Play Roulette? Increase Your Odds of Winning by Identifying a Dealer Signature

Image: Roulette
Matt Buck under Creative Commons

The next number that comes up at the roulette table is supposed to be random, unpredictable. However, in a previous post on biased roulette wheels, we saw how mechanical problems can cause predictability. This time we’ll look at the human factor and how it might be possible to make money by betting based on a “dealer signature.” says dealer signature “…refers to the unconscious habit that is exhibited by some Roulette dealers of spinning the ball in a consistent manner.”

If a dealer spins the ball with the same velocity each time, it will travel about the same distance before dropping into a pocket. If the wheel is also spinning at a consistent speed, then noting which pocket is passing under the dealer’s hand as he releases the ball should allow you to predict the area of the wheel where the ball will fall, so you can bet on the numbers there.

Does Dealer Signature Exist?

Casinos generally deny the existence of dealer signature. For example the Big M Casino says, “Some believe that the Roulette dealer’s rhythm or signature way of spinning is a true roulette strategy, however it is not commonly recognized since it is not proven in any way.”

But points out that if casinos really believed their wheels were always random, they wouldn’t be taking the following actions regularly:

  • Changing roulette dealers when the table is losing money
  • Turning and moving roulette wheels
  • Using more than one type of ball, with different weights and sizes
  • Banning people who win too consistently

That last one is particularly indicative of what casino managers really believe. After all, if the numbers were completely unpredictable, and the house always had the edge, wouldn’t they want the big winners to stick around long enough to lose that money back to the house?

When I was a roulette dealer I saw plenty of evidence of dealer signature. At first it seems unlikely: the dealer spins the ball in one direction, the wheel goes the other way, and the ball bounces a lot. But sometimes, there was a certain consistency to the spins.

How Dealer Signature Can Help You

A key point here: you don’t have to predict the winning number precisely to have an advantage. If you can determine an area where the ball will fall you, can put the odds in your favor. Let’s look at this idea more closely…

Winners are paid 35-to-1 (sometimes expressed as 36-to-1 since you keep the winning bet). Let’s say you identify a dealer pattern. Each time the ball is released, you calculate and bet a dollar on a “target” number (more on that in a moment) plus the four numbers to either side.

What if you are right just one third of the time, meaning one out of three spins hits one of your nine numbers? For every three spins, you would win $27 once ($35 payout minus the eight losers) and lose $9 twice. If you subtract those two losing spins ($18) from the winning one ($27), you’ll note that you make a $9 profit for every three spins.

By the way, during slow times I learned how to consciously target areas of the wheel successfully. A very convincing YouTube video demonstrates dealer control of this sort. If it’s possible to do it consciously, could some dealers unconsciously fall into a routine?

Taking Advantage of a Dealer Signature

Find a roulette wheel diagram, download the image and print it out. Diagrams you can write on are also sometimes available from gaming supply companies, or even printed on coasters at some casinos. You need this to pick out and quickly bet on the numbers adjacent to your target number; it’s nauseating and time consuming to try to do this from watching a spinning wheel.

Now you need to answer these three questions before starting:

1.      Does the dealer spin the ball with a consistent velocity?

2.      Is the wheel speed consistent?

3.      How many pockets from the release point is the ball likely to fall?

To answer number one, watch a dealer to see if there’s a relationship between where he releases the ball and where it falls. For example, if the wheel is a clock and he always releases the ball at 3 o’clock, does it fall half of the time between 9 and 12 o’clock?

That would be a significant pattern, since by random chance the ball should only fall in any quarter of the wheel one-fourth of the time. If there is no pattern, try another dealer.

The second question is easier to answer. Count the revolutions of the wheel for a minute. Repeat this a few times over 15 minutes to see if the speed is consistent. Alternately, you can note the velocity at the time of the “signature test” above, and only bet when that dealer has the wheel spinning at that velocity.

To answer the third question, count the spaces (clockwise — use your diagram) between the point where the dealer releases the ball and the center of the area where it normally falls. In our example above, that would be 24 spaces (from “3:00” to “10:30”).

Now you know that the ball has a better-than-normal chance of landing in an area 24 spaces clockwise from where it is released. To determine your “target number” for each spin you’ll watch the wheel to see what number is just below his hand when the dealer releases the ball.

Your homework done, you’re ready to start betting.

As the dealer releases the ball, note the number passing by just below his hand. Using your diagram, find the number 24 pockets from there, going clockwise. Bet that number and four on either side.

You have to be quick: you might have as little as ten seconds to locate your target number and then find your other bets. To complicate matters, on the table the numbers are arranged completely differently than on the wheel. Now you see why you need the diagram.

Is it Against the Rules?

There is no law against trying to guess where the roulette ball will fall (that’s the point of the game, after all), and even card counting at Black Jack isn’t illegal. However, casinos do reserve the right to ban you from playing for just about any reason. Consistently winning is probably a sufficient reason for them to show you the door, so try to be inconspicuous.

If betting on dealer signature works for you, try other wheels, dealers and casinos, so you aren’t seen winning in any one place for an extended time.

Will it Work?

Success depends on whether you correctly identify a dealer signature and move quickly enough to take advantage of it. The more spins you watch, the more likely it’s real, but of course any of the following could interrupt your plan:

  • Dealer leaves for the day just as you identify her signature
  • Pit boss changes dealers
  • Ball is changed and you have to start over
  • Signature changes with the dealer’s mood (who knows?)

Then again, maybe you’ll find a bored, half-asleep dealer who is so consistent in his spins that you can pocket some serious cash before any of those other things happen.

Gambling guru Frank Scoblete believes in dealer signatures (with reservations) and points out that if you’re playing the game anyhow, trying to figure out the dealer’s signature will not make you lose any more than you otherwise would have lost. He says, “It might be like searching for Bigfoot, but it’s worth a try.”

Your Turn: Would you bother with the work and risk of trying to exploit a dealer signature at a roulette table?