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Famous Casino Cheat: Joseph Jagger

You may possibly have heard the famous tale of the Man who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo and if you’ve ever wondered who this man really was, look no further than Joseph Hobson Jagger, a Yorkshire engineer born in 1830. Fascinated with the workings of the roulette wheel from a young age, the young Jagger devised a theory that the outcomes on a typical wheel were not actually random, but could be biased due to mechanical imbalances.

Jagger decided to put his theory to the test and hired six men to secretly record the outcomes of the six available roulette wheels at the famous Beaux-Arts Casino in Monte Carlo. After examining the findings, Jagger discovered that one out of the six wheels was definitely biased towards nine particular numbers (7, 8, 9, 17, 18, 19, 22, 28 and 29). With this information in his pocket, Jagger hit the casino floor and earned himself a staggering GBP 60,000 over a period of 3 days – definitely a small fortune in those days.

Casino management could not understand this sudden streak of luck and tried its best to get to the bottom of the problem. But when other gamblers started wagering on the numbers that Jagger had so much luck on, they took drastic measures and switched around the location of the wheels. At first, Jagger didn’t pick up on this and lost some money, but when he remembered that he had marked the ‘lucky’ wheel in secret, he quickly went back to using it and made himself more money in the process. The casino played a cat and mouse game with Jagger and the machines, until the feisty mechanic decided that he had had enough and would leave while he was still in the money.  All in all, Jagger made himself a tidy GBP 65,000 in profit, managed to break the bank in Monte Carlo and certainly had a lot of fun in the process. He never returned to Monte Carlo again.

And two tidbits about Joseph Jagger to round this off: Firstly, he is related (albeit far off) to Rolling Stones legend, Mick Jagger. Secondly, the famous song The Man who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo is not actually written about Jagger. It was dedicated to another Englishman who managed to win big money in 1891 by the name of Charles Wells.

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  1. Gonzalo Garcia-Pelaya: The Man who Cracked the Roulette Code | Casino B Blog linked to this post on February 26, 2011

    […] Garcia-Pelaya’s system was soon revealed and he was then taken to court and charged with cheating. However, Spanish courts, including the Supreme Court, ruled in his favour and the casinos were […]

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