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full page photo from LIFE magazine, Dec. 7, 1949

Two student theoreticians invent system for beating roulette wheel

On vacation between his 3rd and last years of medical school, Roy and math graduate student Al Hibbs (they had been room mates at Cal. Tech.) motorcycled from Chicago to Reno and made a pile of money playing a "system" at Harold's Club. It generated a great deal of publicity ...two milk-drinking college students making it big-time. After graduation (Roy's favorite headline, in Chicago Sun times: "Gambling Ace Wins M.D."), they won another pile, this time in Las Vegas, bought a sailboat, and spent over a year sailing the Caribbean. Then Roy started his internship and his research career. Al returned to Cal. Tech, and joined the staff at JPL. They've remained best friends. (see reference #23 for information on A Mathematical Model of Physiological Processes and its Application in the Study of Aging. Paper

"On Oct.24 two University of Chicago students rattled into Reno, Nev. in a Model-A Ford to try the gambling. Their total resources: $100. Wasting no time, they went to the Palace Club, where they studiously made a chart of the recurrence of numbers on the roulette wheel. Then they went into action. Playing number 9, which their records indicated as the best possibility, they parlayed their $100 into $5,000 in 40 hours. At this point the manager became uneasy and switched the wheel. So the students moved on to Harold's Club.

There they used the same system. Sure enough, their $5,000 rose to $14,500. But then, unaccountably, their system went sour. They dropped from $14,500 to $10,000 and kept going down. That was when the young theoreticians made the smartest move of all. They pocketed their winings, packed up the Model-A and went home, ahead by $6,500".

While Albert Hibbs (left) sips milk and studies the roulette wheel, Roy Walford presides over record book and the mounting stack of chips.


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