Roulette, Playing to Win
Brett Morton

This book, published in 2004, retails at £12.99. Although there's no way I'd part with that much of my money for any book devoted to roulette and winning systems, I did chance a quid on EBay, purely out of curiosity, and came up trumps. At the time of writing there's some joker selling exactly the same item on EBay for £34.36. Let's hope that nobody who might be stupid enough to buy it at that price finds the listing.

When I first opened the covers and started reading through the contents I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at what I found. The book comprises some 270 pages, of fairly tight text, and the opening chapters cover a lot of very sensible stuff; why people lose so much when playing the wheel of doom, the human foibles it exposes, the need to exercise personal discipline when gambling, dealing with losses, setting loss limits and trigger points for walking away when up, money management and seeking out games where even-payout bets only lose half that staked if a zero is spun. There's also some woolley stuff around the contrast in how you feel when walking away a winner as opposed to walking away a loser. Quite impressed actually.

But . . . regrettably it didn't last. As I got into parts two and three things started going South. Here are some examples of things that had me groaning:

"Are there number boards? These are important and give you an edge."

"A change of dealer is likely soon to release some 'sleeping numbers' that are overdue."

"The longer the ball keeps landing on Red, the closer it must be to landing on Black" . . . "This I have christened the 'Law of Reality' . . ."

. . . and with regard to waiting so many spins before placing a bet;
"I don't care if Dr Einstein, Pythagoras or the world's greatest rocket scientists all say that the chances remain at 50-50. I am unimpressed. I won more when I waited for four than when I waited for three or just two. I then started waiting for five. I've now settled on six."

The book contains lots of this sort of stuff, much sounding quite reasonable on the surface until you start to think about it. There are many references to identifying sequences and runs, and how this information can be used to make future profitable bets; ie betting with the wheel or against it, and the logic behind doing either. Similarly there're a fair number of words dedicated to the matter of dealer footprints, and how to spot these and capitalise on them.

Chapter 28 summarises Mr M's own approach to playing roulette, that is clearly a combination of everything he's written about. He ends it with "Winning four out of five times is great so long as what is lost on that one occasion is less (and preferably much less) than the total won on the others. That is the secret.". No shit Sherlock? Part three, "Systems and Advanced Play", also contains reviews of different betting systems with each scored out of ten for risk and efficiency. Funnily enough, Mr M scores the Reverse Labouchere, that Norman Leigh used with his team in his trip to Nice in 1966, at 9/10. So perhaps there is something in it? Hmmm . . .

Overall then, whilst there is some useful stuff between the covers of this book, a lot of it is completely groundless voodoo and I'll be very surprised indeed if following the recommendations offered has any impact on the fortunes of those players who regularly partake. Having said that, if reading the book results in some readers ceasing to chase losses, then it will have been of some use. I suspect though that most who pay for it will see it as a holy grail of sorts, and will just continue as usual, or even play more, in the expectation of winning as Brett Morton has provided the answer. He hasn't, he's merely published a book that contains some theories that the maths and lack of clear evidence leave wanting.

Interestingly, I found details of a meeting between Brett Morton and Michael Shackleford, the "Wizard of Odds", on the Wizard of Odds web site. It seems Mr S is equally sceptical of Mr Morton's assertions.

February 2015.