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The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo

On this day 125 years ago: 1 August 1891

By August 1, 2016No Comments
Casino exterior

The Casino at Monte Carlo. One night in 1891 Charles Wells crossed the square (foreground) to his hotel, staggering under the weight of a million francs in banknotes and slept with them under his pillow.

On this day in 1891, early reports of Charles Wells and his success at the Monte Carlo Casino were trickling in.  This brief bulletin in The Times was typical:


Charles Deville Wells man broke bank monte carlo gambler fraudster extraordinaire robin quinn author victorian edwardian true crime

Charles Deville Wells, the Man who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo, pictured some years after his gambling coup at the casino.

An Englishman named Wells, who is staying here, has just had a run of luck so extraordinary as to be the chief topic of the hour, not only with those who frequent the Casino, but among the residents of Monte Carlo generally.  For the last three days this gentleman has played roulette incessantly, and during that time has won no less than £20,000 [equivalent to at least £2 million today] …

So engrossed was this fortunate gambler that never once did he stir from his seat or partake of food during the 11 hours of play.  He won several stakes of 26,000 f, and twice consecutively backed the number one ‘en plein’ successfully for 8,000 f, the maximum amount allowed.  He also frequently backed with similar good fortune the even chances – red, odd and even, ‘marque,’ and ‘passe’ – and more than once won all these stakes at the same time.  It is stated that he has sent on all his winnings to England, so as to place himself beyond the temptation of losing them by further operations at the gaming tables.

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