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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Can maths help you win at roulette? | The Conversation UK

Photo: Graham Kendall
"Some argue understanding the layout of a roulette wheel can help you beat the casino. They're wrong." notes Graham Kendall, Professor of Computer Science and Provost/CEO/PVC, University of Nottingham.

Albert Einstein supposedly once said: “No one can win at roulette unless he steals money from the table while the croupier isn’t looking.”

Although I wouldn’t normally question Einstein, this statement isn’t true. In fact, you can use Einstein’s specialist subject, physics, to help you win. Or you can find a biased wheel that makes some numbers more likely to come up.

What Einstein actually meant was that there is no mathematical trick that can help you win at roulette. Each spin is an independent trial and, in the long run, the casino will win. This is different to a game such as Blackjack where the probabilities change as cards are dealt.

But some believe that it is possible to exploit the way the roulette wheel, and the betting cloth, is laid out to give themselves an advantage. The idea is that you can make bets on the layout in a way that you are guaranteed to win. But is this really possible?

The Mathematics of Roulette I The Great Courses 

Roulette wheel layout 
Like a dartboard, the layout of a roulette wheel did not come about by accident. It was carefully planned and exhibits certain properties. In fact, there are two different layouts. An American wheel and a European wheel. The two layouts are shown below.

Recommended Reading: 
The Conversation UK
How Isaac Newton could help you beat the casino at roulette

Source: The Conversation UK and The Great Courses Channel (YouTube)