The story of how the Pelayos family took on a local casino

Gonzalo García-Pelayo is the head of the Pelayos family, which gained notoriety and fame for their gambling exploits in the 90s. He devised a statistical based system for winning on the roulette wheel. Using this system, the Pelayos clan won over 1.2 million euros mainly in the Madrid Gran Casino between 1991 and 1995.

Gonzalo was a record producer turned professional gambler. Being an avid roulette player, he observed that each roulette wheel had its own unique bias (imperfections) that made the spin results less random.

Roulette wheel bias; wheel bias is when specific numbers on a roulette wheel win more than others after many spins. Biased roulette wheels are flawed not rigged and are caused by several factors like; flaws in the wheels design, wear and tear, uneven table surface, etc.

The García-Pelayo’s system; Together, with his children, mainly his son Ivan and daughter Vanessa, they dedicated time and energy to observing and recording results from thousands of roulette spins at the Casino Gran Madrid. Gonzalo fed the collated data onto a computer program to ascertain which numbers won the most at each wheel. They found that most of the wheels had certain numbers the marble was more likely to fall into. The system effectively enabled him predict where the roulette ball would most likely drop, thus turning the casinos 2.7% house edge into his own 15% edge.

Armed with this information, they placed wagers on the “hot” numbers and won a lot of money to the chagrin of the Madrid Gran Casino manager called “The beast”. They were subsequently banned from the Madrid Gran Casino and other casinos in Spain, but they used intermediaries to play their numbers for a share of the profits. However, their hired players were also busted and the casino operators dragged them to court.

They moved to casinos in other parts of Europe and were successful applying their system. There were big wins in Vienna for €85.000 in one night, in Amsterdam for almost €78.000 and €240.000 in Lloret de Mar. Word spread about them in European casinos, and they were banned by most operators. They headed for Sin City Las Vegas and within a few days they made big profits from their system. It wasn't long before the operators realised what was amiss, and kicked them out.

Court case; Back in Spain, the supreme court ruled in favor of the Pelayos family. The judge, in his submissions, said that Gonzalo had used his ingenuity to gain an edge, and that the Los Pelayos had not broken any laws. Their actions were not deemed to be fraudulent and weren’t unlawful in the eyes of the court, as they did not fix the roulette wheels in any way, shape or form.

Aftermath; After retiring from playing roulette due to his many casino bans, Gonzalo and the Pelayos' have dabbled into various things like trying to create a winning system for online poker with their own poker school.


The “Welcome Bonus” gimmick

Online casino bonuses come with Terms & Conditions that are not player friendly. Accepting these bonuses often leads to bettors not being able to withdraw their winnings, and in some cases having both their deposit and bonus confiscated by rogue casinos.

The average gambler, especially those unaccustomed to the online casino scene, are often not aware of some of these bogus T&C's. Many see the welcome bonus sign and proceed to deposit funds, thinking it is all free money. Sadly, a lot of online casinos operate solely to cheat players, and do everything possible to ensure players lose.

Wagering Requirements

The most controversial welcome bonus condition set by casinos is called the wagering requirement. This is the amount set by casinos which a player has to bet before their bonus is credited into their cash balance.

Most times, when a player opts in for a bonus, they are unable to withdraw their deposits and bonus until they have made enough bets to reach the required turnover threshold set by the casino.

It is worth considering that casino games are always established to be in favour of the house. The house-edge, vig or over-round are set in a way that ensures players lose in the long-term. Even when gamblers go on winning runs, they eventually lose trying to reach the turnover limit set by the casino.

To add insult to injury, some bets are deemed ineligible for clearing turnover requirements. For example, bets made playing blackjack don’t often qualify because very good players are capable of devising strategies to minimize losses and increase their win rates.

In sports betting, the required odds are set very high by the casinos. This, coupled with the number of times a player must turn over their deposit and bonus amount ensures they lose it all. Generally casinos aren’t enamored towards winning gamblers and often ban or limit them as soon as possible.

Experienced online gamblers often say claiming welcome bonuses is too much of a hassle these days. However, there are still genuine offers that aren’t designed to cheat players.

Casinos also use this method to protect themselves from players that abuse sign-up offers. There are a few things a player can do to ascertain if a bonus is worth claiming or not, before depositing their hard-earned money into an online casino.

  • Look out for predatory T&C's
    It is the player's responsibility to always read the casino’s bonus terms and conditions. The player must make sure they fully understand all the clauses before making a deposit. If the turnover requirement is draconian, avoid the casino at all cost.
  • Operating with true fairness
    Before depositing into any casino, it is very important to confirm that they are either providing provably fair gambling, or in some way or another are regulated and have a license. If they don’t have any form of fairness system in place, avoid them at all cost.
  • Positive reviews and endorsements
    Players must try as much as possible to search online for reviews and feedback from other players, both positive and negative before making a deposit. This is often the best way to gauge if a casino will cheat you or not.
  • Verification & jurisdiction
    Most casinos require KYC to determine if a player is eligible to use their platform. Always confirm if a casino allows players from your country. And whenever possible, confirm your identity before depositing to save yourself future hassles during the withdrawal process.

Established casinos have a brand to protect and more often than not offer bonuses with reasonable terms. However, these conditions are designed to keep players betting for extended periods and only a lucky few complete them. The only way players can protect themselves is by researching and due diligence. Always read the T&C’s before committing.


