cwazy
• Posts: 178
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May 25th, 2016 at 8:14:11 AM permalink
Assume a random, recreational (losing) player wants to take advantage of any bias a given roulette wheel might have. They don't know that a bias exists on a particular wheel, and they are OK with playing in that situation, but if a bias does exist, they want to be a beneficiary of it. Assume they play a simple bet, such as red/black. Would the proper strategy to take advantage of any potential bias be to simply follow the last result - e.g. bet red if the previous result was red, or something more nuanced than that, such as betting the color that came up most out of the previous X spins?

If a given wheel has a bias to a given number, if that number were red, then red would indeed repeat more often than black. It seems that such a strategy in any game where a mechanical bias might develop would at least deliver the possibility of the player doing better than the theoretical loss for the game would imply. Am I way off base here?
RS
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May 25th, 2016 at 8:20:27 AM permalink
Red/black probably wouldn't be biased.

If the bettor likes to make straight up (35:1) bets, then betting the previous number spun would suffice, but betting the number most frequent of the last X spins would be more accurate, I think.
TigerWu
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May 25th, 2016 at 8:22:22 AM permalink
I don't think you could do a red/black bet on a biased wheel... You would have to bet entire segments of the wheel if you discovered there was a bias that caused the ball to land in one section more than the other. But chances are, if you are able to notice a biased wheel, then so is everyone else, and it wouldn't last long.
Romes
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May 25th, 2016 at 8:53:38 AM permalink
1) As pointed out red/black won't ever be biased.
2) It takes a large sampling size to determine a wheel bias, like 7,000 - 8,000 spins.
3) After confirming a bias the strategy would be to simply play the bias =P.

One of the simplest ways to determine a bias is a wheel that's not evenly weighted, even to the slightest degree. This might result in a section of numbers coming up "slightly" more frequently than other numbers. You'll never be able to tell by looking at the board if there's a bias, so don't look at it and go "I've seen 17 three times, it must be a biased number so I'm gonna play it!" Like I said prior it takes a much larger sampling size of 1 wheel to confirm any biases... And some casinos change their wheels, or at least rotate them between tables, frequently thus if you can't tell the difference in them you'll never know if they're being switched out or not.

Lastly, just for semantics, without a confirmed bias I hope you know each and every spin of the roulette wheel is independent. Even if 15 reds came up in a row, the odds of red and black coming up on the next roll is still about a 50/50 all the same. The past doesn't effect the future, unless you have a large enough sampling size to confirm a bias =).
Playing it correctly means you've already won.
cwazy
• Posts: 178
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May 25th, 2016 at 8:59:00 AM permalink
>"You'll never be able to tell by looking at the board if there's a bias, so don't look at it and go "I've seen 17 three times, it must be a biased number so I'm gonna play it!"

This is at the heart of my question. Given that the 17 is theoretically no worse than any other number, a player that is already playing this game anyway and looking for a number to choose, may want to choose 17, or 17's neighbors. Perhaps there is a bias toward that section of the wheel.

>"Lastly, just for semantics, without a confirmed bias I hope you know each and every spin of the roulette wheel is independent. Even if 15 reds came up in a row, the odds of red and black coming up on the next roll is still about a 50/50 all the same. The past doesn't effect the future, unless you have a large enough sampling size to confirm a bias =)."

I'm well aware of that. What I'm saying is that people playing these games are at a mathematical disadvantage anyway. Therefore, it wouldn't hurt, and may possibly help them, to embrace a strategy that takes into account the possibility of mechanical bias. If such a strategy exists, it may improve their overall results (they may lose less overall).
Romes
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May 25th, 2016 at 9:26:22 AM permalink
Quote: cwazy

This is at the heart of my question. Given that the 17 is theoretically no worse than any other number, a player that is already playing this game anyway and looking for a number to choose, may want to choose 17, or 17's neighbors. Perhaps there is a bias toward that section of the wheel.

