The croupier works
a six-hour day. At the end of his first three-hour shift he takes a 25-minute
rest, but if the head croupier catches him in a mistake he may be ordered from
the table for additional rest. At age 60 or 65 he retires on a pension.
periods the croupiers chat with each other in the Monegasque patois, a blend of
French, Genovese and Spanish. They have their little private jokes. The
devotees who open the casino each morning at 10 o'clock are known as "the
resistance movement." Members of the resistance are mostly women, mostly
English and mostly very conservative bettors. Almost all play a system, waiting
interminably for the right moment to place a bet. The casino does not profit
greatly from them, and there is even a legend, founded on the fact that some
members of the resistance have been playing daily for years, that they actually
make small sums of money at the wheel.
impossible for them to win," M. Roux insisted. "The wheel always wins
in the long run."
Lose a little
These people do
lose, but not very much. They are mostly retired persons reliving days of
prosperity when they could gamble heavily. For this pleasure, they are content
to lose a trifle.
Most modern bettors
are Italian and French, for reasons of geography. The big wagering seems to be
done by Latin Americans. North Americans are beginning to turn up more
frequently, a trend that began with Grace Kelly's marriage to Prince Rainier
The system players
seem to be more numerous at Monte Carlo than at Las Vegas or in pre-Castro
Havana. The slower rhythm of the Monte Carlo games gives time for
record-keeping and computation. The systems are countless; some are even
The conviction that
games of chance can be beaten by systems is old and ineradicable. Scores of
books have been written to recommend countless systems, but none of them works,
a fact on which we have the testimony of such disparate personalities as Sir
Hiram Maxim and Dostoevski. Maxim fired a burst of mathematics at the system
players, and Dostoevski summed it up with the observation that the roulette
wheel has no memory and so will be unimpressed by the fact that a color, or
anything else, has turned up a disproportionate number of times.
Favorites among the
systems are the various martingales, which are basically guides to the amount
to bet. In horsemanship a martingale is a device to hold down a horse's head
and prevent him from rearing. In gambling it is supposed to keep you from being
thrown flat on your equity. A favorite martingale is "doubling up,"
which means simply that when you lose you double your next bet. There are many
For instance, the
father of Jerry Cooke, who did the photographs for this article, was a student
of roulette who played with dedication. He wrote a book, translated into
several languages, to reveal the many ingenious ways by which roulette can be
beaten. The book made money, but Mr. Cooke did not.