I once asked an acquaintance who used to work for a well-known casino cruise operator to share some secrets about what goes on behind the scenes. He told me that roulette croupiers are trained to hit spots on the wheel with some degree of accuracy.
If, as most people believe, roulette is a game of absolute randomness, each number on a single-zero wheel has a 1/37 chance of being hit. A well-trained croupier is, however, able to significantly increase a number or sector’s chance of being hit.
My acquaintance went on to warn me that croupiers are trained to observe the spread of bets across the table, and to try and hit numbers or sectors with the least bets.
Most roulette strategies require you to spot patterns in the croupier’s spin. However, these strategies only work if your croupier is the trusty sort and fairly consistent on each spin. If your croupier is an asshole and deliberately keeps his spin as unpredictable as possible, there is nothing much you can do to predict where the ball will fall.
In my experience, croupiers at the bigger and more luxurious casinos like Crown Casino in Melbourne tend to be steadier than those at dodgier casinos like the Long Jie cruise, Leisure World cruise, Royale Star cruise and Genting casino.
That doesn’t mean you have to abandon roulette altogether at the dodgier casinos. But when you know the croupier can control the game, you should maximise your winnings by following a few simple pointers:
1. Avoid tables with few players. With less people around it’s easier for the croupier to check which squares nobody has bet on and target those numbers during his spin. And never ever play at an empty table.
2. If you can’t work out a discernible pattern, try not to bet on squares that everyone else is betting on; you can bet that the croupier is doing his best to avoid those numbers.
3. Place your bets as late as possible, after the croupier has started spinning if possible. If the croupier frequently hits numbers with few or no bets, beat him at his own game and bet on empty squares after the ball has started spinning.
4. Unless you have a predictable croupier, avoid being too predictable yourself. If you unfailingly place a stack of chips on 5 every spin, don’t be surprised if your croupier diligently misses it.
5. Don’t offend the croupier or other players at the table or else you may find that none of your numbers are coming out. If tipping is practised at your casino, parting with a few chips may bring greater gains later. Some people suck up to their bosses when they know he’ll throw them some scraps–same concept here.
If your casino is dodgy and/or your croupier an asshole, you are really at the mercy of the croupier and it’s going to be tough to spot patterns in the dealer’s spin. The best you can do is to try and make your bets look as innocent and as unobtrusive as possible so the croupier won’t mind hitting your square.
As you can see, roulette is often not so much a game of chance as it is a negotiation between croupier and player. Actually, that can work to your advantage in certain circumstances… but I’ll talk about it another day.