What kind of roulette player are you?

October 12, 2017 8:48 pm

Roulette is perhaps the most glamorous of casino games. The spinning wheel and green baize of the roulette table has been the backdrop to many famous movie scenes, from Casablanca to Indecent Proposal to Diamonds are Forever. James Bond bet on 17 in that last film, and 007’s favourite number is now the most popular choice around the world, showing just how influential movies can be. However, not every roulette player is so easily influenced by the game’s depiction on the silver screen. In real life, there are a number of different kinds of roulette players, who each approach the game from a different angle. Let’s look at some of the main types of roulette player now, and see which one best resembles you.

THE DREAMER

The dreamer spends most of their time at the table thinking of all the incredible things they could buy if they just were to win big on the next spin. Little thought is made on how to accomplish this, of course, but what they lack in planning and analysis, the dreamers certainly make up for in enthusiasm. This type of player tends to make up the majority of visitors to the roulette table, and we have probably all been a dreamer at some point. Dreamers are easy to spot, as they have a happy-go-lucky demeanour and wide-eyed belief in the power of positive thinking. The truth is that casinos love having dreamers around, as their energetic and positive nature encourages others to bet bigger and spend longer at the table. Due to their lack of a system, the dreamer has little chance of beating the house edge. Even if they do get lucky, they can always be relied upon to keep pushing their luck, and give it all back.

THE MARTINGALE

This kind of player follows the martingale betting system, which involves doubling the size of their stake after a losing spin, in an attempt to make up for the loss. As soon as dreamers start to hit a losing streak, they tend to naturally adopt this martingale approach, as they assume that they cannot be unlucky twice or three times in a row. Of course, seasoned gamblers know that such losing runs are not only possible, but are inevitable if you play long enough. While the martingale system will eventually bear fruit if you have an unlimited bankroll, the fact that none of us have such infinite funding means the strategy is fatally flawed. The longer a martingale sticks with this strategy, the surer their chances of losing everything. For an in-depth mathematical look at why martingale systems are doomed to failure in the long run, I recommend this video primer from The Angry Ufologist.

THE ANTI-MARTINGALE

OK, now we know that the Martingale player will always end up losing, what if we were to follow the opposite system? What if instead of doubling down after a losing spin, we reduce the stake, and increase it after a winning spin? Do any roulette players do this? Well, yes, they do, and some of the most successful roulette winners of the past were devotees of this so-called anti-martingale system. For example, in 1966, Norman Leigh and a team of 12 assistants moved to the French Riviera and started using a variant of the anti-Martingale system which sought to reduce risk during a losing run, and increase it when things were going well. The system was so successful that they were banned from every casino in France within 6 weeks! If you want to learn more about how they did it, then you can read a thrilling first-hand account in Thirteen Against the Bank. The book ends with the hero departing for Las Vegas, and we would love to know how Norman did at Caesar’s Palace!

THE TABLE WATCHER

Roulette tables should in theory be completely random, with each number having equal probabilities of coming up trumps. In the real world, this isn’t always the case, and physical defects such as a wonky table leg, or faulty ball-bearing, can mean that certain numbers win more often on certain machines than they should. This idea that no table is 100% random inspires some roulette players to obsessively study the tables in casinos to see if they can spot an exploitable advantage. The most famous example of a table watcher in recent years is Gonzalo Garcia Pelayo. In 1990 Gonzalo started to study every roulette wheel in every casino in his home town of Madrid, collecting huge amounts of data in the process. As he was a talented programmer, and this was the dawn of the home computer, Gonzalo then entered the data into his QBasic program, looking for biases in which numbers were selected. To his amazement, he saw that there were several roulette wheels which displayed biases so great that they turned the casino’s house edge of 5% to a player advantage of 15%. Armed with this information, Gonzalo hit the Casino de Madrid, winning as much as 1 million dollars in just one night. Although the casino tried to sue him for cheating, the courts decided in Gonzalo’s favour, and he was eventually allowed to keep the winnings. Like Norman Leigh, Gonzalo was last seen on a flight to Nevada. What is most illuminating about Gonzalo’s story is how even a small edge can be worked into huge profits. This suggests players who are serious about increasing their chances of winning should choose European roulette over its American equivalent, as the house edge is so much more player-friendly.

THE DEALER WATCHER

It’s often said that the roulette wheel has no memory. And that might well be the case. However, some roulette players believe that although the wheel itself has no memory, the dealer does, and that the dealer subconsciously will throw the ball in such a way that it will end up in a certain pocket. Sounds crazy? Maybe it does, but we know several players who spend the first hour or so of a roulette session just observing the dealer in action. When they see a certain number does not come up for many spins in a row, then they bet on that number and the adjacent ones, believing that the dealer will throw the ball aiming for the number. It might sound a stretch, but if the dealer spends all day throwing that ball, then their muscle memory might just allow them some influence on where it ends up. And if they believe in the laws of probabilities, then just maybe the dealer could be subconsciously selecting the number whose time has come. It’s certainly an interesting theory.

THE PSYCHIC

It might sound far-fetched, but many visitors to the roulette table try to use psychic powers to influence the spin of the ball. Whether this works or not is up for debate, but a 2009 experiment by British TV magician Derren Brown got pretty damn close. Brown tried to predict exactly where the ball would land and he placed a £5000 bet on number 8 just after the wheel began to spin. The ball landed in pocket number 30, just one away from the winning number, which is impressive, but not exactly conclusive proof. With the rise in online roulette, where the winning numbers are decided by random number generators, psychics have a new chance to show their mental powers can be used to sway things their way. There are now even roulette magic spells available on the internet which claim to do just that!

Roulette is a fascinating game that draws casino guests to the table again and again, whether they seek entertainment, or the Holy Grail of a winning roulette system. Which type of player you are depends on your personality type and what you get out of playing it. However, knowing how others approach the game of roulette can give you a new perspective. Maybe next time you are at the roulette tables you can start to adopt some of these approaches and see if they increase your winnings?

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