The game of roulette is an iconic casino game. It is not difficult to learn to play, and you can learn how to bet on a roulette table in a matter of minutes. The trick, however, is not learning how to bet, but how to win those bets.
Understanding the Basics of Roulette
There are two primary variations of roulette: American and European. Both variations start with a wheel divided into 36 numbered slots with alternating red and black coloration. The numbers are not in numerical order. In the European variant, a green zero slot is also added, making 37 total slots on the wheel. In American roulette, an additional green slot labeled double zero is placed next to the green zero slot. Thus, in American roulette, there are 38 total slots on the wheel.
Table Minimums. Roulette games have minimum bets, which will be posted on a placard at the table. Minimum bets work differently for inside bets (specific numbers) and outside bets (everything else). For outside bets, any bet you make has to be at least the table minimum.
Bets are placed on a table with 3 columns 12 numbers with the same red and black colors that are on the wheel. The green zero and double zero are set above the columns. Outside of the columns are the words even and odd along with a black and red diamond. The 3 columns are labeled 2 to 1 at the bottom and are divided into 1st, 2nd, and 3nd 12’s on the side. There is also a space labeled 1-18 and another 19-36.
When the dealer, or croupier, spins the wheel in one direction, spin a small ball in the opposite direction on the inside of the wheel. As the spin slows, gravity pulls the ball down until it hits a divider between the numbered slots. Because of the conflicting spins of the ball and wheel, the ball will bounce several times until it comes to rest in one of the colored and numbered slots. The object of the game is to predict where the ball will land and place your best accordingly.
The Most Common Roulette Bets are Easy to Learn
There are dozens of variations to roulette betting, but there is only a handful of common bets. In the end, the house odds are the same for all of them, so it really does not give you any advantage to knowing all sorts of complex betting strategies, despite what many “systems” may try to tell you. We’ll explain this shortly.
The easiest bets to understand are even/odd and red/black. These are even money bets, which means that if you bet $10 and win you get $20; your initial ten and a matching ten. To place one of these bets, you simply put your chips on the words even, odd, or one of the colored diamonds.
Other easy “outside” bets (because the are on the outside of the number grid) are made by placing your chips on the 1-18 or 19-36, the 2 to 1 boxes at the bottom of the column, or in one of the “third” boxes to the side of the grid. You can also bet on the green zero or double zero.
On the inside of the grid, you can put your chips on a single number or on any intersection of the numbers. For example, on the bottom left of the board the numbers 31 and 32 sit horizontally to each other and they are directly above the 34 and 34 so that 31 is directly above the 34. You could place a chip on any single number, on the intersection of two numbers such as 28/29, 28/31, 31/32, or 29/32. You can also place a chip on the place where all four numbers meet.
Note that you do not have to limit your selections and can place as many bets as you want. For example, you could bet on reds and evens, or on the 2nd third and black. Obviously, the more bets you place the greater the chances that your number will be a winner. Unfortunately, unless the payout on this winning number is high enough to cover all of the bets that you lost, you end up losing money. Some books and systems will tell you that by mixing your bets in a particular way you can increase your odds of winning. The truth is that no combination of bets is going to reduce the house’s built-in advantage.
Learning How to Bet on a Roulette Table is Really About Understanding the Odds
You may have noticed that some of the bets are easier to win than others. This is known as the “odds” of winning. For example, you would have a 50 percent chance of winning by betting on black, red, odd, or even if there were only the 36 numbers, but because of the green zero and double zero, the chances of spinning one of these is not 18 out of 36, but 18 out of 38 or 47.37 percent. This means that the house has a 52.63 percent chance of winning. When you hear that the house has a 5.26 percent advantage, this is the difference between the house’s change of winning and yours.
The more difficult the bet, the lower the odds of winning. For example, betting on a single number gives you a 1 in 37 or 1 in 38 chance of winning depending on whether the wheel has a single zero, or a zero and double zero. Divide one by 37 or 38 and you get a 2.70 percent or 2.63 percent, respectively.
The payouts on each bet are based on the odds. The higher the odds, the less the payout; the less the odds, the greater the payout. A simple red, black, odd, or even bet will pay out even money. A single number will pay out at 35 to 1. Regardless of the odds and payout, however, the house always keeps its edge.
It’s Not Knowing How to Bet on a Roulette Table, It’s Knowing How to Win
The reality of roulette is that in its purest form it cannot be beaten without luck. Despite what the different “systems” try to convince you, the odds are the odds. Most systems are based on the “junk math” concept that one spin will influence the next. Yet, as any mathematician will tell you, the probability of spinning a number or color is the same every time regardless of what happened before. For example, if the dealer spun 28 reds in a row, you may think that it is now more likely that a black will be spun because it is “due”. After all, a black has to be spun eventually. However, mathematically, the chance of a red being spun next is the same as it was for each of the others, exactly 47.37 percent. While logic says that a black must be spun eventually, math says that the odds of it happening on the next spin are the same as for each other spin. You do not gain any advantage by spotting or tracking streaks or number patterns.
