Casino in Classic Novels

Most of our beloved classic casino games go way back to a time long before online casinos and mobile apps. The brick-and-mortar casino has been a long-standing staple of many cultures around the world. We see casinos and their various games referenced in many works of literature, old and new. Whether it’s a James Bond spy thriller or a more sedate Dostoevsky novel, the casino has been used by many of our favourite authors as a plot device.

Casino games feature prominently in many areas of popular culture, so let’s take a look at how some of these games have featured in classic books.

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

We see the casino pop up time and time again in Ian Fleming’s famous James Bond novels, and his debut work Casino Royale is perhaps the best example. First published in 1953, the book tells the story of Bond’s mission to overthrow Le Chiffre, a financier for a Soviet counterintelligence agency, in a high-stakes game of Baccarat Chemin-de-fer.

This classic of the spy genre showcases the thrills and tensions during a game of Baccarat and introduces Bond – the spy who would become a beloved character across the world. The 2006 film adaptation starring Daniel Craig is the highest-rated Bond film on IMDB, proving the timeless value of this 007 story.

The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Author of classics such as Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky’s The Gambler tells the tale of Alexei Ivanovich, who seeks to build his status and repair his financial issues by winning at the Roulette table. The presence of Alexei’s love interest Polina, daughter of a Russian general, drives the protagonist’s motivation throughout this moving work of fiction.

Dostoevsky touches on key truths about love and money. He presents the idea that one’s true worth is not found in wealth or status. Roulette features prominently throughout the novel, but the author implies that success in the casino should not dictate one’s hopes and dreams. Instead, it should be a means of having fun with the people you love.

Last Call by Tim Powers

This one is more from left-field. Tim Powers’ Last Call is a fantasy novel set in Las Vegas that tells the tale of Scott Crane, a professional gambler who is trying to escape the murderous advances of his biological father. The book’s content concerns a kind of supernatural Poker game played in the casinos of an otherworldly Sin City.

The winner of the 1993 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel draws heavily from T.S. Eliot’s epic poem The Wasteland. The book takes all the characteristics of a classic fantasy thriller – suspense, action, drama – and sets them against this unique backdrop of casino Poker in Las Vegas.

Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less by Jeffrey Archer

This 1976 novel by Jeffrey Archer concerns a group of people trying to exact revenge upon a con-man who duped all four of them. Their quest takes them on a thrilling journey, with part of the novel set in the grandiose casinos of Monte Carlo, painting an evocative image of the glitz and glamour of casino life in Monaco and a rich portrayal of the lavish Mediterranean coast.

“If there were a Nobel Prize for storytelling he would have won it years ago,” the Telegraph wrote of Archer in 2009. Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less bears all the hallmarks of the author’s ability to weave a gripping, suspenseful narrative in his works of fiction.

If you’re a fan of both literature and casino games, why not pick up one of these books and cosy up on your favourite armchair?


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