“The name’s Bond… James Bond.” When Sean Connery delivered the famous line in the opening scene of 1962’s Dr. No, he was sat in a casino in Monte Carlo, playing Chemin-de-Fer. It was from here that we realised Bond has a penchant for high-stakes. From the first movie, up to the most recent, Spectre, James Bond has always been associated with casino. A game of Blackjack, Baccarat, Roulette, Poker – he’s tried his hand at them all and has always been successful. There’s even a Roulette strategy named after 007. You may struggle to find Chemmy in an online casino, but there’s certainly many variations of classic casino games readily available at your fingertips.
More interesting than the history of James Bond and casino, in the novels and films, is the Sean Connery story. Not only is Connery the original – and quite often referred to as ‘the best’ – Bond, he had a real-life casino experience that could well rival that of his character.
He may not have been observed by a woman like Sylvia Trench, or dressed in a suave suit, sipping a dry martini (shaken not stirred, of course), but Connery hit the casino and won big.
When Connery beat the casino
It was back in 1963 (a year after Dr. No was released) that Connery frequented the Casino de la Vallee in Saint-Vincent, Italy – set within the heart of The Alps. In case you’re interested, the casino remains open to guests to this day, having opened its doors in 1947.
A fan of Roulette, Connery headed straight for the table and in true ballsy Bond style, placed a straight-up bet on the number 17. As the wheel spun, he watched intently, only for his bet not to come in. Unperturbed, he tried again, a straight-up bet on 17 and once again, the bet didn’t come in. So, he tried again, for a third time, and it was third time lucky – the number came in.
Obviously, the start of a new (and lucky) run, he left his money on the table and bet on 17 again – for a second time it came in. Riding the wave, he tried for a further time and managed to be successful, an incredible three spins in a row. At this point, he made the sensible decision to pick up his winnings and run – making history in the process.
The odds on 17 coming in three spins running were a crazy 1:50653 and with Roulette odds of 37-to-1, the pay-out was 35:1. Connery won 17 million Italian Lira (the equivalent to over £160,000 in today’s money). Certainly not bad for five minutes work – and a feat that James Bond himself would be proud of.
When Connery replicated the feat
In 1971’s Diamonds are Forever, not only did Connery return to the role as Bond (after declining to star in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service), in what would be his final appearance as the secret agent, but in true Bond style he returned to the casino.
Diamonds are Forever features a number of casino scenes, but none more iconic than the Roulette scene at Circus Circus. The opening credits see Bond dispatching the villain by jamming his head in the Roulette wheel, before later returning to the Las Vegas casino and placing a bet (again) on 17 to win big! After success at Roulette, Bond plays Craps.