How to choose a bitcoin wallet

Bitcoins are stored digitally. This means in order to store some yourself you will need a bitcoin wallet. Much like shopping for a physical wallet you carry around with you to spend cash, when you start shopping for a bitcoin wallet you are confronted with a great many choices. In this article we will explore the options available when it comes to acquiring a new bitcoin wallet.

Hot and cold

The first decision you need to make is whether you will store your bitcoins hot or cold. Any wallet that is connected to the internet is termed a hot wallet, whereas a wallet that is disconnected from the internet, such as a paper wallet, is referred to as a cold wallet.

That's right you heard me right, if you so choose, you can store your bitcoins on paper. Paper wallets are great for security but they are not very practical, to use your funds you need to upload your off-line private key into a digital wallet. For this reason paper wallets are best used for long term storage only. If you lose your paper wallet you have lost your funds, so be sure to secure the paper you store your wallet on securely (i.e. in a fireproof safe). If you would like to make your own paper wallet bitcoin.com have an easy to follow guide.

Web or mobile?

Software based wallets come in three main varieties: web, mobile or desktop. Web solutions are usually the most convenient. With a web based solution you trust the wallet provider to securely store your private key online. A popular web based wallet is blockchain.info another is coinbase.com. Web based wallets are super convenient but generally not recommended if you are storing a significant quantity of money. If you are using a web based wallet and are concerned about anonymity, be sure to choose a wallet provider that supports HD wallets.

A HD (Hierarchical Deterministic) wallet allows you to create many wallets from one seed.

A HD seed is a series of words, in a random order, used to generate your private key. When using a HD wallet as well as being able to generate multiple wallets linked to the same private key, you are also able to recover your private key should you need to by utilizing the HD seed.

Mobile wallets are similar to web based wallets but, as the name implies, are designed to be used on mobile devices. Mycellium and Airbitz are two popular mobile solutions. These apps allow you to download a simple app onto your Android or Apple IOS phone and have your wallet setup in minutes.

Desktop wallets

A desktop wallet offers better protection than a web or mobile based wallet. With a desktop wallet, you and you alone are in control of your private key.

Your private key is stored on your hard drive and in the case of hardware failure providing you have made a backup of your private key you can recover it.  However, if you have malware on your computer, someone could potentially access your private key, and if they can access your private key they can access your funds.

If you are concerned about security it is advisable to only connect your desktop wallet to the internet when you are actually transferring funds and ensure your virus protection is up to date, but you will need to have another computer for your day to day internet use if you take this extra step to secure your desktop wallet.

The most popular desktop wallet right now is Electrum. There are a number of reasons for this.

Electrum looks like it was designed about ten years ago judging from the UI, but don't let this fool you.

It is very robust, and it is also secure. The strength in security comes from the fact that Electrum is open source, so the source code for the application is in the public domain. Another great feature of Electrum is the fact that it allows you to increase the mining fee you've sent after you have broadcast your transaction. This means if a transaction is taking a particularly long time, you can increase your fee, in the hope that you will speed it along.

Hardware wallets

Hardware wallets (cold because they are disconnected when not transacting) offer a great balance between security and convenience. Your private key is stored in a gadget that plugs into your PC, and this device must be plugged in to the internet to transact with your funds. Two of the more popular hardware wallets are Ledger and Trezor.

Hardware wallets are a great all round choice for medium to long term storage of your bitcoin funds.

Conclusion

In summary you have a great array of choices available to you if you are in the market for a new bitcoin wallet. My personal favorite for day to day transactions is the web based solution blockchain.info because I love the simplicity of the software, it supports 2fa (two factor authentication), and is also HD so I can use multiple wallets, and easily recover my private key if I lose access to my account. For more secure storage of bitcoins that you do not need to transact daily with my advice is to use a hardware wallet.

Then of course if you want to be completely secure, you can go ice cold and make your very own paper wallet. The choice as they say, is yours.


Why should I care about provably fair?

When you stroll into a casino, approach the cash desk and leave with a handful of chips you do so for one reason and one reason only. You have faith that you might leave the casino a winner. This faith comes from the belief you have that the outcome of the bets you are about to place will be random.

You walk to the roulette wheel and place your bets on the table in the sure knowledge that neither yourself nor the person spinning the roulette wheel has any influence over the outcome of the spin.

This is not always the case online. You find a site, complete your due diligence and you make a deposit. You play and you lose, you play some more and lose some more, and eventually a thought crosses your mind… what if the site you are playing on is not fair?

How do you know that the casino you are playing at online is not simply generating any outcome that guarantees them the win?

Step to the rescue, Provably Fair. The latest online casinos are embracing a ground-breaking technology to completely remove this doubt from their players’ minds. To generate a random outcome, gaming sites utilise a seed and run this through an algorithm. A seed is simply a starting point to generate a random number and an algorithm is a series of steps taken to convert that seed into a pseudo-random result.

In a Provably Fair gaming environment the site publishes to the player the seed they are using in advance of the game, however they do so using encryption, such that the player is only able to determine the seed after the game has taken place. In a Provably Fair game, the player also provides their own seed to the server which is used as part of the random number generation process.

Once the game has taken place the player can decipher the seed belonging to the casino and verify that the outcome of the game they have just played was completely fair. That is, the casino generated the most random result possible without unfairly influencing the outcome in their favor.

Quite simply put, Provably Fair gaming is the fairest way of gambling anywhere online in the world.

Which is why when you play at a Provably Fair gaming site, you know the money you wager is in safe hands.