The Art of Gambling

Ian Fleming and his famous creation James Bond were very fond of gambling. Fleming was an experienced and skilled gambler. 'I do like to gamble,' Fleming told Playboy in 1964. "I play bridge for what might be called serious stakes. I like chemin de fer. I play at clubs here in London, private clubs. And I may go to Le Touquet, places like that on the Continent. I like to think that I am reasonably competent at the gaming tables – we all think so, I suppose – but still, I win as much as I lose, or a bit more. I like that, which I suppose demonstrates that I am not a true compulsive gambler.'
It was an incident in Fleming's own life that inspired the plot for his first James Bond novel Casino Royale. 'I remember one occasion on which I very much wanted to win. I was on my way to America with the Director of Naval Intelligence, Admiral Godfrey. We were in Estoril in Portugal, and while we were waiting for transport, we killed some time in the casino. While there, I recognised some German agents, and I thought it would be a brilliant coup to play with them, break them, take their money. Instead, of course, they took mine. Most embarrassing. This incident appears in Casino Royale, my first book – but, of course, Bond does not lose. In fact, he totally and coldly vanquishes his opponent.'
Bond was always depicted as an expert card player in the famous gambling scenes contained within Fleming's Casino Royale, Moonraker and On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Although a short book with a simple plot, Casino Royale is structured around some vivid set-pieces that provide the twists and suspense. The baccarat showdown is relished by Fleming and his knowledge of the subject leads to some descriptive and absorbing passages. The high stakes, risks, and euphoria of a winning hand is conveyed. Bond deploys his skills at games like baccarat, blackjack, bridge, poker, and is partial to a spin of the roulette wheel. "At gambling, the deadly sin is to mistake bad play for bad luck," wrote Fleming. The architecture of the Belle Epoque building of the Monte Carlo Casino was used by Fleming in Casino Royale.
In an amusing article for The Spectator in 1959, entitled 'If I were Prime Minister', Fleming wrote, 'I should proceed to a complete reform of our sex and gambling laws and endeavour to cleanse the country of the hypocrisy with which we so unattractively clothe our vices. To deal only with my most far-reaching proposal, I would consult with my Minister of Leisure about the possibility of turning the Isle of Wight into one vast pleasuredome which would be a mixture of Monte Carlo, Las Vegas, pre-war Paris and Macao. Here there would be casinos (they are building one on Gibraltar and they have one in Nassau; why not one on the Isle of Wight?) and the most luxurious maisons de tolérance in the world. Bingo, poker, faro, fan-tan, craps— even whist drives with money prizes!'
Fleming even wrote an introduction for Herbert Osborne Yardley's 1957 book The Education of a Poker Player. Yardley was a cryptologist who helped to break Japanese diplomatic codes during the Washington Naval Conference of 1921-1922. Yardley later used his expertise to crack Japanese codes when World War 2 began. Fleming was drawn to Yardley because of their similarities. Both had a background in military intelligence and both loved high living and gambling. In the introduction to Yardley's book, Fleming wrote, 'It is a book whose publication in London I am proud to have fathered. The circumstances were these. Knowing that I love cards, a friend sent me a cutting from an American magazine that handsomely ‘trailed’ The Education of a Poker Player with some of the late Mr Yardley’s most intriguing hands. I at once sent to America for the book, was delighted with it and gave some copies away for Christmas. The next time I talked to my publishers, Messrs Jonathan Cape, I urged them to publish the book here.'
Fleming and the James Bond gambled in exotic and luxurious places - exclusive clubs and casinos with rich people. Today people can gamble online. The first online casinos were created in 1994 enabling people to enjoy all their favourite games like roulette and blackjack on their computer. In 1999 multiplayer online gambling was introduced, allowing people to play against other people online. Many games are available through online casinos and online poker is especially popular these days. People visit online casino netbet and other sites. Online gambling keeps evolving as technology improves. Mobile devices enable linking to the World Wide Web, leading the way to mobile gambling via wireless devices. Ian Fleming was well known to enjoy a life of leisure when at home writing in the West Indies. If he was around today it's easy to imagine him having a flutter or two on his computer devices as he worked on fresh chapters for James Bond's next mission.


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