Gambling is a superstitious affair, so there’s no wonder controversy thrives on casino floors. Roulette, as one of the three pillars of traditional gambling, is perhaps the most controversial of them all. Rumors of rigged wheels, pre-set outcomes, and the likes are something we meet regularly when playing at casinos (yes, even online).
In today’s article, we’d like to introduce you to the concept of roulette wheel bias, or more precisely biased roulette wheels susceptible to player exploitation. Stick around to learn what is roulette wheel bias and how to recognize a biased roulette wheel.
What Is Roulette Wheel Bias?
Biased roulette wheels are roulette wheels that do not provide completely random outcomes.
This can happen in two ways: either the casino rigged the wheel, adjusting it to yield only desired outcomes in the casino’s favor, thus breaking the random chance element, or the wheel has slight imperfections which affect the randomness of the outcomes.
The first option is the result of one’s volition, meaning that the casino knowingly fixes the results in its own favor.
On the other hand, the slight imperfections are almost always involuntary, often happening unbeknown to the wheel-making company who had no idea the wheel turned out to be imperfect.
There also have been instances of the wheel becoming biased through years of use. The wear and tear cause slight alterations to the wheel’s elements. Here are some examples: worn frets and ball tracks with slight alterations, to wholly tilted wheel shafts.
Such wheels are promptly replaced, but eagle-eyed players sometimes manage to use the biased wheel to their advantage before the casino replaces them.
Is Wheel Bias Possible in Online Games?
In today’s casino world, rigged, biased roulette wheels are not as common as they were fifty years ago.
The 20th century was full of stories of biased wheels which either greatly hindered the players or the casino. Just think, you have massive casino floors with dozens of roulette wheels, with all seats taken by players eagerly waiting for the tiny ball to drop in a pocket and reveal their win.
Back then, technology as well as wheelmaking was not on the same level as today. Accidents happened, and so wheel-making companies happened to produce a wheel that’s not 100% perfect. On the other hand, giant casinos did tend to slightly alter the wheels to tip the scales in their favor a bit more, but that is all the stuff of the past.
Today, gambling brands must comply with a number of regulations and go through rigorous testing and certification to get approval for offering gambling services.
The same applies to gaming companies who design the games and wheels – all tables undergo testing to confirm they are 100% fair and random.
In online terms, RNG (Random Number Generator) is responsible for delivering unbiased results. There are no actual roulette wheels in online roulette games, so there is no way to have a biased online roulette wheel.
However, live dealer games do have actual roulette wheels, so players have been wondering whether biased wheels existed in live roulette.
In general, that’s very unlikely, as modern wheels use better tech and more precision than ever before. We haven’t had a chance to confirm any wheel bias, but that doesn’t mean it is not possible.
How to Recognize Roulette Wheel Bias
We’d like to say that you can spot the biased roulette wheel with the naked eye, but that is not actually possible.
The alterations are so minuscule that they are not visible to the naked eye, especially if you are not a professional with decades of experience in roulette betting.
Moreover, the dealers are the ones that are accustomed to the wheels, so they are the first ones who have a chance to notice an imperfection on the grid. And they are sure to alert the management and replace the wheel as soon as they see the alteration!
In online terms, as we said, wheel bias does not exist. Meanwhile, live dealer tables make it hard for the players to spot anything – let alone a tear or an imperfection.
Live dealer roulette games are streamed, and players never see the wheel in person, only via camera broadcasts. The stream does not have enough details enough – regardless of the camera quality – to let you see the minute defects on the wheel.
However, there are ways to determine wheel bias.
You might not see the defect, but you can see its effects during the spin.
Namely, you might not be able to see with your eyes what is wrong with the wheel. But you will see that the outcomes are not as random as they should be. This takes a lot of round-watching though. You need at least 500 spins at the table, and that amounts to hours of watching the wheel spin.
If you notice the wheel leaning in one direction, or that the ball lands primarily in one section of the wheel, then the wheel is biased and thus exploitable.
Tips for Maximizing Winning Chances on Biased Wheels
As we’ve explained what are biased roulette wheels and what they do, we should also address the burning question: what can we do with roulette biased wheels?
Well, if you happen to see that the wheel has a bias, you can use that defect to your advantage.
As you know, all casino games including roulette, have house edges. This edge means the casino always wins.
However, if you discover a flaw in the way the wheel works, you can use it to gain an advantage over the house.
You can turn the edge in your favor by using the information about the wheel to strategize about placing bets.
Informed decisions based on the knowledge of the wheel means you are more likely to win. And that’s ultimately every player’s goal!
But be careful though: roulette wheel bias is not only nearly impossible to spot, but also observe properly. And let’s not forget that biased roulette wheels are quite rare nowadays! Therefore, you might not even see one in real-time ever.