Roulette is one of the casino games that give players rather decent chances of winning, particularly when one is playing against single-zero wheels. Despite this, most people are at a long-term disadvantage to the casino, which holds an edge of 2.70% in European roulette and 1.35% in French roulette.
The more you play, the higher the likelihood of you ending up in the red. Some players attempt to beat the game with progressive betting but ultimately fail because this approach is ineffective when it comes to overcoming the house edge.
Yet, there are widely reported stories of players who have won millions at roulette. They have gained an advantage over the house through exploiting biased wheels or using other prediction methods such as visual tracking and dealers’ signatures.
In this article, we are going to discuss wheel bias, what causes it, and what measures casinos take to prevent it. We also cover three other methods of predicting the outcomes in roulette that can give players a significant advantage over the casino.
Types of Wheel Bias
1What is biased wheel
A roulette wheel is supposed to produce entirely random results and for this purpose, it should be perfectly balanced and symmetrical. After continual use, some wheels end up developing defects which lead to exploitable patterns, known as biases. These patterns can be discovered through systematic and careful observation.
A biased wheel cannot effectively ensure true randomness in roulette. It upsets the odds of the game, causing certain outcomes to occur more often than they normally would on a truly random wheel. There are two main types of bias that roulette wheels can manifest.
A pocket bias occurs when the wheel appears to favor specific individual numbers. This usually happens on wheels whose pockets are manufactured slightly differently or have worn out with prolonged use, making it easy for the ball to settle on specific numbers. This type of bias is difficult to detect accurately because it calls for a larger sample size that involves thousands of outcomes.
Section bias occurs more frequently and is easier to spot. Here the ball tends to favor entire sectors of the wheel and lands on the numbers from the biased section more often. The player needs a smaller sample size of several hundred spins to detect the biased sector with reasonable confidence.
What Causes Bias in Roulette Wheels?
For a roulette wheel to produce random results, it needs to be perfectly balanced, with evenly surfaced pockets and frets that are equally resilient to prolonged use. The dealer also plays an important role where ensuring randomness is concerned. Tossing the ball in a certain manner, even when done unconsciously, may affect the outcome of the spin.
A roulette wheel cannot remain absolutely random for long periods of time. Frequent use and inadequate maintenance lead to various defects that cause imbalances in the wheels. The longer a given wheel remains in use, the further it deviates from true randomness.
The smallest furrow invisible to the naked eye can impact the trajectory of the ball, causing it to drop in certain pockets more often than it does in others. Such tiny imperfections on the wheel tend to get more pronounced over time causing even bigger disturbances in randomness. Here are the main physical defects that lead to wheel bias.
How to Detect a Biased Wheel?
Clocking the wheel
Use specialized roulette software
Some well-versed roulette players gain an advantage by exploiting wheel biases. However, bias detection is no picnic. Quite the contrary, it requires a good deal of patience and meticulousness. The goal of one such player is to identify which pockets or sections of the wheel are subject to bias and use this information to get an edge in the game.
This process is called “clocking” the wheel and involves the player recording winning outcomes as they occur. The physical defects that lead to bias are sometimes impossible to spot with the naked eye, which is why wheel clockers rely on statistical data. Pocket bias is tougher to identify. You need to go through thousands of spins before you can detect this with any confidence.
Section bias is a more viable option, especially for the inexperienced. You can identify biased sectors of the wheel within the span of 400 to 800 spins. This might require several hours since roulette plays at a relatively laid back pace, with most wheels in US casinos going through a hundred or so spins per hour.View more...
Several Tips on Wheel Clocking in the Real Casino Environment
1It's not possible on RNG roulette games
We would like to remind you that wheel biases result from physical defects and therefore are not possible in online roulette games where the outcomes are randomly generated by the software. So there is no point in recording results when you play online unless the software is rigged in some way, which it should not be when you are playing at regulated gambling sites.
2Write down the results
Write down the results either on paper or as a spreadsheet on your phone. The outcomes should be recorded in the order they occurred in. Make sure you do not use any hidden devices to record the winning outcomes covertly as this might cause the casino to give you the boot.
3Observe and inspect the wheels
Be observant and inspect the wheels for distinctive physical characteristics. Some casinos try to hinder wheel clockers by moving wheels from one table to another. Typically this happens once per month. Because of this, you should take notice of the wheels’ individual physical traits to prevent yourself from getting confused.
Some establishments would use wheels of the same design and model, which significantly increases the complexity of your task. Observe the wheels carefully and take note of minor flaws like discoloration and scratches.
4Learn to clock multiple wheels
Do not worry, this is not as complex as it sounds. Your chances of identifying a bias are higher if you work with several wheels simultaneously instead of clocking them one at a time.
Larger casinos normally have roulette pits with several tables you can clock at the same time. Just make sure you do not mix up the outcomes of the different wheels when recording them.
This is achievable thanks to the scoreboards most casinos install on their roulette tables. These show you the last 10 to 20 winning outcomes, with the latest number appearing on top of the board and the oldest one scrolling off the bottom.
Casino Measures against Players Who Exploit Wheel Biases
The trouble with bias is that roulette players are not the only ones looking for it. The casino personnel is also trained to detect anomalies in randomness and deal with them accordingly to hinder advantage play and stop bias exploitation. This is achieved through several widespread practices.
Other Methods of Predicting Roulette Outcomes
Exploiting biases is not the only method advantage players resort to when trying to beat the roulette wheel. Illustrious gamblers have come up with a variety of ways to overcome the house edge and win at the seemingly unbeatable roulette tables. Some have succeeded through the use of portable computers while others have mastered the crafts of visual tracking and identifying dealers' signatures.