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The man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo

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Lonnie Risckle
1352694.  Fri Jul 10, 2020 2:41 pm Reply with quote

Not really a quibble, but an interesting - and possibly true - side-note to the probability discussion on the Revolutions edition.

We were told at University that there is a built in bias in each roulette wheel, dependent on the its physical characteristics; the story's that someone (who may have been called Gonzalo García Pelayo) watched a roulette wheel in a casino over an extended period and recorded the result of each spin - a sort of card-counting I suppose - and then bet on the number that came up most often, winning sizeable sums.

It was, said our lecturer, to do with errors in the levelling in the wheel; when Pelayo explained the system to the casino owners - presumably to prove that he wasn't involved in a fix - they started the practice of re-balancing the wheels every night.

We were also told that this was the origin of the song quoted in the subject line, but Wikipedia doesn't confirm it.

1352697.  Fri Jul 10, 2020 4:57 pm Reply with quote

My ex-friend, whose ability to spout the most unbelievable tripe with a straight face, was matched only by his inability to apply a femto second of critical thought to any idea, once tried to tell me (based on his vast experience of having been to Vegas once) that the croupiers at the tables were so skilled, they could throw the ball into the roulette wheel and know exactly where it was going to land.

My efforts to explain how they could not possibly achieve this fell on deaf ears, as did all my other attempts to inject a note of sanity into his belief system.

Lonnie Risckle
1352714.  Sat Jul 11, 2020 12:39 am Reply with quote

Having fallen into the Social Media trap of posting a thought before sufficiently checking it, I find that I was partially right; Gonzalo Garcia Pelayo is a recent exploiter of roulette wheel bias, but a much earlier exponent was Joseph Jagger (1830-1992) who took about £65K from the Beaux-Arts Casino in Monte Carlo in 1873.
(Sources: and
Certainly Jagger's exploits predate the song.

1352742.  Sat Jul 11, 2020 6:31 am Reply with quote

I understood that the Man Who Broke The Bank At Monte Carlo of the song was an English crook named Charles Wells. The money that Mr Wells spent on the tables was obtained by foul means, although - for public consumption at least - the casino was satisfied that his win was pure luck.

You can read about some of his exploits here. There were other breakings of the bank, but it does seem fairly likely that an English music hall song was inspired by the deeds of an Englishman.

Lonnie Risckle
1352745.  Sat Jul 11, 2020 7:06 am Reply with quote

That's interesting, suze.

I'm emotionally tied to my candidate, but I must admit that yours is more plausible. (Timing, larger-than-life character...)


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