Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Travel Report: EPT10 Deauville Main Event, Day 2: A Bond Between a Book and a Poker Tournament

Little time to scribble this morning, I’m afraid. We had a less lengthy day and night yesterday for Day 2, but with no dinner break we ate afterwards -- another big steak-centered meal for your hungry scribbler -- and so ended up not getting to sleep until late. Then my morning was eaten up by a lot of pre-work work, living me little time even to reflect on the day, let alone write about it.

I did want to point folks to one post from yesterday, one focusing on Ian Fleming’s 1953 novel Casino Royale, the first of the Bond books and one poker fans well know about thanks to the poker-themed 2006 adaptation starring Daniel Craig. (Photo to the left by Neil Stoddart of the PokerStars blog, by the way.)

Why did I write about the novel? Well, Fleming had spent some time visiting the casino in Deauville a couple of decades before when younger, and his experiences gambling and watching others gamble inspired a lot of the plot and setting of Casino Royale. In fact he sets the story in northern France in a fictional seaside city named Royale-les-Eaux, which more or less combines elements of Deauville and nearby Trouville.

I read the book recently and so wanted this week to share both the Deauville connection and some of its insights about gambling. The game is baccarat in the novel (as well as the spoofy 1967 film), but there are still some decent points made by Fleming about the psychology of the gambler that apply pretty readily to poker. (Dostoevsky it ain’t, but it’s still thought provoking.) And he seems very interested in making a willingness to gamble an important part of Bond’s character as he introduces him, a trait that gets picked up in future stories and of course in the films.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the novel as a great one, but there are some decent passages amid the page-turning action. Bond plays three different games in the novel, you might say -- baccarat versus Le Chiffre, intelligence-based warfare versus the Soviets and SMERSH (the counterintelligence agency), and the romance-based game versus Vesper Lynd.

There’s some heavy-handed talk of women in the book that reads a little weirdly today (and might understandably put off some). There’s also something kind of odd about the way the story resolves (I’m realizing in retrospect), with Bond not even really being responsible for doing anything more heroic than getting lucky at baccarat and defending himself against would be assassins (getting lucky there, too). In a way he mostly functions as the center of attention while others direct the more meaningful events of the plot.

Anyhow, I don’t mention much of those personal thoughts about the book in the post, but rather stick to sorting out the Deauville connection and also making the discussion relevant the ongoing tournament. Check it out and let me know what you think -- either about the post, or anything else to do with Bond, Casino Royale, and/or poker.

More today on the PokerStars blog. Click over to follow along.

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