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One Step Ahead

Sophisticated Gamblers Use Legal Techniques to Gain Small Advantages at Casino Games
Michael Konik
From the Print Edition:
Ron Perelman, Spring 95

(continued from page 5)

Outlined in How to Beat Roulette, a book by Laurence Scott, the visual-prediction method is built on an immutable law of physics: regardless of how fast the ball is spun by the croupier, it must necessarily end at the same speed. Advantage players beat the wheel from the "back" of the spin, not the front. They play the last four or five revolutions of the ball. After finding a wheel with a clear bias--Forte says there's probably at least one in every major casino in the United States--they clock the speed of the rotor (the spinning dish of numbers), looking for one that takes between two and three seconds per revolution. (This is surprisingly easy to time in your head, without a stopwatch.)

By correlating the speed of the rotor with the ball's predictable "drop point," the advantage player can gauge which number will be sitting directly under the ball when it dives into the dish. Even taking into account the volatility of the ball's bounce, when betting late enough in the spin, advantage players can essentially narrow the list of probable numbers from 38 to 19, obliterating the House's normal 5 percent edge.

In the course of Forte's explanation of visual prediction, the ball has fallen off the same spot on the wheel 25 out of 27 times. At a nearby high-limit blackjack table, he detects the dealer's hole card in four of the last five hands. And at the craps table behind us, they're looking for a new shooter.

Forte is ready for lunch. But, really, it would be more fun to watch him play a rack of chips.

Michael Konik is the gambling columnist for Cigar Aficionado.

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