London to Las Vegas
playing roulette
Mervyn Dare

At 180 pages, with most containing copious amounts of white space, London to Las Vegas playing roulette is a nice light read - the recollections of someone who has spent his life taking on the wheel of doom recreationally for amounts he could afford to lose, his annual pilgrimage to the gaming floors of Sin City and his own particular philosophy and approach to it all. Basically, this book is a cross between a basic "how to play roulette guide", a low key travel guide to Las Vegas and Nevada (up to the time of publication) and a synopsis of the author's methods for playing roulette - which he admits are derived more from a "fingers crossed" approach than any in-depth studies or analysis of the underlying numbers.

As part of his recollections, the author's work contains some rambling considerations around whether "levers" or magnets might be in use to cheat players, and of ball-aiming dealers making themselves busy to relieve visitors to the tables in LV of their money faster than the house edge and variance fairy usually would. This is something that appears more than once, which did lead me to believe that Mr D genuinely believes that some croupiers have conspired against him in the past. I'm afraid I remain skeptical of such claims, expecially in view of the fact that he tended to frequent the casinos at the "lower end" of the spectrum when he visited the States, with his daily gambling money allotment being in the region of $150.00. Best to file all of that under paranoia I think.

Towards the end of the book, Mr D takes the reader back to his first visit to a casino, and then to 1992, where he answered an ad in a newspaper placed by that old card, Norman Leigh. This was less than a year before Norman Leigh's death and at a time when he was living in a DSS hostel in Hampshire and reliant on state benefits. Apparently Norman was offering a roulette system for sale at £250.00, and as the author didn't have that available at the time he was looking for four others to throw in fifty quid each to make up what was being asked. Just as well he never actually got all of the money together I reckon. I did approach Mr D's publishers with a request that they pass on my details to him so we could chat or correspond about this, but I never heard anything further. After failing to do business with Norman Leigh, Mr D started working on developing his own roulette system but discovered blackjack before he had finished doing so, and that was the start of him becoming a casino regular in the UK. His aspiration of visiting LV at some point spun out of this, and he recounts aspects of many such trips, starting with his first that he undertook with a friend in the year 2000.

Overall something to digest if you're interested in reading about the wheel of doom and others' experiences of taking it on. Possibly a tad disappointing if you've inferred from the title, as I did, that this was the story of some high-roller endeavours with the inevitable car-crash at the end of it, but nevertheless those of us who chance a few quid as "low-rollers" (or very low in my case) still have ideas to convey (no matter how far-fetched) and stories to tell - and that's what London to Las Vegas playing roulette is really all about. Certainly grab a copy as a coffee break distraction, but for those looking for some solid pointers around the numbers behind the wheel of doom, and why players win and lose when playing it, I think this is not really the one for you.

September 2017.