How to Beat Roulette with Physics

No matter how much you gamble, the casino is always the winner. This is especially true of roulette, where the player’s chances of winning are particularly low. But there are exceptions in every rule, especially when a person with an excellent knowledge of physics comes into play.

In the 1970s, a professor of mathematics, a specialist in the chaos theory, the general systems theory and econophysics J. Doyne Farmer designed the famous gadget that so much increased the chances of winning in roulette that the scientist was blacklisted by all Nevada casinos.

The Device

Not long ago, a colleague of Professor Farmer explained in detail how this device works. The device is interesting only from a scientific point of view. And of course, no one is going to really use this knowledge to win at roulette in casinos. Although formally, the use of the device cannot be called a fraud, because the player uses only knowledge of the physic laws — what's illegal in that?

So, on the Quora website, Richard Muller, a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, explained the principle operations of this device. He claims that his colleague designed and developed a device that is very similar to the famous Farmer mechanism (perhaps, this is it).

The Farmer Mechanism

A critical factor in the gadget operation is that the casino pushes gamblers to make rash bets. Bets are allowed after the ball is launched, but before it starts to roll down. It is at this time that the physicist gains an advantage.

In these two or three seconds, all the information needed to measure the speed of the ball and calculate the sector where it stops becomes available. Although the error percent may be large, the calculations significantly increase the chances of the player to guess the right number, if compared with the random selection out of all possible numbers.

If in a fair game the player’s chances against a casino can be as 98:100, then the simple elimination of half of the possible numbers increases the chances up to 196:100, that is, the player gets a huge edge over the casino. In other words, for a winning game, it is enough for a player to increase the chances by only 3%, and increasing the chances by 100%, that is twice, gives the player a very big advantage.

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According to the professor, his colleague constructed a device with a button in the toe of the boot, which he presses every time the ball passes a full circle. The second button, the player presses when the roulette wheel makes a full circle. This information is enough for a small handheld computer to calculate the stopping point of the ball and give a hidden signal where to bet. All calculations and signaling occur in about a second.

The scientist says that the device needs to be pre-calibrated, but the calibration can be carried out before starting the game for money, without making bets.

According to the rules, the casino does not have the right to search the player, therefore, to protect against such technical devices, a rule was introduced that the casino can deny entry to any player without explanation, says Professor Muller. Specially trained staff monitors the players and ask those players who consistently receive a prize that does not correspond to the theory of probability to leave the gaming room.

“In the end, my friend (who was then an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley) was blacklisted,” says Richard Muller. — His name and photo were sent to all casinos in Nevada and, possibly, the whole world, and his gambling career has come to an end. My friend says that he almost earned enough to recoup the cost of the roulette he bought to calibrate the instrument in his home lab before going to a real casino.”

Richard Muller did not say directly that it’s about J. Doyne Farmer, but the story is definitely similar to the famous scam using science and computer gadgets.

The theoretical possibility of calculating where the ball stops on a roulette wheel was proved four years ago in the scientific research of physicists Michael Small, University of Western Australia, and Chi Kong Tse, Hong Kong Polytechnic University. In 2012, they published an article named “Predicting the outcome of roulette: Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science”.

Scientists have shown that information about the wheel speed and the ball speed is enough to significantly increase the chances of winning. During the scientific experiment, the gain was on average 18%, while in a fair roulette the player’s expected gain is negative, -2.7%.

After the scientific study results in 2012 were published, Farmer for the first time made a public comment about his device operation and admitted that his technique was very similar to the one described in the scientific work, with one exception. Small and Tse suggested that the main force that slows the movement of the ball is friction with the rim, while Farmer calculated that this is actually air resistance.

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