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The Almighty Buck Technology

A High-tech Wheel of Fortune 371

Posted by michael
from the no-whammies dept.
tcp writes "The BBC is reporting that the London police have detained three people, for allegedly beating the roulette wheel at a London casino. Using a cell phone, a computer and a laser scanner, they were able to predict where the roulette ball would land, winning more than 1.5 million dollars in the process. This technique was not new, and as I recall was the plot of a movie once. The suspects have not been charged yet. The UK has been behind in bringing their gambling laws to deal with new hi-tech threats unlike the US and Las Vegas."
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A High-tech Wheel of Fortune

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  • $1.5*10^6? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    After winning $1.5*10^3 you'd think they'd start to get suspicious.
  • Las Vegas (Score:3, Funny)

    by ungulation (566406) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @06:48PM (#8691429) Homepage
    unlike the US and Las Vegas ahhh yes... the country of Las Vegas
    • Re:Las Vegas (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      while this post was neither particularly funny, nor insightful, i'd like to predict that it gets modded as +5 one or the other if for no other reason than it is a first post.
    • the country of Las Vegas
      It was on the Internet, so, then it must be true!
  • by Timesprout (579035) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @06:48PM (#8691430)
    I cant see the problem here. Tough on the Casino if there is a problem with their roulette wheel
    • Not sure exactly on the laws, but I'm guessing anytime you try and improve the odds for yourself at a casino it's probably illegal.

      Like I said, I have no idea, but maybe also because it's considered fraud in some way?
    • by lukewarmfusion (726141) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @06:53PM (#8691462) Homepage Journal
      The problem wasn't with their wheel - it was the fact that the players brought in equipment and used it to cheat.

      Some other obvious cheating examples:
      -Bringing in cameras and linking them so a player can see his opponent's cards.
      -Using a device to let you predict/influence the roll of the dice.
      -Hacking a slot machine to produce winning pulls

      The point? It's not a flaw with the casino or their equipment - it's a bunch of jackasses trying to cheat.
      • by kwandar (733439) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:11PM (#8691567)

        But, they didn't cheat. The croupier turned the wheel and released the ball. All they did was "predict", albiet with the help of some equipment. Isn't that what gambling is about? Predicting?

        As the article states, the casino can avoid prediction, by simply spinning the wheel faster.

        • casino games are not predicting, predicting implies that there would be some way to determine the outcome(which there shouldn't be in casino games).
          sports betting is predicting.

          casino games are all about 'random'(well, unless you count counting cards in blackjack). at least they're supposed to be(and in some places, this is relevant for taxation as there is no skill involved).

          roulette is a fine casino game in the sense that it's possible to choose quite a variety of what chances you're wishing to take(not
          • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 27, 2004 @09:03PM (#8692234)
            gl4ss wrote:
            predicting implies that there would be some way to determine the outcome

            That's the point really. There is a way to predict the outcome. Like a lot of games, it is not a game of pure skill, it has an element of chance and an element of skill in the form of predicting where the ball will land. Just like blackjack is a game of chance and skill. The skill comes in when you try to predict what cards are going to be dealt based on statistics and your knowledge of what cards have been dealt so far. Of course, the casinos consider people who are too good at "counting cards" to be cheaters as well.


            The problem here is that the argument that you cannot use technological devices to help you in gambling is a slippery slope argument. I've never heard of a casino banning anyone for glasses or contacts, even if they help people see better and therefore enhance their natural gambling skills. What about future visual aids. Lets say you have a low resolution artificial retina for blind which cannot see as well or in the same way as a normal retina and makes up for it by, for example, using a computer to track motion and plotting courses for objects in Heads Up Display? Or how about if it allows the user to rewind their vision to specific bookmarks, allowing them to supplement their memory (helpful in remember what cards have already been dealt, for example). Are the disabled going to be banned from future casinos?

            All this is really beyond the point in my opinion. Random redistribution of wealth at casions is stupid. Redistribution of wealth based on exceptional skill at gambling is considered cheating by the casinos. The government, when they allow private gambling to interfere on their own gambling monopoly, seem to agree with the casinos in these matters. So, the end result is that, on the whole, the only people who actually win at casinos are the odd successful gambler, the cheaters who do not get caught, and the casinos themselves. In other words, casinos are dumb. I guess I hold the view that people should be allowed to gamble if they want to, but I think they are stupid to do so.

        • All they did was "predict", albiet with the help of some equipment. Isn't that what gambling is about? Predicting?

          It is usually illegal to use a "device" other than your brain to help you make bets in a casino.

          It's cheating in the same way that it would be cheating if you used a hidden computer to win a chess tournament.

