The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo


The Casino de Monte-Carlo is one of the most
famous gambling establishments on Earth and as a result is often referenced in various
forms of media. Perhaps the most well-known mention of the
casino is the song, The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo. But who was this mysterious gambler and how
exactly did he break the bank? To begin with, we should probably explain
what “breaking the bank” means, since there appears to be some confusion around what specifically
it refers to in this context. Breaking the bank happens when a gambler wins
more money than the table they’re playing at currently has available. While breaking the bank can also technically
refer to winning more money than the entire casino currently has available, this is virtually
impossible (at least today) for a variety of remarkably uninteresting reasons. As for the term itself, it is said to originate
from a French saying, “faire sauter la banque”, which roughly translates to- you guessed it-
“breaking the bank”. At the Monte-Carlo, whenever someone was able
to accomplish the impressive feat of breaking the bank, the staff would place a ceremonial
black cloth over the table while more chips were brought over, meaning technically, a
skilled or lucky player could break the bank several times over the course of an evening. One of the first men known to have accomplished
this at the Monte-Carlo was an engineer called Joseph Jagger who, in 1873, studied the casino’s
six roulette wheels in an effort to discern whether or not they were truly random. After many hours of watching the wheels and
meticulously noting the results with the help of six hired clerks, Jagger discovered that
one of the wheels wasn’t giving truly random results. Jagger theorised that a mechanical imbalance
in the wheel was causing it to act in a predictable way, thus creating a point of exploitation. With this knowledge in hand, he strolled into
the casino and promptly won approximately $70,000 (or about $1.3 million today) in a
single evening. Over the course of the next few days, Jagger
broke the bank multiple times, ultimately netting himself approximately $450,000 (about
$8.7 million today) prompting the casino to move the wheel he was gambling on without
Jagger knowing. As they expected, Jagger suddenly began losing
on his next trip to the casino. However, Jagger soon found his favoured wheel
again due to a small scratch it had on one of the numbers and quickly won back the money
he’d lost. The casino, who at this point still had no
idea how Jagger was winning so consistently, then resorted to moving around the frets dividing
each number, which threw off his predictions, causing him to start losing again. Jagger, wisely deciding to quit while he was
ahead, took his remaining winnings and went home to England where he became a respected
property owner and businessman. All in all, he walked away with approximately
$325,000 or about $6.3 million today. The casino itself initially lost significantly
more than that due to a number of people attempting to cash in on Jagger’s “luck” by mimicking
his bets during his hot streak. Of course, this all worked out for the Monte-Carlo
in the end as Jagger’s wins were widely publicised, helping to further popularise the casino. As ever, the house always wins in the end. Although Jagger’s bank breaking streak was
impressive and widely reported on in his time, he isn’t believed to be the inspiration for
the song, The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo which was, interestingly enough, written
the year he died in 1892. The song is actually believed to be inspired
by another Englishman called Charles Wells who accomplished a similar feat a few years
later than Jagger in 1891 and likewise helped to make the Monte-Carlo one of the most popular
casinos in the world thanks to his exploits. Unlike Jagger, who broke the bank using a
system, Wells always maintained that his own hot streak in the Monte-Carlo was the result
of dumb luck. Of course, Wells was something of a conman,
so whether it was actually luck or not is a matter of debate. In fact, just to get the money he needed to
break the bank in the first place, Wells is thought to have conned several wealthy Brits
out of their money by claiming to have invented a “musical jump rope”, which they invested
in, allowing him to take the money and flee to Monaco where he made a beeline for the
Monte-Carlo. Over the course of a single 11 hour gambling
session, Wells turned £4000 into approximately one million Francs (about $23 million today)
by betting on roulette. In the process, it was reported that Wells
managed to deplete the reserves of the table a staggering 12 times and during one particularly
impressive hot streak managed to correctly guess 23 times out of 30 spins (giving him
a 76% accuracy rate). The next day, Wells left Monaco, but he didn’t
stay gone. A few months later, he once again arrived
to gamble at the Monte-Carlo, only this time arriving in town in a huge yacht, The Palais
Royal, with a beautiful woman, one Joan Burns, on his arm. Once again, seemingly with only luck on his
side, he managed to win over one million Francs from the casino, this time in a three day
gambling session, breaking the bank several times in the process. Wells said of all this, “Anyone is free to
watch me play and imitate me, but the general defect of the ordinary casino gambler is that
he lacks courage.” The casino, while enjoying the publicity,
believed that Wells had to be cheating so hired a team of private detectives to find
out how he was doing it. However, they couldn’t find anything amiss
and concluded that the streak just seemed to be the result of some amazingly good luck. And they may even have been correct. You see, Wells ultimately lost all his winnings,
along with money from investors. (In this new investment scheme, he claimed
he’d come up with a new design for an ultra-efficient steam engine that he was testing in the yacht
he arrived in town in.) In fact, while in the process of losing his
winnings, he even managed to get some of these investors to send him even more money, claiming
he needed it to repair his engine, but that he also just gambled away. In the end, he lost everything and continued
on in his conman ways. He spent the remainder of his life intermittently
being arrested and defrauding people, sometimes on a surprisingly massive scale, before eventually
dying more or less penniless and being buried in a pauper’s grave. Bonus Facts:
Ever wonder where the term “jackpot” came from? Well, wonder no more- Jackpot originally popped
up around the 1870s and was from the poker game “Jacks or Better”. This is much like traditional five card draw,
except in this case, if a player does not have a pair of “jacks or better” in the first
round of betting, he has to pass. This doesn’t necessarily mean he has to
be holding a pair of jacks, queens, or the like. It just means that he has to be holding cards
that will beat a pair of tens. Once the first person who has that has placed
a bet in the opening betting round, the rest of the participants are free to bet as they
will, regardless of the cards they hold. In the case where nobody holds “jacks or better”,
the hand must be re-dealt with additional ante required, so the pot can grow just from
antes. When the game is finally over, no player is
allowed to win with anything less than three of a kind or better. If, at the end, no one has better than three
of a kind or more, then no player gets the pot and the hand is re-dealt with additional
ante required to be added to the existing accumulated pot. Over time this pot can potentially grow quite
large, hence “jackpot”. Within a few decades of the term “jackpot”
in poker popping up, the term morphed into a slang term for “trouble with the law”, and
further morphed by the mid-20th century to primarily be associated with “hitting the
jackpot” with slot machines. From there, it became even more figurative,
referring to any big prize or good turn of events.

