Roulette Rules and Strategy

Roulette is probably one of the most well-known and popular casino games out there today and that popularity won’t be fading any time soon.  The word “Roulette” actually means is a French word which means “small wheel”, and this is because the game is played on just that, a small wheel!  The idea behind it is that the croupier will spin the wheel which has either 37 or 38 numbers on it with different areas that the ball can land in for each number.  Numbers go between 1 and 36, but there are also two additional slots for the numbers 0 and 00.  The numbers 0 and 00 are both colored green, while the numbers 1 through 36 will go back and forth between red and black.  The number one is red, two is black, and so on.  The Roulette wheels in the United States are the ones with 00, while European casinos do not offer the 00.

When betting on specific numbers, you’ll find that the payout for hitting a number is 35 to 1, meaning that for every $1 that you bet, you’ll win $35, for every $2 you win $70, and so on.  When betting on Roulette though, you have the option to bet on more than just numbers, as you can also take combinations, odds and evens, colors, or ranges as well.

History of Roulette

Roulette began back in France way back in the 17th century, but this was only one form of the now-popular game.  It is said to have been started by Blaise Pascal, who was a mathematician and apparently loved perpetual-motion devices, which led to him coming up with the new game.  Another interesting thing to point out is the fact that it took all the way until 1842 for the 0 to be added to the wheel.  The reason for this addition was to up the house odds, and it was done once again with the 00 for the same reason.  In the 1800s Roulette came to the United States and Europe, and this is when it took the jump to becoming one of the most popular in all casinos out there.

Types of Roulette

When it comes to the game of Roulette, there are two different types of this popular game, American Roulette and European Roulette.  What differentiates the two games is the number of 0’s that are on the Roulette wheel.  European Roulette actually has a lower house advantage of 2.7% because they have only one 0, while American Roulette has both 0 and a 00 which gives the house a 5.4% advantage.

American Roulette also uses “non-value” chips, which means that all the chips that a player will get are worth the same amount.  The amount is given when the chips are purchased originally, and you’ll cash those chips in at the table itself.  As far as European Roulette goes, you’ll get standard betting casino chips which have different values on each of them.  People often feel that this makes the game a bit more confusing for everyone, which explains why people lean towards the American Roulette for an easier game.

Another thing that is worthwhile to point out when it comes to the difference between the two types of Roulette is that an American Roulette table is much smaller than a European one, and the croupier for European style will use the long tool (rake) to pay out winnings and clear the table off.

Board Depiction (American Roulette)


Betting odds table (American Roulette)

(in addition to the mentioned payout the bet is returned)

Bet nameWinning spacesPayoutOdds of winning(against)Expected value(on a $1 bet)
0035 to 137 to 1-$0.053
000035 to 137 to 1-$0.053
1135 to 137 to 1-$0.053
2235 to 137 to 1-$0.053
363635 to 137 to 1-$0.053
Row 000, 0017 to 118 to 1-$0.053
Row 31, 2, 311 to 111.667 to 1-$0.053
Row 64, 5, 611 to 111.667 to 1-$0.053
Row 97, 8, 911 to 111.667 to 1-$0.053
Row 3634, 35, 3611 to 111.667 to 1-$0.053
Column 11, 4, 7, …, 342 to 12.167 to 1-$0.053
Column 22, 5, 8, …, 352 to 12.167 to 1-$0.053
Column 33, 6, 9, …, 362 to 12.167 to 1-$0.053
First 121, 2, 3, …, 122 to 12.167 to 1-$0.053
Middle 1213, 14, 15, …, 242 to 12.167 to 1-$0.053
Last 1225, 26, 27, …, 362 to 12.167 to 1-$0.053
Odd1, 3, 5, …, 351 to 11.111 to 1-$0.053
Even2, 4, 6, …, 361 to 11.111 to 1-$0.053
Red1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12,14, 16, 18, 19, 21, 23,25, 27, 30, 32, 34, 361 to 11.111 to 1-$0.053
Black2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11,13, 15, 17, 20, 22, 24,26, 28, 29, 31, 33, 351 to 11.111 to 1-$0.053
1 to 181, 2, 3, …, 181 to 11.111 to 1-$0.053
19 to 3619, 20, 21, …, 361 to 11.111 to 1-$0.053
five number bet0, 00, 1, 2, 36 to 16.6 to 1-$0.079

*0 and 00 are neither odd or even here

As far as the house edge or average, this is what is lost on each bet that is placed on average.  Players betting on a single number in American Roulette have a 1 in 38 chance that the player gets 36 times the bet.  So the average is 36/38 which is 0.9474 times the bet.  This is where the house advantage of 5.26% comes from, and this applies to all types of bets except for five number bets where it is greater than 7%.  European Roulette has a house advantage that is almost exactly half of the American style.