If the odds are the odds, how can you win? The secret is found in science. Roulette is a game of physical properties: a spinning wheel, a spinning ball, gravity, a human dealer. Physics is the science of studying the physical world. Through physics, predictions can be made that will increase your odds of selecting the correct number. You will still lose more times than you win, but because of the relationship between the odds and payout, if you can increase the chance of a single number selection hitting even one percent more often, you will be making huge profits.
In the end, it is not knowing dozens of fancy bets that is going to allow you to win at roulette, it is using science to accurately predict what numbers are more likely to hit so you can increase your odds of winning.
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Roulette is one of the most popular table games in modern casinos. Although variations on the game have been around for several hundred years, there are now only 3 variations in American casinos.
You’re likely already familiar with American roulette and European roulette. The most recent addition to the table game inventory is Sands Roulette.
Which of these games should you play?
How should you bet on them?
What’s the smartest strategy for roulette betting?
I’ll explain all that in this post:
What Are the Differences between American, European, and Sands Roulette?
Although these games have a few other differences, the most significant distinction between the 3 versions of roulette are the number of green slots the wheels contain.
Every roulette wheel has at least 37 slots.
36 of those slots are always numbered 1 to 36, and they’re alternately colored RED or BLACK.
The additional slots are green.
In European roulette there is only one green slot, the “0”.
In American roulette there are two green slots: “0” and “00”.
In Sands roulette a third green slot, “S”, has been added to the wheel.
The green slots are there for one reason:
They make the game’s statistical probabilities uneven.
This is because of the way roulette bets are paid off. You can win anywhere from 35-to-1 (for betting on a single number) down to 1-to-1 (for betting on 18 slots at a time).
The payoffs, called “odds”, are not as fair to you as the actual estimated probabilities of the roulette ball landing on any given slot. This is how the casino makes its money.
In a game of roulette the house should keep at least 2.70% of all the bets players make over time. The casino has no need to cheat the players. In fact, the players often make really bad bets that improve the “house edge”, as that casino profit is called.
One of the other differences between European roulette and both American and Sands roulette is that the European roulette table has an additional betting area. This secondary betting area is used to place specially designed bets. They are more complicated than the normal bets made in American and Sands roulette. I’m going to ignore this section of the table, because I’m going to show you how to place bets that have the best chances of paying off.
Is There a Winning System for Roulette?
Everyone who gets into roulette sooner or later starts to think about how they can “beat the system”.
I’m going to be honest here:
There is no way to do that.
The green slots on the wheel make it impossible for anyone, anywhere, to ever design a betting system that is guaranteed to win. If you really want to guarantee yourself a win every time, then put a chip on each of the 2-to-1 outside bets and on each of the green number bets.
That’s the only way you’ll be paid money every time the wheel spins.
You’ll also go broke.
You may have heard about a system called the Martingale System. It’s a popular betting system with new roulette players.
Experienced roulette players just turn their heads and roll their eyes when someone mentions the Martingale System. The only way you can make money with the Martingale System is to write a book about it and get people to buy your book.
Even that’s a gamble, though, because most people now know that the Martingale System promises more than it delivers.
Here’s how this system works:
You start out betting the minimum. If you lose, you double your bet. If you win on your doubled bet, you go back to betting the table minimum. If you lose again, you double the size of your bet again.
This sounds great to inexperienced bettors but the problem is that you’ll either run out of money or hit the table limit before you can recoup your losses as they add up.
The Martingale System is a sucker bet, plain and simple.
Every betting system in every form of gambling tries to leverage probability theory. The Martingale System and other roulette betting strategies also rely on probability estimates.
But there’s a flaw in the thinking behind these systems. If you account for the flaw you’ll be okay. You won’t always win but your expectations will be more reasonable.
The secret to not going broke when you gamble is to set reasonable expectations and maintain your self-discipline. You should never drink or take drugs when you gamble. They lower your inhibitions and impair your judgment.
You might as well just hand your money over to the casino at the cashier window and say “keep it” if you’re going to drink or do drugs when you gamble.
How Do Probabilities Work in Roulette?
Probability theory came out of statistics. It tries to give us rules by which to guess what happens next in any situation. The guesses are seldom accurate predictions. Sometimes the guesses work out, and sometimes they don’t. Gamblers love probability theory because they think it helps them pick the best betting strategies.
You’re actually more likely to double your money during a roulette session if you put all your money on a single bet. The more bets you place, the less likely it becomes to double your money.
That’s because every bet brings you close to the long term expectations. The closer you are to the short term, the more likely you are to get better than expected results.
In roulette, the probabilities are simple. The dealer spins the wheel and releases a ball that whirls around the outside of the wheel and finally settles in a slot. With only 37 slots on a European roulette wheel you have a 1-in-37 probability of the ball landing on a specific slot.
This probability never changes.
This probability is calculated on the basis of all the known possibilities.
