For centuries players have been trying to find methods with which to beat roulette and, at times, they have managed to do so with skill rather than with luck. Relying on luck is not the best way to assure an edge at any casino game.

Please Note: The overwhelming majority of players rely on luck to win at roulette but the casinos rely on luck’s master, math.

There are several methods that have been used to gain an edge at the game, such as:

• Dealer signatures
• Visual prediction
• Pocket computers
• Discovering biased wheels

Obviously, each method has one thing in common, it tries to ferret out the upcoming numbers in such a way as to overcome the house edges which are 5.26 percent on the American double-zero wheel and the 2.7 percent on the European single-zero wheel.

DEALER SIGNATURES

Is it possible for some roulette dealers to hit certain numbers on the wheel and can an intelligent player discover and take advantage of such a dealer? How would such a thing work?

First of all, no dealer can hit a specific number time and time again. That would be the equivalent of a sharpshooter shooting out a cigarette from someone’s mouth while whizzing by on a 300 mile-per-hour Japanese bullet train.

But absolute accuracy is not what a dealer signature entails. Instead the question is this: can a dealer hit a specific section of a wheel so that betting on the numbers in that section will give the player an overall edge at the game. The theoretical answer to this is a resounding yes; unfortunately, the practical application of this is probably not.

Please Note: This dealer signature technique is also called “sector slicing.”

In the early 1990’s I found dealers who claimed that some dealers could actually sector slice. Such affirmations are no longer forthcoming from today’s dealers. One told me, “The wheels are just too perfect for a dealer to actually control the landing of the ball in a given section. Also, the pockets are just too shallow for the ball to stay where you think it should go. In my opinion, it just isn’t possible anymore.”

UNCONSCIOUS DEALER SIGNATURES

What if the dealer has a signature but is not aware of it? In short, a dealer does not have to be conscious of the fact that he or she is actually altering the outcome of the game with his or her spin of the ball.

Follow me on this. Most dealers get into a routine of spinning the ball by releasing it a certain way at a certain set speed. The routine for many dealers does not fluctuate all that much as their muscle memory and acquired rhythm are in control. They are not actively thinking about what they are doing.

The dealer picks up the ball from where it last hit; brings it up to the top of the wheel and releases it on the track. The dealer will pick up the ball from any number but where does it ultimately land? Certainly not on a given number but a certain distance from where the last number was recorded.

A dealer might land be between (let us say) eight and 12 numbers away from the last number hit even as the ball actually spins many times around the wheel. The hit could be more or less than this too but you get the idea. The dealer is doing something that can be predicted in such a way as to give an astute player the edge.

So clocking such a dealer is not clocking exactly what numbers are hit but how far apart those numbers are from the last hit. The numbers will be spread out across the board just as the numbers will be across the board with a random dealer but the fact remains that the end result is not random but somewhat controlled. The dealer doesn’t have to know this but the player can ascertain it.

Please Note: There are certain flaws in this system, as there are in any system. The ball has to avoid hitting the bumpers spread around the descent areas. If the ball hits one of these bumpers it will bounce and the result will be random with no predictive value.

Do I think such a technique will work? It is conceivable but highly unlikely. Still you have nothing to lose by trying to play this way. If there is no such thing as dealer signatures, then you are playing a typical random game, a game you would have been playing anyway.

THE FOUR STEPS OF SIGNATURE PLAY

1. Make sure you either know how the numbers are spread around the wheel or have a chart that you carry. Keep in mind there are two types of wheels, the American Roulette 38-number wheel and the European Roulette 37-number wheel. The house edge on the American wheel is harder to overcome as it is 5.26 percent than is the house edge on the European wheel which is 2.7 percent. Remember what these edges mean; 5.26 percent means an expected loss of \$5.26 for every \$100 wagered, while the 2.70 means an expected loss of \$2.70 for every \$100 wagered.
2. Clock at least five spins before deciding if this particular dealer has a signature.
3. If the ball hits the bumper on any spin, you must begin again using the same distances as you already used. If a bumper hit occurs the game is totally random.
4. Bet all the numbers in the range of pockets. I think an eight-pocket wager is probably more than enough.

VISUAL PREDICTION

Can a player figure out where the ball will land by analyzing the spin of the ball in its relation to the spin of the wheel? In the 1990’s this method was widely heralded but since then its glory days has been diminished.

As more and more players tried to analyze the speed of the spinning wheel in relation to the speed of the ball, headaches began, nausea set in, and ultimately just about all would-be practitioners gave up their hope that such a method would work for them. I am one of those practitioners. I failed miserably at this technique. About a dozen of my acquaintances faired just as poorly as I did.

How are you supposed to do this? First you have to understand the speed of the ball as it plunges into the pockets.

