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Roulette - THE MEN WHO BROKE THE BANK AT MONTE CARLO - Joseph Jagger

Years before Charles Wells walked into the Monte Carlo Casino and cleaned out the tables Craps History over a dozen times, another man was able to break the bank using a decidedly more scientific approach.

Joseph Jagger, born in England in 1829, was a British engineer, and it should be mentioned, reportedly a distant relative of Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones. Jagger was well-trained; an expert in mechanics of all kinds, and he decided that it might be a novel idea to apply what he knew to the world of gambling.

You see, Jagger refused to believe the notion that all the results of spins of the roulette wheel were completely random in nature. He firmly held to the belief that there would be natural biases on some wheels that would develop simply due to the mechanical makeup of the apparatus.

In 1873 it was time to put that theory into practice, and Jagger did it in a highly diligent fashion. He employed the services of six clerks and sent them into the Beaux-Arts Monte Carlo Casino, each covering a different roulette wheel, with specific instructions to record all of the results that came from that reel for every hour the casino was open (which was 12 hours at the time).

After their "trial" was finished, the data was brought back to Jagger, who poured over all of it for days, trying to detect some pattern that would give him a door he could walk through, figuratively speaking. Finally, he hit upon something. Jagger noticed that one of the wheels showed a strong bias toward nine numbers in particular (7, 8, 9, 17, 18, 19, 22, 28 and 29).

Jagger went into the casino and started to make large bets. He met with immediate success, winning 14,000 British pounds in his first session. He had accumulated about 60,000 pounds after a few days, at which time the casino, which may or may not have had an idea about what he was doing specifically, launched some counter-measures, not the least of which was to shift the wheels around, which naturally threw Jagger off-balance, since the wheel that had the bias was no longer in the place he thought it was.

What Jagger DID detect, however, was that there was a scratch on the wheel that he had been winning all the money at, and though he didn't find it on the first wheel he looked, he found it eventually. Then the winning started again.

It was once again the casino's turn. They began to shift the frets - the metal dividers between numbers on the wheel - around from wheel to wheel on a regular basis, which mitigated the effect of any bias. That was pretty much the end for Jagger, as he had for all intents and purposes been thwarted. He had proven his point, though. He picked up and left, walking with a profit that was about equivalent to USD $325,000.

Unlike Charles Wells, who came to Monte Carlo and broke the bank almost twenty years after him, Jagger retired, invested, and lived off his win for the rest of his life.


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