I have two distinct lives. One in the trenches of low-budget film and television, the other in professional gambling. Because of the feast-or-famine nature of show business I need a reliable income... gambling. So here you will read about both worlds. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Reader mail - Beating Roulette

Recently in the mail bag I received...

"Can you suggest a strategy or book to help me master the game of roulette?"

Super Fan

Dear Super Fan,

I hope you are not asking about a system based on something like - 5 red numbers came up in a row so I should bet on black. Or, 5 red numbers came up so I should now bet red because it is hot. Or, I should bet 1 chip and if it loses bet 2, then 4 then, 8 etc. No betting system, nor a system based on what came up in the last few spins can overcome the house edge at roulette.

With that said there are 3 ways we can talk about beating roulette that can actually work.

1. You can beat roulette with the use of a computer. Ed Thorpe who wrote Beat the Dealer was the first I am aware of to use this approach. Back in the 60s he built a hidden computer that he could wear into a casino. The computer times the speed of the wheel turning, and the speed of the ball, and then makes a prediction as to where the ball will land in the wheel. Obviously technology has come a long way since the 60s, and most of us carry very powerful computers in our pocket every day. Developing a program that will beat roulette would not be an easy task, and getting away with it might be even more difficult. WARNING - Most states have made it illegal to use a computer in a casino. Many foreign countries also have laws against using electronic devices, so if this is your plan be sure to research the laws carefully. If you are interested in an entertaining book about the exploits of one team who used computers to play roulette pick up The Eudaemonic Pie.

2. You can beat roulette by visually tracking the ball. The idea is you use your brain to do the same thing the computer was doing in the previous method. This is not something that is easy to learn. It requires hundreds if not thousands of hours of practice, and you would need to buy a full size roulette wheel which can cost $7,000 to $12,000. And the problem is, just as in a hand held blackjack game where you raise your bet and the dealer shuffles the cards - as soon as you start winning the dealers will call "No more bets" earlier and earlier. Also this move was much more feasible back when roulette wheels had deep pockets. Most wheel today are what they call "low profile" which means the ball bounces around a lot more before landing. The bottom line is that IF you can learn to do this then under ideal conditions you may have a very large edge. But finding these opportunities may be few and far between. The only book that I'm aware of about this technique is Professional Roulette Prediction which I reviewed here. Review. Here is a link to our podcast of Gambling With an Edge on which we had the author of this book Laurance Scott. PODCAST

3. The third method is almost as old as casino gambling. Going back to the 1800s people discovered that a roulette wheel is a machine, and machines are not always engineered perfectly. They wear unevenly and do not always act randomly. They started writing down the numbers that had hit, and eventually found that certain numbers had a bias. This method is also not a way to a fast buck. It requires the recording of thousands of wheel spins, and even then it is tricky to determine whether a wheel actually has a bias. And don't think you can just stand around a wheel writing down numbers. People get backed off for doing exactly that. There is only one book I'm aware of that details the math involved in determining roulette bias, and unfortunately it is out of print. The book is The Bias Wheel Handbook by Mark Billings.. But maybe if you set up eBay alerts it will pop up there one day. Mark was a guest on our show and you can hear that episode here. PODCAST

Just as a side note, (and a shameless plug) if you haven't read the story of Billy Walters winning millions of dollars at roulette in Atlantic City pick up Gambling Wizards.

So there you have it, from one of the oldest advantage plays, to the most modern. None of them easy, but all have been used to make millions of dollars. Good luck Super Fan, and keep those cards and letters coming.

1 comment:

Doug said...

The only way this seems realistic is to write a program for some device like Google glasses (ones that are not obvious to others) that can calculate the probabilities of the wheel as you watch it spin and then tell you how to place your bet. In fact, I would be surprised if nobody is already doing this. The necessary technology of pattern recognition already exists and gets better every day.