For centuries, mathematicians, physicists and players have tried to beat the game of roulette. A ball spinning around a wheel. How hard can it be?
The answer is that it’s very hard to beat the roulette wheel. The odds are built into the game and they are always in the house’s favor.
The house has an advantage
The odds of real money roulette are fixed and they payouts are slightly less than the actual odds of the outcome. On a European roulette wheel, the payout for hitting a single number is 35-1, yet the odds of it happening are 37-1. This gives the house a slight edge of 2.6 percent (more in American roulette).
To illustrate, if you bet $1 on the number ‘12’ and it hits, you’ll be paid $35, plus your bet back, for a total of $36. But the chance of this occurring is only once in 37 times, meaning it’s expected that you’ll make a loss in the long term.
This house edge comes from the green ‘0’ slot. The zero is neither black or red, nor does it count as odd or even, meaning even 50-50 outside bets come with the same house edge. There’s no escaping it; it’s built into the game.
Albert Einstein once said of roulette, “no one can win at roulette unless he steals money from the table while the croupier isn’t looking.” By this, he meant there was no mathematical solution to the game.
Play on European tables
So far, it may seem like you have no control. This is true when it comes to the odds of the game. But you can control some things, and it starts with game selection.
There’s actually a major difference between American and European roulette. The game is the same, but the odds are different. Remember that green ‘0’ slot we mentioned earlier. American roulette has a green ‘0’ and a green ‘00’.
This directly doubles the house edge from 2.7 percent to 5.26 percent, yet the payouts remain the same as in European roulette. In other words, you’re likely to lose your money twice as quickly.
Although it’s not always something you can control, you can aim to play European roulette for better odds. This is easier if you’re in Europe. It’s also a simple choice at online casinos, which tend to offer both.
Playing on a European roulette table still doesn’t allow you to beat the game, but it’s a good start when it comes to getting the best odds.
Minimize losses and pocket wins
It can also be beneficial to set a profit goal. To give yourself the best chance to walk away with a win, this should be set low, such as 5 – 10 percent of your total wagers.
Another useful technique is to pocket wins. Let’s say you start with $10 and after a win you end up with $15, for a profit of $5. You could take that $5 off the table and continue playing with the $10 that you initially started with.
Inside or outside bets?
How you bet is also a consideration. In roulette, bets are categorized into inside bets and outside bets. Inside bets involves betting on individual numbers. Outside bets are the other bets around the board, such as black/red and odd/even.
Outside bets will hit much more often than betting on a single or a few numbers. Betting on black or red, for example, is almost 50-50 (remember the ‘0’). A win will only double your money, but it’s a way to make the game less volatile.
Inside bets hit way less often, 37-1 in the case of a single number, but because of this the payouts are larger. Players can throw in a couple of these to give themselves a chance for a bigger win.
Do roulette systems work?
In an attempt to apply strategy to roulette, a number of betting systems have been devised. The most famous of these is the Martingale.
The Martingale suggests betting the minimum amount on a 50-50 outside bet and to keep betting that amount until you lose the bet. Then, double up and keep doubling until you win, at which point you move back to the minimum bet.
The idea is that if you lose a bet, you win it back through continuously doubling. The problem is that a bad run could result in you reaching the table limit, or worse going bankrupt. If anything, it’s actually a high volatile system.
No matter the system, it doesn’t help you to beat the game. The odds always stay the same. The only difference is the betting patterns used, but as discussed earlier the best way to go is to take it easy and set loss limits.
So, is it possible to beat roulette?
When people play roulette, they should do so for entertainment. Without finding defective roulette wheels or using sophisticated computers, technically speaking, the odds are always favor of the house.
If a player happens to come out on top and walk away, then that’s the closest you can get to beating the game.