Few games are as emblematic of the casino experience as roulette. It’s a glamorous, exhilarating game that’s easy to pick up, so you can start having fun really quickly! These attributes are the main reasons roulette enjoys such a popularity. Gambling beginners can have a spin or two without bothering with learning too many rules.
But how do you play roulette? And, more importantly, how to win at online roulette or real-life roulette? We’ll talk all about that, and more, in this very guide. But let’s cover the basics before we get to any tactics. What are the actual rules of roulette?
Roulette, at its very core, is a fundamentally simple game. You have a spinning wheel and a small ball that lands somewhere on that wheel. The player makes a wager, predicting where the tiny ball will land; the dealer spins the wheel and, if your prediction was on point, you make a profit. The rules remain identical regardless of whether you play online roulette for money or in a physical casino.
Of course, there’s more to the game, so let’s break down the finer details. Three subtypes of roulette are the most prominent: American, French, and European. The main difference between the three lies in the iconic roulette wheel, which would be the perfect topic to cover next.
The roulette wheel, as you’ll quickly see, has a circle of numbers at its edge. There are the numbers you wager on, and they alternate between black and red. Below said numbers, there are pockets where the aforementioned ball stops when the wheel ceases to spin.
The arrangement of the pockets differs according to the types of roulette you play. French and European roulette have identical wheels, but the American one has a different one. And online roulette wheels look identical to real-live ones; so don’t worry about that, either! Let’s take a look at the variations and how their wheels differ.
The numbers alternate between black and red, while the zero symbols are green. Speaking of zeros, American roulette boasts two zero pockets, i.e. 0 and 00. That makes it less advantageous for the player, which we will discuss later on in this guide.
Beyond that, the numbers are arranged so that a high number goes after a low one, followed by a high one again, and so on. But that isn’t exactly a hard and fast rule, as the disparity between two adjacent pockets is sometimes not all that great (such as between 30 and 26).
The Betting Table
The betting table is the place where all the roulette players place their chips and call their bets. They differ according to the variant you’re playing, but the distinctions aren’t particularly important for this guide. Suffice it to say that all tables have the wheel numbers laid out in order, and some other kinds of bets are located around them. The former go by the name of inside bets, while the latter are known as outside bets.
You can wager on specific numbers by placing your chips directly on top of your chosen number. If you would rather wager on two adjacent numbers, feel free to place your chips on the line that separates them on the table. You may place your wager on these lines to make various bets. You place chips for a corner bet, for example, where two lines meet, and the wager consists of the four numbers that that intersection touches.
But you needn’t bet on the exact numbers alone. There is also the option of wagering on the ball stopping on a black or red number. Furthermore, you can take your chances on a cluster of numbers on one side of the wheel. You can even gamble on whether the ball’s final pocket will be even or odd. Naturally, the wagers that are more likely to produce a win pay out less, and vice versa.
Is There a Strategy For Winning Roulette?
So now that we’ve established the rules and got everyone up to speed, here’s the million-dollar question. Is there a strategy that lets you consistently win at roulette, or at least more consistently than usual?
Unfortunately, not really. You see, casinos make sure that their roulette tables (and other games) will ultimately bring them profits. If they didn’t, they would steadily lose money until they went out of business. That applies to both brick-and-mortar and online roulette gambling. Therefore, the casino must have an advantage; otherwise, it wouldn’t be a sustainable enterprise. And that is where the so-called house edge comes into play.
House Edge: What Is It?
As a gambling beginner, you probably aren’t familiar with this term, so here’s a quick rundown. The house edge indicates how much of an advantage the casino (i.e., the house) holds over its players. It’s an advantage we express in percentages, and it becomes more prominent the longer you play.
For example, a game of blackjack sports a house edge around 2% (though skilled players can lower it to 0.5). Say you’ve played fifty hands of blackjack (not necessarily at once). Having participated in that many games, the house edge will become more apparent. By this point, you have most probably lost 2% of your cash, rather than winning anything. So if you had 100 dollars to play with, you’d have somewhere around 98 at the end.
In other words, the casino makes money while you lose it. That is why, generally speaking, you stand a better chance of winning by playing in short bursts. Of course, there are always exceptions: some players will play for a long time and walk away with extra cash. That said, the odds you’re going to be that lucky are minuscule at best.
A whole swath of factors goes into determining a game’s house edge. But here’s a basic metric you can work with: the house edge becomes lower, the easier it is to predict the results of a spin/hand/turn/what have you.
House Edge and Roulette
European/French roulette has a less favourable house edge to blackjack: just 2.7%. However, American’s is even worse — around 5.26%, mostly because it has two zero pockets. That is one of the two reasons advantage players (i.e., those professionals who are striving to improve their odds at every turn) usually avoid roulette when they’re trying to win money.
But here’s the crux. Roulette has basically zero predictability. Every turn resets everything, so nothing that happened prior has any bearing on what happens next. And beyond that, there’s so much physics involved in how the ball falls, how quickly the wheel spins, and even a minor tilt in the table, that no normal person can make solid predictions about what will happen.
Even online roulette without a real-life dealer is too unpredictable to merit any advantage leveraging. These games use an RNG (Random Number Generator) program to simulate true randomness. They’re basically an online roulette wheel simulator that’s too similar to the real thing for you to predict.
The aforementioned blackjack is different in this respect, because the deck contents remain constant until the reshuffle. As such, some cards become more likely to appear on the table than others the longer the game lasts. Roulette has no such mechanic, making it pure chaos.
And since making more accurate predictions is crucial to creating a reliable strategy, such things really cannot exist in roulette. At least not without the kind of exhaustive math that only chaos theorists are capable of doing, over a long period of research. Speaking of which, chaos theorists did, in fact, manage to create a viable prediction model for roulette. But these resources, of course, are not easily available to the average gambler.
How to Actually Improve Your Odds in Roulette: Betting Strategies
As we’ve just established, there is no sustainable strategy in existence to help you win at roulette with any real precision. But that only goes for trying to predict what will occur. Managing your bankroll (the money with which you gamble), on the other hand, is well within your control. And applying the right bankroll strategy really can have a tangible effect on how much you win.
There are tons of strategies that help control your betting money. Some have you playing more conservatively, while others entail more risk. Nevertheless, we’re going to mention a few that are easy to implement and which suit a variety of different playing styles. That way, everyone can benefit from at least one of these strategies. And again, you can apply the following ideas to any online roulette game with every bit as much success as you would a bricks-and-mortar one.
Anyone even mildly involved in gambling likely knows about the Martingale; or they’ll at least have heard of it, anyway! The system has accrued a lot of popularity, mostly because it is capable of yielding some really massive winnings. Not only that, but it’s quite simple to execute as well!
So how does the Martingale strategy work? Start with the lowest allowed wager. Whenever you lose a bet, double your bet. Conversely, cut your betting to the minimum whenever you win.
The rationale for this one takes into account the fact that people often lose in gambling games. And as your losses accumulate, the amount of money you must win to at least break even does increase. So after a while, a losing streak would require you to gain tremendous amounts of cash, if you want to finally come out on top. And that is precisely where the Martingale shines. You might lose plenty at first, but it only takes one successful bet to wind up with a profit.
However, this tactic isn’t foolproof. After all, it does mean upping the amount of money you should bet, and quite quickly at that! So it obviously requires a large budget to work. Moreover, the strategy can get out of hand in a heartbeat. So since you gamble big on losing bets, you can run your bankroll dry in just a few turns. Just use the Martingale to play against the house edge, but beware that it could easily backfire.
Sitting comfortably at the opposite corner of risky is the D’Alembert. But the fact that it’s safer doesn’t make it radically different. It also works by adjusting your wager size, depending on whether you win or lose. However, you don’t double, but rather you increase by a particular increment.
So, here’s the tactic laid out for you. Take a percentage of your bankroll — about 0.5 per cent will suffice. This percentage will be your increment by which you change your bet. Whenever you lose, add that amount to your stake. Subtract the same amount whenever you win.
This strategy is clearly meant to keep you in the game for as long as possible. That is why you won’t win big with a single hand; unlike with all those high-roller strategies, such as the Martingale. But it will cut your losses significantly, and it pays off more and more as time goes on.
The Paroli is basically little more than the mirror image of the Martingale. What does that mean? It means that it works largely the same way, except that you increase your bet when you win and lower it should you lose. It’s a minor change, but it results in very different behaviour on the player’s part.
This strategy tries to lean on the logic that wins come and go in streaks. And whenever that streak begins, the player leverages it by doubling their stake and spiking their wins. The Paroli is considerably safer than the Martingale. That’s down to the fact that losses don’t cost you nearly as much as with the latter. You keep your stake to a minimum in almost any losing scenario, maintaining a healthy bankroll in the process.
But knowing when to walk away is vital to playing with the Paroli. You never know when your winning streak will end, so getting greedy can see you placing enormous stakes on losing bets. In other words, quit while you’re ahead.
Despite innumerable online roulette strategy articles claiming the contrary, there is no feasible way to beat roulette, in terms of reducing the house edge. Your individual spins all have no connection to one another, and there is no realistic way of having the dealer spin that wheel identically each time and land the ball in the same pocket. The wheel doesn’t follow any rules outside of physics, so you might as well not bother unless you’re actually psychic.
However, you can still optimise your betting systems to ensure that you don’t lose more money than you need to. Depending on your personal preference, you can implement riskier or safer methods. As long as you don’t misuse them, you’ll do fine.
A few other clever tricks can also improve your odds of profiting from the roulette wheel. Leaning more towards outside bets and playing with a set amount of cash will inevitably reduce your losses. But as far as advantage playing goes, bet on roulette for fun, but not because you somehow expect to lower the house edge by any significant margin.