|Film||Year of Release||Actor Playing Bond|
|Dr. No||1962||Sean Connery|
|On Her Majesty’s Secret Service||1969||George Lazenby|
|For Your Eyes Only||1981||Roger Moore|
Though Daniel Craig appears to play a similar game in the 2006 version of Casino Royale, he is not playing chemin-de-fer. The film also concentrates mainly around Texas Hold’em, so it is not right to discuss it here. Bond also plays numerous different other casino games in various films, such as blackjack in Licence to Kill, backgammon in Octopussy and craps in Diamonds Are Forever. Even so, when most people ask what game Bond plays in a casino, they’re talking about chemin-de-fer.
Now that we know the game that Bond is most famous for playing, it is worth having a look at how the game actually works. The name ‘chemin-de-fer’, which is the French for railway, was given to it because it is quicker to play than the main game of baccarat. It uses six decks of cards, which are shuffled together, with the players sitting at random around an oval table. Play gets underway with the player that is sat to the right of the croupier. One player is designated the banker, who deals the cards.
The position of ‘banker’ rotates around the players, so it is not on one player alone to be that role. It is the job of the banker to indicate how much they are willing to wager, with the expectation being that they will go high as it is their responsibility to cover the bets of all of the players. Players take it in turns to place their bets, which can go up to the maximum level that has been set by the banker. The player with the biggest wager receives two cards face-down, with the banker also receiving two.
How to Win
If either the banker or the player has a hand that equals eight or nine, which are considered ‘natural’ numbers, the person with that number wins and the game ends. If neither of them has that hand then the player can choose to receive a third card, with the banker also deciding whether or not to take a third card. At that point, the hands are revealed and the winnings are given out accordingly. The rules on whether a player or the banker has to draw an extra card will depend on their total. Here are how the rules work:
|Total||Player’s Decision||Banker’s Decision|
|3||Draw||Draw If Allowed|
|4||Draw||Draw If Allowed|
|5||Draw Or Stand||Draw If Allowed|
|6||Stand||Draw If Allowed|
If the player chooses to stand then the banker will have to draw a third card if their total is between 0 and 5 and will have to stand if they have 6 or 7. That can make things slightly complicated for people that haven’t played the game before and don’t understand the rules, but explain why the table above says ‘if allowed’.
Part of the reason why chemin-de-fer was likely chosen as a game for James Bond to play is that it is a communal one, allowing for him to speak to allies or enemies at the table. At least eight people need to be present to play, with that number able to go up to 12. The shoe of cards moves around the table in an anti-clockwise direction, with the values of the cards being as follows:
- Ace: 1
- 2: 2
- 3: 3
- 4: 4
- 5: 5
- 6: 6
- 7: 7
- 8: 8
- 9: 9
- 10: 0
- Jack: 0
- Queen: 0
- King: 0
The Difference Between Chemin-De-Fer & Other Baccarat Versions
Given the manner in which the cards work and the fact that eight and nine are the best numbers to have, it is not unreasonable to ask what the difference is between chemin-de-fer and other versions of baccarat. The biggest difference is the fact that punto banco, the most common version of baccarat, uses eight decks instead of six. On top of that, player agency is taken away in punto banco, on account of the fact that no other players need to input anything in order for the gamer to go ahead and work as planned.
Players are playing against other in chemin-de-fer, thanks to the fact that the banker role rotates around them, whereas they are simply going up against the casino’s dealer in punto banco. In the latter version of the game, any winnings from a bet on the banker have a 5% commission to pay on them. The other major thing worth noting about the two versions of the game is that chemin-de-fer is extremely hard to find, especially if you’re playing online. Even in land-based casinos, it is mostly for high rollers.