Please Note: At the end of their spins, most balls fall at the same given speed as the physics of moving objects and friction take control. The initial speed of the ball is not as important as one might think.

You have to know approximately how many bounces the ball will take from pocket to pocket and in what direction those bounces will probably be. Then you must figure what numbers will be in the section where the ball lands and you will bet those numbers.

Those numbers are moving rapidly. The ball is spinning rapidly. There is a good chance your head will mimic both the wheel and the ball and it will be spinning as rapidly as you try this method.

And, of course, there are those infernal bumpers to deal with as well. Once a ball hits a bumper it is anybody’s guess as to what will happen in the next few moments. In short, the game is random at this point and your bets are as good or bad as every other player’s bets.

Still, you don’t lose anything by trying to visually track a wheel, except perhaps your lunch.

COMPUTER PREDICTION

First a word of warning, you do not want to get caught with a roulette computer at a casino. It is against the law in most states and countries and you will probably be arrested if the security staff finds you using such a device. So that is my word to the wise. You don’t want to spend any of your life breaking stones on some highway or making license plates for those in the free world.

Still it is fun speculating on just what a computer can and can’t do in the world of roulette prediction. Is it actually the best possible (illegal) method to use in order to beat the game?

The roulette computer is actually a simple tool. It will measure the speed of the ball in the last few rotations around the track as all balls tend to travel at the same basic speed at the end of their trek. It will analyze the angle of the ball’s descent; and then it will predict into which pockets the ball will most likely finish its journey.

Please Note: Keep in mind you predicting a group of pockets, just the same way the dealer signature and visual tracking predictions give you a group of possible landing zones.

No predictive method can give you an exact location – unless there is something not quite right about the wheel.

THE PHYSICS OF ROULETTE AND PREDICTIVE METHODS

Keep in mind that the physics of a roulette wheel does not really change all that much. No matter how fast a dealer spins the ball around the track, the finishing spins tend to be the same speed as any other dealer’s since the ball is being slowed down by friction at a steady rate. That is why predicting what will happen next relates more closely with the end of the ball’s trip than the beginning of it.

The descent of the ball also tends to be regular – with only subtle variations. Of course, the descending ball hitting those bumpers can change much of the predictive value of even a computer or an expert visual tracker; such an event changes just about all the foregoing predictive methods. The casinos put those bumpers on the wheel to thwart expert predictive methods and they certainly do work.

Should you invest between \$500 and \$10,000 on such a computer? That is your choice but I would caution you to only use such a computer on Internet games from the safety of your securely-locked home. Would I buy one? No.

All the other predictive methods are legal since no casino personnel can get into your head to see what you’re thinking. A computer is in your pocket but your thoughts are in the casino safety zone, meaning inside your skull.

PREDICTIVE METHODS ON BIASED WHEELS

The world of roulette rules was far simpler in the good old days; that is prior to the 1990’s, before computers took full control. Many of the casinos had mechanical roulette devices not controlled by computers and some casinos could be a little sloppy with checking how good the machines were working. After all, there was no problem if the players were losing money.

Not all players, however, were losing money. Some were actually beating the game; meaning they were beating the mechanism itself. The game might be unbeatable but a defective wheel was not.

From early in the 1800’s, some roulette players looked for a specific type of wheel; one that wasn’t working perfectly, a wheel that was off; a wheel where certain numbers were coming up with a frequency that defied randomness. These numbers were considered “biased” as was the wheel. So for many roulette players the biased-wheel hunt became almost an obsession.

My wife the Beautiful AP and I played one biased wheel in the early 1990’s at the Rio casino in Las Vegas. It was an unbelievable thrill. The same three adjacent numbers kept hitting with unusual regularity throughout the day – from early morning to early evening before the casino shut the wheel down. Strangely enough, although we were winning consistently, the other players just played as they always played totally unaware of what kind of wheel they were playing.

How about now? Are there biased wheels around the casino world? Doubtful and you certainly won’t find them at major casinos. Still if you love to play roulette and you see some numbers coming up a lot, you have nothing more to lose if you bet them. You might be playing a random game but you would be doing that anyway.

Frank Scoblete’s latest books are Confessions of a Wayward Catholic; I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps, and I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack. Available from Amazon.com, Kindle, Barnes, Noble, and at bookstores.

Frank Scoblete grew up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. He spent the ‘60s getting an education; the ‘70s in editing, writing and publishing; the ‘80s in theatre, and the ‘90s and the 2000s in casino gambling.

Along the way he taught English for 33 years. He has authored 35 books; his most recent publisher is Triumph Books, a division of Random House. He lives in Long Island. Frank wrote the Ultimate Roulette Strategy Guide and he's a well known casino specialist.