Joseph Jagger: The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo

A casino's fortunes may rise and fall on its integrity, thus it would always claim that their tables and gaming equipment are completely unbiased. However, the mechanical composition of these machines may allow for hiccups that can be exploited once discovered.

Such was the case of Joseph Jagger, a chap from Yorkshire, England born in 1930. He worked as an engineer in a cotton mill but achieved fame as The Man who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo, although he apparently is not alone in this claim.

With his engineering background and his penchant for roulette, he theorized that minute mechanical defects in roulette wheels would compromise its randomness, resulting in select numbers showing up more often than others.

He acted on this theory by observing six roulette wheels over time at the Beaux-Arts casino in Monte Carlo, with the help of six accomplices. Carefully noting the results from the wheels, Jagger then determined that one of the six wheels favored a specific set of nine numbers, namely 7, 8, 9, 17, 18, 19, 22, 28 and 29.

Armed with this knowledge, he proceeded to play the game at that particular wheel and ended up with over $120,000 of winnings in just three days. This amount may not seem that impressive in today's standards but this actually translates to $6,000,000 in today's value. Such a streak caught the attention of the casino management, prompting the switching of the roulette wheels positions. Unwittingly, Jagger initially played at the same spot, thinking he was betting on the same wheel. He thus lost some money as a result until he wised up and looked for the compromised wheel, thereby extending his winning streak for another two days.

The Casino could not allow itself to be beaten by a Joseph Jagger so it took on a different tack, rotating the metal dividers nightly among the numbers, thus constantly changing the roulette wheel's bias to a different set of numbers daily.

This was a strategy Joseph could no longer overcome so he decided to cut his losses and departed from Monte Carlo with some of his winning still intact. He proceeded to make use of this new wealth, investing in real estate after leaving the cotton factory. He passed away in 1892 at the age of 62, but remains memorable with his legacy to the casino industry.