Blackjack-like card game, popular internationally, that is the focus of both the 1954 CBS TV movie version of Casino Royale and the 1967 Casino Royale spoof. In the TV movie, Soviet master spy Le Chiffre (Peter Lorre) has been losing heavily at the game. Unless he comes up with the 80 million francs he’s illegally borrowed from Soviet coffers, the KGB will target him for assassination. With 26 million francs left, Le Chiffre plans to win back his fortune at the tables. James Bond (Barry Nelson) is assigned the task of playing against him and bankrupting him.
As in blackjack, the object of baccarat is to accumulate a card total closest to a specific number—in this case, the number 9, as compared with blackjack’s 21. Players are dealt two cards and choose whether to draw one more. Picture cards are worth nothing. If a player draws only picture cards, he has zero, which is called “baccarat.” If a player draws a third card and acquires a total higher than nine, he is busted, which is also called “baccarat.”
Traditional baccarat, a.k.a. chemin de fer, differs from blackjack in that it has no house dealer. One of the players serves as the “bank,” dealing the cards and putting up a specific amount of his or her own money for other players to wager against. That player remains the bank until he or she can no longer put up a stake or decides to quit. The other players may risk up to the full amount of the bank’s current stake. If they win, they take a corresponding share of the bank’s money; if they lose, their wager is added to the bank. A player who wishes to wager the full amount of the stake declares “banco,” meaning he or she challenges the bank to a one-on-one game.
In the TV film Casino Royale, Le Chiffre is the bank, and Bond goes banco against him. (No chintzing on Bond’s part—he’s playing for keeps.) The table below show the full results of their face-off, including all of Bond’s and Le Chiffre’s hands, the stake of each game, and the rise and fall of Le Chiffre’s total winnings. Having won two preliminary hands against another opponent, Le Chiffre’s winnings are up to 29 million francs when Bond enters the game.
|Baccarat Hands in Casino Royale (1954)|
|Le Chiffre||Bond||Stake||Le Chiffre’s Winnings|
|baccarat||9||4 million||25 million|
|7||5||2 million||27 million|
|9||7||4 million||31 million|
|6||3||8 million||39 million|
|9||7||16 million||55 million|
|At this point, Bond is broke, but he suddenly receives a mysterious envelope filled with 35 million francs that replenishes his own coffers.|
|3||4||32 million||23 million|
In Eon Productions’ first 007 film, Dr. No, James Bond (Sean Connery) is introduced playing baccarat at London’s Les Ambassadeurs club. But when Eon got around around to remaking Casino Royale decades later, in 2006, baccarat was replaced by a high-stakes, no-limit Texas hold’em poker tournament.