100 thoughts on “The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo

  1. The heck did he say at 0:50?!
    It sounded like he was racking his throat for a wad of flegm.

    My best guess is, “faire, ces tout le banc”.
    In English that would be “make, is everything the bench”

  2. Is it possible that both men were playing at the same roulette table? One intentional the other by chance. Yes theres a considerable time between the two, but the casinos been around a long time and may keep certain furnishings for aesthetic.

  3. Some guys from MIT did this by using computers they had built into their shoes and operated with their toes! They took Las Vegas casinos for multiple fortunes on the roulette tables. As with this guy, they had noticed roulette wheels often have a bias, IE, they are not 100% level. As computers were so new in the late 1970's and early 1980s there was no law against it then. Evetually they did get sussed out. Steve Wozniak, one of Apple's founders, was peripherally mixed up in it. It is written about in a book called 'The Newtonian Casino' by Thomas Bass.

  4. Today they will just shut down the table if they think you are winning too much and direct you over to a rigged table or just kick you out and dob you in to all the other casinos.

  5. At the US Postal Service we used to use the phrase "jackpotting the mail" to refer to a process where the carriers in a given area would take all the outgoing mail they collected on their routes and "jackpot" or drop it into a predetermined blue collection box by a certain time. The result would be the collector picking up a larger pile of mail (the jackpot) than they would have otherwise had, and getting it to processing earlier in the day.

  6. What's interesting is that a lot of casinos now actually put computer monitors next to their tables to show the last dozen or so results, which is curious because while it can help them detect any irregularities in the numbers, it also helps players see if numbers keep coming up. Once when I was in a casino, I noticed three numbers kept coming up on the roulette wheel so often, I was surprised that they didn't come to change it.

  7. Are you Washed in The Blood of Jesus Christ The Lord and The Savior?

    1 Cor. 15:1-4 KJV

    Rom. 5:9 KJV

    Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
    2 Timothy 4:2 | KJV

    It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy,
    and after vows to make enquiry.
    Proverbs 20:25 | KJV

    Thou art my hiding place;
    thou shalt preserve me from trouble;
    thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah
    Psalm 32:7 | KJV

    No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.
    Isaiah 54:17 | KJV

  8. You should do a video about why people are buried 6 feet under. I think hearing it from you with all your extra tidbits of information would be most interesting.

  9. I have a question for you, if time travelers went to the past, would they spread plagues life the colonist did in the America’s?

  10. I hate it when someone wins big and stupidly squanders it away. Or they're not happy enough with what they have already, they have to have more. Courage my ass, sir, look where your courage took you. Should've had the "courage" to say you have more than enough and walk away.

