Saturday, 3rd December, 2016

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Who Is Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo?

Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo is a Spanish poker player, manager, producer and announcer. Gonzalo is most famous as a gambler and is credited with inventing a strategy that helped him and many gamblers after him exploit certain imperfections in the roulette wheel’s internal mechanics in order to beat the house.

So successful was his strategy that many in the gambling spheres have come to refer to him as “The Man who Took Vegas to the Cleaners.” Did he take Vegas to the Cleaners? Not exactly – but oh man did he ever do a damn good job at it.

Here are all the details on Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo:

Gonzalo’s Rise to Prominence


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Gonzalo was born in June 1947 in Madrid. Early in his life, he developed a passion for entertainment and would later pursue a career as a music producer, radio host, television presenter, filmmaker, and bullfighting among others. However it is as a gambler that he would really make his name. He was an avid roulette player and had outstanding mathematics and observation skills. In the early 90s when playing roulette in his native Madrid, he noticed that certain numbers came up more frequently than others. He set out to devise a plan that would help him work out which these numbers were in order to predict the outcome of a spin more accurately. Since each roulette wheel is unique he would need to spend a substantial amount of time observing each roulette wheel over thousands of spins. He would then record each outcome and feed all the results into his computer for proper analysis. In order to ease his work he sent out his children to various Madrid casinos to collect results on as many roulette wheels as possible. He developed a system using the QBasic programming language on his computer.

How did Gonzalo’s System Work?

His algorithm was based on the fact that if one number appeared more frequently than others it would be a safer bet. For example if the results were recorded over 5000 spins, then each number would be expected to appear 135 times on a perfect machine. However if some numbers appeared more than 3 standard deviations (170 times), it meant that the machines were biased and he bet on these numbers on every spin. Armed with this information, he set out to casinos around Madrid that he had studied and started making a fortune. He managed to reduce the house edge of 5% and turn it to his favor for a 15% player’s edge. Although it is not known in the public domain how much he won, it is widely believed that at Casino Madrid alone, he made a “loot” of over $1 million. Whenever he suspected that officials at a particular casino were about to catch on to him he would move on to another casino.

What Happened to Gonzalo’s Algorithm?

Eventually he set out for Las Vegas where he managed to bulge his fortune by a further $3 million. Since the systems in as Vegas were more stringent, Gonzalo and his team had to take special care to avoid being detected. Unfortunately, his ploy was discovered and he had to retire back to Spain. Being discovered for cheating in Las Vegas would usually get people blacklisted from casinos around the world and soon Gonzalo found himself facing lawsuits right, left and center from casinos in Spain. However, the Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuits since what Gonzalo was technically not cheating as he did not tamper with the machines. Gonzalo’s technique necessitated the corrections of imperfections by Roulette wheel manufacturers. Casino’s also introduced more stringent technology including algorithms to detect irregular bets and cameras to make sure no one observes the wheel too long.

Today, Gonzalez is still an avid gambler, betting on sports, horses as well as online casinos. He claims that he has no regret for what happened and that his greatest pride is not about the money that he won but that he won it with the help of family.

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