If a person who's just playing to play see's three 17's and decides to bet 17 and it's neighbors because there "might" be a potential bias then they're just gambling all the same. This literally gives zero extra edge as there is no confirmed bias and repeat numbers in the short run are VERY COMMON. Hell, the wheel could have a bias on the other side and if you see 17 three times and start betting it you're actually hurting yourself unknowingly. In the end without a bias each spin is an independent trial, thus the past has NO EFFECT at all on the future.

Quote: cwazy

I'm well aware of that. What I'm saying is that people playing these games are at a mathematical disadvantage anyway. Therefore, it wouldn't hurt, and may possibly help them, to embrace a strategy that takes into account the possibility of mechanical bias. If such a strategy exists, it may improve their overall results (they may lose less overall).

It wouldn't hurt, NOR HELP them is the real point of the math. It's literally just gambling and thus picking numbers you see on the board does NOTHING for you either way. You're absolutely correct in saying "well, it wouldn't hurt..." but I hope you realize that holds equally true for "well, that wouldn't help..."
Playing it correctly means you've already won.
MathExtremist
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May 25th, 2016 at 9:38:33 AM permalink
It absolutely can hurt. If the wheel is biased and you mis-identify the bias and bet on the wrong numbers, you're playing a game with a stronger house edge. The trick is to identify not only whether there is a bias but what it is -- and only then to bet accordingly. Seeing one number repeat three times in 20 spins isn't a valid indicator of bias.

If you can't accurately identify whether a bias exists and what it is, guessing can absolutely lead to worse results.
"In my own case, when it seemed to me after a long illness that death was close at hand, I found no little solace in playing constantly at dice." -- Girolamo Cardano, 1563
TigerWu
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May 25th, 2016 at 9:58:00 AM permalink
I was just thinking, even if you DID find a biased roulette wheel somehow, is that even going to help you? I mean, even on a European wheel, the house edge is still relatively crappy... even if you were able to spot the bias and shave a percent, even two, off the edge, there are still better bets in the casino on FAIR games.... To give the player an edge the wheel bias would have to be so ridiculous, the house would spot it right away.
cwazy
• Posts: 178
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May 25th, 2016 at 10:13:58 AM permalink
Quote: TigerWu

I was just thinking, even if you DID find a biased roulette wheel somehow, is that even going to help you? I mean, even on a European wheel, the house edge is still relatively crappy... even if you were able to spot the bias and shave a percent, even two, off the edge, there are still better bets in the casino on FAIR games.... To give the player an edge the wheel bias would have to be so ridiculous, the house would spot it right away.

That simply isn't true. There are teams that have exploited biased wheels and made millions of dollars. Do a search for "billy walters roulette".
MrGoldenSun
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May 25th, 2016 at 10:30:42 AM permalink
You are correct. I have seen this exact question answered before. The strategy I read was "bet the previous number." For an unbiased wheel, this is no worse than any other strategy. For a biased one, you will be weighting your bets toward numbers which hit more often.

In reality, I think the actual likelihood of a biased wheel is very close to 0, and even if a wheel were biased, it's probably barely off. I don't think this has practical value. But as an answer to the puzzle of "develop a simple roulette strategy which could take advantage of a biased wheel to potentially make the house edge better than -1/38 of money wagered," I like it.
cwazy
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May 25th, 2016 at 10:30:52 AM permalink
Quote: Romes

It wouldn't hurt, NOR HELP them is the real point of the math. It's literally just gambling and thus picking numbers you see on the board does NOTHING for you either way. You're absolutely correct in saying "well, it wouldn't hurt..." but I hope you realize that holds equally true for "well, that wouldn't help..."

Quote: MathExtremist

It absolutely can hurt. If the wheel is biased and you mis-identify the bias and bet on the wrong numbers, you're playing a game with a stronger house edge. The trick is to identify not only whether there is a bias but what it is -- and only then to bet accordingly. Seeing one number repeat three times in 20 spins isn't a valid indicator of bias.

If you can't accurately identify whether a bias exists and what it is, guessing can absolutely lead to worse results.

