The roulette wheel has been the subject of studies regarding its integrity for decades.

Slot machines are governed by microprocessor units, computer chips, and integrated circuitry.

Cards and craps have a foundation based on mathematical probability.

Roulette is run by a dealer who operates all aspects of play manually. The game is played on a wheel made of metal and wood.

The wheel is subject to wear and tear. The operator is subject to human frailties. Could the result be a possible disruption of the random nature of play?

Among the factors that make roulette vulnerable are these:

Under absolutely perfect and unbiased conditions, the wheel itself would have to be flawlessly balanced, the pockets (where the ball drops) uniformly structured and surfaced, the frets (the barriers between the pockets) uniformly resilient and resistant to wear, and the dealers incapable of consciously or unconsciously controlling the ball.

The very nature of the roulette wheel, including its physical structure and the human element, makes all of the above factors subject to fallibility. This in turn paves the way for biases and inconsistencies to develop, and the opportunity for sharp players to exploit the biases, both human and mechanical.

The shape of the ball pockets is the single most influential factor in how a moving ball reacts to finding its final resting place in a number.

The deep pockets and steep sides (frets) of conventional wheels are subject to inconsistent wear, and over the course of years could fall victim to bias.

Brand new roulette wheels are incredibly expensive. That's one reason why they enjoy such a long life on casino floors. A majority of them undergo refurbishing from time to time, especially in the bigger casinos. But it's still possible to find very old wheels in some of the smaller off-the-strip and downtown locations in Las Vegas.

The older wheels are the ones that may have a bias, but unless you're a regular at the particular location it is difficult to detect.

Picking up bias requires "clocking" thousands of spins of the wheel, and even then you may enjoy only a slight advantage. Realistically, if a major bias existed and players started taking advantage of it, the wheel wouldn't last long on the casino's floor.

Short of clocking a particular roulette wheel in an attempt to pick up bias, the only way to play the game is to hope luck will be on your side. There is no skill involved, although wise money management (as always) will play a major role in whether you walk away from the table happy or sad.

Play conservatively at first, using the even money and 2-1 propositions in an attempt to build up your stake. If you are successful in getting a little bit ahead of the game, then it's fun to start playing the numbers "straight up" and hope to cash in 35-1 if your number hits.

BONUS ROUND-UP

BLUE CHIP: William B.’s Steakhouse has a Valentine’s Day special that runs Feb. 10 through Feb. 14. For $120 per couple, the menu includes Caesar salad, tomato bisque, Chateaubriand, intermezzo, and Chef Jeff’s flambe dessert of either bananas Foster or cherries jubilee.

FOUR WINDS: The New Buffalo Michigan’s exclusive Copper Rock Steakhouse wants couples to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a luxurious dining experience Feb. 10 through Feb. 14. Enjoy a Chateaubriand dinner with shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad, and special dessert for $150 per couple.

HARRAH’S JOLIET: The Reserve fine dining venue is featuring a Valentine’s special for two for $100 on Feb. 11, 12, and 14. Start off with the “duo of love” appetizer of braised short rib and prosciutto wrapped asparagus. Choose two entrees from among the petit filet, lobster Oscar, or Steak and scallops “aurora”. Finish with a shared dessert plate of chocolate marbled warm bread pudding.

HOLLYWOOD JOLIET: There’ll be a “Four the Love of Money” promotion this Friday through Sunday (Feb. 10 – 12) plus bonus drawings on Tuesday, Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day. Hourly drawings are set for every hour from 1 to 9 p.m. with over $25,000 in cash prizes on the line. Cash prizes can grow every hour. Visit Club Hollywood for complete details.

HORSESHOE: The 2017 Chicago Poker Classic is just around the corner. Scheduled for March 3 through 13, there will be over $300,000 in added prize money plus nine $10,000 main event seats for the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas at stake. Check out Horseshoe Chicago Poker Room for a listing of daily tournament promotions, cash game promotions, and Chicago Poker Classic satellite Saturday tournaments running this month.

MAJESTIC STAR: Get a chance to jump in the money machine during the “Blizzards of Cash” promotion every Friday this month from 6 to 9 p.m. Two winners will be randomly selected every hour. Each winner will receive 25 seconds in the money machine to grab as much cash as they can. Every participant is guaranteed at least $200.

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Opinions are solely those of the writer. Reach John G. Brokopp at jgbrokopp1@gmail.com.

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