Whenever the subject of James Bond comes up, there’s always a debate concerning which actor delivered the bets portrayal. Some favour the suave and often humorous Roger Moore, for example, whereas others provide the dynamic and energetic performance of current incumbent Daniel Craig.
The man who encapsulated the essence of Bond better than anyone else was arguably Sean Connery, however, whose rugged and powerful presence gave the character a new and much-needed dimension that few have been able to replicate.
Connery embodied the spirit of Britain’s most enigmatic secret agent off screen, as was showcased when he stepped inside an Italian Casino at the height of his Bond fame.
Whilst roulette was always his game – and not blackjack, poker or slots – this is a tale that has gone down in casino history.
We’ll relay this incredible story below, and ask why his exploits were reminiscent of the great 007 himself.
The Day that Connery’s Luck was in
It was in 1963 when Connery frequented the Casino de la Vallee in Saint-Vincent, Italy, in search of a little adventure in the north-west of the country.
This quaint but luxurious casino remains open to this day, with guests able to access five-star accommodation, more than 90 table games and a selection of stunning, mountainside views.
Connery undoubtedly had his eyes solely on the prize when he entered the venue, however, heading straight for the roulette table in a no-nonsense manner that Bond would have been proud of. At this point, he placed his first, straight-up wager on 17, and watched with interest as the wheel began to spin.
The Scot’s first bet didn’t come in, so he decided to repeat the wager and once again backed his lucky number 17 on the next spin. This also failed, and at this point the legendary actor probably thought that he was in for a long night.
In fact, nothing could have been further from the truth.
Showcasing the kind of persistence that all great secret agents must have, Connery stuck to his guns and laid another bet on 17 in time for third spin. This time, the wager came in, and no doubt buoyed by his success he decided to let the bet ride.
This is where the story enters the realms of fantasy, as Connery (and no doubt his fellow gamblers) could only watch in awe as 17 came in for a second consecutive time. Incredibly, the Scot left his money on the table and decided to wager on 17 for the third consecutive spin, with his lucky number once again coming in at odds of around 50,000/1.
After this short but sensational run of luck, Connery made the sensible decision to cut and run, creating a unique slice of history in the process.
How Much did Connery win, and Would Bond have been Proud?
Connery was playing European roulette at the time, with straight-up wagers paying out at odds of 35/1.
Over the course of just three successful wagers (and five bets in total), the Scot left the table with a cool $27,000 in his back pocket. This is equated to more than £10,000 at the real-time exchange rate, and in today’s money this would represent a mightily impressive haul of more than £160,000.
This is not bad for just five minutes work, and there’s no doubt that Connery’s bold and aggressive style of play could have been borrowed straight from the James Bond handbook. In fact, the so-called ‘Lucky Number’ betting system (where high-rollers stake a fixed betting unit on the same single number repeatedly) is the riskiest strategy available to players, but one that delivers incredible returns when successful.
Connery’s win certainly cemented his reputation as the most authentic and accomplished Bond actor, augmenting his legend and affording him a cult following that remains to this day.
Interestingly, Connery repeated the trick in 1971, although this time he was playing Bond in the hit film Diamonds are Forever. This meant that the writers had actually borrowed an experience from Connery’s real life in order to create a Bond narrative, and in truth we can’t think of anything cooler than that.
The Last Word – Connery’s Legacy and the Lucky Number 17
While the ‘Lucky Number’ strategy is often confused with the so-called ‘James Bond’ roulette system, there’s no doubt that placing a series of straight-up wagers on the same number is something that 007 would approve of.
In this respect, Connery’s notorious roulette win is part of his unique legacy as the best ever Bond, and not only because his exploits found their way on to the silver screen. Make no mistake; it also established him as a dashing, real-life Bond, and one who blurred the lines between fiction and reality in the eyes of fans.
On a final note, it’s an interesting anomaly that the number 17 seems to play a pivotal role in famous roulette wins. Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley won a cool £1.3 million in just 15 minutes at a Mayfair casino back in 2008, for example, after wagering around £400,000 on a series of bet focused on the 17.
This is an incredible coincidence, and there’s no doubt that the number 17 has passed in folklore as one of roulette’s luckiest numbers. It’s certainly one of the most popular straight-up bets, and this is thanks largely to the efforts of Connery and (to a lesser extent) Ashley.
Of course, had Quickspins been around in 1963, perhaps Connery could have tried his luck at some of the highest rtp slots online. That said, roulette is the game the living legend is, and will always be, famous for. Not even Daniel Craig’s poker exploits in Casino Royale can compare to Connery’s real life casino success.