        • by The Monster (227884) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:48PM (#8691768) Homepage
          the casino can avoid prediction, by simply spinning the wheel faster
          Here's the problem in a nutshell:
          The whole calculation would need to have been completed in just a few seconds, as the dealer cuts off betting after the ball has rolled three times around the wheel.
          If the casino would change this rule ever so slightly, and cut off betting before the ball is released, there would be no way anyone could predict where the ball would go. Casinos don't want to do this, however, because it slows down the action, reducing the rate at which money can be extracted from the customers, and quite possibly the interest in the game. Perhaps cutting off at two revolutions would be a good compromise?

          Historical quirk: I live in Kansas City, KS. Across the state line in MO there are riverboat casinos that were originally approved under the language that mentioned 'games of skill'. At that time, video draw poker was legal, because of the skill involved in deciding which cards to hold, and which to discard, but not the run-of-the-mill slots (which have since been allowed by changes in the law). At that time, this method of winning at roulette, or card counting at the blackjack table, could not have been opposed by the casinos because they had to maintain the legal theory that skill was involved in these games. The boats in MO quickly adopted rules for the number of decks in the shoe, how far into it a reshuffle is done, and the delta between minimum and maximum bets, so as to make counting irrelevant. I believe those rules remain in effect today...

          ...because it's easier to just make the method of 'cheating' ineffective than to try to figure out who's doing it.

          • If the casino would change this rule ever so slightly, and cut off betting before the ball is released, there would be no way anyone could predict where the ball would go. Casinos don't want to do this, however, because it slows down the action, reducing the rate at which money can be extracted from the customers, and quite possibly the interest in the game

            It would also allow the casino to "cheat". They know the speed the wheel is spinning and they choose where the ball is released, so using the same tech
        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 27, 2004 @08:00PM (#8691830)
          As a roulette dealer myself, I can assure you that this is a conceivable position but not an agreeable one. Spinning the wheel faster does cause the frets to have a greater influence on the ball, but its still statistically going to stick to that section.

          As well, as the article notes, PLAYERS don't like it! There are only so many rule changes you can make in the interest of cheat reductions before the legitimate players get fed up and leave. (One of these is disallowing blackjack players to increase the number of hands they play mid-shoe). As an aside, in the Province of Alberta, casino dealers are to stop betting two ball revolutions BEFORE THE DROP, not after the spin commences. As in many gambling areas, the regulations must be changed: the casino can't just create rules (even sensible ones) out of the blue.

          For this reason, speeding up the wheel and reducing bet times are not good ideas. It will prevent cheating, because the legitimate players will stop playing and the game will be shut down!

          The best way to prevent wheel tracking I've found is just to constantly (every spin) change the speed of the wheel and the ball. I like to let the wheel slow and then push it with the ball just before I spin. This would require these cheats to constantly re-compute, increasing the likelihood of detection.
      • by mr_tenor (310787) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:12PM (#8691571)


        I have mod points, but I feel the need to reply here, though it sounds like flamebait.



        The 3 other "obvious" emaples you cite are cheating - they circumvent the rules of the guessing competition. Why do you label the actions mentioned in the story as cheating? No rules have been circumvented. All that is being done is making use of the information which is available to everyone in a clever way.



        A similar thing happens with card counting in blackjack - all you do is play the game in a smart way instead of blindly guessing. However, the casinos don't want people to do anything other than blindly guess because it means the odds can be tipped in their favour instead of in favour of the house.

        • Casinos love card counters, most of them that is.

          Counting cards is hard, and a lot harder when you are actually in the casino than when you are practicing at home.

          Most card counters are easily spotted, but only the few who are able to win get banned.
        • Actually I don't even think all of those other methods of cheating are actually cheating.

          Some other obvious cheating examples:

          • Bringing in cameras and linking them so a player can see his opponent's cards.
          • Using a device to let you predict/influence the roll of the dice.
          • Hacking a slot machine to produce winning pulls

          Cheating involves breaking the rules of the game.

          The 1st example is cheating because you the rules specifically forbid you from circumventing your opponents ability to prevent you from s

        • The 3 other "obvious" emaples you cite are cheating - they circumvent the rules of the guessing competition. Why do you label the actions mentioned in the story as cheating? No rules have been circumvented. All that is being done is making use of the information which is available to everyone in a clever way.

