We would all love to chance upon a fail-safe system that lets us win at the Roulette table every time we set foot in a casino. But, alas, such a system is extremely difficult to locate.

That is, unless your name is Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo. Senor Garcia-Pelayo is a hero to many common or garden gamblers by proving that the house can be beaten if you are clever enough and have unlimited reserves of work ethic.

A talented mathematician, Garcia-Pelayo bet on a hunch about the fairness of roulette wheels and won! 

There are many famous well used roulette systems but the reality is, there is a fixed margin built in to every spin that cannot be altered. There are certain online casinos that offer a better roulette playing experience, but it’s important to play there for the thrill and excitement and not be deluded that there is a system that can beat the casino. 

The story of how the only profitable roulette system was uncovered and how the man that discovered it won $1.5 million, is a tale that continues to inspire casino fans new and old. 

Who is Gonzalo García-Pelayo?

In a departure from perceived wisdom, Mr Garcia-Pelayo was not initially attracted to the bright lights of Madrid's betting dens.

Indeed, Gonzalo, born in 1947, was more of a film fanatic than a connoisseur of the Roulette Wheel. The film industry was where Garcia-Pelayo first made his mark. Studying at the Official Film School of Spain, Gonzalo was well on his way to graduating when the school closed through a lack of funding. However, never to be deterred by short-term problems, Gonzalo set about a career in the creative arts sector. 

This pathway saw Garcia-Pelayo begin work with the National Radio. Such a high-profile post provided access to a whole host of Spanish recording stars. 

It is no surprise that since this period the gambling don has produced music for the likes of Alameda, Smash, Triana, and Maria Jiminez. 

This path eventually led Pelayo to work his magic in the film industry. However, his influence over the music sector, and in particular, his contribution to developing the Andalusian rock scene, means that Gonzalo will always retain great significance within the Spanish cultural community. 

Although Pelayo's impact on the arts can be classified as being impressive, his significance to the gambling industry can only be viewed as being jaw-dropping. 

Gonzalo became synonymous with Roulette in the 1990s. As the head of a Garcia-Pelayo family coup, Gonzalo was instrumental in designing a statistical model that could predict the pattern of Roulette results based on the slight idiosyncrasies that traditional reels tended to hold. Between 1991 and 1995, the family backed their hypothesis and claimed a profit of over 250 million pesetas (2.3 million NZD).

The lion's share of this prize was gained at Madrid's Gran Casino. Pelayo is reported as saying that this particular casino was both his "greatest enemy" and his "laboratory". Allowing Gonzalo and his family to test the theories that they had developed and to eventually make this information pay! 

The discovery that roulette wheels all performed differently due to small design errors was made completely by chance. 

Initially, Gonzalo wished to understand how croupiers placed balls at the start of every roulette spin. Wondering whether this action might be the key to determining the final outcome of each round. 

Gonzalo's nephew acted as the research assistant in this quest. Key data compiled included the names of the croupier and the numbers that were called for each spin. When Gonzalo analysed this data he was surprised to see that some individual numbers are hit much more than others. For Gonzalo, this suggested that it was not croupiers who had an influence over the outcomes, but defects in roulette wheels themselves.

How did Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo decide that the roulette wheel was biased?

After months of study, it was determined that García-Pelayo was correct. All roulette wheels were biased to a certain extent. 

Once confirmed, Gonzalo and his team, headed by his graduate son Ivan, set about backing his hunch. This led to the family making profits of up to a million pesetas every day for a whole month. Although, as Gonzalo later pointed out, this was not glamorous work, instead it was "a blue-collar job" with "12-hour days".

Explaining roulette wheel bias: Can you still profit today?

The position of García-Pelayo within the annals of gambling folklore is secured forever. But what was it about the psychics of a roulette spin that allowed the Pelayo family to profit from some of the world's most famous casinos, consistently, for years?

Wheel bias occurs whenever roulette outcomes deviate from long term expectations.

Bias can occur for all manner of reasons.

Wear and tear to the drum of the roulette wheel may not happen uniformly. A damaged wheel shaft, or loose frets in the pocket dividers, may hamper the true progress of a roulette ball.

Because of this, the wheel may deliver a selection of results that do not conform to standard patterns. These inconsistencies are normally difficult to spot in real-time, however, when large scale evaluations are made it may become apparent that the roulette ball lands more often into particular sections of the wheel.

Once you are certain that a wheel displays bias, you can go about profiting from this information by betting on favoured areas. 

However, you also need to bear in mind that detecting bias does not guarantee instant success.

You might tip the balance in your favour by a per cent or two, but generating profits from this advantage is a timely process. Therefore, before you embark on a strategy to bring the house down, you need to be backed by a significant staking pot to finance your exploits until results in the real world begin to match those observed during your spell of research. 

But is it possible to follow the lead of the Garcia-Pelayo and profit from any equipment defect that you detect? 

