Casino Scene Analysis in Diamonds are Forever

In the previous five newsletters I analyzed James Bond playing chemin de fer in five different James Bond movies. Having exhausted that game, I shall go back in time and look at Diamonds Are Forever, where we find Bond in Las Vegas shooting craps.

An elephant at sunset

Much of the movie takes place in or near Las Vegas. Most of those scenes revolve around the fictional Whyte House casino, which at the time was filmed at the International Hotel. It has since changed names to the Las Vegas Hilton, the LVS, and how the Westgate. From 1981 to 1990, it was the largest hotel in the world.

For this newsletter, I shall mostly refer to a clip of the movie which can be found on YouTube. The movie was released in 1971, when things were still more “old school” in Vegas. Fair warning that I did not turn 21 until 1986. Even then, I was a $1 betting flea, so take my comments on anything not mathematical with a grain of salt.

At the beginning of the scene, we meet Plenty O’Toole. I don’t know if there is a particular term for women like Plenty, but they like to hang around the gambling tables, preferably high limit, watching or even slow playing with small bets. They seek out single men making large wagers, preferably winning. It is their goal to root them on, play with them, bring them good luck, provide eye candy, etc.. The hope being if the man wins, he will share in the winnings with his new-found good luck charm. What happens from there can take many directions. This angle is not seen in Las Vegas much any longer. I saw a lot of it at the Veneto casino in Pamama City, which I wrote about my article Chip Hustled in Panama.

We first hear James asking for credit at the 0:20 point in the scene. Here we have an unknown player asking for $10,000 credit and given it with no apparent paperwork. I was only six-years-old when this movie came out, so I can’t speak to how realistic such informality with issuing credit was. Today, one must apply in advance and credit is based mostly on how much money you have in the bank account you disclose as security.

The large numbers being requested by Bond gets the attention of Plenty. After some humorous banter, Plenty bets for and rolls for Bond. She rolls a nine on the come-out roll. The next roll is a seven, which is known as a “7-out.” For those unfamiliar with craps, it means she lost. The stickman incorrectly says, “Seven loser, the lucky lady craps out.” It was a seven and it did lose, but she didn’t crap out. To crap out is to roll a 2, 3, or 12 on the come-out roll. The stickman should have said, “Seven loser, the lucky lady sevens out.”

At the 1:42 point, Bond takes back the dice and we see a new come out roll. Bond rolls a 10. There a couple strange things with the roll. First, for a come out roll the lamer that identifies the point should have black side up, not white. Also, the dice don’t make it passed the “don’t come” section of the table. If anybody could throw a nice lob, barely kissing the end the table, it would be Bond. Instead, this was a wimpy roll down the table that probably would have been called a “no roll” under real playing conditions.

After establishing the point of 10, Bond makes the following bets:

  • Full odds on the 10
  • $200 on the hard way (I presume the hard 10)
  • The limit on all the numbers
  • $250 on the 11

I must give credit for betting the full odds on the 10. The “limit on all the numbers” is a mediocre bet. For those unfamiliar with the game, he is making place bets on the 5, 6, 8, and 9, and a buy bet on the 4. It would be implied he doesn’t need to make a buy bet on the 10, since he already has the pass and odds bets on that number. However, Bond gets a Wizard finger wagging of shame for the suck bets on the hard 10 and the 11.

It’s implied Bond played for a while and we next see Bond cashing out. Recall he bought in for $10,000 in credit. He walked away with $50,000, presumably after paying back the marker, plus an unidentifiable chip he tips the dealers with. Plenty compliments him on his success for which he gives her $5,000. Note the $5,000 and $10,000 “chips” are generic lamers that anybody could probably buy at a casino supply store. Plenty tries to get to know Bond better in the following scene, but since it’s not gambling related, I’ll let you enjoy that on your own.

Live for Films

Much later in the movie, there is another scene where we find Q cheating at slot machines. That scene can be found in this YouTube clip, starting at the 4:20 point. The device somehow stops the reels on the symbols set on his ring. He calls it an “RPM controller.” I won’t get into critiquing this device. If Q can make an invisible car, you have to just take all his gadgets on faith that they are possible and practical.

However, I will critique this scene on legal and moral reasons. Bond and Q are supposed to be ultimately in law enforcement. It seems out of character for Q to be blatantly cheating in a casino. It is scenes like this that don’t advance the plot and make little sense that make Diamonds are Forever one of my least favorite Bond movies and certainly my least favorite of the Connery movies.

Next week I plan to look at the gambling scenes in Goldfinger and Octopussy. These are not casino scenes, but private wagering on golf and backgammon respectively. Until then, may the odds be in your favor.