One Step Ahead
Sophisticated Gamblers Use Legal Techniques to Gain Small Advantages at Casino Games
From the Print Edition:
Ron Perelman, Spring 95
(continued from page 4)
"You're saying advantage players can control the outcome of the dice roll?"
"Absolutely. Only a few people can do it, but, yes, there are several methods. Walking the die, where the dice wobbles around its axis, but never changes position; spin shots, where the shooter slides the dice down the felt; puck or wall shots, where the shooter kills the number off the disk they use to mark the point--rule out nothing."
Several weeks later, demonstrating for a group of students at the William F. Harrah Institute of Casino Entertainment, Forte blithely rolls double sixes three times in a row--a 43,000-to-1 proposition.
SLOTS AND VIDEO POKER
We pass a bank of video poker machines. "Those," Forte says, pointing to a row of units, "cannot be beat. But those," he says, gesturing to a bank with a progressive jackpot meter, "definitely are beatable. Many knowledgeable gamblers play video poker for a living. You have to know which machines to play and the correct strategy for playing them. For instance, in most home poker games, if you were dealt ace-jack-seven-five-three, you would keep the ace, or maybe the ace-jack. Here, the correct play is to keep only the jack."
When he passes a bank of slot machines, a challenge is unavoidable: "Don't say there's an advantage technique for slots!"
"No, unfortunately, today's slot machines work on a microchip," he says. "You can't beat them. But up until the early '80s, when they still used electromechanical machines, you could definitely win at slots using what we called rhythming--timing the machine's so-called variator. They definitely did not produce true randomness. You might find these old machines, like Bally's wide-reel Fruit, in some foreign casinos, but not here," Forte says somewhat wistfully.
"But I'll show you one old game that's still vulnerable to advantage play," Forte says, stopping at a roulette wheel. "Albert Einstein once said you wouldn't win at roulette unless you were stealing chips." Forte shrugs. "I guess even geniuses make mistakes."
Forte instructs his visitor to watch where the ball "falls off" the track and into the dish of spinning numbers. It loses its momentum and dives down at the "10 o'clock" position. On the next spin it does it again. And again. And again. Thirteen times in a row. "There's no such thing as a perfect wheel," Forte says. "They're basically a piece of furniture. They take abuse, they get dirty, they get worn down. They produce biased results." Using a technique called visual prediction, advantage players exploit the wheel's imperfections.
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