          Then they should be clever enough not to use electronic devices. If they can predict it by watching the ball and calculating the winning number in their heads, fine, they can play until the casino ki
      • Was anything they did against the stated rules of the game? If not, where's the cheating? If so, where is the crime? Seems to me that the rules of a gambling game amount to a species of civil contract. The casinos certainly have the right to throw cheaters out and should be able to sue them for damages, but I see no reason why cheaters should be prosecuted criminally. It's a private matter between the casino and the alleged cheater.
    • I agree. I see no crime here. It's up to the casinos to enforce their rules.
      • That's the kind of attitude that reinforces the vigilante methods that many casinos have used in the past. Cheating laws can help protect the cheater... casinos know that they can turn to the law for help dealing with these jackasses, and the jackasses don't end up in a dumpster.
        • by jrockway (229604) * <jon-nospam@jrock.us> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:29PM (#8691659) Homepage Journal
          I don't want my tax dollars to be spent prosecuting "cheaters". I don't give a flying fuck if someone rips off those cheats (the casinos). The casinos can use their paid security guards ("loss prevention engineers") to kick/ban cheaters. That's fine with me. They can spend THEIR money so they can make money. They CANNOT spend _my_ money so that they may be profitable. How could anyone disagree!?

          And if a cheater ends up in a dumpster, that's murder. Whomever did that should be executed. I don't mind paying for that.
  • I know... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lukewarmfusion (726141) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @06:49PM (#8691431) Homepage Journal
    Don't gamble.

    If you can find a way to improve your chances, it's probably against the rules. The only game I'm aware of that has a better than 50% chance of winning (against the house, that is) is blackjack.

    Winning big (and often) on roulette raises eyebrows right away. They could have at least tried to beat a game that wasn't quite so obvious.
    • Re:I know... (Score:5, Informative)

      by mrscorpio (265337) <twoheadedboy@NoSpaM.stonepool.com> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @06:51PM (#8691456)
      There isn't a better than 50% chance of winning if you don't count cards. If you play absolutely perfect non-card-counting strategy, your chances of winning are 49 1/2%.

      Even the most basic of card counts gives you a slight advantage (1/4 to 1/2%), however. You have to be very patient and wait for a good shoe, however.

      Chris
      • Re:I know... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LostCluster (625375) * on Saturday March 27, 2004 @06:55PM (#8691477)
        A game with a .25% advantage in favor of the player would still require a high number of games be played before the player is assured victory. The game could take a random walk unfavorable to the player, just like some lucky people can win big despite playing blackjack poorly according to book logic just because they happened to hit a random walk in their favor.
        • Re:I know... (Score:3, Informative)

          by Monkelectric (546685)
          Actually, thats called your ROR -- risk of ruin. Its a percentage that quantifies the risk that you'll loose all your money (down 100%) before you'll double it (up 100%). Obviously the higher your bank roll, the lower your ROR.

          I dont think card counting is really an issue anymore as *VERY* few casinos still play with one deck. Most play with 6 - 8 decks at once which lowers the gain from card counting to almost nothing.

      • What's the point of waiting for a good shoe? They can spot a card counter and just change the shoe once a hand.

        Besides, if you can count the cards in a typical LV shoe without going bonkers, you're probably autistic or something...

        • Re:I know... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by mrscorpio (265337) <twoheadedboy@NoSpaM.stonepool.com> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:09PM (#8692585)
          You don't have to count them all. Just two groups.

          Group 1 - cards 5 or less
          Group 2 - 10's or face cards

          When you've counted a significantly higher number of group 1's than group 2's, increase your bet - more high cards gives the player better odds, and vice versa.

          I did this in Vegas with a 2-deck shoe that they cut 22 cards out of at shuffle and won $290 at a $5 table...I would bet $20 on the first hand of a shoe and $10 - $20 on a somewhat favorable to very favorable shoe thereafter, and $5 every other time. I didn't even count the whole deck, just each hand. With about 21 cards per hand at a six-player table, if I got a +5 or better inbalance, I ramped up my bets. And it worked like a charm, I probably won 75% of my big bets and lost 75% of my small bets (give or take), therefore netting me profit in the end.

          Chris
    • Re:I know... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Dorothy 86 (677356) *
      Statistically, its almost correct, but in blackjack the house will always win eventually... the trick is not more difficult than quitting when you get ahead. In blackjack, he house is at the advantage, at every turn. This however doesn't guarentee a win. So play statistical odds, and leave the table when you get to a preset goal. The only real way to win gambling, is to have discipline. or sheer luck.
    • I don't have any numbers to back this up, but I thought Craps had the best odds..
    • First of all, I don't know what kind of advantage you are talking about. Even in the most favorable of games, using the most complex card-counting system, your advantage at blackjack isn't going to be more than a few percentage points. As a team working covertly you might get a 50% advantage, but on your own there's no way.

