Roulette is a game with a long history that dates back hundreds, maybe even thousands of years when the fate of entire villages was decided by the spin of a shield. Complex betting strategies of all kinds have been put to test in an attempt to beat the Devil’s Wheel but few have managed to leave the roulette tables as long-term winners.
The house edge built into the game is unassailable and impossible to overcome with a betting system of any type. Still, there are smarter ways to approach roulette which can help you enjoy your experience to the fullest and prevent you from getting in the red in the long run.
Here are eight hints on how to improve your game and extract maximum enjoyment from your roulette sessions. Even if you have previous experience with the game, you might still find some of these tips useful.
Choose the Right Game
There are many variations of this game of chance, but the two most common versions are European and American roulette. If you have read our roulette guide in its entirety, you probably know what the difference between the two is. For those who have not, here is a brief explanation.
The European version of the game plays on a single-zero wheel with 37 pockets while its American cousin uses a wheel with an extra double-zero pocket for a total of 38 numbers. The payouts for the winning bets are the same in both variations. What a difference does one additional pocket make you wonder? A lot! Twice as big of a difference, in fact.
We previously mentioned the term “house edge”, which is the built-in percentage casinos collect from each bet placed at their tables in the long term. The house edge in single-zero roulette is 2.70%, which is to say the casino would eventually retain $2.70 out of every $100 wagered at such tables.
Throw in an extra zero and this percentage jumps to 5.26%. Ultimately, you will lose more at the American tables which is why you should avoid playing them if possible. Provided that you have no choice but to play double-zero wheels, the best you can do is to keep your sessions short and refrain yourself from placing the five-number bet (on 0, 00, 1, 2, and 3) as its house edge is way higher at 7.89%.
Look for Tables with the En Prison or La Partage Rules
Some landbased and online roulette variants abide by the so-called “French” rules which lead to a further reduction in the house edge. The En Prison and La Partage rules apply to even-money propositions such as even/odd, red/black, and high/low, which automatically lose when zero shows.
When En Prison is in place, the player’s losing even-money wager remains on the layout during the next spin. If the player wins the second time around, their even-money bet is returned to them in full.
Let us assume you bet on black but the ball finds its way into the green zero pocket. Your black bet is still in action for the next round. If black hits, you get your money back. If red shows, you lose your bet. Given that zero appears again, the bet stays “imprisoned” until it either loses or wins.
Under the La Partage rule, the house retains only half of the losing even-odds bet when zero hits while the player gets the other half back.
Both rules significantly cut down the house edge in single-zero games from 2.70% to 1.35%. Some American tables do offer the Surrender rule, which is similar to the La Partage. It decreases the standard 5.26% edge to the tolerable 2.63%. Take heed of the fact this edge reduction is in place only for even-money wagers. All other bets still yield their typical edges of 2.70% or 5.26%.
Build Up a Bankroll and Play within Its Limits
All gamblers, no matter what their game of choice is, should set aside an amount of money reserved specifically for playing casino games. Your roulette bankroll could be of any amount you feel comfortable with but it should be proportionate to the stakes you intend to lay down. The higher the minimum limit at the table you play, the higher your session bankroll should be.
If you are a regular at the roulette tables, we recommend you open a separate account to keep your gambling funds in. You can add some of your monthly or weekly winnings to the bankroll to help it grow.
It makes sense that you should not expose large portions of your gambling budget at risk, even more so if you are underbankrolled and have a limited amount to play with. Do not feel uncomfortable if the player next to you is betting more than your monthly salary per spin. Casinos think of big bettors in the same way wolves think of sheep and rightfully so. Such players ultimately end up leaving the table with empty pockets.
Play at a Leisurely Pace
The more bets a given player makes per hour, the closer they get to their expected value, which is in the negative with games like roulette. Speed is a real killer in the context of gambling so slow down and play at a more leisurely pace. The table will still be there the next time you return to the casino.
One way to achieve this when playing landbased roulette is to play only at full tables. This automatically causes a drop in the game’s dynamics. Another good idea is to keep your betting sessions as short as possible since the longer you play, the more money you will end up losing in the long run.
Regardless of whether you are playing online or at landbased casinos, you can take short breaks and find some other form of entertainment. If you are curious as to what hourly losses you will incur, you can calculate them by multiplying the number of rounds you play per hour by the house edge and your average bet.
Let us assume you flat bet in increments of $5, play European roulette for two hours, and go through roughly 80 rounds per hour. If so, your average hourly losses will be equal to $5 x 2.70% x 2 x 80 = $21.6 on average.
Of course, this is not to say you will lose precisely this amount each time you play. Casinos would have closed shop a long time ago had gamblers been unable to win anything in the short term. You can lose or win much higher amounts during an individual betting session. However, the more you play, the more your losses begin to approach their expected average.
Learn to Clock Wheels in Landbased Casinos
Astute players have succeeded in beating roulette in the past by clocking the wheels for bias. A biased wheel is one with uneven distribution of the results, with some numbers having abnormally high hit frequencies when compared to others.
Respectively, wheel clocking involves the player recording the results of spins as they occur and then analyzing the collected data to find potential probability anomalies. If such are present, the player would repeatedly bet on the numbers the wheel favors. Such knowledge gives the player a significant advantage over the house.
We suggest you try to master this technique but only if you are serious about this game. This is a time-consuming and laborious process, not to mention finding biased wheels is rather difficult under the current casino conditions.
