‘. . . and the main hope is to pray for a run of luck for me, or against him.’
Bond was explaining just how baccarat is played.
‘It’s much the same as any other gambling game. The odds against the banker and the player are more or less even. Only a run against either can be decisive and ‘break the bank’, or break the players.
‘Tonight, Le Chiffre, we know, has bought the baccarat bank from the Egyptian syndicate which is running the high tables here. He paid a million francs for it and his capital has been reduced to twenty-four million. I have about the same. There will be ten players, I expect, and we sit round the banker at a kidney-shaped table.
‘Generally, this table is divided into two tableaux. The banker plays two games, one against each of the tableaux to left and right of him. In the game that banker should be able to win by playing off one tableaux against the other and by first-class accountancy. But there aren’t enough baccarat players yet at Royale and Le Chiffre is just going to pit his luck against the other players at the single tableau. It’s unusual because the odds in favour of the banker aren’t so good, but they’re a shade in his favour and, of course, he has control of the size of the stakes.
‘Well, the banker sits there 杭州桑拿足浴论坛 in the middle with a croupier to rake in the cards and call the amount of each bank and a chef de partie to umpire the game generally. I shall be sitting as near dead opposite Le Chiffre as I can get. In front of him he has a shoe containing six packs of cards, well shuffled. There’s absolutely no chance of tampering with the shoe. The cards are shuffled by the croupier and cut by one of the players and put into the shoe in full view of the table. We’ve checked on the staff and they’re all okay. It would be useful, but almost impossible, to mark all the cards, and it would mean the connivance at least of the croupier. Anyway, we shall be watching for that too.’
Bond drank some champagne and continued.
‘Now what happens at the game is this. The banker announces an opening bank of five hundred thousand francs, of five hundred 杭州水磨地面 pounds as it is now. Each seat is numbered from the right of the banker and the player next to the banker, or Number 1, can accept this bet and push his money out on to the table, or pass it, if it is too much for him or he doesn’t want to take it. Then Number 2 has the right to take it, and if he refuses, then Number 3, and so on round the table. If no single player takes it all, the bet is offered to the table as a whole and everyone chips in, including sometimes the spectators round the table, until the five hundred thousand is made up.
‘That is a small bet which would immediately be met, but when it gets to a million or two it’s often difficult to find a taker or even, if the bank seems to be in luck, a group of takers to cover the bet. At the moment I shall always try and step in and accept the bet – in fact, I shall attack 杭州桑拿按摩价位 Le Chiffre’s bank whenever I get a chance until either I’ve bust his bank or he’s bust me. It may take some time, but in the end one of us is bound to break the other, irrespective of the other players at the table, although they can, of course, make him richer or poorer in the meantime.
‘Being the banker, he’s got a slight advantage in the play, but knowing that I’m making a dead set at him and not knowing, I hope, my capital, is bound to play on his nerves a bit, so I’m hoping that we start about equal.’
He paused while the strawberries came and the avocado pear.
For a while they ate in silence, then they talked of other things while the coffee was served. They smoked. Neither of them drank brandy or a liqueur. Finally, Bond felt it was time to explain the actual mechanics of the game.
‘It’s a simple affair,’ he said, ‘and 杭州桑拿全套一条龙服务 you’ll understand it at once if you’ve ever played vingt-et-un, where the object is to get cards from the banker which add up more closely to a count of twenty-one than his do. In this game, I get two cards and the banker gets two, and unless anyone wins outright, either or both of us can get one more card. The object of the game is to hold two, or three cards
which together count nine points, or as nearly nine as possible. Court cards and tens count nothing; aces one each; any other card its face value. It is only the last figure of your count that signifies. So nine plus seven equals six – not sixteen.
‘The winner is the one whose count is nearest to nine. Draws are played over again.’
Vesper listened attentively, but she also watched the look of abstract passion on Bond’s face.
‘Now,’ Bond continued, ‘when the banker deals 杭州桑拿经理电话 me my two cards, if they add up to eight or nine, they’re a ‘natural’ and I turn them up and I win, unless he has an equal or a better natural. If I haven’t got a natural, I can stand on a seven or a six, perhaps ask for a card or perhaps not, on a five, and certainly ask for a card if my count is lower than five. Five is the turning point of the game. According to the odds, the chances of bettering or worsening your hand if you hold a five are exactly even.