      Second, to get that advantage, you have to make no mistakes. NONE. You have to play for weeks to overcome the standard deviation (assuming you even have enough money to stay in play)
    • Re:I know... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by awol (98751)
      Imagine standing ten paces away from a cliff top and tossing a coin. Heads you take one pace towards the edge and tails you take one pace away. Eventually you will die. Its just a question of time. Playing "to win" against a casino is exactly the same you will lose it's just a question of time. In fact, for the casino it's all about turnover. They design the games to ensure that they get their X%, for any given game, different casino, different X. But generally speaking it is all about turnover their
  • Remember, once you have a large enough amount of capital, any advantage over 50% is garaunteed to make you money. IIRC, the Wired article on the MIT blackjack card counters said that they had quite a "low" advantage over the casino (one that seems insignificant to a lot of people), but because of the money that was invested, they were able to win over the casino in a big way.
    • by G4from128k (686170) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:22PM (#8691622)
      Remember, once you have a large enough amount of capital, any advantage over 50% is garaunteed to make you money.

      This is true, but you need to have amounts of money approaching or exceeding the capitalization of the casino (the ratio of the sizes is important). IIRC, big casinos are usually capitalized at over $10 billion to avoid the problem of losing streaks. With a only a slight advantage and a modest starting stake, too many random walks of bets end in gambler's ruin. And if you pick a tiny casino, then the most you can win is modest. (And if you pick any casino, they will throw you out if you win too much.)
    • If you have 'enough capital' you can just double down on your losses... you'll always come out ahead... eventually. You don't even need even odds.

      Gets expensive kinda fast though ;-)
      • Doesn't work. (Score:3, Informative)

        by Eevee (535658)
        It's a classic suckers bet. You'll run out of money or hit the table limit eventually. This is where probability theory comes in handy.
    • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:36PM (#8691691)
      ... once you have a large enough amount of capital, any advantage over 50% is garaunteed to make you money.

      If you have that much capital, then to hell with the gambling. Go get some hookers!

    • let's say bet size range is 25-400$
      you need about 100$

      step (1) bet 25$ on black, if you win, step 1 else step 2

      step (2) bet 50$ on black, if you win, step 1 else step 3

      step (3) bet 100$ on black, if you win, step 1 else step 4

      step (4) bet 200$ on black, if you win, step 1 else step 5

      step (5) bet 400$ on black, if you win, step 1 else leave casino, you just managed to beat one in 32 odds (give or take)



      every time you hit, you are ahead 25 dollars.

      • let's say bet size range is 25-400$
        you need about 100$


        Wouldn't you need about $775 dollars to do this?

        At any rate, someone else has already pointed out you have about a 1 in 24 chance of losing all $775 and a 23 in 24 chance of gaining $25.

        If you repeat the game four times in a row (to win $100), you'll increase your chances of losing $775 to about 15.4%, or around 3 in 20.

        So, If you walk into a casino with $775 twenty times, be prepared to extract about $1,800 from the casinos in twenty little chunks,
  • that's new... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ruebarb (114845) <[colorache] [at] [hotmail.com]> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @06:49PM (#8691436)
    I've seen computerized card counters - but being able to read a roulette wheel, that's something...

    some people who would consider themselves professionals do the same thing by eye - make a guesstimate based on when the roulette employee releases the ball - but to do it with computers - well, that's just wrong :)

    but if it ain't illegal, it'll be hard to prosecute - it's like counting cards...not illegal, but you'll get your butt booted from the casino pronto -

    RB
    • Re:that's new... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by LostCluster (625375) * on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:19PM (#8691608)
      It depends from jurisdiction to jurisdiction what casinos are allowed to do with players they don't like, such as card counters...

      In Las Vegas, for example, they can simply tell a card counter they're no longer welcome there and force them to leave. In Atlantic City, they cannot, but they are allowed to annoy a card counter out of their casino with tactics such as a shuffle after every hand.
  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Saturday March 27, 2004 @06:50PM (#8691443)
    Randomness is really sometimes just a proxy for "too complex to be understood". Afterall, in any form of mixing bin, all of the balls inside do have to obey the laws of physics. If you knew the starting positions and details about all of the activities that are going on in the bin, you could possibly solve for which ball is going to be the one selected.

    That's why it's essential that some details of the mixing situation should not be disclosed to the public while betting is still going on. I think what makes most daily blower-bin based lotto games unpredictible is the fact that the exact to-the-nanosecond time at which the bin is opened is being determined by a presenter who is also responsible for talking at the same time. Therefore, they can't possibly have enough control of their hands know what exactly their influence on the outcome is going to do. Since nobody else can really predict down to the fraction of a second what the presenter is going to do, everybody's on a level playing field.

    I think the ultimate solution to this roulette wheel issue will be to call a stop to betting before the ball and wheel are put into motion. Therefore, by the time the information needed to determine the result of this spin is available, it will be too late to act upon it.
    • by FyRE666 (263011) * on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:14PM (#8691584) Homepage
      If you knew the starting positions and details about all of the activities that are going on in the bin, you could possibly solve for which ball is going to be the one selected.

      Unfortunately though, we live in an analogue World. It's impossible to specify the exact position of anything in relation to anything else ;-) So although you may be able to predict the positions of the balls over a very short space of time, the inaccuracies would mount until your predicted results bore no resemblance to reality...
      • Yes, but given the odds paid in this game, if any player can sucessfully predict any three spots where the ball won't land, they will have done enough to create a player advantage.
    • But you can't get all the information (uncertainty principle), and in any chaotic system, even small errors in the initial state will blow up exponentially.
    • by RogerWilco (99615) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:29PM (#8691661) Homepage Journal
      Your comment is only valid in a linear process. You always have some measuring error, if only the size of an atom. in a linear process this is no big problem as small measuring errors only give a small deviation in the result. In non-linear processes a small variation can have a large difference in the result. This behaviour described by chaos theory mathematics.
      The most famous example is the weather, were a butterfly flapping it's wings in the Amazone could theoretically cause a violent storm in Brittain. This mathematician in the first Jurassic parc film also tries to explain it, using drops flowing down from a hand.

      I think balls in a bin are a chaotic process.
    • Corollary: it's possible to derive an easily-memorized algorithm for consistently beating the House at Roulette... that only works for spherical cows in a vacuum.
  • How bizarre! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sitnaltax (178828) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @06:50PM (#8691446)
    If the wheel was less than perfectly random, it is the casino that was cheating, not the patrons. So why are they the ones who have been detained?
    • Re:How bizarre! (Score:5, Informative)

      by evil_roy (241455) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @06:58PM (#8691499)
      It's not about the wheel being less than perfect. This sort of problem becomes obvious.

      If you know the wheel speed and the entry quadrant of the ball then you can calculate the probability of the resulting quadrant.

      Since the table is laid out in numerical order, with groupings that do not allow betting on wheel sectors, you have to quickly spread chips across the numbers that this system selects.

      This must all be done very quickly. It has been done before without the phoone/camera - but yoy still need a spotter to communicate with the person placing the chips.

      Three things that make this a short term proposition - you need a spotter and a gambler and a covert means of communication , you need to have the ammo to bet consistently for a long time, it is easy to detect - start winning consistently at roulette and a lot of eyes will be watching.
  • by scrimpygamer (762854) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @06:52PM (#8691460) Homepage
    Anyone ever read the book "Bringing Down the House" by Ben Mezrich? It's an excellent read and follows the theme of this story (people beating the casino / gambling system). I think it's a little bit more sophisticated in that the characters in the book were more involved in social engineering / hacking and weren't reliant on machines to help accomplish their goal. Might be offtopic but I thought people might like to read it. I really enjoyed it :)
  • hungarians (Score:4, Interesting)

    by boldi (100534) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @06:53PM (#8691466)
    Actually their said one beutyful girl was from Hungary with two serb guys. They said they used a mobile-shaped laser-scanning device, but they don't know if it is prohibited.

    http://index.hu/tech/tudomany/ritz040323/
    in hungarian.

    Later they said, that this device cannot exist, as such a device would be least a pc large and needs a calibration of some hours and at least NASA technique to make it.

    So at last, they said, that there are a number of people who actually can figure out what is the winning number from the spinning of the wheel by her own eye.

    The article also mentions, that after all, they don't really need to now the EXACT target of the ball, if they can close out 2 numbers, they can earn an average of 3% per round.

    So anyway, it's a weird weird story with SCI-FI elements...

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @06:53PM (#8691469)
    Two Serbian men, aged 38 and 33, and a Hungarian woman aged 32 have been released on bail until 30 March.

    Well, if she hadn't been arrested for cheating at the casino, she probably would have been arrested at the tobacconist [uibk.ac.at] anyway...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 27, 2004 @06:54PM (#8691472)
    British gambling laws from 1845 are currently in the process of being redrafted to bring them up to date with 21st Century gaming.

    I bet it's illegal to duel in the casino & you have to leave your hired help in the coat room.
  • Idiots. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Coryoth (254751) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @06:55PM (#8691476) Homepage Journal
    You don't win big when you've got a good scam like that. It's tempting, but really, you just shouldn't do it, it's a dead give away.

    Worst case I ever heard of: A guy who had worked on PNRGs for casinos (yes, way back when such things were deemed good enough) decided to cash in, so he got together with a friend and wrote a quick program to sync in the the PRNG given a reasonable number of inputs. The PRNGs were mostly (and still are sometimes!) used for the keno games. He had his friend up in the hotel room with a laptop, and phoned up the numbers from a few rounds of keno. They got what seemed to be a reasonable sync, so he put a massive amount of cash predicting the next 10 numbers in order (which has stupendous returns (naturally)). Bang, up come all 10 numbers, in order. The police arrested his accomplice in the hotel room about 10 minutes later...

    Jedidiah.
    • Re:Idiots. (Score:5, Informative)

      by LostCluster (625375) * on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:01PM (#8691517)
      One of the key elements of the MIT Blackjack scheme was that taken as individuals, each member of the team behaved like a typical casino customer. The spotters played a consistant value at the tables they were playing. When they spotted good cards due, instead of increasing their own bets like an individual counter would, they signaled for a "whale player" to come in and make a few big bets, which is what rich people tend to do at a casino as well.

      Any analysis looking for individual card counters would turn up nothing interesting going on... and trying to determine that a team was in play posed the problem of identifying team members while there was noise from other casino customers moving through the same tables.
    • I hate things like this. What crime did they commit? How did their actions harm society?

      They wrote the PNRG, they made no guarantee that it was good. Besides, even if they didn't write it, it's still easy to analyze. There's pretty much one good algorithm (linear congruential), and all you need are a few numbers to guess the whole sequence. Anyway, these people are not criminals. Criminals commit crimes. These people solved a two-variable equation...
      • They broke the contract involving confidentiality they signed when working for the company that wrote the PRNG fir starters,

        I believe some sort of fraud charges also resulted.

        Jedidiah.
        • Re:Idiots. (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Sparr0 (451780)
          To whom did they break confidentiality? Assuming they both worked at the company, and that they shared their program with no one else, they did not break confidentiality by simply USING said knowledge. And, as to fraud, where? I see no fraud here. There is no promise of stupidity when entering a casino, if you can win then you should.
  • Eudaemonic Pie (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    A group of students from Santa Cruz solved the physics of roulette back in the 1970's. See the Book [amazon.com] (amazon.com).
  • by melted (227442) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:13PM (#8691579) Homepage
    And guess what, he was the guy who throws the ball. He says that he could throw the ball with such a precision that it would fall within a very small range of numbers from the target and most of the time it would fall onto whatever number he wanted. There are at least a few folks like this in any casino. Floor manager brings them in when someone starts winning REAL big to "reduce the odds".

    He said the only way to win on roulette more or less reliably is to play against the guy who has more money than you. If the guy selects some numbers or colors, put your money onto opposite colors and numbers that are far from his numbers if possible. The guy will throw a ball in such a way as to screw the guy who put the most money into the game. :-)
    • by chezmarshall (694493) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @08:11PM (#8691911) Homepage
      And guess what, he was the guy who throws the ball. He says that he could throw the ball with such a precision that it would fall within a very small range of numbers from the target and most of the time it would fall onto whatever number he wanted. There are at least a few folks like this in any casino. Floor manager brings them in when someone starts winning REAL big to "reduce the odds".

      Utter, utter bullshit.

      First, there are metal studs on the wheel into which the ball occasionally runs. These pop the ball up a little bit and cause it to run down to the numbers more quickly.

      Secondly, the ball is launched before betting begins. Unless the mark always bets on the same numbers, how is the dealer supposed to know on what number to put the ball?

      A casino has nearly guaranteed profit, and lots of it, from a perfectly honest wheel. Every bet available has a house edge of 5.26%. Why would you cheat the guy who is "winning REAL big" when you can chip away at his winnings gradually perfectly legally?

      Finally, the last place a casino would put such a person is anywhere near a roulette wheel. Such a person could have a confederate making bets on pre-selected numbers in a completely undetectable way.

  • by drfireman (101623) <<dan> <at> <kimberg.com>> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:17PM (#8691599) Homepage
    Thomas A. Bass wrote a pretty good book on this. I think it's out of print at the moment, but Amazon seems to list it as shipping, so who knows. It's called "The Eudaemonic Pie." It's a far better book than the recent Mezrich book on blackjack. The teams Mezrich describes were basically working some old and well-known techniques that they didn't themselves invent (despite Mezrich's heroic efforts to make them seem like geniuses). The folks described in the Bass book are much more interesting people, doing much more interesting things. The Bass book has good hack content, the Mezrich book has little if any.

    As an aside... If you really want to play an advantage game in a casino, try a game where you don't play against the house. Like poker.
    • by eclectro (227083) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:32PM (#8691676)
      Highly entertaining read. You can find if here [amazon.com]

      This was done at the only time it could be done, as casinoes eventually caught on to others with "shoe computers". They were taken to a back room and their equipment "confiscated".

      You could actually buy shoe computers ready made for this purpose in the early eighties.

      Casinoes now (and have had for quite some time) equipment that can detect your shoe computer via the hash it generates. Also there are scramblers that generate an RF field that can cause computers to glitch.

      I believe the shoe computer in the book was based on the venerable 6502 microprocessor (at least at first anyway).