What probability theory cannot do, however, is predict where the ball will stop.
Nor can it predict whether the ball will land on red, black, or green any number of times over the next 100 spins.
Nonetheless, a lot of gambling guides tell you that you have the best chances of winning if you do this because of such-and-such probabilities. And many of these guides warn you that there is no way to predict the future, but by setting the expectation that the ball will land on red about 47% of the time, these guides are making predictions and promises they cannot keep.
They’ll even back up their claims by talking about how to run computer simulations for 1 million spins of the wheel so that you see how often the ball lands on red, black, or green.
In the real world the Probability Fairy is always on vacation. She’ll never be there to wave her magic wand to make things happen the way experts say they should. The ball could land on red over the next 20 spins. Or it could land on black or green or some random mix of color combinations.
You have no way of knowing how many of the next [X] spins will turn out a certain way. Talking about probabilities in this way is just dishonest.
What you can do is look at the wheel and ask yourself how much it costs to bet on the largest possible set of numbers. The idea here is to get as much coverage as you can without losing money too fast.
But even if you cover every number on the wheel you’ll lose money.
So the only way to win in roulette–and this is completely random, never guaranteed–is to bet on less than all the numbers on the wheel.
You also want to play bets that pay better than even money. You can place a variety of bets, but most of them aren’t worthwhile.
Betting on single numbers is a bad idea. You can place bets on the lines between the numbers (these are called “street bets”) and on lines at the corners of numbers (these are called “corner bets”).
But even though you get pretty good odds (payoff) you’re still covering too few numbers.
How Bets Work in Roulette
Divide the bets into two groups:
- Inside bets
- Outside bets
Inside bets are based on individual numbers or small groups of numbers. When you see players betting on the lines, corners, and individual numbers on the table they are making inside bets.
Outside bets are based on pre-selected groups of numbers on the wheel. The “2-to-1” bets cover 12 numbers each: 1 to 12, 13 to 24, and 25 to 36. The “1-to-1” or “even money” bets cover 18 numbers each:
- 1 to 18
- 19 to 36
The bets more likely to pay are the even money bets.
But unless you can win 5 times out of 9 on even money bets you’ll lose your stake. That’s the problem with roulette. You always have to win at least 1 more time than you lose no matter how you place your bets.
The “2 to 1” bets pay better than the “1 to 1” bets because they cover fewer numbers. You have less of a chance of winning.
There are 6 types of “2 to 1” bets:
- 3 kinds of dozens bets: (1 to 12, 13 to 24, and 25 to 36)
- 3 kinds of columns bets: ([1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31, 34], [2, 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29, 32, 35], [3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, 36]).
You can make a bet by betting on any two of the “2 to 1” groups. That means that instead of covering only 18 numbers you’ll be covering 24 numbers.
This type of bet is often called the “double dozen” bet. It’s popular among gamblers who like to hedge their bets. They have a better chance (all other things considered) of scoring a win with a “double dozen” than with one of the standard even money bets. If you’re playing it safe and going for even money odds, you should always play a double dozen bet.
If you want to bet more aggressively, then instead of betting more money on your double dozen, you can cover all 36 of the red and black numbers. Leave the green numbers alone. Yes, they’ll come in every now and then, and you’ll lose money.
But there’s a way to keep your losses low.
How to Bet on Columns or Dozens Aggressively
Take 6 chips and distribute them across EITHER the three dozen bets or the three column bets.
Place 3 chips on 1, 2 chips on the 2nd, and 1 chip on the 3rd. If the ball lands on a green number you’ll lose your entire bet, so always play the table minimum with this aggressive style.
Best Bet On Roulette Table
If the ball lands on any number with your single chip bet, you’ll win 2 chips and lose 5–for a net loss of 3 chips (half your bet).
That’s the safest way to bet aggressively on the table.
If the ball lands on any number in your 2 chip bet you’ll win 4 chips and lose 4 for no loss. This keeps you in the game.
If the ball lands on any number in your 3chip bet, you’ll win 6 chips and lose 3 for a net gain of 3 chips. This will offset 1 single chip win.
The way this betting strategy works out, your money can grow substantially and still take some big hits. Where the strategy will fail you is when the ball lands on green or if the ball lands on the single chip bet more often than it lands on the 3 chip bet.
Sorry, but there’s no way to prevent that from happening.
How To Bet At Roulette
There Is No Guaranteed Way to Win in Roulette
I can’t say this often enough:
You can’t win at roulette in the long run.
I think roulette is a fun game to play. It’s exciting because you don’t know where the ball will land. You take an active role in making your wagers.
And you’ll find there are a lot of different betting systems to experiment with. The only thing that is guaranteed in roulette is that the casino will make a profit. What you hope for is that they make their profit at someone else’s expense.
Players who try to improve their luck by making big bets do sometimes win, but most often the people who come out ahead are the patient players who use conservative betting strategies and take money off the table. If you only walk away with your beginning stake you’ll be luckier than most gamblers.
And you can take that to the bank.
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