Charles Wells and the Martingale System

by on October 10, 2012

Now we’ve covered Martingale on this site and there’s no doubt as a tactic for roulette it has it’s problem.  It does get some bad press though mainly because it’s often promoted with wild and ludicrous claims of it being some mystical secret to take to the casino.

Well the truth is, it’s a long way from being a secret and has been knocking about for hundreds of years.  In fact one of the best documented stories of it’s success comes from the end of the 19th century used by a gambler called Charles Wells.

Now it’s fair to say Charles Wells was a bit of a character and not entirely honest – well actually he was a con man.  In 1891 he persuaded a host of people to invest in his latest invention, which was a musical skipping rope.  Unfortunately for the investors, the skipping rope didn’t actually exist and by the time they had discovered Charles had slipped off to Monte Carlo with their £4000 in his pockets.

When he arrived he commenced a marathon 11 hour gambling session using the martingale system as his tactic.  He turned out to be extraordinarily lucky and in fact won over a million French Francs during the session.  A fellow casino patron remembered at one point he won 23 times out of 30 spins of the wheel.

Many would have disappeared quietly with his winnings, but Wells couldn’t resist a return visit and in November of the same year he was back.  A similar pattern resulted, again Wells used Martingale for most of his wagers although he didn’t strictly keep to this system.

Nevertheless he won another one million Francs with some incredibly strings of luck.  At one point he bet on the number 5 – 5 times in a row and won each time, which makes it hard to believe that was entirely random and Charles wasn’t up to no good again!  With luck like this Charles Wells could have used any roulette system he liked and won handsomely.  He was also very fond of baccarat it was believed, although roulette was his main game.

Charles Wells is often credited with being the subject behind the famous song – “The Man who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo” although there are quite a few other individuals who it could have been.  He certainly is one of the reasons that the Martingale system has been so enduring.   The reality is that he was just plain lucky and the system was pretty much irrelevant.

But what happened to Charles Wells in the end, well the believers in karma  will not be surprised that it all started to catch up with him.  He was eventually imprisoned for his fraud and con tricks and spent some time in French and English prisons.  He did live to the age of 85 but died penniless in Paris in 1926.

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