Roulette is a game that many people have tried to find a way to beat using maths, staking patterns, and even studying past results to predict what will come up next.
It never works of course, because roulette is a perfectly balanced game that cannot be beaten, you can only have a lucky run or an unlucky run, since the results are random and do not influence each other.
When a game can’t be beaten honestly though, a few people attempt to beat it dishonestly, and with roulette, top hatting is one of the methods people have tried.
So in short, yes, top hatting is cheating.
It is almost exactly like past posting if you know what that is, but top hatting requires the help of a specific person – the dealer.
How Does Top Hatting Work?
At the roulette table, each player is given different colour chips so that the dealer can keep track of who has bet how much and where those bets have been placed.
The dealer isn’t the only person watching the game though; there is also the eye in the sky – in other words, a whole lot of cameras in the ceiling – and the pit boss and managers doing their rounds.
Now, the pit boss can’t be everywhere at once and the managers also have other duties to attend to, and the eye in the sky sees everything, but from some distance away, meaning they don’t always have the best view of small intricate movements or changes.
This creates an opening for a scam should two people be bold enough and dishonest enough to attempt it.
The player would place bets as normal, ideally somewhere that the dealer can easily reach without overstretching or making any obvious movements. Then, once the outcome of the spin is known, the dealer would surreptitiously add extra chips to their winning bets.
Sometimes the player will lose of course, but each loss will be the value of the initial stake, whereas the dealer will have a few extra chips of the same colour ready when the player wins and add them to the bet, making each win a higher value than the initial stake.
The dealer may have a chip concealed in the pal of their hand, for example, and when they move to collect another player’s chips or tidy up their placement, their hand passes over their accomplice’s bet and they release the extra chip to create a bigger bet, and therefore a bigger win.
This is no heist, but a slow and steady build up that doesn’t alter the outcome of the spin, but increases the player’s winnings when they get lucky. These inflated wins turn the already small house edge back in the other direction, giving the player the advantage, so that over the long term, they come out on top.
To make it work without being spotted, the dealer must only top hat by 1 or perhaps 2 chips each time, or the eye in the sky will notice the difference. It’s also best not to top hat on every single win as this would be blatant. You would need a busy table too.
Why Would a Dealer Help a Player by Top Hatting?
For money, to put it bluntly.
It’s unlikely that a dealer would help any random Joe that sidled up to them outside the casino and asked, but if it was a long term friend or family member, or someone they trusted, a conversation might be had.
There have even been occasions where people have got jobs in casinos with the specific intention of ripping them off later down the line.
Then again, if there was a poorly treated employee who wanted to get back at their employer they might do it too.
The risks are high though, with a strong chance of being caught and the dealer certain to lose their job, and maybe even end up being prosecuted along with their accomplice.
Players working in a team to top hat without the dealer might suffer a similar fate, and to make the scam work there would usually need to be someone placing the chips, someone distracting the dealer, and someone else moving the chips – the idea here being that the person placing the chips can’t be blamed for cheating as they weren’t the one moving the chips if caught.