Two Famous Roulette Players

Published: November 18, 2017

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There are many famous blackjack players who made huge sums of money in the land casinos of USA through card counting. If you scan the history of roulette, you will come across two players who broke the bank in Monte Carlo. Both of them operated in the 19th century.

Joseph Jagger was a British engineer. Because of his experience with machines, he speculated that the outcomes of roulette wheels would not be purely random. He reasoned that mechanical imbalances in the roulette wheel could result in biases towards particular numbers. In 1873 he went to the Beaux Arts Casino at Monte Carlo and hired clerks to secretly record the numbers called on the roulette wheels. The results showed that in one of the wheels nine of the numbers occurred much more frequently than the others.

Jagger returned to Monte Carlo in July 1875 and started wagering on the favourable numbers in the biased wheel. In three days Jagger won about £60,000. Unfortunately, some of the other players figured out what was happening and began to follow his bets. The casino staff also caught on. They rearranged the position of the wheels. Next day Jagger began to lose money. He realised that the wheel positions had been changed. Jagger then identified the biased wheel and resumed gambling there. He began winning again. The casino reacted by moved the frets and metal dividers on the biased wheel, so that a different set of numbers would be called more often. And they made these change daily so that Jagger was not be able to identify the biased numbers. Jagger understood that he would not be able to repeat his successes and left Monte Carlo a rich man.

Charles Deville Wells was a conman who was adept at weaselling money for outlandish schemes. Then he would blow the money away on roulette. He landed at the Monte Carlo Casino in July 1891 with £4,000 borrowed from investors for manufacturing a musical jump rope. He played continuously for 11 hours he managed to "break the bank" 12 times. Breaking the bank referred to winning all the chips available with the croupier at a roulette table. The casino immediately reloaded the table and the gambling continued. His total winnings ran over a million francs. In November Wells again returned to Monte Carlo. The casino put private detectives on his trail, who found that Wells was not cheating. Again he won over a million francs.

Wells became famous in England as a result of his exploits. In 1892 Fred Gilbert wrote a song about him titled The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo. In the winter of 1892 he again returned to Monte Carlo with a fresh bankroll, again borrowed from investors. He had brought a mistress with him and lived on a yacht and the other a mistress. Wells broke the bank six times in this trip but splurged all his winnings on wining and dining. After that the frauds perpetuated by him caught up and Wells died a pauper in 1926.


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