Joseph Hobson Jagger: Roulette Legend

Joseph Jagger was an ordinary engineer who went down in roulette history as The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo.

The Career Start

Jagger was born in 1829 in Yorkshire, England. He obtained practical experience of mechanics when he was working at cotton plant in Yorkshire. His contemporaries say that his infatuation with roulette began at early age. It was when he was working at the plant that he realized that all human inventions were prone to imperfection. He had a serious doubt that the outcomes of the roulette wheel were purely random. Jagger was sure that mechanical imbalances might result in a bias in favor of particular numbers. Jagger decided to check his guesses and prove that a smart roulette gambler could make use of these imbalances.

Breaking the Casino

In 1873 he hired several workers and told them to keep the record of the outcomes of the roulette spins at Beaux-Arts, Monte Carlo, Monaco. The observations showed that one of the six roulette wheels showed a bias and some numbers occurred much more often than others. He didn't waste time and placed his first bet on 7th July of 1875 to win £14,000 (about £700,000 adjusted for inflation). The next three days brought him another £60,000. But the casino got the measure of Jagger and during the night moved the roulette wheels to other tables. The next morning brought a huge disappointment to James and gambling seriously he lost a lot of money. At last Jagger notices that the scratch he noted on the lucky wheel wasn't there. He surveyed the room and found the wheel he needed. The bets at the found-again wheel brought him huge winnings. But the casino didn't give up and moved the metal dividers between numbers almost every day. In the long run he got tired of a constant change of winning and losing streaks and he gave up. He took his earnings (around £3,250,000 in 2005) and left Monte Carlo for good.


Subsequently Jagger resigned from his job at the cotton mill and invested his roulette winnings (about $5 million in today's money - can you imagine that?) in real estate.

Interesting fact

James Jagger is said to be a distant cousin of Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones.