We all know that it’s against the rules to tamper with the roulette wheel in any way, or with the ball. We know we aren’t allowed to place chips on the betting board after the dealer has called ‘no more bets’ and we know we can’t swap our bets around either. Nor can we use electronic devices while playing roulette in the casino.
If caught attempting to do any of these things, a player would be swiftly ejected from the casino and maybe even charged by the police depending on the method of cheating attempted.
However, the casino doesn’t know what’s going on in your mind.
What if there was a way to use your brain to predict the area of the wheel in which the ball was most likely to land. Not the specific number necessarily, but perhaps the right quadrant.
This would obviously be hugely beneficial to the player, but is it possible?
We are talking about visual ballistics, but this is a subject that can get incredibly in depth as there are many different ways to approach it, as well as different elements to consider – some people might focus more on the dealer signature for example.
Therefore, this article should be seen as an introduction to visual ballistics, something to help build an understanding before practice and further research takes place.
What is Visual Ballistics?
It’s a bit of a catch all term and a divisive subject to boot, with doubters calling it little more than a guess dressed up as a technique, and believers hailing it as a quick road to beating the casino.
Different players use different techniques that all fall under the ‘visual ballistics’ banner, but essentially the concept is to track the speed of the wheel and the ball by sight, and then bet accordingly before the dealer calls ‘no more bets’.
But how is this humanly possible?
It’s all about observing a dealer and their wheel for a time before you start making bets, and taking note of where the ball eventually lands.
This means you are going to have to watch a wheel for a time before making any bets, perhaps for between 60 – 100 spins, and make notes.
Once you have got the information you need, you would start betting using this information, which we will go into in more detail shortly.
The idea is not to get the right number every single time, but often enough to claw back the house’s 2.7% edge and a little bit more to nudge things in your favour.
For example, if you could get the right number just twice in every 37 spins, you would win twice as much as you lost, because although you would lose 35 of those 37 bets, the two you win would bag you 35:1 each:
- Losses: 35 units
- Winnings: 70 units
- Difference: +35 units
So visual ballistics is supposed to give you enough of an advantage to profit over the longer term, rather than being some magic trick that can predict the future.
How Does Visual Ballistics Work for Roulette?
That’s the basic concept dealt with, so now let’s have a look at what would probably be considered a beginners visual ballistics technique.
As previously mentioned, there are lots of different ways to use visual ballistics and other elements people might take into consideration, but for simplicity’s sake we will stick to the basics.
As you study a wheel, you will notice that the ball tends to hit one diamond more than the others. There are many reasons for this, whether it be wheel imbalance, a defect, the speed at which the dealer spins the ball (known as the dealer’s signature) – it doesn’t really matter why, it just matters that it happens.
Establish which diamond this is by making a note each time a diamond is hit by the ball (ignore spins that pass between two diamonds), because you are going to use it as a reference point shortly.
You will also need to get used to spotting the point at which the ball starts to slow down.
On all wheels the ball will start off very fast but there is a noticeable point at which it quite suddenly loses momentum, sometimes called the point of deceleration. At this point, it still has a good number of rotations left before it drops, but this number will be pretty much the same each time give or take one rotation.
Remember we don’t need to be super spot on here, so being one rotation out is fine for our purposes.
You will be using your diamond as the reference point here, so your eyes will be on that diamond clocking the speed of the ball as it moves past it. When you notice the point of deceleration as the ball passes your diamond, you wait for it to come around one more time and then simultaneously take note of the number directly underneath your diamond as the ball passes above it.
This is your reference number, make a note of it, and alongside that make a note of the number the ball lands on.
Finally, you will need to work out how many spaces away from your reference number the ball has landed.
Repeat this process between 60-100 times and a dominant number of spaces should become clear.
For example, as in our made up resultds above, you might see that the ball lands 9 spaces away from the reference number the most. You might also see that the next most common number of spaces is jointly 7, 8, and 10, which shows a grouping.
This is where your own personal betting preferences will start to come in, but more on that in the next section.
It will take time to get used to doing this because it all happens quite quickly, and it’s ok if you have to make a judgement call on exactly which number was underneath the diamond when the ball passed above it, pin point accuracy isn’t required here.
Once you have this information and are ready to start betting
When betting, you would use the same method of visual ballistics to identify the reference number, but you will need to act very quickly to place your bets once it has been identified.
The way you bet is up to you though.
You could make single bets on the number that is 9 spaces away, win less often, but lose fewer units in losing bets along the way; or you could bet on the numbers 7, 8, 9 and 10 spaces away and attempt to win slightly less money more often, but lose more units on losing spins. This is what we have done in the image above.
Some people even bet on almost half the wheel to increase their strike rate and go for the slow but steady profit approach. After all, if you are skilled in visual ballistics you should at least be able to predict the correct third of the wheel. Assuming you can get your bets on in time, this would theoretically bank a small profit on a large percentage of spins.
The way you bet is up to you and your bank, your tolerance for risk, how well you can handle losing streaks, etc.
Remember though, this is just an entry level visual ballistics method, and as such many casinos have found ways to stop it working, such as training dealers to modify their behaviour when spinning the ball/wheel, or by calling ‘no more bets’ earlier.
Thoughts on Visual Ballistics
Like all things in the casino world, the casino bosses are aware of visual ballistics techniques, and the basic approach outlined above has largely been hamstringed by dealers varying their spin speed, direction, swapping ball sizes, and swapping out more regularly for new dealers.
Casinos have also introduced ‘no more bets’ earlier to give less time for advantage players to act.
There are those that say more advanced visual ballistics methods are still effective though, so mastering the basics is probably good brain training if this is something you want to explore further.
Remember, just like card counting in blackjack, advantage play of any kind on roulette might not be illegal but casinos won’t like it, so if you do use visual ballistics effectively and get too much attention you might end up with a tap on the shoulder and a polite request to either leave, or play something else.
The hard thing about proving the validity or otherwise of visual ballistics is that it all happens in someone’s head, so it can’t be easily documented. Success could be put down to good fortune, and anyone making it work would be unlikely to draw attention to themselves by whipping out their camera phone to record it.
Essentially then, it’s something you can only truly make a call on by giving it a go yourself. You don’t have to spend any money to do so, you can simply visit a casino and watch, doing the work in your head without placing any chips.
Can you Use Visual Ballistics with RNG Games or Live Games?
An RNG based game might look like it is doing the same thing as the real life game, but sadly, it’s not. The random number generator built into the software selects the winning number the second you press the spin button, all the visual stuff is just for show, so it’s not giving you information you can use. On top of this it isn’t possible to place bets after you have hit the spin button with RNG games, so even if the game did accurately reflect the real life movements of the ball you wouldn’t be able to bet on it.
The same goes for live casino games. They usually end betting before the wheel is spun, and even if they didn’t, the changing camera angles along with the frequency that dealers get rotated might cause issues.
What if the Dealer Calls ‘No More Bets’ Early?
This is something that is happening more and more. Many casinos are instructing their dealers to call no more bets after just a few rotations these days, which doesn’t give you enough time to use the visual ballistics method described here to inform any last minute bets. There is no way around this. For this method visual ballistics to be successful, you need to be able to place late bets.
There are other approaches out there though, some that focus more heavily on dealer signature, allowing the player to place bets before the wheel has even been spun.
Is Using Visual Ballistics Cheating?
No. Aside from the question of whether or not it is even a workable strategy, all you are doing is using your mental and visual abilities to predict an area in which the ball will land, and then using the allotted betting time to place bets. You aren’t doing anything that is against the rules. There’s no way a casino could see what is going on inside your head either.
However, if you start winning too much too soon you will likely draw attention to yourself, and casinos don’t need a reason to ask someone to leave, so even though it’s not cheating, tread carefully.