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His favorite system was simple: wait until red or black comes up seven times in a row, then bet the opposite color, doubling if you lose. If you double long enough you win one chip.
The system is both tedious and unprofitable. It requires that you start play with a meager bet and continue with unlimited resources. Sooner or later, in all doubling systems, a streak comes along that wipes you out, and this is made even more certain by the fact that the table has a limit on how much you can bet. There comes a time when the casino won't let you double any more.
For sentimentality's sake, Jerry and I tried his father's system one night and eventually doubled our investment, though it took an interminable while for the seven reds to come up. Bored, we abandoned the system and lost our small stakes.
On another evening, just casually studying the play of a wheel, I saw black come up 12 times in a row, and that is no record. (At Monte Carlo, the croupiers say, the record is 17.) This meant that if I had been playing the Cooke Sr. system I would have had to put up 32 chips on the 13th play in order to win a single chip. On the 14th play I would have had to put up 64 chips, and so on, until the casino's limit for the table was reached.
Monte Carlo gives the roulette player some breaks he does not enjoy at Las Vegas. At Las Vegas everybody loses on a zero or double zero. At Monte Carlo there is no double zero, and not everyone loses on zero; those who bet on an even chance, such as red or black, odd or even, have the choice of taking half their bet back and losing half, or of leaving it all on for the next spin. Then, if they win, they get all their bet back. If they lose, they lose.
In terms of money wagered on a single hazard, the big game at Monte Carlo is banque � tout va (the bank where anything goes). It is a baccarat game not banked by the casino but by private individuals who pay for the privilege, and so the casino's maximums do not apply. At the season's peak it is not altogether unusual to see $100,000 riding on a single play. And at tout va one does have a chance, as nowhere else at Monte Carlo today, to break the bank.
The most rousing bust of a Riviera tout va bank occurred three years ago, not at Monte Carlo but at the Palm Beach Casino in Cannes. In the end Monte Carlo won.
Jack Warner and Darryl Zanuck were the original victors. Warner hit the tout va bank for $80,000, and Zanuck for half that much. Other players, following along with the Hollywood luck, forced the bank out of action when its total losses came to $700,000.
Next day Zanuck lit out for Japan, his winnings safely with him. Two days later Warner drove to Monte Carlo and tried the same game at the casino. The casino took the $80,000 in a single night's play.