Prof. Nilsson

Cardsharp and speaker

Roulette

Roulette has to be one of the world’s most depressing games. You put your money on the table and the casino takes it away from you. There is no winning strategy; the odds are always the same.

But if the roulette wheel is biased, you could win big...

No winning strategy

With standard European rules the casino takes 2.7 cents for every dollar you spend – no matter how you play.

With standard U.S. rules, you lose 5.3 cents per dollar wagered. (You can gamble your money away even faster by betting on the top row: 0, 00, 1, 2, 3. It costs 7.9 cents per dollar.)

There are many roulette strategies with exotic and impressive names. Labouchère and D’Alembert are two of the most famous martingale systems. None of them work when the table has a limit, or your cash is limited, i.e. in reality.

The mathematics of roulette is not difficult. Anyone who took a basic course in mathematical statistics and still believe in roulette systems should be required to hand back their grades.

Why am I telling you this? I don’t know. It’s like telling someone who can’t swim not to dive into the deep end. If you can’t figure that out for yourself, you won’t listen to me. So dive in and drown.

Advantage playing

If you find a biased roulette wheel and have the opportunity to study it long enough, the situation is different.

Joseph Jagger hired six clerks who secretly recorded the results of the roulette wheels at the Beaux-Arts Casino in Monte Carlo in 1873. Two years later, he used his knowl­edge. In one day he won £14,000 (equivalent to around 50 times that amount adjusted for inflation).

Most modern casinos have learned the lesson and balance their roulette wheels regularly.