WINNING AT THE ROULETTE TABLE

Roulette is designed to be a pure dumb luck based game. To be sure, it is pretty, it is classic, but it is truly designed to be as closely governed by luck as can be. There is nothing one can do to affect the outcome of a spin short of employing magnets or some other illegal trickery. Yet roulette remains popular.

One would argue that roulette is best played by the very rich, the very brave, or the very desperate. There is a famous story of a man in the UK, named Ashley Revell, who, down on his luck, figured had nothing left to lose and might as well start with a blank slate no matter the results, decided to gamble it all. He liquidated everything he owned in the world and took the money to Las Vegas. There he proceeded to walk up to the roulette table at the Plaza Hotel casino and placed everything he owned in the world on a single bet. He wagered on red, which pays even money. He won. He bet it all and walked home that day twice as rich as he was before. He tipped the croupier, and walked out the casino, and went back to the UK.

That is what roulette is about. However, most people don’t play roulette that way. Most people think that because payouts are large at the roulette table, a time investment is worthwhile in order to achieve the big win. This is how crackpot schemes come to be. People track numbers and do other useless things. The fact is that the actual game cannot be gamed. It is based on pure random chance. Ashley Revell had the right idea. However, there are some things that can be done in order to better the odds of winning if one insists on playing the bigger bets for the long term.

Many people are familiar with the martingale system. You double your wager every time you lose in order to cover your previous loss. It sounds great. It seems foolproof. Eventually, the reasoning goes, you will make a win, and make back your losses. This is absolutely true in a simulation that 1) guarantees you an unlimited amount of money and 2) guarantees that the roulette table has no betting limit. We live in the real world. The martingale system doubles your wager in each iteration. This quickly becomes unwieldy. If you bet $1 by the time you’ve hit your ninth loss, you have already lost $1,000. By the tenth bet, you will be betting $1,000 to cover that and you will be $2,000 in the hole. All this to recover a measly $1 bet. Let’s put this to rest. The martingale method is bunk. It simply does not work. And if you think you can afford a thousand dollars, consider that within another ten wagers, that amount lost totals over two million dollars.

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We have already discussed a craps specific system that gives you the upper hand. Unfortunately, the story is different at the roulette table. The odds are much worse than in craps, so a money management system will only keep you in play for so long. This holds true for the martingale system, the Fibonacci system, the D’Alembert system, and any of the many other progressive betting systems out there. Unfortunately, roulette is unbeatable in this way.

Is there an equivalent system that works for the roulette table? The answer is a tentative yes. Tentative, because roulette is a different animal than craps, with significantly worse odds of winning, mitigated by the promise of potentially much larger wins. Whereas surviving at craps will inevitably yield a win in the relative short term, this is not necessarily so at roulette, where losses are much more frequent than wins. I said, albeit tentatively, that there is a system that can help you buck the odds at roulette. You will likely not be happy with what I am about to say.

The only thing you can do to improve your odds of winning at the roulette table is to play at an European roulette table, which only has one 0 slot as opposed to the double zeros on the American version. This is possible if you play at an online casino, which will offer both versions most of the time. If this is the case, one should always opt to play at the European version, as the odds are actually much better. The difference between one and two zero slots is easy to underestimate, but it should not be ignored.

The only other thing left to say is to follow Ashley Revell’s example. Roulette is a game for the wealthy, the crazy, or the desperate. The odds are extremely close to even when playing an even money bet, such as colors. You have approximately (slightly less than) 50% of winning. This is not a good strategy in the long term because at even money you cannot cover losses. However, for one big wager, this cannot be beat. You go home either a winner or a loser. And after all, that is the whole point of gambling in the first place. As they say, “go big or go home,” is a phrase that is more apt for the roulette table than anywhere else in the casino. Just ask Mr. Revell.