Roulette bets and section spins

I’ve always thought of roulette as a mathematically sub-optimal game to play.  Assuming you are talking about a quality wheel with no bias, you have a game where each spin is an independent event offering payouts for each bet that are less than the odds of hitting that bet (substantially so for the American version of the game).

Stick to Blackjack has always been my mantra.   But a chat I had with a dealer the other day had me thinking maybe I’ve been a little hasty in writing roulette off as a potential earner.   What I learned was that the human element (ie dealer/croupier spin) of this game can make the outcomes decidedly non-random.  And if a player can harness this situation to their advantage, there is cash to be made.

But how on earth can outcomes be non-random I hear you say?

Section spinning

So here you have a high tech, low profile, John Huxley type wheel with no discernible bias whatsoever including all manner of features to ensure randomness such like separating frets and wheel diamonds to make that small white ball bobble around all over the place.   Then you have a ball spinning many times around the wheel in the opposite direction to the wheel itself, before finally coming to rest.  How can the outcome be anything but totally random?

It’s hard to fathom, but the upshot of what this dealer was telling me is that experienced dealers CAN consistently land a ball on chosen wheel sections.  Section spinning is a practice that is certainly not encouraged by their employer, but I have it on good authority that in at least one casino (and I’m sure it’s not the only one), the dealers work very hard at perfecting their section spin skills – whether it be for tips or simply their own amusement, or just a quiet affirmation of their skill at spinning.  The fact is, very good croupiers can hit sections with monotonous regularity if they so choose.  Some even do it unintentionally without even realizing they are doing it!

This is sometimes also referred to as a dealer’s signature – consistency in ball delivery through much repetition.

Pick your sections…and be VERY nice to the dealer

The implications of the above are obvious and significant. Imagine knowing (from observation, dealer chat etc)  that there’s a very good chance that the ball is going to end up in a certain quadrant of the wheel.  All of a sudden the odds/payout picture of roulette as I’d always thought of it changes dramatically.  Theoretically your odds of hitting a given number drop from 1 in 37 to somewhere in the order of 1 in 10 – with no change to the payouts!

Get a feeling the dealer is looking to land the zero? – you bet neighbours around the zero.  Get the feeling he or she is looking to land somewhere else? – bet neighbours around that number.

Of course armed with the knowledge that your winning destiny is well and truly in the hands of this experienced croupier, the other point that should go without saying is be very nice to the dealer.  A tip here or there wouldn’t hurt.  Carrying on like a jerk will.

Do online dealers section spin?

To be perfectly honest I have never noticed before.  But then until talking to the above mentioned dealer, I was oblivious to the fact that it was at all possible so didn’t ever pay much attention to bet outcome history.   The fact is, the equipment used in live dealer studios is the same as that used in bricks and mortar casinos and the dealers can be every bit as experienced as their traditional casino counterparts.  So section spins or a dealer signature may exist playing live roulette.

It might pay to pay slightly closer attention in future to any emerging patterns.  Maybe just watch and observe for a while and study the outcome history.  And above all – be nice to your dealer!

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