Charlie Wells is considered the first to break the bank at Monte Carlo in 1891, but Joseph Jagger did it much earlier. He’s not as famous as Wells because media talked about him less. Wells even got a song written about him – The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo.
Joseph Jagger, said to be an ancestor of the rock star Mick Jagger, was born in 1830. He was an engineer in Halifax. He was also interested in roulette and realized that every single wheel is different in some way because of minor defects, just like all other devices. These defects can be exploited by betting on the number that a particular wheel favors.
To confirmed the bias theory, Jagger hired 6 people and assigned each of them a wheel in Beaux-Arts Casino in Monte Carlo. They were to record every single spin until there’s enough data to analyze it and find the bias numbers. After finding them on one wheel, Jagger went to Beaux-Arts in 1875 in order to play.
He won £14,000 on the first day and £74,000 altogether after 3 days. Other players would also bet on the numbers he picked.
The casino ended up changing this particular wheel for another one. At first Jagger was surprised to lose, but then he found the right wheel, which led to the casino eventually removing this wheel permanently. Jagger kept losing and in the end he left, together with his team of 6 people.