Breaking the Bank: Joseph Jaggers

Thursday October 18, 2018 05:06 am

The Lottery Lab Staff

A man entered the Beaux-Arts Monte Carlo Casino and netted roughly $20 million in today’s dollars by playing roulette. The year was 1873 and the man was Joseph Jacques. The question is how did he manage to win such an astronomical amount from such a famous casino?

Jaggers was a cotton mill engineer from Yorkshire. He was fascinated by the roulette wheel when he took his first visit to the casino. He thought that there might be a certain pattern or mechanical way to predict the behavior of the roulette wheel. As an engineer with years of experience making cotton spindles spin, he thought he might be able to beat a gambling machine.  So, he planned to observe the working of the roulette wheel. He hired 6 clerks to observe and gather data about numbers generated by roulette wheels for 12 hours a day. The clerks recorded the movement of the roulette wheel and Joseph analyzed all that data. He cracked the pattern in six and got what he wanted – a pattern.

The pattern he found was a biased wheel on which the number nine came up regularly.  This roulette wheel, of course, became his favorite. Now, he was ready to go and scrape some significant funds from the casino.

Although the casino knew that Jaggers wasn’t doing anything illegal or using any of the usual probability based systems, they fought back. Casino authorities went to the wheel manufacturers in Paris and worked out the problem. They learned out that they had a biased wheel.  At night, they re-shuffled their each wheel into a different table. The next day, Joseph played and lost heavily (roughly $200,000) before he noticed that the familiar scratch over his favourite wheel was missing. It dawned upon him that he was not playing at his regular wheel. After a brief search, he  returned to his lucky wheel. He proceeded to play there and managed to scrape his total winning of $450,000 for a net winning of $325,000.

That day Jaggers left Monte Carlo and never returned. He disappeared from the public view and never gambled. Some say he was there for a specific reason and stopped playing when he had enough money to meet his needs. Others say he was a sensible Yorkshire men who took the money and returned home to clear his debts. Click here to read more here.