Scams and Cheats

 

Probably the most common form of player cheating and the easiest to attempt is a method called “past posting.” This technique originated at the racetracks some years back.

As soon as a winning horse was evident (well in the lead), the bettor would hurry to the ticket window and place a bet on that horse. Likewise with roulette, when the ball comes in for its final landing, the dealer will look down, for a moment, to see what the winning number is. At that instant, a player with a keen eye and adroit hand can place or move his bet to the winning number. Games run by one dealer are most susceptible to this form of chicanery. The cheat may remove losing bets in part or in whole, place winning bets or switch losers onto the winning number. One example would be a right-handed player standing at the center of the table and betting on “black.” Of the even-money wagers, black and red are the only ones that are adjacent to each other. If black comes in then great! He’ll relax and wait for his pay off. If “red” comes up, he’ll lean over the table and very quickly and precisely tap his bet from black over to red in a fraction of a second. This stratagem requires nerves of steel and a quick, concise maneuver. The dealers and pit are well aware of this technique and are watching for it. The first time you get caught, you might escape by claiming ignorance. You didn’t hear the dealer say “No more bets.” After that, you’re asking for a security escort to a back room!

Ball Control

Although no casino will admit to its existence and very few dealers will nod in acknowledgement, this method is very powerful and easy to disguise. One cannot deny that a roulette event is heavily influenced by a human dealer. After all, it is the dealer who kicks up the rotor speed and launches the little white ball isn’t it? These actions definitely affect where the ball will land. And after years of repeatedly spinning, the dealer develops what athletes call “muscle memory” or a consistent delivery system. I will admit it to you right here, as someone who has dealt the game of roulette, SOME DEALERS CAN CONSCIOUSLY INFLUENCE THE RESULT OF THE GAME. There, I said it! I know that deflectors may knock a ball off its original course or the ball may spatter when it crosses onto the rotor and hits a pocket fret, but even if a skilled dealer could navigate around the heavily bet sectors on the wheel only 10% of the time, the casino’s edge would be 100% for those spins! The house’s edge would then be [(9) x 5.26% + (1) x 100.00%] all divided by 10. This averages out to a whooping 14.73 % edge! To further add to this dilemma, there is no way to prove that the dealer is trying to cheat you, unless you can read minds! My general observations have led me to believe that “male” roulette dealers are more territorial. If you begin to win steadily at their tables, they feel challenged and may spin against you… that is unless you’re a shapely female wearing a low-cut dress. I’ve also seen first-generation immigrants working as dealers, who are staunchly loyal to their new employers. If the issue of ball control troubles you, you can simply wait for the dealer to spin before placing your bets. You might actually turn this technique in your favor. If you recognize a skillful dealer and can build a rapport with him or her, you may be able to exploit their ability. One way to induce a dealer into hitting your number is to bet a sector or continuous section on the rotor of say, five pockets. Place a toke out for the dealer on the number situated at the sector's center. The dealers seem to appreciate a crack at collecting 35 times their original toke if they exhibit some control. If they miss your center number by one or two pockets, then you still win on the neighbors contained in that sector.

Concealed Computers

This method involves assessing the mechanical conditions of the roulette event and rendering a computer prediction based on the laws of Newtonian physics. This technique would have been considered as an "advantage system" and not cheating, except that using a computing device to project the outcome of a casino game is illegal in most places. One book titled “The Eudaemonic Pie” by Thomas Bass, chronicles the adventures and misadventures of Doyne Farmer and Norman Packard, two classmates of Bass’s from the University of California at Santa Cruz. These physics PhDs formed a team with other physicists and computer scientists for the purpose of creating a computer capable of predicting casino roulette. Back in the late 1970’s when they endeavored to do this, no law was in place to prohibit the use of computers in a casino. So I want to clarify that technically, Farmer and Packard’s attempts to use a concealed computer were not illegal.

The team designed and built a miniature computer from scratch, since one was not commercially available at the time. They developed and burned in their own software for calculating the various equations of motion involved. Things like the position, velocity and deceleration of the ball and the proper relationship of the exponentially decaying ball speed and the more constant angular velocity of the wheel head. Because the event always took place on a 32” casino regulation roulette wheel and the acceleration due to gravity on the Earth’s surface is fairly constant, a set of idealized equations of motion were derived for a theoretically perfect roulette wheel. As they discovered along the way, no two roulette wheels were made, maintained or set up the same way. They adapted their software to have a flexible enough program so that specific characteristics of each roulette wheel could be input. Once the computer had enough background on a certain wheel, it could begin to make adjustments in the algorithms to compensate for these idiosyncrasies.

