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Think you can beat the betting system? Meet this guy.


A Frenchman who beat the betting system; his story is incredible.

Photo by National Archief Fotocollectie Anefo, CC0 Creative Commons

Forget “Ocean’s Eleven,” this is the true story of one of the most audacious gamblers of the 20th century, Patrice des Moutis. A French aristocrat who, over the course of the 1960s and 1970s, found a way to exploit the French betting system to its fullest extent. But Moutis isn’t the first French aristocratic mathematician to make his name known in the world of gambling. Did you know that the famous 17th-century French mathematician Blaise Pascal was a pioneer in the world of gambling who invented roulette as we know it today? To this day, France still operates their version of roulette which is called boule based on his ideas.

But Moutis’s story is still relevant albeit not ordinary; it’s full of intrigue, gangsters and money. In fact, Moutis exemplified the term risky gambler.

There is scant information on him across the web, but a new book titled “Monsieur X: The Incredible Story of the Most Audacious Gambler in History” released by former William Hill Sports Book of the Year writer Jamie Reid sheds a new spotlight on this alluring Frenchman.

Moutis, who graduated from one of France’s top schools as an engineer and a stunningly good mathematician, early on he had a respectable insurance business, but little did he know that his number-crunching skills would end up making him quite famous in his home country. In the early 1950s, he started applying this knowledge to his first passion: horse racing.

When he started out using a specific formula he had crafted, he was winning significant amounts of money. Able to exploit loopholes, this allowed him to bet in different combinations at cafes across the country. He was known for his meticulous research as well as his relationships with top jockeys and trainers.

But netting all these wins raised the alarms of the authorities, the Pari-Mutuel Urbain (PMU), known as the French betting system. He claimed that all his winnings were totally above board and were fair and square, but the authorities weren’t having any of it.

So, the PMU started to withhold his winnings because they didn’t believe in his antics. In fact, they went as far as changing the rules just because of him. One of them was how many bets you could make at one time on a race. But knowing Mr. Moutis, he had found a novel way to get around this.

He was able to overcome this by sharing the specific formula he had created with 80 of his friends across the country, allowing them in on the same ingenious scoop. And Moutis who was now known as Monsieur X, a public profile, putting him on the front pages, day in and day out. At the height of using his formula, he and his friends were making upward of £5 million pounds.

When races offering up strange results still had Moutis winning, this led authorities to become even more suspicious. By this point, so many regulations were placed on Moutis, he was forced into the underground where a cast of shady characters emerged from around Corsica to Marseille. Moutis has insisted that he was forced to work with these gangs involuntarily.
By this time, he wasn’t allowed to gamble in France, Ireland and the UK. And in 1973, his luck came to an end when a race that caught the eye of the police eventually unraveled, leading to the arrest of five jockeys, a trainer, 10 gamblers and Mr. Moutis, who was charged with fraud.

He spent 142 days in prison, traumatized by the whole series of events, and shortly thereafter in 1975, took his life. A friend said of his incarceration, “The humiliation of this was intolerable to him. He was a broken man.”

So, there you have it. The incredible story of a man who not only won over the affection of the public but also found a way to beat the system. Had he been alive today, could you imagine how he would have done at the top horse races?

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