How to win at roulette - think like a physicist: Scientists write software that can help you stack the odds in your favour
Simple program can give gamblers an 18 per cent return on the game
Like all casino games, the odds of winning at roulette are stacked against punters.
But now researchers claim they have unlocked the physics behind the game to give players a better chance of beating the house.
A new study shows how a computer programme can be used to give gamblers a return of 18 per cent, rather than the 2.7 per cent loss that would be expected from merely playing the odds.
Stacking the odds in your favour: Scientists have developed a computer programme that can calculate the physics of a spinning roulette wheel to help gamblers make an educated guess on the outcome
In roulette, a ball is rolled around the rim of a wheel spinning in the reverse direction. Eventually it rolls onto the spinning wheel and is hit by one of a number of deflectors, sending it bouncing chaotically until it lands in a numbered slot.
According to the new research, knowing where the ball begins to bounce is key to narrowing down which of the 36 slots it will eventually come to rest in.
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Michael Small, professor of maths of the University of Western Australia, and Dr Chi Kong Tse, of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, have developed a simple model for the motion of a roulette ball and wheel.
In a paper published in a recent issue of the journal Chaos, they show that if you know the initial position, velocity and acceleration of the ball you can narrow down where it will end up.
WHY WE KEEP ON BETTING UNTIL THERE'S NOTHING LEFT TO GAMBLE
Gamblers interpret near-misses as frustrating losses rather than near wins, according to new research which sheds light on the compulsive nature of betting.
This sense of frustration from just losing out encourages the gambler to bet again, which in turn may contribute to addictive gambling behaviour, the researchers say.
'Our findings support the hypothesis that these types of near-misses are a particularly frustrating form of loss, and contradict the supposition that they are a mis-categorised win,' said study author Dr Mike Dixon.
'Specifically, following these types of near-misses, participants may be driven to spin again as quickly as possible to remove themselves from a particularly frustrating state.'
Dr Dixon and his colleagues' work is published online in Springer's Journal of Gambling Studies.
Players could use a tiny computer that, with the click of a button, records every time the ball passes a certain point on the wheel.
This information could then be used to predict when the ball would start to bounce and which group of roulette squares it will finally land in, increasing the chances of a correct guess.
'As the wheel is moving at a constant angular velocity [and] the ball is decelerating, the time interval between these passes at a particular point are going to get longer,' Professor Small told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
'If you measure that three times you can estimate velocity and deceleration.'
Casinos make a profit from ensuring that in each game they offer the odds are stacked against gamblers. But Professor Small says his system allows punters to come out on top overall.
'We demonstrate an expected return of at least 18 per cent, well above the -2.7 per cent of a random bet,' he said.
This means that for every £1 bet, on average gamblers using the Professor Small's software can expect a return of £1.18, rather than the 97p return that could be expected on the house's odds.
Professor Small was able to improve the returns even more using a digital camera and image processor to track the ball. But it is likely that using such devices would annoy casinos.
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