The Argus (Brighton)

My article on Charles Deville Wells – The Man who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo – was published in The Argus (Brighton) on 11 June.

Here are a couple of extracts from the piece:

It was in July 1891 that Wells went to the casino at Monte Carlo – the only place in Europe where gambling was legally permitted at the time.  He arrived at mid-day and started to gamble at the roulette table.  And in the course of eleven hours he broke the bank – not just once but several times in a row.  And then, on subsequent days, he did exactly the same again.  In less than a week he had won £40,000, worth £4 million in today’s terms.

Even now, 125 years later, no-one is quite sure how he achieved this seemingly-impossible feat.  Some claim that, as an engineer, he could have discovered a slight mechanical imperfection in one of the roulette wheels, enabling him to predict which numbers to bet on.  Other observers speculate that, as a fraudster, he had probably devised a way to swindle the casino. Wells himself dismissed these accusations, claiming that he had invented an infallible system of gambling which involved watching for recurring sequences of numbers before placing his bets.  To me, though, none of these explanations seemed convincing, and I set out to solve the mystery.  After studying all the available evidence, I was finally able to offer a plausible explanation based on the known facts, and I’ve set out my findings in a new book, The Man who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo.

Legend has it that, after his Monte Carlo triumph, Wells and his French mistress were regular guests at the London and Paris Hotel in Newhaven, stopping there en route between Britain and France.  They were in the habit of holding riotous parties which went on until the early hours of the morning and kept the other visitors awake.  When the hotel management asked Wells to take his custom elsewhere, he rented a nearby house in Fort Road … where the festivities continued uninterrupted.

The house in Fort Road, Newhaven, where Charles Deville Wells is reputed to have lived after his Monte Carlo win.

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