Roulette isn’t the first game that people envision when they think of beating the casino. Instead, blackjack (card counting), video poker (skill), and poker (also skill) come to mind.
Nevertheless, gamblers used to beat roulette through a technique called wheel bias. The latter enables gamblers to more-accurately predict where the ball lands and bet accordingly.
Wheel bias was once a valid way to beat the house. However, it’s no longer practical thanks to the work of John Huxley.
Who is John Huxley and how did he render advantage play useless? I’ll discuss more on wheel bias, how it works, and why Huxley’s invention has made it all but obsolete.
What Did Roulette Advantage Play Used to Be Like?
Roulette games used to run on basic wooden wheels. Manufacturers did their best to make these wheels looked polished and elegant.
However, they didn’t take many precautions to make the wheels last. As a result, the wheels experienced wear and tear fairly quickly.
The frets—dividers in between the pockets—were often the first parts to break down. They’d gradually become looser and allow the ball to drop into the corresponding pockets more easily.
The wheel shaft was another part that could become worn down. When a shaft is loose, it causes the wheel to tilt and favor certain pockets.
Usually, these imperfections are impossible to spot with the naked eye. But one can detect wheel bias by observing and recording results.
The vast majority of gamblers back then didn’t realize that roulette games could show bias. However, a few wise players figured this out over time.
Joseph Jager gets credit for being the first gambler to uncover wheel bias. The English engineer travelled to Monte Carlo and made what amounts to several million dollars by finding defective wheels.
Ever since Jagger, several other players have become rich and famous by beating roulette. They all benefited from certain conditions that allowed them to win serious profits.
Roulette Players Who Crushed Casinos With Wheel Bias
Even when armed with knowledge of wheel bias, people need to put lots of work into beating the game. Here are a few individuals who put this work in and won fortunes as a result.
Born in Germany in 1931, Richard Jarecki spent the early part of his life running from Nazis. His Jewish family moved from Germany to the United States to escape persecution.
Jarecki attended Duke University, got married, and moved back to Germany. Here, he continued studying in the medical field en route to becoming a doctor.
While pursuing a medical degree, Jarecki also found time to gamble at European casinos. Throughout the 1960s, Jarecki and his wife began recording results on roulette wheels.
They particularly targeted Sanremo Casino in Italy. Sanremo management would eventually ban Jarecki and describe him as a “menace” to casinos.
They networked with other European casinos to get the word out on Richard Jarecki. But by this time, he had already won $1.2 million, which amounts to $9 million when adjusted for inflation.
Bill Walters is known first and foremost as a great professional sports bettor. Before he became a betting legend, though, he was a wheel bias master.
Walters worked with other gamblers who were collectively known as the “Computer Team.” In 1986, they started recording roulette results in Atlantic City.
Based on previous research, they knew that the wheel favored 7, 10, 20, 27, and 36. The Computer Team spent the next 38 hours betting on these numbers and winning $3.8 million.
By this point, the Atlantic Club decided to ban the gamblers. However, Walters had already earned enough money to increase his sports gambling bankroll and later become a betting guru.
Gonzalo Garcia Pelayo
Gonzalo Garcia Pelayo is a Spanish music producer. While he’s attained some fame through his music career, Pelayo is more notable for what he’s done in gambling.
The Spaniard gambled quite a bit in the 1990s as a hobby. He especially liked playing roulette for real money at Casino Gran Madrid.
While playing at Casino Gran Madrid, he began speculating that some wheels weren’t completely impartial. So, he recruited his family members to help him record spins.
The family proceeded to win a fortune from Casino Gran Madrid before being banned. Afterward, they took their act on the road and hit other casinos throughout Europe.
All of these casinos gradually identified and banned the Pelayos from their properties. However, Gonzalo and family won €1.5 million before being essentially blacklisted from European casinos.
Who Is John Huxley?
Not much information is available on John Huxley’s life. What is known, though, is that he started a gaming supply company in 1979.
Located in Stoke-on-Trent, TSC Huxley started by supplying card tables, card shufflers, and more to local casinos.
Huxley was the brains behind this operation when it opened. Apparently, he lives a rather private life due to the lack of available info on him.
But his company continues to be one of the most-notable in terms of gaming supply. They not only serve UK casinos, but also many other gambling establishments worldwide.
What Did Huxley Do to Destroy Advantage Gamblers?
In the 1980s, British casinos realized that they were getting decimated by certain roulette players. They looked into the matter and learned that gamblers were using wheel bias against them.
Many of the same casinos would move wheels around at night and/or ban suspected advantage gamblers. These moves proved mildly successful.
However, wheel bias experts still continued to make money. They often identified small marks or other imperfections in a wheel so they could recognize it later.
This way, they didn’t need to worry if wheels switched places at night.
Unlike the common all-wooden wheels at the time, Starburst wheels feature metal frets and pockets. These two changes reduce wear and tear on wheels and minimized bias.
TSC Huxley’s designs have only gotten better since then. This company continues upgrading roulette wheels to make them last longer and be more resistant to bias.
Has Anybody Beaten Roulette Since Pelayo?
Gonzalo Garcia Pelayo is the last person to become famous by beating roulette. If anybody has successfully used wheel bias since Pelayo did in the 1990s, then they’ve done so discreetly.
Huxley’s Starburst wheel marked the beginning of the end for roulette advantage players. Wheels are now much less likely to wear down thanks to the metal pockets and frets.
I’m sure that somebody, somewhere effectively used wheel bias since Pelayo. If they did, though, then they either weren’t as successful or kept a low profile when doing so.
Can You Still Effectively Use Wheel Bias?
If you had a time machine, you could easily go back and beat roulette. Up until the 1980s and 90s, wheels were much more susceptible to bias.
However, this situation began changing when British casinos commissioned TCS John Huxley to design better roulette wheels.
The company came up with the Starburst wheel, which doesn’t break down as easily as wooden wheels. Starburst and other variations are now common at many roulette tables worldwide.
Given the prevalence of Starburst wheels, you’re unlikely to beat roulette today. Your only chance to win involves finding the rare casinos that still offer all-wooden wheels.
Of course, you could also try using a roulette computer. These wearable devices help you determine where the ball will land based on the ball’s and wheel’s velocity.
The big problem, though, is that roulette computers are outlawed in every gaming jurisdiction and you could get busted by the casinos for cheating.
Realistically, roulette is no longer beatable by legal means. The number of wheels that are susceptible to bias have been reduced drastically.
You could always wear a mini computer under your clothes to clock the wheel’s and ball’s velocity. Some companies even sell these computers online.
However, every jurisdiction has outlawed such devices. This means that you need to break the law to win with a computer.
Your only legal route for winning long-term roulette profits is to find an old wooden wheel. Unfortunately, such wheels are extremely rare these days.
You still have a decent chance to win with European roulette (2.70% house edge) or French roulette (1.35%). All you need is a little luck on your side. But the days of you being able to win millions of dollars with wheel bias appear to be gone.