Think physics is boring and useless? Put it to good use and you could profit at roulette.
A new study has been published that reinforces dreams of gamblers worldwide: you can beat roulette with the right system.
In this case that system is good old fashioned physics and math, with a careful eye on the table, the ball and the croupier.
"Knowing the initial conditions allows you to beat the odds. In some cases you can beat them quite significantly." said Michael Small, a statistician at The University of Western Australia. He conducted the study with Chi Kong Tse of Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
Their experiments showed players able to play at a 20 percent advantage over the house, in stark contrast to the usual casino edge of about 3 percent to 5 percent depending on the type of roulette game offered.
Other studies have come to similar conclusions, which is that careful observation and logging and calculating data in regards to how and where the ball is dropped --along with other table conditions -- can give the player an edge in predicting in what general region of numbers the ball will ultimately settle.
Small and Tse also used a camera in some experiments to get even more exact data about the ball, its speed, and path on the table, leading to an even greater edge in predicting results.
Before you get too excited, while these theories work perfectly in a lab it's much more difficult to complete the calculations in a real-world casino. Teams have beaten roulette in casinos in the past but had to resort to elaborate (and illegal) methods such as hiding a computer in a shoe and using other small hidden computers.
The difficulty lies in accurately and quickly doing the necessary calculations in the small betting window from when the ball is dropped and bets are closed, which is too small a time frame to complete the calculations without aid of some sort.
Even with an extra edge from putting physics to work for you, it's also still not a guarantee of winning as it just narrows down the likely area the ball can land.
An unlucky bounce of the ball can always lead to a loss so don't bet your life savings on any one spin of the roulette wheel.