By watching a roulette dealer’s style, can you predict where the ball will land?
By Frank Scoblete
Casino dealers often fall into their own natural rhythm when they deal. This holds true not only with card games, but with other contests such as roulette. They tend to pick up the ball and spin it the same way every time—and maybe give the ball the same extra bit of “oomph.” The ball will tend to spin around the roulette wheel the same number of times as it did on previous spins. Therefore, it should land approximately the same number of pockets from where the dealer picked up the ball.
If the dealer can actually achieve what I just described, it’s a dealer signature—the dealer’s own particular ﬁngerprint on the game. Obviously no two dealers would be alike in how they do this, and thus no two ﬁngerprints would be the same.
Is this really possible? Can dealers actually have such signatures? Or is this wishful thinking—the same kind of thinking that leads players to believe in trend betting and the like? The opinion of experts is divided on this topic. A few say it’s possible. More say it isn’t possible. Some pain-in-the- neck experts say it’s theoretically possible, but probably not actually possible at a real roulette wheel.
I tend to lean more toward those who believe it’s possible, but I do so with strong reservations. If a dealer does have a signature, I don’t think it would necessarily be manifested as often as players looking for it would like.
A dealer’s signature happens unconsciously—that is, the dealer is really not aware of what he or she is doing. To determine whether dealers typically have signatures, it would take thousands of rolls of the ball by dozens or hundreds of experienced dealers to measure the results. There has never been a study such as this (as far as I know) because it would take the patience of Job to do it.
“Roulette dealers disagree as to whether the ‘conscious signature’ is possible. In fact, they doubt whether the unconscious or conscious creation of signatures exists at all.”
If the dealer’s signature were conscious, that would be a totally diﬀerent story. This dealer would have the ability to make his friends, his family and himself a bundle of money over time (assuming he didn’t get caught). A dealer with the skill to manipulate where the ball landed could be used subtly to nail players the dealer (or casino) didn’t like, help those he did like, and perhaps make some money on the side for friends or family members.
Roulette dealers disagree as to whether the “conscious signature” is possible. In fact, they doubt whether the unconscious or conscious creation of signatures exists at all. Very few dealers out of the dozens I’ve spoken to believe signatures actually exist. They are more skeptical than the experts. (Actually, the dealers are the true experts here, and should be listened to.)
However, if a study were done, could it determine once and for all whether signatures exist? Don’t be so quick to say “yes,” because there are several factors that might make the study invalid, or impossible to do.
How could a person, notebook in hand, stand by a dealer’s table and follow that same dealer from table to table, day after day, recording their spins without the dealer becoming uncomfortably aware of such a person? The dealer might think at ﬁrst that the wheel was being observed for ﬂaws, but this might cause him to alter his spin to stop the player from identifying any.
Anything that is dealer dependent could be immediately changed when the dealer becomes aware of being watched. As in quantum physics, the observer interferes with the observed by the mere fact that he is observing. In such a case, you can probably forget about ascertaining a dealer signature. I think the discovery of a dealer signature in real casino play is probably impossible, too, if it requires you to shadow dealers and study their spins for a long time. Therefore,the dealer signature might exist, but might be impossible to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt.
There is yet another problem with trying to prove dealer signatures. Roulette wheels do slow down over time, so the movement of the wheel from time “A” to time “B” could be diﬀerent enough to aﬀect how many pockets pass the ball as it spins around the wheel. The dealer might do everything the same exact way, but with each ball spin he is playing into a fractionally diﬀerent wheel speed. As the wheel naturally slows down over time, any “signature” would have to change. A researcher would then be required to analyze the pattern of the signature over diﬀerent wheel spins—an impossible task, in my estimation.
The question you’re probably wondering about is how dealer signatures can be used to win your bets. If they truly exist, can they be exploited in short-term play? Is it possible for you to use this to your advantage?
All I can say is that if your dealer has a signature you can identify, it might give you an edge. If you think you’ve identiﬁed a signature, but in reality there is none, you won’t hurt yourself any more betting that way. You’ll face the same house edge. So have some fun—go ahead and see if you can ﬁgure out a dealer’s signature. It might be like searching for Bigfoot, but it’s worth a try.
One reason roulette is more popular in Europe is because its casinos commonly have only one zero on their tables, which reduces the house edge by half (2.63 percent). In America, such tables are rare, but some casinos—such as higher-end properties Bellagio and Caesars Palace—have oﬀered single-zero games in the past.
At the roulette table, every player is given their own distinctively colored chips. This allows the croupier to easily distinguish each player’s bets. Experienced players are careful not to grab their chips until the croupier has ﬁnished paying everyone at the table and has removed the win marker from whatever number it hit. Then it is safe to collect your winnings and make any new bets for the next spin.
Legendary Long Shots
You’ve got to love the obligatory casino scenes that seem to occur in every James Bond movie. Although Daniel Craig, who recently conﬁrmed he is hanging up his tuxedo after cleaning up at the box oﬃce after his ﬁfth outing as the secret agent in No Time To Die, did an admirable job, for many, Sean Connery will always personify 007. And apparently, the ease with which he beat the house in the movies rubbed oﬀ on Connery in real life. It was reported that he once bet on 17 three straight times at roulette in an Italian casino and won every bet, pocketing over $27,000 in proﬁts. The odds against that happening are approximately 50,000 to 1!
Breaking the Bank
The most famous run at roulette occurred back in 1875 at the esteemed Monte Carlo Casino. A British engineer, Joseph Jagger, identiﬁed a slightly oﬀ-center wheel that caused a group of nine numbers to hit more frequently than normal. He then bet heavily on those numbers to take advantage of the wheel’s imbalance. Before the smoke cleared, Jagger had won more than $450,000
— a staggering amount for that day. He is remembered in history as “the man who broke the bank
at Monte Carlo.”
More recently, Ashley Revelle, who was 32 at the time, sold everything he owned for a once-in-a- lifetime gamble. Revelle, who is from London, ﬂew to Las Vegas in 2004 and placed his entire life savings on a single bet of $135,300 on red at the Plaza Hotel and Casino. Reality came crashing home when the wheel stopped and his daring move paid oﬀ, and he walked away doubling his money to $270,600.