Obviously, we don’t recommend trying to cheat at roulette. Your odds of success are extremely low in a modern casino, and the consequences of getting caught are way larger than any amount of money you’re likely to win. Not to mention, of course, that gamblers are supposed to be able to trust each other (and this extends to the gambler/casino relationship), and every time someone cheats, it makes it a little harder to trust the gambling community as a whole.
With that in mind, the ways that people have attempted to cheat at roulette over the years are fascinating. The following is a look at a number of the most popular cheating methods that have been employed by those trying to beat the casino at their own game.
Some of the methods used to cheat at casino games are complex, requiring multiple people or some insider knowledge to pull off. On the other hand, past posting isn’t sophisticated at all, requiring only some slight of hand from the gambler who wants to cheat the casino.
Past posting refers to any bets made after the croupier has already called for no more bets to be taken. The name actually comes from the world of horse racing, where scams that involved betting on races that have already begun (or even better, already ended) were once fairly common. In roulette, the idea would be to get your bet onto the table only after you’ve already seen where the ball has landed.
This isn’t an easy feat to pull off, especially given how much attention casino staff pays to what’s going on at the table. Distracting dealers isn’t easy, and if there are multiple personnel at the table, the cheater’s job is made exponentially harder. Add in the presence of security cameras, and this isn’t a cheating method that will work for very long.
One twist to this scam is called pinching. This involves taking a bet that has already been placed and removing chips if that bet should lose. This can give a cheater a huge advantage, as they’ll reduce the size of their losses while maximizing how much they can win when they don’t “pinch” a bet. Of course, the cameras and casino staff are once against an issue, which makes pinching much less common in the modern casino world.
If you’re looking for a more complex scheme, magnets can be used to influence where the ball will land. For instance, placing electromagnets around the wheel can allow cheaters to pull a ball towards a certain section of the wheel, if not to an exact pocket. Scams such as these have often been associated with large cheating teams in order to make them less detectable by casino personnel.
For instance, a team might involve several bettors, a beautiful woman who is supposed to distract a male croupier, and a person in a wheelchair. The person in the wheelchair will be seated as close to the wheel as possible, hiding the magnet on themselves and operating it discretely. It’s much easier for the other members of the scam to place winning bets if they can constantly pull the ball in their direction.
Of course, while this sort of cheating can be effective, it’s also easy to detect if a casino starts to get suspicious. One technique used to counter this is the “compass walk.” A casino staffer will simply walk around the table with a compass, which will react strongly to any magnets in the area. From the casino’s perspective, this anti-cheating method is even better because it is so discrete — the cheaters aren’t even likely to realize the casino is trying to detect them until they’re asked to speak to an official in private.
In most jurisdictions, taking advantage of a biased wheel isn’t actually considered cheating. After all, a player who tracks the numbers on a wheel and ends up finding out that a wheel favours certain numbers hasn’t done anything to manipulate the game, and isn’t using any illegal devices, either.
Rigged wheels, however, are a different story. While it would be shocking to find out that a modern casino used a rigged wheel, these used to be quite common, especially in illegal gambling establishments. These gambling dens would allow players to win to a point, but would make sure that big bets always “happened” to be on losing numbers, as the wheels were rigged to be able to produce the results the croupier wanted on demand. A famous example of this comes from the movie Casablanca, in which Rick uses his rigged wheel to help a couple win a small fortune before telling them to never play the game again.
While rigged wheels are always going to increase the casino’s advantage overall, some smart gamblers have managed to make money by taking advantage of the rigging going on. If professional gamblers knew that a particular wheel was rigged, they would often engage in betting against unsuspecting players who were making large bets. The casino would naturally choose to rig the game against those very large bets, allowing a sharp gambler to make smaller bets on areas that were more likely to win. Thus, not only were the casinos cheating the high rollers, but the professionals got to take a little piece of the action as well.
Finally, there’s always the option for players to collude with the dealer or croupier in order to ensure they will win. While this can be combined with any of the above techniques, most players talk about collusion in terms of getting a croupier to spin the wheel in a manner to favour the numbers they’ve chosen to play.
While few casino employees would ever consider doing this, there’s a secondary problem to this form of cheating: most casino and gambling experts don’t even believe it works. Given the difficulty created by the spinning wheel, the many obstacles that alter the path of the ball, and the fact that the ball is travelling in the opposite direction of a wheel that is constantly changing speed, there’s a lot of scepticism that any roulette croupier can actually control the ball’s landing position on a fair wheel. On the other hand, even creating just a slight bias towards half of the wheel would be enough to give a player at least a slight edge, which is enough for many gamblers (and croupiers) to claim that cheating this way is possible.