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Dr. Richard Jarecki, the Man Who “Beat” Roulette, Dies at 86

In the poker world, you have big names like Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel, and Phil Ivey. In the casino world, blackjack was the game that provoked mathematicians to turn their attention to beating the system.

Many people know the name Edward Thorp from his “Beat the Dealer” book. There are also well-known stories of the students from MIT that won millions with their team card counting system.

Roulette, on the other hand, isn’t one of the games that’s widely recognized by famous players. Richard Jarecki happens to be one of the few, though.

Dr. Richard Jarecki passed away on July 25th in 2018 at the age of 86 after battling pneumonia. His death has prompted many to revisit his life and particularly his system for conquering roulette in the ‘60s and ‘70s that turned him into a self-made millionaire.

Jarecki’s Early Life

Richard was born in Stettin, Germany, in 1931 but grew up in the United States. His family watched as the Nazis started taking over, so they left Germany for a better and safer life.

In the late ‘30s, they eventually settled into Asbury Park, New Jersey, where Richard attended school.

After studying at Duke University, Jarecki returned to Germany for medical school, earning his degree at the University of Heidelberg.

Once again, he moved back to the States to do his residency in a New Jersey hospital and fortuitously met his future wife, Carol, who was an anesthetist.

They married, and although Dr. Jarecki spent three years as a medical researcher in the United States, the Jareckis left for Germany in 1967. Richard continued his researching career at the University of Heidelberg while simultaneously pursuing his hands-on research in the casino game of roulette.

Beating the Roulette Wheel

The late ‘60s and early ‘70s were the heydey of Richard’s roulette “experiments” with the assistance of his wife, Carol. They favored European over US casinos, as the American wheel has 38 slots compared to Europe’s 37, which gives the house a bigger edge.

While the Jareckis won more than 1.25 million dollars (worth nearly $8 million by today’s standard), the biggest misconception is that it was accomplished electronically.

Richard had given a statement to an interviewer that his calculations and strategy were both accomplished by computer. However, this wasn’t really true.

Jarecki’s system for conquering roulette was essentially observational.

While computers were used for some of the calculations, Jarecki formulated his system by watching and noting everything about the equipment as well as the results of the spins.

The best bets he then made were all based on wheel bias. At the time, roulette wheels weren’t as mechanically precise as they are today. They often developed biases, which meant the ball would fall into certain compartments more frequently than others.

Richard would take note of any hot zones and irregularities and exploit those deficiencies. It was a long process that Richard called “clocking the wheel.” He wouldn’t just watch a few spins and leap into action.

Jarecki observed an average of ten THOUSAND results each month.

It wasn’t just patterns and hot zones on the wheel that Jarecki was looking for. He also learned to identify one wheel over another by scratches or other distinguishing characteristics.

When Richard became more well-known amongst the casinos, they would move the wheels around in an attempt to confuse his data. So, it was important that he learned everything about each roulette table so that he could keep up with any changes.

Perfecting the System

Jarecki’s experiments proved to be successful. He and his wife played at a variety of casinos, primarily in France, Germany, and Italy, and consistently won.

Such was their success that the casinos in San Remo, Italy, even tried to have Richard banned from entering the country. This didn’t happen, though, and the Jareckis continued their winning spree.

It’s important to note that Richard’s method wasn’t actually anything new.

Roulette players, even casual ones, had been aware of wheel bias for years. They would seek out patterns at individual wheels and run with the short-term data that they were observing.

The main reason why Jarecki was so successful is that he was very methodical in his approach, taking his time to perfect the system. His observations were extraordinarily detail-oriented and took place over an extended time to ensure accuracy.

Jarecki’s system was ultimately slowed down considerably by newer and more precise roulette wheels. While it’s still possible even today to find some (not so obvious) flaws, it’s not nearly as universal as it was when Richard was making his millions.

Post-1970s

Richard, Carol, and their family returned to the States in 1974, and he turned his attention from medical research and roulette to commodities futures.

Jarecki made a successful living specializing in silver and gold and was eventually hired as a governor by Comex, a commodities futures exchange in the 1980s.

Gambling was still a draw for Jarecki, and he still played in casinos.

Roulette was Jarecki’s game of choice as his gambling exploits continued, but he also enjoyed spending time at the blackjack tables in both Vegas and Atlantic City. In fact, the Jareckis bought a house in Las Vegas, as they were such frequent visitors.

As far a home base went, though, the Jareckis opted for Manila. They moved there in the late ‘90s, as Richard preferred their casinos to the ones in the US. He played roulette regularly for the rest of his life, even winning a tournament just seven months before he died.

The Roulette Tornado

Richard Jarecki was nicknamed the “Roulette Tornado.” He was able to employ a system, somewhat similar to card counting, to take the edge away from the casino.

Whereas card counting isn’t illegal, it is a system that gets players banned from casinos. Jarecki was also banned from some casinos, but not as many as you would think.

One of the keys to Jarecki’s success was the fact that he had friendly relationships with many of the casino hosts and executives.

As I mentioned earlier, technology wasn’t responsible for Dr. Jarecki’s system. It is what ultimately put an end to his winning streak, though. Newer and better equipment eliminated the majority of the hot zones, so it became an entirely new game for Richard.

Jarecki’s Legacy

Most reports agree that the Jareckis earned around 1.25 million dollars playing roulette by the end of the 1970s. Richard continued playing, albeit much less often ever since that time, so his overall winnings could have been much higher.

Jarecki is survived by his wife, Carol. She’s a chess tournament organizer these days, prompted by their son, John’s, chess career. John is a chess prodigy who became a master at just 12 years of age. Richard and Carol also had two daughters and six grandchildren.

His brother, Henry, is a billionaire who made his living as a psychiatrist as well as a commodities trader like Richard.

Dr. Jarecki has been featured in books like Russell T. Barnhart’s “Beating the Wheel: Winning Strategies at Roulette” and the “Maximum Advantage Roulette Course” by Martin J. Silverthorne. His name is sure to be fondly remembered by advantage gamblers for many years to come.

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