Betting Strategies and Tactics

Many people will follow a betting strategy that is called the “Martingale betting strategy”.  This is probably one of the most popular types of strategy that people use and it basically states that the player ill double their bet after each loss that they take.  The general idea behind this strategy is that the first win will get you back all of your losses, plus a profit of the original bet.  This strategy is definitely not perfect though, because there is a long-term down side that includes a huge loss.  Realistically, this strategy just can’t work over a long term, even if it does work for one or two nights!

The next strategy that we can look at is called the Fibonacci system, which is a score system.  There is a score that is based on how the games have gone to that point, and that score helps you decide what type of bet that you should place.  The system stays stable in the short term because any losing streaks can be taken care of by one simple win.  This is definitely a system that is more in-depth and better than the system listed above.

One interesting “strategy” is one that was pointed out by Andres Martinez who is an editor of the New  York Times.  His idea is to bet on the same number, with the same amount of money every single time 35 times straight.  If the number hits at any point, then you get your original bets back for the entire time, and you can continue to play with the houses money.  And if it doesn’t hit, then you still get to spend some time at the table enjoying yourself, and on top of that it turns into a group game pretty quickly.  The reason for this is because other people will often begin betting on that same number, and everyone ends up rooting for the same thing!  The odds on this aren’t very good, so you aren’t going to consistently win, but it’s one that some people enjoy doing.

It’s also worth pointing out that when you are playing Roulette, the green numbers (0 and 00) are not more or less likely to come up than any others.  While these numbers do give the house an advantage, they are not “house numbers”.

And for those who are curious about the potential to watch the actual mechanical performance of the Roulette wheel itself to beat the house edge, many people have given an attempt to find a way to beat this.  One of these was done by Joseph Jaggers, who brought in a killing back in 1873 at the Monte Carlo.  The idea behind this strategy is that they will determine where the ball is most likely to fall (which numbers).  A computer scientist and mathematician named Claude Shannon actually created a computer to do this back in 1961.  Casinos do their best to avoid allowing this to happen, as they will watch how the Roulette wheels are performing, and if need they can realign or rebalance them consistently to make sure that things remain random.

One man by the name of Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo found out that almost all Roulette wheels actually aren’t perfect and this occurred early in the 1990’s, so it was actually quite recent.  He then decided to use a computer to model how a Roulette wheel works in Madrid, Spain, which led to him ending up pulling an incredible pay day of over one million dollars over a span of a few years.

And even more recently than that was a group of gamblers in London back in 2004 who apparently used their phones to predict the potential path of the ball in the Roulette wheel.  What is even more amazing about this situation is that not only did the court not make them return any of their  £1.3m in winnings, but they also said that this was not cheating because their special camerphones actually didn’t influence the movement of the ball in any way.

Betting Only on Red

A strategy that is often considered is the one where a player would continuously bet on the color red over and over again for a specific number of spins.  There are 18 red spaces on a Roulette wheel out of 38 total, and if you divide these two numbers it would mean that your probability that the ball will land on red at 47.37%.  This means that if you were going to spin a Roulette wheel 38 times, based on probability, there is a 99% chance that you would hit a red spot a minimum of ten times throughout those spins.  An even more incredible number is that there would be an 83% chance that it would land on red at least 15 times, and a 50% chance that it would be red 18 out of the 38 times.

The issue with this is that there is a break-even point here, and that number is 19 spins.  The problem with the number 19, is that you are only look at about a 37% chance to hit red 19 times, which means that the strategy won’t work quite as well as originally hoped.

Famous Bets

One bet that will probably be remembered for a very long time came back in the year 2004, from a gambler named Ashley Revell.  Revell was from London, and decided to sell everything that owned to bet on the color red.  The total bet came out to $135,300, and his bet was taken by the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas.  This was a 2 to 1 bet, meaning that he was simply looking to double up.  It was Revell’s lucky day though, and the ball landed on Red 7 to give him a nice pay day of $270,600.

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