These two statements are at odds with each other. It either can have an effect or it can't. Anyway it was just a thought.
MrGoldenSun
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May 25th, 2016 at 10:37:24 AM permalink
Quote: Romes

This literally gives zero extra edge as there is no confirmed bias and repeat numbers in the short run are VERY COMMON. Hell, the wheel could have a bias on the other side and if you see 17 three times and start betting it you're actually hurting yourself unknowingly. In the end without a bias each spin is an independent trial, thus the past has NO EFFECT at all on the future.

It is zero extra edge if the wheel is unbiased, but in the case where the wheel is biased, you will be doing better than -1/38 in expectation.

I think you are misunderstanding the logic. I suspect maybe you have (reasonably) an instinctive negative reflex to anything which appears to be a "roulette system" post, and aren't simply thinking of this as a puzzle.

Quote:

picking numbers you see on the board does NOTHING for you either way.

This is not true for a biased wheel.
MrGoldenSun
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May 25th, 2016 at 10:41:14 AM permalink
Quote: MathExtremist

If you can't accurately identify whether a bias exists and what it is, guessing can absolutely lead to worse results.

If the wheel is biased, then basing your future bets on the past results has a better expectation than picking numbers randomly. You are more likely to be betting on the numbers towards which the wheel is biased. In your terms, you are more likely to be "guessing right" than you are to be "guessing wrong." Which means the house edge would be reduced.
TwoFeathersATL
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May 25th, 2016 at 10:53:41 AM permalink
Let me think this thru, village idiot mind you.
You bet the numbers, or their neighbors, that seem to be 'hitting'.
Worst case scenario, you are dumfuddled, and there is no direct correlation.
That's the worst case scenario ;-)

Betting those numbers couldn't possibly be worse than some other numbers, could it?

I mean, if you gonna play Roulette, try whatever you like.
If you play big, you might get a buffet or something ;-)
Youuuuuu MIGHT be a 'rascal' if.......(nevermind ;-)...2F
Romes
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May 25th, 2016 at 11:17:04 AM permalink
Quote: cwazy

That simply isn't true. There are teams that have exploited biased wheels and made millions of dollars. Do a search for "billy walters roulette".

I agree with you. A biased roulette wheel can be very profitable... It doesn't just shave a little off the edge; it makes it a solid advantage.

But you have to spend 8k rolls confirming a bias... On a wheel you can identify to know if they've changed it out... Then after you start winning a lot they might just change the wheel out anyways... and you always need to worry about dealer shooting (which after seeing some VERY convincing videos I'm a firm believer in). For all of those reasons a roulette bias can be very profitable, but not very probable (in my opinion) and why I have never chased one.
Playing it correctly means you've already won.
AxelWolf
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May 25th, 2016 at 11:43:42 AM permalink
Quote: cwazy

Assume a random, recreational (losing) player wants to take advantage of any bias a given roulette wheel might have. They don't know that a bias exists on a particular wheel, and they are OK with playing in that situation, but if a bias does exist, they want to be a beneficiary of it. Assume they play a simple bet, such as red/black. Would the proper strategy to take advantage of any potential bias be to simply follow the last result - e.g. bet red if the previous result was red, or something more nuanced than that, such as betting the color that came up most out of the previous X spins?

If a given wheel has a bias to a given number, if that number were red, then red would indeed repeat more often than black. It seems that such a strategy in any game where a mechanical bias might develop would at least deliver the possibility of the player doing better than the theoretical loss for the game would imply. Am I way off base here?

I suggest you research Laurance Scott he talks about both tilted wheels and bias wheels.
Predictive visual roulette on tilted wheels. IIRC He talks about following "hot numbers" *while tracking* it's not something he's advocating. This guy seems very knowledgeable and not to wacko. I think his estimated number of roulette tables beatable are highly exaggerated in order to sell crap.
♪♪Now you swear and kick and beg us That you're not a gamblin' man Then you find you're back in Vegas With a handle in your hand♪♪ Your black cards can make you money So you hide them when you're able In the land of casinos and money You must put them on the table♪♪ You go back Jack do it again roulette wheels turinin' 'round and 'round♪♪ You go back Jack do it again♪♪
cwazy
• Posts: 178
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May 25th, 2016 at 12:54:01 PM permalink
Quote: AxelWolf

I suggest you research Laurance Scott he talks about both tilted wheels and bias wheels.
Predictive visual roulette on tilted wheels. IIRC He talks about following "hot numbers" *while tracking* it's not something he's advocating. This guy seems very knowledgeable and not to wacko. I think his estimated number of roulette tables beatable are highly exaggerated in order to sell crap.

