When I was new to casino gambling, one thing everyone knew about roulette is that the number that drew the most wagers was 17. That’s because James Bond bet on 17 in the 1971 film “Diamonds Are Forever.”
I doubt players today are influenced by a 50-year-old movie. I’m not even convinced it was true decades ago. I don’t know of anyone having produced a statistical report on numbers wagered, and common knowledge has a way of disappearing under close inspection.
That doesn’t mean there’s never any Bond connection in real-world gambling. In early January, a reader contacted me to ask if I saw any value in something called the “James Bond Betting Strategy.”
I don’t know of Bond actually using this on film. It’s expensive, and it involves doubling bets after losses. That should scream “avoid me!” from the start.
Let’s assume you’re at a table with a $5 minimum with a minimum chip value of $1. Also assume you’re a player of modest bankroll making minimum bets, so we’ll use units of $1. If you roll higher and want to keep the same proportions but multiply your wager, that’s between you and your bankroll.
The system requires that you start by wagering 20 units — $20 if your units are $1 chips. The biggest share would be $14 on the last 18 numbers, 19-36. You’d make a $5 six-number double-street wager to cover 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18. The final bet is $1 on 0.
Losing numbers are 1-12 on a single-zero wheel or 1-12 plus 00 on the double-zero wheels that are much more common in the United States.
Single-zero wheels have 37 numbers and you’re covering 25, so you win on 67.7 percent of spins. On double-zero wheels with 38 numbers, you win on 65.8 percent.
Winning about twice as often as you lose sounds great, any losing spin costs your full $20 while the winners bring a profit that’s a fraction of a whole.
Imagine a sequence in which the ball lands in each number once. That’s 37 spins on a single-zero wheel for an investment of $740 or 38 spins on a double-zero wheel with wagers totaling $760.
On each of the 18 numbers from 19-36 you’d keep your $14 wager and get $14 in winnings for a total of $504.
On each of the six numbers from 13-18 you’d keep your $5 wager and get $25 in winnings at 5-1 payoffs. That’s a total of $180.
On the 0, you’d keep your $1 wager and get $35 in winnings for $36.
All told at the end of the trial, you have $720. On a single-zero wheel, the house has $20 of your original $740, or 2.7 percent. At double-zero roulette, the house has $40 of your $760, or 5.26 percent.
This system does nothing to trim the house edge. Average losses are right on the 2.7 percent house edge on single-zero wheels and 5.27 percent edge at double-zero roulette.
If you leave it at that, this isn’t any worse than any other roulette system. If it adds interest to play these numbers instead of any other number set, then enjoy. Just be realistic and don’t expect profits to roll.
As for doubling bets after profits — that’s something you should ignore. Even when you win nearly two-thirds of the time, losing streaks happen and bets get very large very fast. Use the same caution you would on any double-up Martingale system and keep your money in your pocket.