One of the reasons we love roulette is for the stories and characters that surround the game. Charles Deville Wells was one of those characters, his reputation sealed when he broke the bank in Monte Carlo way back in 1891 and won 1 million French Francs at the roulette wheel.
Someone who has done something similar in more recent history is the owner of the Newcastle United Football Club in the north east of England: Casino Whale Mike Ashley. He won a cool £1.3m on a single roulette spin. OK- so that's not as much as 1 million Francs would be worth in today's money (taking into account inflation and so on), but it is still an awful lot of money to be winning on a single spin of a roulette wheel. The only thing we can think of in the same league is the Philip Green roulette win at Les Ambassadeurs Club, just off Park Lane.
His favourite number? Number 17. He made bets to the tune of £480,000 all around his lucky number, 17, at the Fifty St James Casino in Mayfair (it's no longer a casino and member's club- it's now an "events" space. Maybe they went bust?
The NUFC owner was only at the table for 15 minutes, and left around a million pounds up. This hit and run strategy is popular with high rollers (the late Kerry Packer used to use it while playing baccarat), and it makes good sense. Mike Ashley knew that if he stuck around at the table after winning such a big pot, the casino was highly likely to claw its money back off him. So he just left.
Once he saw the roulette ball fall into the number 17 pocket, he calmly looked the croupier in the eye and said: "That’ll do me, thanks very much," and headed off with his spoils with the applause from other punters ringing in his ears. Cool as a cucumber.
Mike Ashley made a complete bet on 17 called a “complete”, where you bet on every combination that includes the number 17.
What Was the Mike Ashley Bet?- How did he lay a Complete Bet?
Straight-Up 17. He bet the house maximum: £2000.
Split 17, 14 - £4000 bet
Split 17, 16- £4000 bet
Split 17, 18- £4000 bet
Split 17, 20- £4000 bet
Street 17, 16, 18 - £6000 bet
Corner 17, 16, 13, 14 - £8000 bet
Corner 17, 18, 14, 15- £8000 bet
Corner 17, 16, 19, 20- £8000 bet
Corner 17, 18, 20, 21- £8000 bet
Six Line 17, 16, 18, 13, 14, 15 - £12,000 bet
Six Line Bet 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 - £12,000 bet
Black- £100,000 bet
Odd- £100,000 bet
1-18- £100,000 bet
Middle Column- £50,000 bet
Middle Dozen - £50,000 bet
Total Bet : £480,000
Total Win: £1, 284,000.
Given that 17 came in, he maximised his return.
The number 17 is a popular bet in roulette, probably because it lies right in the middle of the betting table.
About Mike Ahley
Secretive UK tycoon Michael Ashley launched his sports-clothing chain in 1982. He floated it on the stock market in 2007 and netted $1.8 billion from the IPO. He is the owner of Premier League football club Newcastle United.
According to Forbes, he is worth $5.6 billion, so a £480,000 bet is small change.