      Wearable computers are all descended from this.
  • Fuck Em (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Monkelectric (546685) <slashdot&monkelectric,com> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:18PM (#8691602)
    Does anyone have ANY sympathy for the gambling industry? Living within 100 miles of 8 or so indian casinos in southern california, I have seen first hand that gambling is as destructive as drugs, alcoholism and tobacco.
  • by niittyniemi (740307) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:19PM (#8691609) Homepage


    Beating the odds on a roulette wheel has been done before and was done most famously by "the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo" Joseph Jaggers [wikipedia.org]. He made $450,000 which in 1873 was a LOT of money.

    AFAIK in order to circumvent predicting the numbers by this method, the casinos regularly move the wheels from one table to another. The act of moving the wheel throws the predictors off aswell as changing any possible bias in the wheel.

    This newer technique seems better, although it seems that you have to know the coefficient of friction between ball and wheel which I suppose could vary enough between each wheel to throw of your calculations.

  • by voodoo1man (594237) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:21PM (#8691619)
    at roulette [216.239.53.104], by Edward Thorp and Claude Shannon.
  • by jsinnema (135748) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:24PM (#8691634) Homepage
    Ball Control

    Although no casino will admit to its existence and very few dealers will nod in acknowledgement, this method is very powerful and easy to disguise. One cannot deny that a roulette event is heavily influenced by a human dealer. After all, it is the dealer who kicks up the rotor speed and launches the little white ball isn't it? These actions definitely affect where the ball will land. And after years of repeatedly spinning, the dealer develops what athletes call "muscle memory" or a consistent delivery system. I will admit it to you right here, as someone who has dealt the game of roulette, SOME DEALERS CAN CONSCIOUSLY INFLUENCE THE RESULT OF THE GAME. There, I said it! I know that deflectors may knock a ball off its original course or the ball may spatter when it crosses onto the rotor and hits a pocket fret, but even if a skilled dealer could navigate around the heavily bet sectors on the wheel only 10% of the time, the casino's edge would be 100% for those spins! The house's edge would then be [(9) x 5.26% + (1) x 100.00%] all divided by 10. This averages out to a whooping 14.73 % edge! To further add to this dilemma, there is no way to prove that the dealer is trying to cheat you, unless you can read minds! My general observations have led me to believe that "male" roulette dealers are more territorial. If you begin to win steadily at their tables, they feel challenged and may spin against you... that is unless you're a shapely female wearing a low-cut dress. I've also seen first-generation immigrants working as dealers, who are staunchly loyal to their new employers. If the issue of ball control troubles you, you can simply wait for the dealer to spin before placing your bets. You might actually turn this technique in your favor. If you recognize a skillful dealer and can build a rapport with him or her, you may be able to exploit their ability. One way to induce a dealer into hitting your number is to bet a sector or continuous section on the rotor of say, five pockets. Place a toke out for the dealer on the number situated at the sector's center. The dealers seem to appreciate a crack at collecting 35 times their original toke if they exhibit some control. If they miss your center number by one or two pockets, then you still win on the neighbors contained in that sector.

    Source [roulette2002.com]
  • Odds (Score:2, Funny)

    by Lakedemon (761375)
    We mathematicians made sure that the games in the casino would steal the customers blind, well with a quite high probability anyway.

    You can't win against maths (Any Teenager in any school knows that... ^_^).

    So, feel free to play if you want to get poorer...
    And feel free to cheat if you want to end up dead/in jail...
  • Casino Hacking (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:29PM (#8691662)
    The greatest hack I ever pulled off involved an online casino. The casino used a Java applet for the gaming - everything from Blackjack to slot machines. Bored on a weeknight, I downloaded the Java applet (JAR file) to my computer and used a java decompiler to restore the original source code. Unfortunately, the code was obfuscated, but what I found next surprises me to this day. The java applet was using the client machine to generate the random numbers used in many of the games, namely the slot machine. I modified the code slightly to increase the chances of winning on the slot machine and then recompiled the code. There was a small problem, however. The code was written so that a response from the client to the server was sent indicating how much was bet, the payout and the winning combination (or hand). Thus, it was possible for them to statistically analyze my gamblings and calculate that I was winning more than I should have been. So instead of winning of the slot machine, I would win at Blackjack by modifying the code to display on screen what the dealer's cards were, and what the next card in the deck was. Thus, it was possible for me to decide on when to hit and when to stand. I will not tell you how much I won but I will tell you that I have never been caught.
    • by SmackCrackandPot (641205) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @08:17PM (#8691952)
      You can also hack many of those games that are available on satellite/cable networks. In those games where the entire game state is displayed on the screen at the same time, it's possible to grab a frame off the screen, analyze it (convert the screen image into a logical representation), run it through an emulator and use a small amount of AI to find the optimum solution. At the very least, you avoid having to fork out money every time you want to play the game. The real benefit is when there is a prize. Then you only need to play the game twice (first time to get the levels, second time to enter the optimum solution) to get a return for your money.
  • by evilviper (135110) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:38PM (#8691701) Journal
    I don't think it's right for casinos to do this.

