It’s no secret that there are three ways to play roulette.
You can throw it on one colour – red or black – with just less than a 50 per cent chance of winning.
Alternatively, you can pick a colour and a number with a negative 38-1 shot against you of winning.
Or you can do it the third and final way, by doing what J. Doyne Farmer did – use physics.
According to the Mirror, physics is your best friend when it comes to securing a pocket full of dough after a hard day at the casino, but it’s probably not your best friend when you get chucked out – like Farmer did.
Back in the ’70s, mathematician J. Doyne Farmer built himself a little machine that would almost guarantee complete success at roulette, and a physics professor has just revealed how on Quora.
Richard Muller, professor of Physics at UC Berkeley explained how a colleague of his managed to beat the house at its own game:
To encourage people to bet at roulette, it has been traditional to allow bets to be made after the wheel is spun and the ball is flung, but only before it begins to drop. In that second or two, there is enough information to allow a measurement and computation that will, for example, double your odds of winning.
If the computation simply rules out half of the wheel as unlikely, then the odds jump up highly in your favor. Whereas before, your odds of winning might be 98:100 (so you lose), if you exclude half of the numbers, your odds become 196:100; you win big!
You don’t have to predict the number where it will fall. You only have to increase your odds by 3% to go from losing on average to winning on average.
He built a device with a switch for his toe in which he tapped each time the ball spun around; with a separate switch he tapped each time the wheel turned.
This provided enough information for his small pocket computer to signal him back (with a tap to his leg) where he should place his bet. (He had to calibrate each wheel, but he did that by watching and testing before he started betting).
He then went on to win more than enough money to buy the actual roulette wheel where he crafted his trade entirely – however, the sad news lies in the fact that he was ultimately banned from the casino…
How was he caught? Apparently, casinos don’t actually have to catch you cheating – and they don’t have the right to search you in any case – but they do have the right to exclude any person without cause, and if they see someone beating the odds consistently, you’re marked.
As Muller explains:
They can’t get their money back, but they can stop losing.
If only I could stop losing…
Joseph Loftus is a Gold Standard NCTJ journalist with four years experience working for international and regional press.
As well as working for UNILAD and LADbible, Joseph has worked as Liverpool Correspondent for Unsigned & Independent Magazine, as well as stints with the Liverpool Echo and Warrington Guardian.