History's Most Famous Roulette Bets
09 August 2013
Roulette, founded by French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal, has a rich heritage. Here is a look through time at some of the game’s most memorable bets – both fact and fiction.
The first person to cheat successfully at casino roulette was Joseph Jaggers in 1873. Along with six accomplices, the humble engineer from a small Yorkshire village made careful observations of all the roulette wheels at the Monte Carlo casino in Monaco. He spotted one to be seriously biased, and therefore predictable. By making use of this knowledge, the team scooped over $325,000, which is the equivalent of several million dollars in today’s money.
In 1891, Charles Wells became “The Man That Broke The Bank at Monte Carlo”, and the following year, this event was celebrated in a song of the same name, written by Fred Gilbert. ‘Breaking the Bank’ is what happens when you win all the available money at a table, and a black cloth has to be laid over the table until more money arrives.
Charles Wells broke the bank at every table he played for a number of days, so naturally the casino became suspicious of his methods. However, despite hiring private detectives, they could not work out what he was doing, and to this day nobody knows exactly how he pulled off this incredible feat. At the time, Wells put his success down to his engineering brilliance, attracting investment from several wealthy gamblers keen to cash in on his methods. However, after losing lots of investor’s money, Wells later admitted that his success was just a lucky streak that he decided to capitalise on.
There is a crooked roulette wheel in the 1942 film classic Casablanca. It’s installed in Rick’s Café Americain nightclub, where the dealer can make it land on 22 by pressing a special button. Rick, played by Humphrey Bogart, takes pity on a Bulgarian refugee. He tells the refugee to put his last three chips on 22 and monitors the dealer to let him win, which he does. The refugee repeats the bet on Rick’s command to scoop a monster pay-out.
In the 1973 film The Sting starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman, small time conman Johnny Hooker (Redford) bets nearly all of the money he has just conned out of a local mobster and loses it on a single bet on a rigged roulette wheel.
In 1992, the famous Polish politician Pawel Piskorski claimed to have won nearly five billion zloty (roughly 100,000 Euros in today’s money) at roulette. This was, at least, what he told the revenue office. However, in order to win this amount, he would have had to have won 138 times in a row, betting the house maximum of a million zloty each time, which seems rather unlikely. The roulette story was probably a guise for political corruption.
In the 1998 film Run Lola Run, Lola (Franka Potente) spends all her money on a 100 mark chip, bets it on 20, and wins. She then lets her winnings ride on 20, and wins again, walking out of the casino with nearly 130,000 marks, which is enough to get her smuggler boyfriend out of trouble with his boss. The chances of winning these two bets in succession are exactly 1368-1.
In 2004, London resident Ashley Revell sold all of his possessions, including his clothes, and spent nearly all the money on one $135,300 double or nothing bet on red at a roulette table in Las Vegas. He won, doubling his net worth in one swift (and somewhat risky) stroke. Some speculated that the event, which was filmed for television, was a PR stunt and that the production company or casino would have covered any loss regardless.
Author: Michael Charalambous -
Michael Charalambous is a director at Right Casino Media, and blogs about the casino industry in the UK.
Tags: roulette, casino, roulette bets, casino roulette, roulette wheels,
Posted In: Casinos, Roulette,
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