One such wheel characteristic is the ball’s drop-off point from the upper track. If you use the eight silver deflectors in the approach to mentally divide the bowl up into octants, you can chart a histogram of ball drops per octant. Ideally, the ball should be able to drop from any octant, based on when the gravitational acceleration overcomes the centripetal acceleration holding it in the upper track. But this will not happen if the entire wheel is sufficiently “tilted” at say, 1/8” to ¼”. The ball will labor as it climbs the incline toward the tilt’s apex, slowing it down more than expected. This is where the ball will tend to “run out of gas.” I’ve seen wheels where 45% of the drop-offs occurred in just one octant! Chances are that the drop-off octant was at or just before the tilt’s highest point. If the ball should make it over the peak, it will accelerate slightly as it races down the other side. This uncharacteristic slowing and speeding up may not be perceptible to the human eye, but it is enough to throw off any idealized mathematical model.

Farmer and Packard’s team did an excellent job of interpreting the problem and programming it into their custom computer, but there were logistical problems; difficulty concealing the computer and its power supply, loose wires, bad connections, shocks, clamping solenoids, drifting signals, etc. Building such a device involved extensive knowledge of physics, mathematics, electronics, computer science and information theory. Even after a year and a half of totally redesigning and miniaturizing their system with the latest technology available, they were overcome by unexpected computer crashes and electronic noise. This noise came from surveillance systems and low-frequency radiation, given off by neon signs and slot machines. These all contributed spurious signals to the receiver. The casinos are a swamp of electronic noise!

Just as our team of physicists was contemplating their next go-around in 1985, the Governor of Nevada signed into law, Senate Bill 467. The pertinent statute in Nevada states: “It is unlawful for any person at a licensed gaming establishment to use, or possess with the intent to use, any device to assist in projecting the outcome of the game.” The statute goes on to say that a first-time offender may be imprisoned for a period of 1 to 10 years, or be fined up to $10,000, or both. A second offense is mandatory imprisonment. In other words, if you’re caught with a computer in the casino, even if you did not yet use it, you may be hit with jail time and/or stiff fines! This is too big a gamble in my book! New Jersey has a similar statute regarding the use of electronic, electrical and mechanical devices: “Except as specifically permitted by the commission, no person shall possess with the intent to use, or actually use, at any table game, either by himself or in concert with others, any calculator, computer, or other electronic, electrical or mechanical device to assist in projecting an outcome at any table game or in keeping track of or analyzing the cards having been dealt, the changing probabilities of any table game, or the playing strategies to be utilized”. So contemplate this option carefully, if you must.

As computers become smaller, they are also becoming more powerful, reliable and more programmer-friendly. The temptations of “easy riches” become greater. There are still those scheming to build computers for predicting roulette. I recently ran across this ad on the Internet:

ROULETTE PHYSICS

WANTED!! INVESTORS/SPONSERS

POCKET-SIZED ROULETTE COMPUTER USES PREDICTIVE PHYSICS/MECHANICS

This is NOT a betting scheme. Computer has proven advantage over the casino of 15-30% daily. Capable of predicting approximate final position of ball. Capital required for profiting tour of casinos. Send contact details and all inquires for information….

Slick Surveillance

Although the casinos have always had the home court advantage, that hasn’t stopped the near-do-wells from attempting to cheat the house. In the past, panels of one-way glass were installed in the ceilings over the casino floor. Surveillance people, often referred to as, “the eye in the sky,” would tread back and forth on narrow catwalks while looking down at the games. With binoculars in hand, they monitored both the players and the dealers for any signs of cheating. They maneuvered through spider webs and around posts and rafters in the dark. Today’s modern casinos are outfitted with hundreds of cameras that can rotate, pivot and zoom in on a pinhead. These cameras are housed in those half-spherical bubbles that you see, mounted from the ceiling. They send video signals that are fed into dozens of monitors with videotapes rolling. Not all of the cameras’ signals can be shown on a monitor at all times. Just because the camera is on doesn’t mean that someone is watching it. The video can later be reviewed, but the cheat or thief may be long gone. The surveillance crew must switch back and forth between cameras, focusing more on the busy-betting areas and the cashiers’ cages. If the pit is suspicious of a cheat or if a high roller steps into the game, the boss will call up to surveillance to make sure they are watching the action at that table.

Eventually, the whole system will be computerized. A network of several hundred tiny digital cameras will be mounted throughout the casino. As these cameras sense movement, they will begin processing a digital signal to a computer. Surveillance software will interpret any actions it senses and the most questionable of those will appear on one of several main monitors where a small surveillance crew will be stationed. Because the footage is digital and fully indexed, it can be immediately accessed and cross-referenced with other footage taken, even if it happened six months earlier. There would be no archived tapes to search through, no hours and hours of rewinding and playing of videotapes. Everything will be stored in one central database.

I hope that you enjoyed this section on scams and cheats.

The Spindoctor

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