Biggest Cheaters In Casino History – Part One: Roulette Edition

The casino game roulette is easily the most recognizable out of the entire spectrum of casino games in existence, in addition to being the greatest challenge, i.e., favorite choice of cheaters ever since it first emerged on the scene.

First of all, we would like to make it clear that we do not condone any form of cheating, especially when it comes to casinos. We believe that the proper iGaming environment should be transparent, being that the true excitement and magic in casino gaming lies exactly in the unpredictability of the outcome. With that being said, the list of people who have tried to “trick” the system, i.e. cheat, is quite extensive. Especially since gambling involves money, and as such, unfortunately, it is the perfect target for many cheaters. Well, this inspired us to dwell deeper into this rather interesting subject, and find out who are the biggest casino cheaters in the history of the industry, specifically for one of the greatest casino games of all time, roulette.

There is no way whatsoever to fully prevent cheaters from trying to swindle the casino house. Consequently, as gambling technology progressed, so did the methods of the cheaters got more creative. Up to such an extent, the list of the biggest and most creative cheaters in casino history grows by the year.

Being that there isn’t any specific game type that is targeted by these individuals, our team decided to comprise a list of what we found to be the biggest roulette cheaters ever. One thing that binds all of these people has to be their creativity. From movie-like break-ins to meticulous planning and high-tech gadgets, the cheaters of the industry play a huge part in the further improvement of the casino industry. Being that every time a casino catches a cheater, there is one way less to cheat off the market, since the casinos will make sure to never repeat the same mistake and learn from the experience. Just keep reading and learn everything about the six biggest roulette cheaters in the history of casino gaming, and even more important, what caused their downfall.

1. Richard Marcus

We will begin our list of the biggest roulette cheaters in casino history with a person that many deem as the most versatile casino cheater ever, Richard Marcus. It is safe to say that Marcus is one of the “most successful” cheaters that ever graced the tables, simply because he has never been apprehended. Now, you may wonder how do we know whether is he legitimate if he has never been caught? Well, that’s because although the casino caught him red-handed several times, there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute him, which resulted in Marcus being released every single time. However, this was more than enough for every casino not only on the Las Vegas Strip but in the state of Nevada, to blacklist Marcus for life.

Marcus moved to Las Vegas from New York in 1976, with $30.000 that he had made from horse racing. However, shortly after, he lost all of the money, which then forced him to live on the streets for a while. This was until he got a job as a dealer in a casino, where he also met Joe Classon, the person who would eventually introduce Marcus to chip placement, and in general casino gambling.

So, how exactly did Richard Marcus manage to trick the casinos for more than 20 years and even earn millions of dollars while doing so? Simple, by becoming a cheating specialist in basically every casino game you can think of. One of the most popular ways that Marcus and Colson initially used to cheat, was with the use of a pre-mixed deck, which enabled them to exactly know the placement of each card. This method was so successful, that they made more than $20.000 thanks to it.

When it comes to roulette and the chip placement trick, on the other hand, it was done in such a way, that Marcus would always place a couple of low-value chips and one high-value chip at the bottom of the stack. Eventually, if he won the bet, then he would leave the high chip lying on the table. However, if he happened to lose, without anyone noticing, he would then pull the chip out from the bottom of the stack. He successfully managed to do this until 1999, or for more than twenty years.

During his “career”, Marcus developed a keen sense for casino cheating for almost every casino game out there including poker, roulette, blackjack, baccarat, etc. His unique style and techniques involved various combinations ranging from manipulating croupiers and other players to advanced hand movements that involve cards and chip handling. Marcus was so good at this, that he was known for leaving the casino only after he won more than $500.000, and was famous for losing a maximum of between $5 and $10.

2. Pierre Dugal

This story takes us back to 18 century France and is about a certain carpenter that goes by the name of Pierre Dugal. Unlike Marcus who exploited the game itself, Dugal is noted for successfully causing mistakes in the mechanics of the roulette wheel, and using them to his advantage.

The Modus Operandi of Dugal involved him hiding in the toilet of the casino, and simply waiting for all the guests and employees to leave. Once empty, he would exit, and with the use of his carpeting tools, he would adjust the roulette wheel to frequently drop the ball in a particular sector.

The next day, Dugal would visit the casino with his wife, and leave with some rather substantial winnings. That was until Mrs Dugal found out about the infidelity of the talented carpenter, and reported him to the police.

After serving several months in prison and re-marrying, Dugal pretty much went back to his old ways of rigging the roulette wheel. Interestingly enough, he pulled off the same scam three more times, each time going in with a different wife, and each time ending up in prison after the deed. Consequently, after the fourth and final arrest, Dugal retired from his devious ways, or at least that is what the police records are showing.

3. Joseph Jagger

We go with yet another story from the same period as when Dugal was fixing the roulette wheels in France, only this time we have a bit more complex scam than the one Dugal pulled. This is the story of Joseph Jagger, a textile businessman from the U.K., who up until 1871 didn’t show any signs that he would become one of the biggest cheaters in casino history, especially when it comes to roulette.

Particularly, Jagger started to nurture the idea that perhaps, not all roulette wheels are straight. Meaning that he started to think that there is a great possibility that some wheels might be leaning sideways, which happens even when there is the slightest deflection of the axis of the wheel. So, he gathered a group of six accomplices, and headed straight to the European casino centre, Monte Carlo, to put his theory to the test.

