Physics and Roulette: A Winning Combination? 16.05.2012

Roulette News

A graduate student, Doyne Farmer, figured out how to beat the odds of roulette tables by using a wearable computer back in the 1970s. Farmer never said much about how he did it but recently some University of Oxford professor submitted a paper outlining his methods in response to two scientists trying to replicate his work.

University of Western Australia’s Michael Small and Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s Michale Tse were inspired by Farmer’s work and decided to run an experiment of their own. Using a smartphone or small computer they proved that players can change the odds for the better.

To prove the theory, the scientists first divided the movements of the game into two pieces. The first part was highly predictable as the two recorded what happened as the ball spun around the wheel. The second part was less predictable as the men recorded what happened as the ball dropped into the wheel and started bouncing around. Small and Tse recorded when the roulette wheel and ball passed a set point. By using this data they were able to determine approximately where the ball would drop into the wheel and then the section that the ball would most likely stop in.

With a small counting device comparable to the one that Farmer used, Small and Tse correctly predicted 13 out of 22 times the half of the wheel the ball would drop into and they predicted the exact pocket correctly 3 times. They repeated the experiment with 700 trials and were able to change the odds in the players favor, raising it to 18% based on a European roulette wheel.

Some players have repeated this trick and have reported to Smalls their successes.

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