‘Only when I ask for a card or tap mine to signify that I stand on what I have, can the banker look at his. If he has a natural, he turns them up and wins. Otherwise he is faced with the same problems as I was. But he is helped in his decision to draw or not to draw a third card by my actions. If I have stood, he must assume that I have a five, six, or seven: if I have drawn, he will know that I had something less than a six and I may have improved my hand or not with the card he gave me. And this card was dealt to me face up. On its face value and a knowledge of the odds, he will know whether to take another card or to stand on his own.
‘So he has a very slight advantage over me. He has a tiny help over his decision to draw or to stand. But there is always one problem card at this game – shall one draw or stand on a five and what will your opponent do with a five? Some players always draw or always stand. I follow my intuition.
‘But in the end,’ Bond stubbed out his cigarette and called for the bill, ‘it’s the natural eights and nines that matter, and I must just see that I get more of them than he does.’
CHAPTER 10 – THE HIGH TABLE
While telling the story of the game and anticipating the coming fight, Bond’s face had lit up again. The prospect of at least getting to grips with Le Chiffre stimulated him and quickened his pulse. He seemed to have completely forgotten the brief coolness between them, and Vesper was relieved and entered into his mood.
He paid the bill and gave a handsome tip to the sommelier. Vesper rose and led the way out of the restaurant and out on to the steps of the hotel.
The big Bentley was waiting and Bond drove Vesper over, parking as close to the entrance as he could. As they walked through the ornate ante-rooms, he hardly spoke. She looked at him and saw that his nostrils were slightly flared. In other respects he seemed completely at ease, acknowledging cheerfully the greetings of the Casino functionaries. At the door to the salle privée they were not asked for their membership cards. Bond’s high gambling had already made him a favoured client and any companion of his shared in the glory.
Before they had penetrated very far into the main room, Felix Leiter detached himself from one of the roulette tables and greeted Bond as an old friend. After being introduced to Vesper Lynd and exchanging a few remarks, Leiter said: ‘Well, since you’re playing baccarat this evening, will you allow me to show Miss Lynd how to break the bank at roulette? I’ve got three lucky numbers that are bound to show soon, and I expect Miss Lynd has some too. Then perhaps we could come and watch you when your game starts to warm up.’
Bond looked inquiringly at Vesper.
‘I should love that,’ she said, ‘but will you give me one of your lucky numbers to play on?’
‘I have no lucky numbers,’ said Bond unsmilingly. ‘I only bet on even chances, or as near them as I can get. Well, I shall leave you then.’ He excused himself. ‘You will be in excellent hands with my friend Felix Leiter.’ He gave a short smile which embraced them both and walked with an unhurried gait towards the caisse.
Leiter sensed the rebuff.
‘He’s a very serious gambler, Miss Lynd,’ he said. ‘And I guess he has to be. Now come with me and watch Number 17 obey my extra-sensory perceptions. You’ll find it quite a painless sensation being given plenty of money for nothing.’
Bond was relieved to be on his own again and to be able to clear his mind of everything but the task on hand. He stood at the caisse and took his twenty-four million francs against the receipt which had been given him that afternoon. He divided the notes into equal packets and put half the sum into his right-hand coat pocket and the other half into the left. Then he strolled slowly across the room between the thronged tables until he came to the top of the room where the broad baccarat table waited behind the brass rail.
The table was filling up and the cards were spread face down being stirred and mixed slowly in what is known as the ‘croupiers’ shuffle’, supposedly the shuffle which is most effective and least susceptible to cheating.
The chef de partie lifted the velvet-covered chain which allowed entrance through the brass rail.
‘I’ve kept Number 6 as you wished, Monsieur Bond.’
There were still three other empty places at the table. Bond moved inside the rail to where a huissier was holding out his chair. He sat down with a nod to the players on his right and left. He took out his wide gunmetal cigarette-case and his black lighter and placed them on the green baize at his right elbow. The huissier wiped a thick glass ash-tray with a cloth and put it beside them. Bond lit a cigarette and leant back in his chair.