Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo: Master of Roulette
Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo started his career as a music and film producer, having worked with many famous musicians and actors in Spain. Eager to make more money, Gonzalo dabbled in the area of gambling and found his true calling.
Gonzalo is known as the first person to actually be victorious in exploiting the roulette wheel. He was certainly not the first person who thought that casino roulette wheels were bias, but he was the first person to successfully prove it.
Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo was born on June 25th, 1947 in Madrid, Spain. He studied film at the Official Film School, but was unable to graduate because the school closed down. Interested in both film and music, Gonzalo was offered a job working for the National Radio music programs which he happily accepted.
Gonzalo is still known today as one of the founders of the Andalusian rock movement, which is basically when flamenco music and Andalusian folk music came together. He has produced albums for Triana, Smash, Alameda, Maria Jimenez, and a variety of other artists/groups, but he never signed on any big performers and was barely making ends meet to support his new wife and growing family.
Discouraged, he picked up gambling and it soon became obvious to him that certain numbers were coming up more frequently than others on the roulette wheel. He knew if he could figure out which numbers they were, then he would be able to predict the outcomes of a spin.
He noticed there were minute inaccuracies with measurements regarding pocket sizes and the wheel's gears often threw off the wheel's balance. Recognizing these subtle inconsistencies brought him one step closer to beating the game.
Gonzalo was determined to beat this game, so he spent the next several months studying the roulette wheel at the Casino Gran Madrid. While not placing any wagers on the spins, he simply recorded the results of nearly one-thousand spins and used his computer for a complete analysis.
Gonzalo had his eldest son, Ivan and his eldest daughter, Vanessa to record data on different roulette wheels across Madrid. In 1991, they started officially playing and less than a year later, they had accumulated over $700,000. Because of this, many casinos in the area forbid them from playing and one casino even tried to sue the family, but Spain's Supreme Court luckily ruled in their favor.
The court didn't deem studying the wheel and using a computer to determine when to bet illegal at all. Instead, they said it was wise to make an educated guess as to where the marble might drop based on imperfections of the casino's own wheels.
Although Gonzalo was happy to hear the court overruled the charges against him, he decided to stop playing at casinos in Spain and instead headed to Las Vegas to try his methods out over there. Gonzalo and his family took precautions to blend in as tourists and ensure the same staff didn't see them at the tables too many times in a row.
It wasn't long before word got out about Gonzalo and his unique strategies though, and soon everyone recognized him and his family as the people that overcame the roulette wheel. With this fame came more and more controversy and more and more casinos refusing to let them gamble in their facilities. The family had made over $2 million from the casinos of Las Vegas before deciding to retire.
Gonzalo and his family now focus on other areas of gambling, still using collected data and the laws of probability to help them advance in poker and online sports betting.
Gonzalo eventually wrote the book The Fabulous Story of The Pelayos which was published in 2003, which is a detailed account of the family's triumph over the roulette wheel. The family was also the inspiration for the documentary Breaking Vegas: The roulette assault that played on The History Channel.
Since Gonzalo's long span of roulette wins, casinos have tried to fix any mistakes that could influence the way the roulette wheel spins. Most wheels are now manufactured on lines to help keep imperfections from appearing and casinos have updated their cameras so they can keep their eyes out for anyone spending too much time studying the roulette wheel.
Author: Nicole Miller
Updated: May 2015
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