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Home / Magazine / Derren Brown- A Magician Versus A Roulette

Derren Brown- A Magician Versus A Roulette

By Harald Pia, a well-known author in the industry and a managing shareholder in Lady Hammer Casino.

If I correctly assess the manipulative tendencies or abilities of various croupiers, and use this as the basis for a profitable roulette game, I count this behaviour as a legitimate means to achieve success in the game. Another largely popular and legal strategy is the so-called German system Kesselgucken [meaning to keep an eye on the roulette’s wheel]. What the latter means is to calculate the sectors based on the speed and the course of the ball, and in the ideal case to estimate the sector in which the ball falls, and shortly before “Rien ne va plus”* is announced, to make your bet quickly.  

I remain very critical of this method and even consider it an attempted fraud. It is said, that confidential information about the irregularities in some wheels, which favour statistical accumulations of roulette sectors, is sold for a lot of money. On the other hand, I cannot completely rule it out, so I was very curious about the efficiency of the famous British magician Derren Brown when he tried to compete with the roulette wheel in front of the camera.  

For those of you who do not know this name, Derren Brown is an English magician and mentalist. With his TV series “Mind Control” on the British Channel 4, he achieved worldwide fame. Derren Brown himself says he uses magic, suggestion, psychology, deception and a sophisticated presentation.  Derren Brown is an absolute sceptic about paranormal phenomena. He always tries to prove that most people with seemingly supernatural powers, just like himself, use only psychology.  

In one of his shows Derren Brown managed to redeem an invalid betting slip for cash, to induce strangers to hand him over his valuables without reluctance, and to influence businessmen to commit a robbery. In his most famous stunt on Russian roulette he directs and “reads” the thoughts of a volunteer, to finally know exactly in which chamber he has put the bullet.  

Derren Brown has won the fight against the casinos once before. In front of cameras, he beat the dealers in blackjack by counting cards. (Generally, counting cards is trainable for everyone, cards: 2 through 6 count as +1, 7 to 9 count as 0, and 10 through Ace count as -1.  Therefore, the higher the counted value, the greater the likelihood of winning a high hand. If you want to learn this system, which is forbidden in many casinos, take a card game, shuffle it, reveal the first card and start counting, and if you end up with 0, you have counted correctly as the card values sum up to 0. If you achieve another value, you have miscalculated. After all, of course, the speed is crucial.)  

This time around, Derren Brown tried the tactic on a roulette wheel for a TV show on Channel 4 in the UK. It actually seemed possible, because after four months of training, Derren Brown was incredibly close to predicting the number the roulette ball would land on, determining the speed and the course of the ball by looking at the ball alone. As part of his training, he had calculated, among other things, the speed of moving cars and the trajectory of squash balls. Although he did not quite succeed, he approached his goal with an amazing perfection. However, he lost £5,000 (which belonged to another player). Derren Brown, after all, very often predicted the number next to the one on which the ball landed. Just because Derren Brown bet on numbers didn’t mean he could win. However, you could make a fortune with these skills in any casino. In an online casino, of course, this tactic would not be applicable.  

*Note: „Rien ne va plus” is a roulette terminology meaning a formal announcement that the croupier makes during the spinning of the roulette’s wheel which indicates that no more bets can be placed. 

 

Harald Pia

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