Casinos themselves observe for biases and unlike players, they rely on methods that enable them to find the anomalies faster. They resort to a variety of tricks to deal with clockers, from switching wheels between different tables to altogether removing biased wheels from the gaming floor. Additionally, modern manufacturers craft the wheels from sturdier materials and with surgical precision, which makes them less prone to bias.
On top of that, the player needs to manually collect a large sample size of results before they can arrive at any reasonable conclusions. Working with an insignificant sample size won’t do, you need to record thousands of spins for this purpose.
Begin by writing down 3,700 spins on a single-zero wheel. Since each number is equally likely to hit on any given individual spin, results tend to even out over time so that all numbers show, give or take, an equal number of times, or around 100 times in this case.
Let’s assume you notice an anomaly after analyzing your data where numbers 9, 29, and 28 have occurred say 142, 164, and 156 times during this set of 3,700 spins. You are clearly on to something so you decide to record another sample of 3,700 spins. You check the results and see the anomalies persist, with 9, 29, and 28 having hit 285, 293, and 295 times over the course of 7,400 spins.
Check the single-zero wheel and you will see these three numbers are located in close proximity to each other. What you have just found may be a potential section bias. You can exploit it by placing bets on the biased numbers that can compensate for the house edge.
Lastly, you can forget all about wheel clocking if you intend to play the game online. Online roulette relies on RNGs for the outcomes of the spins. The results there are indeed random and evenly distributed over the long run unless the software has been tampered with.
Don't Waste Money on “Winning” Systems
The World Wide Web is laden with websites created by people who boldly claim they have won millions at roulette with the help of the betting systems they are selling. These systems are flawed for a number of reasons, starting with the fact they normally require the player to size their next bet on the basis of the previous outcome.
The problem is in random games like roulette past results do not influence the odds of future results in any way. The odds and the house edge remain the same, so you ultimately end up losing money.
Another issue results from the fact such betting systems are deceitful as they can indeed yield some returns in the short term. This short-lived success causes the player to think their system works, so they continue to use it until the house edge eventually catches up with them and wipes their entire bankroll away.
We advise you to refrain from ever purchasing such “winning” systems. This is money poured down the drain. If you insist on losing it anyway, you are better off going to the casino where you can at least have some fun and free drinks. Just think about it. Would anyone resort to selling betting systems if they have won millions at roulette as they claim?!
You can check out our article on progressive roulette systems for further clarifications about their long-term inefficiency.
Never Chase Your Losses, You Won't Catch Them
Every once in awhile a losing streak would occur, which causes certain gamblers to panic and start risking higher and higher amounts in a desperate attempt to recover their losses. This is an extremely dangerous path to tread and it normally leads to financial ruin.
You reach a point where you can no longer think clearly and end up busting your entire bankroll. Streaks are an inseparable part of games of chance like roulette. If you are unable to control yourself and stomach your losses, it would probably be better for you to stay out of the casino. Streaks are also random, so there is no telling when exactly they will end.
Also, do not be greedy when you score some decent wins. This is a mistake many roulette players are guilty of. Instead of quitting while they are ahead, they continue betting because they think they are on a “hot” streak, ultimately losing all of their profits and then some.
So we guess the moral is this – be disciplined with your roulette bankroll and you stand better chances of preserving and even increasing it.
And another thing. Sometimes it will happen so that you repeatedly bet straight up on a certain number. You give up at some point, post a wager on another number, and the previous number shows on the very next spin.
There is no need to become infuriated at Lady Luck because she has swindled you out of your winnings. Randomness is inherent to roulette and sometimes produces outcomes that seemingly go way beyond the bounds of the believable.
One example comes from Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace in July 2000, when a roulette wheel produced six consecutive spins of 7. The probability of this occurrence was astronomically small (1 in 3.01 billion trials) and yet it did happen.
This miraculous streak of 7s was witnessed by Barney Vinson, an acclaimed gambling author and former gaming instructor at Caesars. Had a player posted a minimum $5 bet on this number and let it ride, they would have won over $3.82 million from this streak!
Yet no one ventured to bet the 7 after it first occurred because everyone thought it was highly unlikely to hit that many times in a row. In effect, Caesars’ table #211 lost the laughable sum of $300 only.
Join the Loyalty Club
Regardless of whether you prefer to play roulette online or at a landbased casino, it would be a good idea if you join a loyalty club, especially if you play with regularity. You can ask the floor personnel to issue you a player card so they can track and rate your play.
Roulette gives decent comps you can use to exchange for free accommodations, meals, and show tickets, among other perks. In American casinos, roulette is among the games with the biggest comp value because it yields some of the highest edges for the house (5.26% and 7.89% for the five-number bet).
Comps are calculated as a percentage from your theoretical win rate. As we explained earlier on in this article, the theoretical win rate is negative in roulette and results from the multiplication of your average hourly bet, the hours you play, the number of rounds you go through per hour, and the house advantage. The casino figures out a given player’s comps by tracking their play on a per-bet basis but the overall buy-in amount is also taken into consideration.
Things are not much different in online casinos where you typically earn comp points when playing for real money. Of course, these rates vary between different casinos depending on their policies. Certain online casinos exclude low-risk bets like red/black, even/odd, and high/low from the points’ accumulation, which is something to keep in mind.
Some online gambling operators allow you to cash out the money earned through comp points while others give you bonuses to play for free with, among other perks. Either way, this is a great way to cut down on your negative expectation as you get some of the money you risk back.