I can tell you how to win at roulette, but do you have the patience? You’ll have to sit patiently for thousands of spins before you start to make money. You see, it’s all about “charting” the roulette wheel.
How To Win At Roulette: Biased Wheels
Years ago, when I ran a roulette table, one of my favorite players and I would talk philosophy all night while he patiently made his simple bets. I knew he was winning, but not how much. After I quit the job, I met him for coffee and discovered that he had made over $90,000 in sixteen months of part-time play. That made it more interesting.
On a roulette wheel there are 38 “pockets” (American wheel – 1 through 36, plus 0 and 00). When the ball falls in a particular pocket, players are paid according to the number of that pocket. We’ll ignore all the various bets and concentrate just on the “straight up” bets, which are bets on one number. You get paid 35 to 1 if your number comes up.
You get $35 for each dollar bet, plus you keep the bet. You can see that the house has an edge (5.6 percent, to be precise), but what if certain numbers came up more often than they should – more often than 1-in-38 spins?
Suppose, for example, number 5 is coming up an average of once every 29 spins. If you bet ten dollars on it every time, you would lose 28 times, or $280, every 29 spins, but win once which would pay you $350. In other words, in the long run, you would be making $70 for each 29 spins. ($350 minus $280) When there weren’t many customers, I sometimes did 60 or more spins per hour, so you can see that this could be very lucrative.
Why would that number or any other come up more often? The short answer: Who Cares! The longer explanation has to do with the nature of the wheels. The pockets could be manufactured imperfectly, with one or more slightly larger than the others, therefore catching the ball more often. One or more of the dividers between the pockets could be loose, absorbing the force of the ball instead of bouncing it away, so the ball might drop into that pocket more often.
There are other reasons, including more temporary ones, like a drop of sticky pop in one of the pockets, or a build-up of dust. The important point isn’t what causes a “biased” wheel, though. The important point is that biased wheels exist, and can be taken advantage of.
Why would a casino let this happen? Roulette wheels are expensive, and so they are not often replaced, unlike cards and dice, which casinos replace daily. This means that if there is a bias, it sometimes remains for months. I know for a fact that managers where I worked were aware of the problem, but as long as the table made money overall, they were too lazy to worry about one guy making money on it.
Charting a Roulette Wheel
John (not his real name) came in initially with two friends. They took turns “charting” the wheel, which is nothing more than writing down the number that comes up on every spin. They did this for weeks on both roulette wheels in the casino. It is an incredibly boring, but crucial part of the process, often amounting to nothing, since there may not be a bias.
As it turned out, the number “0” was coming in 1-in-28 spins. Only John had the patience, though, to continue sitting there night after night, placing one bet on one number, over and over. Within a couple weeks, his friends quit. They didn’t have the patience required, and probably also didn’t like the fact that even with the odds in their favor, they had nights when they lost as much as $700.