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Can roulette outcome numbers be predicted?

Last updated: 07.14.2023 by Andrew Shepard

The dream of every roulette gambler is to predict the winning number in advance. There are even countless "strategies" designed for this purpose. So, can you really do this? Can you predict roulette results somehow? We answer this question separately for land-based and online roulette.

Predicting roulette in land-based casinos

For decades, different methods have been used to predict the outcome of roulette games in land-based casinos, and some of them were quite bizarre. Some go so far as to claim that it offers an additional “40% chance of winning”. To give a few examples:

  • Biased Wheel: This technique tries to predict where the ball will land using physical deformations on the roulette wheel. Since metal frets are used on wheels since the beginning of the 20th century, it is a useless tactic.
  • Sector Analyzing: This system “analyses” the sectors where the ball stops most frequently, trying to predict which quadrant of the wheel offers a higher chance of winning. No one can explain clearly how it works, and there is nothing to show that it works.
  • Magnets: The gambler tries to manipulate the wheel with an electromagnet he carries in his pocket. It doesn't work because the roulette wheels don't use magnetic metal.
  • Computers: Doyne Farmer, a professor at the University of Oxford, has claimed that using a camera and computer, he can predict with great accuracy where the ball will land. Over the years, he has struggled to build a system of cameras that can be hidden in glasses and computers in shoes. He visited multiple casinos to test his system in the 90s and found that it didn't work.

So, why don't any of these methods work? Why did even a scientist, who was a professor of mathematics at Oxford University, fail? To answer this, we must first mention a case known as the “Monte Carlo incident” (or gambler's fallacy). In 1913, in a roulette game at the famous Monte Carlo casino, the result was red 32 times in a row. This game caused even professional gamblers to go bankrupt.

This was because each player at that table believed that the next spin had an increased probability of the result being black. They believed that the black result became more likely on the 21st spin after 20 reds appeared in a row. This did not happen. On the 22nd spin, they thought the same thing and bet all their money on black. The result was red again: it didn't come out black until the 33rd spin.

In land-based roulette, all probabilities are reset at every spin. This is a concept that most gamblers have a hard time understanding, despite being a very simple fact. Let's say you toss a coin: there are only two outcomes, and each has a 50% probability, right? If the result in this game was “heads” 10 times in a row, you would most likely put your money on the “tails” on the 11th throw – that's what most gamblers do. After all, the tails result is more likely to happen now, right?

No. With each throw, the probability always stays the same, 50%. Even if you play this game thousands of times, this probability will never change. This is also true for roulette – only luck decides what the outcome will be, and no outcome is more or less likely than the other. Predicting roulette results in land-based casinos is not possible unless you can physically interfere with the ball or the wheel.

Online roulette prediction: is it possible?

Some players find it “easier” to predict the outcome of online roulette. Whereas, in the online version of roulette, luck still determines whether you will win or not, but this time with the help of technology. Regardless of the type and variant, the result in online roulette games is determined by a software called RNG (random number generator). All this software does is generate a random number. Let's try to explain it very simply:

  • In online roulette, each number has a numerical equivalent.
  • For example, let's assume that all numbers between 500-750 are reserved for "red 7".
  • As soon as the player hits the spin button, the RNG generates a number.
  • If this number is 628, for example, the result you will see on the screen will be “red 7”.

The game outcome is determined at the moment the spin button is clicked; the spin animation is just a visual effect. There is no way to know in advance what number an RNG software will create – not even the person coding that software can know in advance. Online roulette prediction is also not possible, as a result, is purely luck-dependent.

You may see some “predict roulette” programs or apps on the market that claim to be able to do this. There are dozens of apps on the App Store and Play Store that offer you “guaranteed results”. These programs try to predict which number will win by analyzing the “patterns”. The problem is that there is no pattern that can be analyzed in roulette: it is impossible to find a pattern that can be followed, as all probabilities are reset with every spin. In the long run, you'll see some numbers come out more than others, but that's just a statistical bias.

If all that wasn't enough to convince you, consider this: roulette has been played for almost 250 years, and if there was a real way to predict the outcome, it would by now. The only person in history who could do this was a man named Joseph Jagger in 1873. Using physical defects on the wheel, Jagger was able to predict where the ball would land and bankrupted the famous Monte Carlo casino. (The casino was unable to pay any of its customers for a while.) The technique Jagger used was rendered obsolete by changing the design of the roulette wheels and the materials used in their manufacture. Nowadays, it is impossible to predict the outcome of roulette, whatever its type.

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