Casino dealers often get into the same easy rhythm when they deal and this is true of roulette dealers as well. They pick up the ball and spin it the same way every time, and they also give that ball the same “oomph” as well. The ball will tend to spin around the roulette wheel the same number of spins as it did the previous spins and it should therefore land approximately the same number of pockets from where the dealer picked up the ball.
If the dealer can actually achieve what I just wrote it is called a dealer signature; the dealers own particular fingerprint on the game. Obviously no two dealers would be alike in how they do this and thus no two fingerprints would be the same.
Is this really possible? Can dealers actually have such signatures? Or is this kind of thinking just wishful thinking; the same kind of thinking that leads players to believe in trend betting and the like? The opinion of experts is divided. A few say it is possible; more say it isn’t possible and the pains-in-the-neck experts say it is theoretically possible but probably not actually possible at a real roulette wheel.
I tend to lean more towards those who believe this is possible with strong reservations. However, if a dealer has such a signature I would think it is somewhat ephemeral and would not necessarily be manifested as often as players looking for it would like.
If a dealer’s signature were unconscious; that is, the dealer is really not aware of what he or she is doing, then it would take thousands of rolls of the ball with each of perhaps hundreds of experienced dealers to ascertain if the concept had any merit. There has never been a study such as this (as far as I know) because it would take the patience of Job to do it.
If the dealer’s signature were conscious then that would be a totally different story. Such a dealer would have the ability to make his friends, his family and himself a bundle of money over time – and if he were caught he’d be playing the uncomfortable game of prison roulette. So such a conscious talent might be used subtly to nail players the dealer didn’t like; help those the dealer did like; and maybe make some money on the side for an occasional friend or family member.
Roulette dealers disagree as to whether such a thing as a signature is possible. In fact, they doubt whether the unconscious or conscious creation of signatures exists at all. Very few dealers of the dozens of dealers I have spoken to believe signatures actually exist. They are more skeptical than the experts – actually, the dealers are the true experts here and they should probably be listened to.
However, if a signature study were done, could it successfully determine once and for all if the signature exists on the part of some dealers? Don’t be so quick to say yes because there are several factors that might make the study invalid or impossible to do.
Thinks of this: How could a person, notebook in hand, stand by a dealer’s table, then follow that same dealer from table to table, day after day, recording her spins without the dealer becoming uncomfortably aware of such a person? Maybe the dealer might at first think that the wheel was being observed for flaws, but this still might cause him to alter his spin to stop the player from determining what that wheel’s flaw is.
Anything that is dealer-dependent could be immediately changed when the dealer becomes aware of being watched. As in quantum physics, the observer interferes with the observed by the mere fact that he is observing. In such a case you can probably forget about ascertaining a dealer signature. I think the discovery of a dealer signature in real casino play is probably impossible if one wishes to have dealers followed for any prolonged period of time. Therefore, the dealer signature might exist but might not be able to be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt.
There is also another problem in proving dealer signatures. Roulette wheels do slow down over time, so the movement of the wheel from time “A” to time “B” could be different enough to affect how many pockets pass the ball by as the ball spins around the wheel. The dealer might do everything the same exact way but with each ball-spin she is playing into a fractionally different wheel speed and dealer signatures would end differently around the wheel as the wheel slowed somewhat. A researcher would then be required to analyze the pattern of the signature over different wheel spins – an impossible task in my estimation.
If dealer signatures truly existed, they would be exploitable in short-term play, as the gradual slowing of the wheel’s speed would not affect the signature quite so drastically.
So what should you do?
If the dealer signature exists, then it will help you to win if you could actually figure it out. And if it doesn’t exist, you won’t hurt yourself anymore playing that way than you would hurt yourself playing any other way. You would face the same house edge we would have faced had you played any other kind of layout strategy. So have some fun and go ahead and see if you can figure out a dealer’s signature. It might be like searching for Bigfoot but it’s worth a try.
Frank’s latest books are I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps, Confessions of a Wayward Catholic and I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack. Available from Amazon.com, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.