Once there, Jagger spent more than one month carefully observing and studying the roulette table, which resulted in him analyzing literally thousands of hands and games. Consequently, the effort did pay off, since Jagger noticed that the roulette table was indeed slightly tilted on one side, which caused the ball to land on several particular spots far more often than on the other. Moreover, Jagger and his friends recorded that the wheel is most likely to land on a certain group of nine particular numbers.

After noticing this, the group managed to take advantage of this technical fault, and “net” a little over two million francs in a matter of one evening. In today’s money, this equals around 7.5 million, Finally, Jagger, or “the mank who broke the bank in Monte Carlo”, as he is known, died of diabetes in 1892, after using the majority of his funds to purchase various properties for his family members.

4. Monique Laurent

Now, the next case is an example of a real-life James Bond type of roulette cheating process, being that it involved a rather creative and ingenious device. Monique Laurent is noted for successfully pulling off a massive scheme to trick the French Deauville Casino for more than $1 million in only one week. Operating in a group of three that consisted of Laurent’s brother and her husband, the trio took advantage of one very important factor in this case: not only the brother of Laurent worked at the casino as a roulette dealer, but he was constantly trying to find a successful way to beat the roulette wheel. That is until he and his sister had a rather ingenious idea.

The way that they pulled this scam was by implanting a very small radio receiver in the ball of the roulette and then placing a hidden transmitter for the receiver in a cigarette box. Eventually, whenever Laurent activated the device, the ball would then drop in one particular cluster of six numbers on which the husband was placing the bets.

This quite successful plan was working perfectly, until the owner of the Deauville Casino caught Monique suspiciously walking around the roulette table, but never playing.

Monique Laurent went on to strongly dispute the accusation, and it took the casino hiring a group of detectives to work the case in order to find out the entire truth about the famous cigarette box cheating trick. Interestingly enough, neither Monique Laurent, nor any of the accomplices ever went to jail, nor were charged for fraud, despite finding a fool-proof way to rig the outcome of the roulette wheel, and winning more than $1 million in just a matter of one week.

5. Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo

Born and raised in Madrid, Spain, Gonzal Garcia-Pelayo is one of the most creative and authentic roulette cheaters ever, and as such he belongs on our list of biggest casino cheaters ever. The reason why many consider Pelayo to be a genius is due to the fact he used computer technology and complex mathematical equations to break the roulette game. In particular, Garcia-Pelayo had a habit of visiting different roulette tables in order to observe and record the outcome of literally thousands of wheel spins. He would then go home, enter the data into his personal computer, and figure out any anomalies in the mechanics of the game.

Starting out as a normal family guy that worked as a record producer in the capital of Spain, Garcia-Pelayo believed that not all roulette wheels offer the same random outcome, and his computer work certainly proved this to be the case. In fact, Garcia-Pelayo quickly discovered that there are certain numbers that are more likely to drop than others. After this revelation, Garcia-Payeo went on to win more than $600.000 at the beginning of his “career” alone, or during one of the first nights he ever attempted to use the acquired data.

However, it didn’t take long for the casinos in Madrid to learn about the cheating and consequently ban Garcia from every land-based casino in the capital of Spain. This didn’t bother Garcia-Pelayo, since, in the early 90s, he decided to take his talents to the capital of casino gambling, Las Vegas. Once there, Garcia was yet again successfully used his statistical data obtained from observing Las Vegas casinos, to “earn” more than $2 million, before being caught and accused of fraud.

However, Garcia-Pelayo claimed that he did nothing wrong, and even went on to take the matter to the higher echelons of the justice system, the U.S. Supreme Court. Yet, despite the court proclaiming him innocent and stating he didn’t commit any crime whatsoever, he was still banned from all casinos in Las Vegas under the pretence of unethical practices.

Consequently, this forced Garcia-Pelayo to retire from his gambling career in 1992. Today, he is considered as one of the most successful roulette cheaters in the history of this industry, with many considering him the greatest ever to do so, and as the person who is responsible for motivating the online casinos to put special emphasis on monitoring and testing their roulette wheels.

6. Charles Wells

This is another individual who fights for the title “greatest roulette cheater of all time”, and as such, we can certainly classify him in our list of biggest cheaters in casino history. We are talking about Charles Wells, a gentleman from the UK that used clever devices to trick not only the machines but also the croupiers/dealers that were operating the wheels. Operating in the late 19th century, Wells is noted as a person who only targeted only the highest-paying stakes and casino games, which eventually turned the man into a legend.

One notable story about his cheating prowess is about the time when he won more than two million Francs in a single year. More specifically, during a single day in 1891, Wells entered a certain casino with no more than $4000, and after some time, he left with a whopping sum of 1 million Francs in winnings. And the story doesn’t end there. Just several months after this event, Wells returned to the casino, and yet again walked out with another one million Francs, this time during a period of three days.

Wells was so much into roulette gambling, that he had even started relying on loans to fuel his addiction, which eventually was the number reason for his demise. Due to his greed, he ended up being caught by the police and serving a prison sentence.

Unfortunately, there is not much information regarding the devices that Wells used to cheat the casinos, and this only adds to the legend of his character. When asked about his success with the roulette wheel, Wells would shrug it off as being nothing more than just a lucky streak. To this day, he is recognized as one of the most mysterious and definitely one of the most successful roulette cheaters in the history of casino gambling.

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