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How Players Cheat at Roulette

Cheating in Live Roulette

Roulette in land-based casinos is designed to be a game of pure chance. With the ball spinning in one direction, the wheel spinning in the other, and a handful of random bounces, a roulette table is a great tool for getting a fair and random result.

Once you add money to the equation, however, it's only a matter of time before criminals begin looking for ways to exploit the game. Both players and casinos have cheated at the game of roulette in the past, so let's take a look at exactly how they did it, and what is being done to prevent it in the future.

Mechanical Cheating

Mechanical Rigging

Once you add money to the equation, however, it's only a matter of time before criminals begin looking for ways to exploit the game. Both players and casinos have cheated at the game of roulette in the past, so let's take a look at exactly how they did it, and what is being done to prevent it in the future.


One of the oldest methods of cheating at roulette is simply putting a magnet in the table and a corresponding magnet in the ball. Because of the different forces at work, however, it can be difficult to really get the ball to land in the same space every time.

With a magnet, you can make it more likely for the ball to land within a specific region on the wheel. Even if it's just a small change, crooked players can bet on the orphans and overcome the house edge in the long run.


If you don't want to mess with magnets, there is one other easy way to manipulate a roulette wheel: padding. This technique has been used in the past by operators who are actually building the roulette wheels.

The basic idea behind padding (or 'deadening') the pockets of a roulette wheel is that the ball bounces more on some materials than others. If you are building the wheel from scratch, this might mean using softer woods or metals in some pockets, and stiffer materials in others.

"As is the case with any game on the casino floor, crooks have routinely tried to cheat at roulette, but online the chances of playing at the same table as a dishonest gambler is greatly diminished."

Digital Cheating

Digital Cheating

As computers get faster, smaller, and smarter casinos are facing new technologically talented cheaters. Although there were some early attempts to make computers that could crack the roulette wheel, the real challenge was making a concealed machine that could predict the winning pocket and give the player time to make a bet before the ball completed three spins and all betting was stopped.

In 2005, a Hungarian gambler named Laszlo Kovac was arrested for cheating at roulette in Australian casinos. How did he do it? He was wearing a hidden computer... in his shoe! This shoe device was complete with toe-powered controls and even an ear piece.

Although it must've required some serious practice, this device was capable of computing a rough estimate of the winning pocket based on the speed of the wheel and the ball. It sounds too good to be true, but Kovac is believed to have won over $200,000 from Australian roulette tables using this fascinating, but illegal tool.

A famous case in 2004 saw some roulette cheaters pocket £1m after it was decided their actions weren't illegal. Their high-tech and clever scam employed the use of a laser scanner linked to a computer. No doubt every casino in the land did a strict review of their security after the incident!

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Slight of Hand

Sleight of Hand

Some roulette cheaters like to beat the house the old fashioned way. These con artists are extremely skilled and can palm chips perfectly. When they are at their prime the croupier, and even a skilled observer might have a hard time catching them.

The most widely understood, and most common kind of roulette cheating is probably past posting. Past posting is the act of waiting for the ball to land in one of the pockets, and then covertly placing a late bet. This is difficult to pull off, and illegal, but it happens.

The opposite technique can also be used. Pinching also requires waiting for the ball to come to rest in a pocket, but instead of posting a late winning bet, you remove a losing wager. This is just as illegal as past posting, but probably more difficult and less valuable in the long run.

Casino Defences

Casino Defenses

Casinos know that cheating can cost them millions of dollars a year if they aren't always vigilant, so they've devised systems to prevent all of the most common types of roulette cheating.


To protect their tables and wheels from being rigged mechanically, casinos spend a ton of money and time to regularly inspect every piece of equipment within their walls. Even while you are playing, they are recording the outcomes to look for any strange patterns.

Even if you were somehow able to secretly install magnets or polymer coatings to a roulette wheel in a modern casino (which would be nearly impossible), your success would be short lived. These types of cheating are largely a thing of the past.

Mandatory Etiquette

Roulette etiquette isn't just some kind of outdated tradition, it's a serious security feature. If you need to brush up on the details, check out our guide to roulette etiquette.

Some of the most fundamental rules require players to keep their hands away from the layout at the crucial points of the game where past posting and pinching are likely to occur. Since nobody should be reaching over the table while the ball is tumbling in the wheel, it's not too hard to spot a cheater.

The Eye in Sky

Casinos have some of the most sophisticated security systems in the world, and their security camera's are unmatched. With experts and ex-cons monitoring all of the action, nothing slips through the cracks for long.

Even if they don't immediately see you doing anything wrong, they will be keeping track of your track record. A successive stream of wins will definitely bring the heat down, and that is some seriously unwanted attention for any kind of cheater.

Worst of all, this video footage can be replayed, slowed down, and zoomed in. Once their suspicion has been raise, casino security can take down even the most skilled past poster or pincher. And no matter what your technique is, these tapes can be used in court to make it stick!