Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How to win at roulette

Researchers claim to have unlocked the physics behind the game roulette, to give players a better chance of beating the house.

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 the key to narrowing down which of the 36 slots it will eventually come to rest in.

Michael Small from the University of Western Australia and Dr Chi Kong Tse from Hong Kong Polytechnic University have developed a simple model for the motion of a roulette ball and wheel.

In their paper they show that if you know the initial position, velocity and acceleration of the ball you can narrow down where it will end up.

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," the Daily Mail quoted study author Dr Mike Dixon as saying.

"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," he said.

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 as telling the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"If you measure that three times you can estimate velocity and deceleration," he said.

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 percent, well above the -2.7 percent of a random bet," he added.

The study has been published online in the Journal of Gambling Studies and in print in the journal Chaos.

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