Interesting idea, I'll take a look. This isn't for me, I simply know someone that likes playing roulette and won't stop no matter how bad I tell him the game is. I figured maybe I could come up with a basic strategy of sorts that I could pass along that might at least give him a chance every once in a while if he happened upon a biased wheel.
TigerWu
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May 25th, 2016 at 12:56:32 PM permalink
Quote: cwazy

That simply isn't true. There are teams that have exploited biased wheels and made millions of dollars. Do a search for "billy walters roulette".

I found conflicting information on Billy Walters. Some say he was exploiting a biased wheel, but I also found this:

"Sources at Caesars Palace say that after Walters beat them for more than \$1 million in one sitting, the wheel was sent to NASA for an examination and dissection that revealed specific biases - but not for the numbers Walters had been playing. Nobody knows his secret, and he isn't saying, though he admits he has been barred from playing roulette in the major casinos."

However, if we assume he WAS exploiting a biased wheel, we have to take into account that he supposedly had entire teams clocking wheels and was betting thousands of dollars at a time with a giant bankroll. Additionally, he only played for one session, albeit one that lasted many hours, before being cut off. I still say that even if he was taking advantage of a biased wheel, that doesn't necessarily mean he managed to get a negative house edge. It's possible the bias cut the edge down to less than a percent, and he was just getting lucky since he only played for such a short time.

Regardless, even if biased wheels are a thing that can be exploited, I don't think it's plausible for the average person. But let me know if you find one and I'll help you test it out....!!
MrGoldenSun
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May 25th, 2016 at 1:19:39 PM permalink
Quote: TwoFeathersATL

You bet the numbers, or their neighbors, that seem to be 'hitting'.
Worst case scenario, you are dumfuddled, and there is no direct correlation.
That's the worst case scenario ;-)

This is correct. But if you bet the "hot" numbers, then unlike if you bet randomly, you have a different best case scenario...
Wizard
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May 25th, 2016 at 1:35:27 PM permalink
I have one word for those thinking of exploiting biased wheels -- Argentina.

Roulette is huge in that country most casinos use gambling equipment that looks at least 20 years old.
"For with much wisdom comes much sorrow." -- Ecclesiastes 1:18 (NIV)
Ayecarumba
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May 25th, 2016 at 1:50:09 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard

I have one word for those thinking of exploiting biased wheels -- Argentina.

Roulette is huge in that country most casinos use gambling equipment that looks at least 20 years old.

I don't know about the regulatory environment there, but is it possible the casinos use the old equipment because it has been gaffed to allow manipulation by trusted Croupiers to guarantee winning sessions for the house?
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication - Leonardo da Vinci
Romes
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May 25th, 2016 at 2:27:47 PM permalink
Quote: Ayecarumba

I don't know about the regulatory environment there, but is it possible the casinos use the old equipment because it has been gaffed to allow manipulation by trusted Croupiers to guarantee winning sessions for the house?

Or if it's that "old school" / unregulated they know if you win they'll just show you this nice backroom that has no cameras...
Playing it correctly means you've already won.
gordonm888
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May 25th, 2016 at 4:36:14 PM permalink
Modern roulette wheels in U.S. casinos are very low friction devices - and with such little drag the chance of there being any noticeable bias in where the ball drops is zero or near-zero.

I agree that old roulette wheels -especially cheap roulette wheels that have not been well-engineered, could possibly show some bias.

There is a casino game with a large tilted vertical wheel on a near-horizontal rotor - Wheel of Fortune? Wheel of Cash? As an engineer, if I was going to look for a rotational bias in a casino game, I would pick that device.
So many better men, a few of them friends, are dead. And a thousand thousand slimy things live on, and so do I.
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