The Maths Behind Roulette: A Lesson in Numeracy

The Maths Behind Roulette: A Lesson in Numeracy

Every so often, there are developments in the world of gambling that underline how it is possible for players to achieve huge financial gains. These events prove that notions such as ‘breaking the bank’  at a leading casino need not be restricted to the scripts of Hollywood movies, as it is possible for intelligent and committed players to achieve their most ambitious fiscal goals. No single example epitomises this better than the one set by prominent mathematician Doyne Farmer, who once turned the odds of roulette against the house and won big in Nevada.

The Truth behind the Headlines: Separating Fact from Fiction

While this story is well known, however, the truth behind it is not. This was up until recently, however, when he told his story for the first time and broke a decade-long silence concerning how he achieved his incredible feats. Incredibly, Farmer beat the odds thanks to the worlds’ first wearable computer, which was primitive in its design but extremely effective. According to Farmer, who has kept quiet for so long despite intense pressure to reveal his secrets, he has decided to speak out due the fact that recent technology advancement and innovation has made his own strategies obsolete.

So how did Farmer achieve success?

In fact it is surprisingly simple, and based on basic the principles of physics and mathematics. Armed with just a few wheel measurements and an item of wearable technology, Farmer was able to record when the roulette ball and a set part of the rotating wheel pass at a specific point in time. The relevance of this is significant, as the underlying laws of physics make it possible to predict where the roulette ball will drop and subsequently make a rough estimate as to its bounce patter and eventual resting spot.

Aspects of this strategy are relatively unpredictable, however, especially as factors such as friction and air resistance can impact how the ball bounces once it has landed. Despite this, the ability to use accurate measurements helps to negate this risk and makes it easy to estimate the rough area of the wheel where the ball will eventually come to rest. From here, Farmer used basic mathematical probability to execute bets significantly reduce the house edge. This involved a combination of inside and outside betting, with the pay-out improving over a prolonged period of time.

This is quite an incredible achievement, and one that has not become any less impressive with time. Even in an age of virtual gambling, the innovative nature of Farmer’s efforts and the execution of his strategy deserve recognition as one of the greatest gambling feats of all time.