Understanding Roulette Strategy
Roulette is every inch the classic casino game. Picture a casino, and it is the red and black spinning wheel that usually comes to mind. In physical casinos all over the world, roulette is one of the most popular table games, coming second only to blackjack. When it comes to online gaming, where slot games are usually king, the roulette rooms remain an extremely popular choice and the virtual tables get a lot of action.
Many newcomers to the roulette table wonder if they should apply a strategy, in order to maximise their chances of winning. Seasoned players usually have their own preferred bets and systems in place. But do roulette strategies work, and should you use one?
What Is Roulette?
Roulette became popular in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries. It is played with a spinning wheel, surrounded by numbers. A ball bearing is spun within the wheel, and when the wheel stops spinning, the ball lands in one of the numbered pockets. That is the winning number for the round. Players who had their stake against that number win a payout.
In the online gaming world, roulette is often played using a random number generator, but the principles remain the same. Increasingly, players are turning to live roulette games over their electronic counterparts. In live roulette, a real person spins a physical wheel from a studio, while players use the simulated grid to place their bets.
How To Play Roulette
Even if you are new to the game, it is easy to get the hang of placing bets. You take your chips and place them onto the part of the roulette grid where you wish to make a bet. This could be one of the 36 numbers (or the zero/double zero), or it could be against another outcome. For first bets, predicting if the ball will select a red or black number, or an odd or even number, is very popular.
After the wheel is spun, and a number selected, the dealer will call the winning value. All bets that are sitting on that number, or on some combination that involves it, will receive a payout. Chips that are not on a winning grid space are lost and will go to the house.
Find out more about how to play roulette.
Roulette Bets & Odds
Every bet at the table has a different set of odds, depending on the chance of that coming in. The simplest bet - and the most risky - is the single number bet. This has the highest payout on the board, but the lowest chance of coming in. Singles pay at 35-1.
At the other end of the scale, the 'even bets' offer the lowest risk to the player, but the smallest payout on offer. Red/black, odd/even and high/low bets are the closest to a 50-50 outcome, and they pay back at 2-1. However, the inclusion of an extra number (the zero in European roulette, plus the American double zero) reduces the odds to 48.65% or 47.37% respectively.
Columns & Dozens
Instead of choosing a single number, players can select a group of 12 numbers. The grid is split into three sections: columns from top to bottom, and three dozens across the side. These 'outside bets' will pay out if any number from that group is selected by the wheel.
Splits & Corners
Chips placed directly on the numbered grid can be used to cover more than one number at a time. Split bets are placed on the line between two numbers. If either of those numbers is selected, the bet pays at 17-1. Corners are similar, but these are placed to cover four numbers instead of two. These bets pay 8-1.
Street & Line Bets
Placing a chip along the edge of the grid signifies a bet against that row or street. This is a selection of three numbers, reading horizontally. The bet can be extended to six numbers (with a 5-1 potential payoff) by placing the chip on the line between two rows. It is also possible to bet on a group that includes the first three numbers, plus the zero (and double zero, in American roulette).
Advanced Betting In Roulette
Those more familiar with the roulette table might include some of the game's lesser-known bets in their roulette strategy. These are often known as 'call bets' because the player calls their intention to the croupier instead of placing their chips. Call bets usually relate to where the numbers lie on the wheel, rather than their position on the grid. Some of these bets include:
Players choose a number, and also the two numbers on either side of it. 'Neighbours' is usually a five-number bet. However, the bettor might make it into a combination bet, selecting more than one number alongside its neighbours.
The 'Voisins du Zero' (Neighbours of Zero)
This is a bet on 17 numbers in total: those either side of the zero, covering half of the wheel. This complicated bet includes trio, split and corner bets, and equates to a 45.9% chance - making it one of the more profitable call bets.
The 'Orphelins' (Orphans)
These numbers sit either side of the wheel, falling outside of the Voisins and its counterpart 'Tiers du Cylindre'. It consists of four splits, plus a straight-up bet (on the 1). The chance is 21.6%, with a payout that includes 36-1 for the 1.
Roulette Strategies & Systems
Roulette strategies and betting systems are methods of placing bets during a game that are intended to increase the chances of winning, usually over an extended period of play. While some players accept that Roulette is a game of chance and the outcome cannot be influenced, there are many who swear by following a strategy to win at roulette.
These bets are strategies in themselves. Whether placing a bet 'straight-up' on a lucky number, hitting the red/black bets repeatedly, or trying your hand with call bets, any player that approaches the table usually has some kind of strategy in mind. But are there ways to maximise your winnings and come away with a guaranteed profit? Many seasoned players insist that there is!
The Martingale Strategy
This betting system is so widely known that you have probably already heard of it. It is relatively simple to use, as well. The key principle is to double your bet after each loss and drop to the lowest stake after every win. Using this strategy, every win should return all of the money lost, along with a small profit - the value of the minimum bet made.
This sounds good in theory. However, there are two glaring issues with this system. The first is that the profit is so slight that it can take many hours of grinding the tables to see any benefit. The second is that it requires an unlimited balance! Doubling bets can get very expensive when a losing streak hits, and if you run out of cash before landing a win, the game is over.
The Reverse Martingale
Some players use the reverse of the Martingale System. This means doubling the bet after every win and dropping it after a loss. The theory is that this system will take advantage of hot streaks and keep losses low during a bad patch. However, there are no guarantees so this is a risky strategy to use.
This system is similar to the Martingale, but it mitigates some of the risks by reducing the rises and falls of the bet amounts. Instead of doubling losses (or wins), the bet amount is raised and dropped by one unit each time.
Hot & Cold Streaks
Online roulette and the physical game both display the previous run of numbers called, so players can see what has come before. This can attract players who play the odd/even and red/black bets most; they can see where there has been a run of certain numbers, and try their luck. Tables, where lots of players are winning, can also attract those who search for 'streaks' - or quiet tables if a player thinks their own luck could turn things around.
Pros & Cons Of Roulette Strategies
Whether used in online roulette or at a real casino, roulette strategies can add structure and fun to a game. Having favourite bets, using a particular set of numbers, or trying to spot 'hot' and 'cold' tables are all common systems. They don't guarantee a win, but they allow gamblers to ride their luck and make the game their own.
Employing a fixed system, such as those outlined above, can have benefits. The Martingale system, for example, will always turn a profit in theory. However, the chance of a run of losses, and the fact that tables often put a cap on high bets, can stop this system in its tracks and leave a player with a significant loss.
In truth, there is no way to guarantee a win from the roulette table. The house will always take a cut of bets through the 'house edge' - the addition of one or two zero spaces on the reel. This keeps the player below 50-50 even on the most profitable bets and sees a loss over time.
Perhaps the best strategy for roulette is to pick the game carefully. American Roulette has a higher house edge than the European game, so losses will be greater when picking these tables. French roulette, for example, includes the 'en prison' bet which allows a 50% return (or a held stake) in the event of hitting the zero.