Roulette wheels are precision made to withstand thousands of hours of continuous play without a breakdown in their reliability. Years ago, B.C. Wills & Co. provided nearly all the roulette wheels used in the United States. In Europe, Caro produced most of the wheels used.
Each wheel was hand-made with extreme care so the wheel-head could spin smoothly on a pivot without any fluctuation in level and only a very gradual reduction in speed. Many of the wheels from years ago are still in use today. They have been well-maintained and provide safe, reliable for casino operators.
However, as with any mechanical device, especially those in continual use, some aspects of their character may become compromised. If the pivot on a wheel is damaged even in the slightest, the wheel will dip slightly during each revolution around the bowl the wheel-head spins in. This will produce an identifiable pattern of pocket or number hits. This type of defect in wheel performance can provide a valuable bias for players to attack. You’ll want to know about beating roulette when a wheel bias occurs.
Beating an Unbalanced Roulette Wheel
Much like beating a roulette game by clocking the spins, an unbalanced wheel can best be beaten by counting the revolutions per spin of the ball against the chance that the ball will bounce first in the low area of the wheel, but even without clocking the spins, a wheel with even an almost imperceptible dip will show a predominance of a section of numbers hitting. Just as water always flows to the lowest point, so will a roulette ball on an unbalanced wheel.
Beating a Roulette Wheel with Loose Frets
Older roulette wheels made predominantly of wood and laminate are susceptible to a bias of specific numbers and sections. Newer wheels use more metal, but each deep pocket to capture and hold the ball has tiny walls that separates the numbers (called separator rings or frets) that can be damaged.
Dealers keep the wheel spinning at a constant pace by dipping their fingers into the pockets and pushing the wheel-head. This motion, as well as the ball striking the frets over and over in the course of use can loosen the tiny walls. When a still spinning ball strikes a standard fret it will rebound a standard amount, but when the ball strikes a loose fret, the rebound will be minor and the ball is likely to land quickly in a number just a few pockets away.
On a European wheel (single-zero) the numbers flow like this: 0 – 32 – 15 – 19 – 4 – 21 – 2 – 25 – 17 – 34 – 6 – 27 – 13 – 36 – 11 – 30 – 8 – 23 – 10 – 5 – 24 – 16 – 33 – 1 – 20 – 14 – 31 – 9 – 22 – 18 – 29 – 7 – 28 – 12 – 35 – 3 – 26. Now suppose there is a single loose fret on number 33. Each time the ball strikes that fret the ball is likely to do one of two things: bounce forward a few numbers and land quickly in number 10 or 23, or the ball will bounce slightly up the bowl as a few more numbers pass it before settling down into number 14 or 31 (yes, this is simplified).
Knowing this won’t help you much, since the ball will only hit the fret on random spins, but suppose there are two or even three loose frets in a section. Suppose the frets on either side of 33 and 16 are loose. Now there are four loose frets for the ball to hit, and it will settle down in a pocket somewhere between 23 and 31 (23 – 10 – 5 – 24 – 16 – 33 – 1 – 20 – 14 – 31). Is that enough of an edge to beat the wheel? Yes it is – barely.
Searching for wheels with loose frets may seem like searching for a pearl in an ocean full of oysters, but when you find a wheel with a bias you may have plenty of time to exploit it. Most casinos schedule regular maintenance on their roulette wheels, but it may be spaced weeks or even months apart. You can spend your time happily playing your standard systems and recording spins while also looking for wheel biases. If one comes along, carefully analyze your findings before jumping in with large bets.
The Right Bankroll
Once you find a wheel with a bias and have identified how to take advantage of your knowledge, remember that your edge is still tiny. Like a blackjack card counter, you’ll still have to manage your bankroll. There’s nothing worse than finding an edge but being unable to beat it because you’re out of money!
With a 1% edge over the house your odds of winning each spin of the ball is just 50.5% to the house edge of 49.5% – so you need to keep your bet size in proportion to your bankroll. If you have a bankroll of 1000 units, keep your chip value at 1 unit and bet 6-8 chips per spin (one on each number in the section you are covering). This will give you a good chance of making a profit. In fact, you should be able to double your bankroll nine times out of ten. Keep in mind that means you’ll lose your bankroll about once every ten tries, because even with an edge you’ll still lose on occasion!