    You might as well outlaw all ways that people try to give themselves better odds. Those who go to certain slot machines (that have been loosing for a long time) should be illegial, since it is a way people try to improve their odds.

    People playing blackjack should be thrown out if they stay at a pre-set number (eg. 17 or 18).

    My point is that it should not be illegial to beat the house... But that seems to be the way it is. There is no consistency in the rules of what is and is not acceptible at a casion, EXCEPT that you are doing something wrong if you win.

    Counting cards with a computer could be reasonably considered illegial, but how about those that do so without computer assistance?

    People should be able to sue a casio that throws them out (when they are winning) without any proof that they are cheating.
  • cell phones [...] used to determine the ball's speed if buttons on the phones were pressed when the ball was released and then after one revolution

    As a non-gambler, I know nothing about how roulette is played. From the article it seems to imply that you can wait for the ball to be released, observe the course of ball and wheel, do the math to predict the outcome, and then place your bet. Is that correct, or have I misunderstood? Common sense would seem to require that all bets be placed prior to the ball

    • You can still place bets for a brief period after the ball is in motion-- until I read the article I didn't know it was until the ball went around the wheel three times. I've never been to a casino except the ones in Atlantic City, NJ, and there the croupier verbally announces when no more bets can be placed for the current spin and sweeps his/her arm over the table for the hearing impaired (and probably for the security cams, too). If anybody tosses a chip on the table after that, it doesn't count.

      When th
  • by bartwol (117819) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:53PM (#8691787)
    "This technique was not new, and as I recall was the plot of a movie once."
    In other news, a team of three people were instantaneously transported from Teaneck, New Jersey to Istanbul, Turkey. Most onlookers were unimpressed, having seen this technology in use for years on Star Trek.

    Sheesh.

    <bart

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @08:07PM (#8691883) Homepage
    Give the croupier a dozen or so balls of varying density and elasticity but identical appearance. Have him select one at random for each game.
  • by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @08:57PM (#8692206)
    Casinos suck. As long as you're in there losing money, everything's ok. But the minute you earn something, they take you into some office and tell you that they exercise the right to refuse service to you, and then you're kicked out. Hey, that's real fair, isn't it?

    Fscking casinos.

  • (-1, dorky) (Score:5, Funny)

    by c.emmertfoster (577356) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @08:58PM (#8692208) Homepage
    Bah, the solution is obvious. The casinos just need to start using subatomic particles as Roulette balls, so that you would have to build a Heisenberg Compensator to cheat like this.
  • Ideas/Criticism? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by limekiller4 (451497) on Sunday March 28, 2004 @04:06AM (#8694412) Homepage
    Quick, some math and/or physics major tell me why stopwatch-ing some number of spins and averaging the center 50% mean wouldn't give you these values.

    For example, if you found these values for one rotation:

    2.4s
    2.8s
    2.4s
    2.2s
    2.0s
    1.9s
    2.6s
    2.3s

    ...you might order them:

    1.9s
    2.0s
    2.2s
    2.3s
    2.4s
    2.4s
    2.6s
    2.8s

    Drop the two extremes (I know I said 50%, sue me):

    2.0s
    2.2s
    2.3s
    2.4s
    2.4s
    2.6s

    Then average them to arrive at 2.65s.

    Wouldn't this eliminate the need to know the mass of the ball and the friction of the track?

    Couldn't you then just covertly cross reference the thrown speeds with the actual winning quadrant (1/2, 1/4, whatever) to get yourself a prediction matrix?

    I'm not trying to pretend that these are viable methods, I'm just thinking of them as they come into my head and thinking that there must be something wrong with 'em.

    Thanks in advance for the replies.

  • by ljavelin (41345) on Sunday March 28, 2004 @08:13AM (#8694984)
    Casinos LOVE this type of thing.

    Why?

    Because the PRESS claims that with a little smarts, the average guy can beat the casino! If you're really smart and really quiet about it, you can beat 'em and become rich beyond your wildest dreams!

    Therefore, you get a lot of quasi-smart losers into the casinos, all who have the fantisy of "out-smarting Vegas". Those people proceed to lose all kinds of money as they "hone their smarts".

    This is exactly how casinos attract people who are "too smart" to waste their time gambling.

    Card counting, roulette prediction, psuedo-random numbers of elecontrics-based slot machines - they're all an ADVERTISEMENT designed to attract those who imagine that they're super-smart enough to tilt the odds. Of course, it simply isn't true.

    The casinos in Vegas would love you to come to Vegas and attempt to put your super-smart skills into action... just as long as other players don't see you "attempting to cheat" - the casinos don't want you to scare any other customers away.

"Just think of a computer as hardware you can program." -- Nigel de la Tierre

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