The Shotwell system is unique in that it was exclusively designed to be used with the American roulette wheel, particularly in land-based casinos. It was first introduced in an issue of the Gambling Times Magazine in 1978 and it’s based on the idea that roulette wheels have some imperfections that might affect the distribution of outcomes. Although the strategy has been primarily designed for land-based roulette wheels, it can also be used in online casinos.
How the Shotwell System Works
According to the Shotwell system, the roulette board is to be evenly covered by placing a combination of a six-line bet and four straight-up bets. This combination ensures that the numbers on the wheel are spaced at equal distances from each other. There are only a limited number of these combinations possible.
- A six-line bet on the numbers 1-6 and straight-up bets on 20, 26, 8, and 10
- A six-line bet on the numbers 19-24 and straight-up bets on 1, 2, 4, and 26
- A six-line bet on the numbers 10-15 and straight-up bets on 16, 17, 18, and 28
Check out the illustrations below for a better understanding of the Shotwell system and the theory behind it.
It’s up to the player to choose the stakes when using the Shotwell strategy, but you have to make sure that it aligns with your bankroll. As you can see, the numbers on the roulette wheel are evenly distributed, which means that you’ll cover 10 of the 38 slots on the American roulette wheel.
Although the payout depends on the size of the bets, the chances of winning are 26.3%. Naturally, the payout depends on the size of the bet. For instance, if you wager 10 units on the six-line bet and 2 units on each of the straight-up bets, a win on the six-line bet would result in a 42-unit profit. On the other hand, hitting one of your straight-up bets would yield a 54-unit gain.
Putting the Shotwell System in Action
Let’s see how the Shotwell system works in practice. We’ll use units of AU$1 each, and we will bet 5 units on the six-line bet and 1 unit on the straight-up bet.
Our strategy involves placing a six-line bet on the numbers 19-24 and straight-up bets on 1, 2, 4, and 26. Unfortunately, the ball lands on 34, resulting in an AU$9 loss.
For this round, we decide to bet on a six-line bet on the numbers 10-15 and straight-up bets on 16, 17, 18, and 28. This time the ball lands on 9, leading to another $9 loss.
Sticking to the same bet as before, the ball lands on 12, bringing us a win on the six-line bet. After subtracting our previous losses, we have a profit of AU$ 3.
Opting for the same bet again, the ball lands on 16, giving us a win on the straight-up bet. This brings our total winnings to AU$30.
Keeping to the same strategy, we experience another loss with the ball landing on 5. Despite this AU$9 setback, we still have an AU$21 profit and it's time to call it a day at the table.
Putting the Shotwell System to the Test
Despite the advertisement, the Shotwell strategy is a mathematical system after all, so we imputed the payout ratios and probabilities into Google Sheets and run two separate simulations, with the program guaranteeing random outcomes that mimic real-life situations. For the first test, we used stakes of AU$1 per unit and placed 5 units on the six-line bet and 1 unit on each of the four straight-up bets. For the second test, the stakes were doubled, and we placed 10 units on the six-line bet and 2 units on each of the four straight-up bets. The starting bankroll is AU$1,000. This is how the simulation went for the first run:
And this is how the second test went. Take note that the stakes were doubled for this run:
The outcomes were as expected. In both cases, one of the players ended the session with a profit, while the other one incurred a loss. Due to the larger wagers, the bankrolls in the second test showed more significant fluctuations. In fact, Player 2 zeroed out and had a complete loss of funds after playing a little over 200 rounds.
Shortcomings of the Shotwell System
Although the Shotwell system can be used when playing online roulette, we must point out that it was originally designed for a physical roulette wheel because it, supposedly, accounted for the flaws of the wheel. So, we can’t really point out all the benefits and shortcomings of this strategy with online roulette unless it’s a live dealer game.
The even distribution of the numbers on the wheel doesn’t make any real difference because the probabilities are always the same. Another thing to point out is that you can’t rely on wheel defects, especially not now - when all the roulette wheels are (almost) perfect.
The idea behind the Shotwell system is that roulette wheels in land-based casinos with even slight physical imperfections can result in a bias, and the strategy can ‘exploit’ that bias. However, online roulette wheels use random number generators, which means that this notion is invalidated. Nevertheless, the Shotwell system is still a viable strategy and provides a flexible approach to betting that allows players to try different number combinations and bet sizes.
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