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Saturday, 5 November 2011

Biased Roulette Wheels

It is the dream of every gambler to have a system; a system that allows him to take a casino for a considerable amount of money.  For some people, it was no dream… Albert R. Hibbs was a noted mathematician.  In 1949, he and fellow graduate student Roy Walford, took time away from school and went to Nevada.  Their aim was to study the roulette wheel bias of Las Vegas and Reno casinos, then exploit that mathematical “edge” and win big.  They were said to have made over $42,000 in their schemes. 

The idea of a biased wheel is not new.  Because some roulette wheels are not properly balanced, the ball is often thrown into some areas more than others; more than random mathematical probability.  By studying the wheel and it’s results for a long period, certain numbers show a higher percentage of winners than others, and they are bet upon more frequently by those who gather and analyze this information.

Joe Jagger was a British engineer who, in the late 1800’s, earned the title of: The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo.  (Yes, he is a distant relative of Mick Jagger.)   Another gambler and possibly more famous still, was Charles Wells.  He too had the title.  Both gamblers found and exploited biased roulette wheels in Monte Carlo’s famed “Casino.”   Wells was also a con man responsible for bilking hundreds of people on bogus inventions.  He died broke in France, after having spent several prison terms in two different countries.

As late as 1970, a woman named Carol Jarecki and her husband studied and played roulette wheels in Monte Carlo and San Remo, making a series of very successful runs on those biased roulette wheels.  So even in this “modern era” of gambling, it seems that there are still a few places where the roulette wheels are not checked nearly often enough.

The new way casinos avoid bias is by recording every spin on a computer program.  The program analyzes then reports any bias to casino management.  Once reported, the wheel is serviced and the bias is removed.  This system is used in only the larger casinos, but it’s a safe bet that even the smaller casinos would simply send you packing if you won too much.  Bias or no.