  11. It doesn’t take too much practice for a dealer/croupier to be able to hit, or miss, any particular number. Some dealers make a big deal about hitting a group of numbers a good tipper is playing to build tension get them to increase tips. You fix the speed of the wheel in your head and without looking at the wheel you can let the ball go at any time, giving it just the correct amount of umpf to hit a number. Any dealer who says they cant do this are lying, a fool, or just haven’t got a clue about anything. The first time I tried to hit a number the punter had $50 on for himself and $50 for the dealer(s). Result $1750 for him, $1750 for us. Pit bosses used me to close games down by hitting numbers with nothing or very little on them.

  12. Wheels become really bias if they don't oil the wheel. So just find a casino that has a wheel that loses speed to quick. This makes the dealer have to constantly spin the wheel creating a constant speed. Making the bias numbers show up more.

  13. According to Bill Wyman, in his book, "Rolling With The Stones, Mick Jagger is distantly related to the Jagger who broke the bank at Monte Carlo.

  14. In Vegas, forget breaking the bank. If someone gets hot, they'll never break the table before someone comes and takes them to a back room for "questioning". Or, maybe I've seen Casino too many times. Suffice it to say, it's very difficult to win anything substantial these days unless you are making substantial bets. However, slot machines do pay off big on occasion, but even they are no longer dependent on moving parts. They are nothing more than computers these days and can be programmed to even know when there is a new player. They promptly start paying off slightly more than you put in, which then causes you to raise your bets and eventually lose.

  15. So with millions in the bank.. a yacht a beautiful wife and every opportunity to create a viable business how do I proceed? Hmmm.. well dumb luck has got me here so that's obviously the way to go!

  16. I have a strategy which means I have been consistently ahead on roulette for nearly 30 years. On my first visit to Las Vegas I put a dollar bill into a giant fruit machine, which paid out $2 in chips.

    I took these to a roulette table and bet on odd, the first time I had ever played.

    The ball went in number 5 and I suddenly realised that I was ahead on roulette by $2.

    I cashed in my chips and walked out of the casino. I have never played roulette again and I never will. I was $2 ahead in 1981, I am still $2 ahead, and I will be $2 ahead on the day I die.

  17. Quite interesting but I thought the bonus fact was more interesting. I had never wondered where jackpot came from but that made perfect sense.

  18. I recall a story from the Klondike, where a man had a particularly successful lucky streak. He realized he was just that and quit that night and hastily left Dawson City for good that night. Unfortunately when he arrived in Skagway he decided to try his luck again …and lost his entire fortune on three roles of the dice!

  19. I recall a story from the Klondike, where a man had a particularly successful lucky streak. He realized he was just that and quit that night and hastily left Dawson City for good that night. Unfortunately when he arrived in Skagway he decided to try his luck again …and lost his entire fortune on three roles of the dice!

  20. I thing the best was Lajos Gály. He was the roulette king.
    A short history about the beginning of his lucky: when he arrived to Monaco, in the first 2 weeks he lost all of his money. A friend gave him a bit money, and he played the 17 on roulette. He won. Next round he put again the 17 by the winning, and he won again. Next round, did the same, all money on 17, and 16-17,17-18,14-17 etc. And won third time too. After this evening he lived 22 years in Monaco.

  21. There was a book written about a man who also broke the bank playing roulette, his trick was to have 6 people with him playing at the same table and playing against each other on sequences spending more if they were loosing and by doing so and covering all possibilities finally won including the previous loss. They were banned, moved to other casino till they were banned world wide and the minimum betting increased meaning that it became harder for other to follow suit.

  22. His definition of jackpot contains a mistake. "This is not to say that you actually need to have a pair of jacks, or queens, etc… It just means you need to be able to beat a pair of tens." Ummmm… That is the exact sane thing!

  23. Love your channels but why do we have to look at you so much? No one wants to see you all the time. Larger and more images maybe. Less you. No offense but we squint to read the words on the screen but see your freshly shaven head easier.

  24. Thankfully I found this channel again for some reason Youtube is messing up my subscriptions and most vids i like are not in my recommended

  25. I love roulette. But i know how to have a 64% chance of winning every spin. (On a 2 green wheel at least) the problem is that there's also a 36% of losing every spin and losing a spin costs more that you'd get in a win.

    But 64% IS what one would call "betting odds" lol

  26. Almost impossible to win more money than the Casino has in reserve. Apart from if your name is Donald Trump, then you can drive multiple casinos into bankruptcy and will have to rely on your dad buying a load of chips on the promise of never cashing them in

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