How to Rig a Roulette Wheel

french_rouletteAt some gaming establishments in the United States, due to the lack of gaming control board inspections, one can assume that all roulette wheels located in illegal gambling halls may be rigged. In fact, one needs to be suspicious of wheels located in almost every state, with the exception of Nevada and New Jersey, no matter if the wheels are in legal or illegal halls. The reason for it is there have been various ways to gaff roulette wheels since the genesis of the game itself and some of them are still being in use today. Now, let us dedicate some time to discuss the most common ways of rigging a wheel, which are, unfortunately, part of casino practice, especially at dishonest gambling establishments.

Ball Tripping

One method of rigging a roulette wheel, which establishments probably prefer the most, is to control where on the wheelhead the ball will likely come to rest. In order to do this, dishonest casinos use a procedure, known as ball tripping. With it the roulette ball is prematurely dislodged from the track, so that it settles into a particular desired section of the wheelhead. This can be done in a number of ways and has been a regular practice among both casinos and roulette players.

At present the majority of reputable casinos have placed plastic security shields around their roulette wheels, a measure which put to a halt any ball tripping methods employed by gamblers. However, at illegal casinos and establishments outside of Nevada and New Jersey, ball tripping techniques are still put to action on rigged wheels.

Rigging the wheel mechanically

The usual way

A roulette wheel can be rigged in several ways, but the most commonly employed method includes the control of a trip pin placed in the ball track. In case a dealer is willing to displace the ball from the track, he/she can do so by using a level under the edge of the roulette table. The dealer can attach this lever to a cable, which in turn is connected to a spring-loaded pin. This way the pin can be projected scarcely into the track. Whenever the ball spins around the track, it can be tripped with the pin and forced to fall onto the wheelhead. In many cases the dealer will attempt to cause the ball to settle into the single zero or the double zero pocket. He/she will, of course, make an exception, if players have placed huge bets on those numbers, or if somebody has bet on the center column.

In case the dealer has a well-developed visual tracking ability, he/she will usually attempt to direct the ball to a wheelhead section, where betting activity has been low. Some dealers have shown quite a remarkable skill doing this, a skill which may even cause players to believe that those dealers can actually aim the ball, after the latter is released. If it weren’t for the trip pin, there will be no way for a dealer to direct the ball where he/she desires.

Another curious fact to note is that some wheels feature a brake, which can slow the rotation of the wheelhead. By using this ”additional element”, a skillful dealer is, in fact, able to synchronize the speed of the wheelhead to that of the ball, so that whenever the latter comes into contact with the trip pin, the wheelhead itself is positioned appropriately. Despite it may seem quite obvious, if a trip pin is well-made, it could be really difficult to spot. As the trip pin is located on the side of the wheel, which is closest to the betting layout, it cannot be immediately observed by players at the table. The hole in the ball track wall is usually miniscule, while the pin appears to be thinner than a six-inch sewing needle. In addition, the ball track is partially recessed under the rim, so it would be extremely difficult to have a clear sight of its ”modification”.

Roulette wheel and a winning number

A more elaborate scheme

Some casinos have come up with a more elaborate scheme. They will rig their wheels by using small blocking pins, with each one of them being placed at the front wall of every pocket. In addition, under the roulette table at the dealer’s side of the wheel, there will be two hidden levers. One of them will control the pins in the red-colored pockets, while the other – the pins in the black-colored pockets, respectively. Whenever a dealer moves one of the levers, this will extend the pins and prevent the ball from settling into that particular set (red or black) of pockets. As the pins jut out only during wheelhead rotation, players will probably have difficult time to detect them.

Because this is a more complex scheme than a single trip pin, it is not immune to failure at all (jamming, for example). And because such a way of wheel rigging blocks individual numbers having a certain color, dealers usually employ it against players with a habit to bet on color.

There is another wheel gaffing scheme, known as the ”set wheel”. Casinos can set such wheels to favor a particular group of pockets by widening or narrowing the space between the pocket separators. As a result, one set of pockets will be made wider and another one – narrower. These wheels are rigged, so that alternate pocket separators are attached to the center hub. Whenever that hub is turned either way, the dealer is able to control the width of alternate pockets. The overall effect is very much the same as that caused by blocking pins.

Roulette Ball Aiming

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