Other Old Roulette Schemes Used by Players

Manual Ball Tripping

french_rouletteVisual tracking, which is not considered as illegal, is usually exercised along with some illegitimate actions. Among them is the so called manual ball tripping technique. The latter comes in a number of forms, as one of them is known as the ”finger trip”. It was a bold move used by a visual tracker, which involved physically knocking the roulette ball off the ball track at the appropriate time. In order to execute such a scheme, a team of two was required – one bettor and one visual tracker with a strong sight and remarkable sense of timing. In the past, the bettor usually was an outgoing woman, who would position herself at the far end of the roulette table. She would usually bet on the center column or would use another combination, which covers a contiguous number span. The visual tracker would be sitting in proximity to the roulette wheel, with one of his/her hands positioned on the rim. In the last several revolutions of the ball, he/she would visually identify when the ball was to pass the selected section of numbers at a point close to his/her hand. The tracker would then signal the bettor, while the latter would usually try to attract the attention of others around the table by producing a squeal of delight or by knocking deliberately a stack of chips. At that same moment, the visual tracker would flick a finger over the rim and knock the ball off the ball track into the wanted number section of the wheel. The team would do this with an expert precision, so it would not be that apparent to others around the table.

The finger trip scam was considered as risky by some players, so they came up with another scheme, called the ”horsehair trip”. It involved a slight modification to the roulette wheel, which, in the past, was relatively easy for a player to achieve, because the surveillance was below par. The scheme involved the drilling of a horizontal hole between the back of the ball track and the outside of the bowl. Four evenly spaced around the perimeter holes were usually drilled. This way, regardless of the wheel’s position, one of the holes was always accessible from the side of the table where the player was standing. The holes were usually smaller than those used in the case with the built-in trip pin device. However, they were sufficiently spacious in order to pass a horsehair – the tripping ”device” that was used. It was far less apparent to others around the table compared to the finger trip and did not require a diversion of attention or precise signaling.

In the past, tripping the ball was the scheme, practiced the most by roulette players and also by casinos. In case one of the old roulette wheels is put under close examination using a bright light, especially its ball track, one should not be surprised when he/she encounters ball-trip holes. At present, however, the plastic security shields placed around wheels make the above mentioned scams impossible to carry out.

Roulette dealer showing roulette ball

Tripping the ball with an electromagnet

A roulette ball can also be tripped by using an external electromagnet. Such a scheme did not require any modifications to the wheel ahead of time and, before magnetic detectors were introduced in casino practice, remained almost unnoticed. At present, if one uses a powerful electromagnet in proximity to the roulette wheel, this would certainly trigger an alarming system.

In the past, in order for the electromagnet to be handy, the roulette ball was to be substituted with a special ball having a core of steel. In this case, the player would either team up with the dealer, or use a sleight-of-hand trick. Instead of tripping the ball, the player would scoop it up with two fingers, while, at the same time, a palmed ball with a steel core would be released into the wheelhead. Again, we should note that such a scam was possible until the moment when plastic security shields were introduced!

In the common case, the electromagnet was placed into a woman’s purse or handbag, while the latter was positioned exactly beside the roulette wheel. The bag (or purse) was usually large enough, so that it could hold a voluminous electromagnet and heavy batteries. This way the electromagnet was about 3-4 inches away from the ball track, which was a long distance for a magnetic field to be effective. Because of that, a high-current device was used, which, however, led to the quick exhaustion of the batteries. In order to deal with this issue, players came up with a number of methods, but the most remarkable one involved the use of a wheelchair.

In the 1960s a woman in an electric wheelchair was pushed up to roulette tables at casinos in Las Vegas. Two heavy-duty automobile batteries were placed on the shelf under the seat, but no one seemed to notice that the wheelchair was actually pushed instead of moving on its own power. The batteries were connected to an electromagnet placed in a handbag. Once the wheelchair was in position at the table, the woman put her handbag onto the table and right beside the wheel. At the time, this appeared to be a casual action, so none of the players paid that much attention. At one point during the play session, someone at the far end of the table began scoring win after win. Eventually, the ”lucky winner” cashed in and was nowhere to be found, while, at almost the same time, another person rolled away the woman in the wheelchair and they also left. This ”scenario” was probably repeated a number of times at different establishments.

People betting on roulette table

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