A song was written in 1892 titled, “The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo.” Later two books were written and a movie made with the same name. Can you really break the bank and win a lot of money at roulette?

It’s actually impossible to win everything a casino has in its “bank,” and you can easily see why. A casino is like the Federal Government in a way. One option of the Government when it starts to run short of money is to simply print some more. The casino deals in chips. When they start running short of chips, they put in a call to the warehouse to send some more chips. So you can’t really break the bank.

In 1891 Charles Wells went to the Monte Carlo casino with ten thousand francs and after eleven hours playing roulette won a million francs. (I don’t know what that is in
euros – but it was a lot of money for those days.) He went back a second time in the same year and won another million francs in a three-day session. The casino had a mixed reaction to his success. On the one hand they were extremely happy to get the publicity, but on the other hand they certainly didn’t want Wells to make a habit of walking off with so much of their money. To make matters worse for the casino, Wells returned to “break the bank” an amazing six more times!

The casinos tried without success to find out his system. Wells eventually admitted he used the well-known Martingale system but insisted he had a fantastic streak of luck and nothing else that made him a winner.

The Martingale System is very simple to use. If you win, bet the same amount. If you lose, double your losing bet and keep on doing this until you win. This system fails for two reasons: First: long losing streaks are quite common, and you will undoubtedly run out of money. Take a quick look at the math. If you start with a \$5 bet and lose seven bets in a row, your 8th bet will be \$640. I guarantee if you play long enough you will lose seven bets in a row at some point. Second: to protect themselves against another Wells, the casinos have established a maximum bet at all their table games. So you will not be able to double your losing bets to infinity.

Another “bank breaker” (also in the late 1800s) achieved less notoriety. He was Joseph Jagger (said to be a distant relative of Mick Jagger), an engineer. He suspected that some numbers would come up more often than others because the roulette wheels could not be manufactured to zero tolerance and had imperfections. He hired a team of assistants to record the numbers as they came up on one specific roulette wheel in a Monte Carlo casino. The results proved him correct. Nine numbers came up more frequently than mathematics would predict. He bet on those numbers until the casino caught on and starting moving the wheels around and taking other measures to defeat him. Jagger was able to quit a two million franc winner, bought real estate, and died a wealthy man.

What are your chances to win at roulette? There are some reports of others winning substantial amounts of money at roulette using Jagger’s observation system, but they are few and far between. The chance of you finding a biased wheel today is close to zero. Don’t forget the casinos are on the lookout for anything that will lose them money and they watch their wheels closely and maintain them carefully for perfect balance.

There are a lot of roulette systems that are well known, and you can find out about them easily (for example, Fibonacci, Paroli, and Labouchere). If you decide to play online, some casinos explain a variety of roulette systems for free. Many systems are offered for sale that advertise they can make you a winner. Investigate them carefully before you buy. Unfortunately from a mathematical standpoint no system can beat the house edge. If you want to have a reasonable chance of winning at the casinos, visit my website to find gambler’s aids to playing winning roulette.

By Joseph Starr
Joseph Starr (pen name) completed his formal education when he earned a Ph.D. in Finance and Accounting. He taught business, economics, and computer subjects at the college level for thirty years and is now retired. Visit his website to read about popular gambler’s aids to help you win at the casinos.