It may still be possible, but such is the technological advancements in the manufacture of Roulette Wheels that such pursuits may be increasingly difficult to profit from. 

Casinos now commonly utilise Starburst roulette wheels. The Starburst variety incorporates metal frets, which degrade at a much slower rate when compared to wooden counterparts, and shallower pockets, which are less likely to endure discernible wear.

Unfortunately, this means that even if you were intelligent enough to embark on a similar research programme to the one instigated by the Garcia, it may now take thousands of spins until any sort of biased behaviour can be determined.

What is even worse, is that casinos now track all Roulette outcomes in the same way that Gonzalo García-Pelayo did in the early 1990s. 

As soon as a casino detects any sort of bias within an extended set of Roulette outcomes, the house will quickly ensure the wheel is changed so that savvy punters cannot profit from this discrepancy.

In the world of online casinos, the chance of ever being able to play at a biased wheel is almost virtually eliminated. RNG (Random Number Generator) roulette games, see the outcome of every spin determined by algorithms, with these algorithms designed to produce a series of results that would reflect those observed on a perfectly fair table. Even in games where live croupiers preside, wheels are regularly changed so that any issue with bias is unlikely to ever be detected by even the most cunning of bettors.

In essence, it is now not possible to do what Gonzalo achieved, however, it is unlikely to stop high-rollers from continuing to exploit deficiencies in the system if these come to light.

How did Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo take advantage of roulette wheel bias?

Croupiers who worked the tables when Garcia-Pelayo launched his most daring raids still remember the outcome well, with a continuing sense of awe. 

One anonymous casino employee recollects that the Pelayos began to win big at the time that staff were engaged in a dispute with their bosses. 

The labour dispute centred on the distribution of 2.6 billion pesetas that casino staff accrued annually in tips, that casino owners wished to gain a larger share of. Because of this impasse, it is surmised that the Garcia-Pelayo were allowed to take advantage of casinos a little more easily than would have otherwise been the case. A couple of the casino’s tables were thought to be in need of replacement and it was on these specific wheels that Gonzalo accrued the vast amount of his profits. Indeed, it is suggested that Garcia-Pelayo's system was never particularly profitable when it was employed at other venues.

However, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the Pelayos were just as successful when they took their findings out on the road away from the Spanish capital. 

A book about the success of the Garcia-Pelayo's suggests that they generated wins of 14 million pesetas in Vienna, 13 million in Amsterdam, and 40 million in Lloret de Mar.

However, as is often the case with gamblers that begin to strike it lucky, Gonzalo was no longer welcome in several of Europe’s top casinos. For a while, Garcia-Pelayo got around this hurdle by sending associates into establishments to place bets for him, but it was apparent that Gonzalo had taken Spanish casinos to the cleaners to the tune of 60 million pesetas (520,000 NZ dollars) and the casinos were prepared to let him have no more. 

To maximise his return from his endeavours, The Garcia-Pelayo family put their hypotheses to the test in casinos across the world, amassing returns of around 250 million pesetas (2.3 million NZ dollars) from venues in Las Vegas, Australia, Austria. Denmark, and Holland. 

Following his worldwide tour, Garcia-Pelayo was a marked man and barred from nearly all global casino venues. 

The end of a glorious chapter in the history of Garcia-Pelayo was reached.

What has Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo been up to?

When you are as multi-talented as Garcia-Pelayo you do not rest on your laurels for long.

Given the notoriety of the exploits of the Garcia-Pelayo clan, it stands to reason that a book documenting the family's battle with the casinos of the world would make compelling reading. So, it was no surprise, that in 2003 Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo published the book entitled The Fabulous Story of the Pelayos. Although The Fabulous Story of the Pelayos was nominally an autobiographical account of the family's quest to bankrupt some of the biggest casinos in Europe, such was the fantastical nature of some of the content that it would be well received as a swashbuckling novel. 

The dramatic nature of this account was subsequently picked up by executives at the History Channel, who later commissioned a documentary based on Gonzalo’s literary musings. The series, called, Breaking Vegas: The Roulette Assault, showed the detail that went into Gonzalo’s plan to take advantage of the weak points in the casino infrastructure and ultimately how this plan became the huge success that it did. 

Even though casinos took steps to ensure that Garcia-Pelayo’s strategies would no longer pay, this did not mean that Gonzalo was finished with trying to earn a cheap buck.

To this day, Garcia-Pelayo is using his abilities as an expert statistician to unearth value in all sorts of gambling pursuits. In recent years this has meant more of a focus on the sports betting industry. Gonzalo provides tips to a legion of fans on all types of sporting fixtures and lives off of the fees that he earns.

As the man who has developed the only profitable roulette system in history and who has profited to the tune of $1.5 million, there is no reason to suggest that the Garcia-Pelayo will not continue to find success in every industry that they focus on. 

If you want to test your own strategies, you can generate your own roulette wheels here, without risking any cash.

Disclaimer: Play responsibly. Players must be over 18. For help visit https://www.gamcare.org.uk

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