Roulette Rules & Strategies
Roulette is played using a wheel which is divided into 37 or 38 equal slots. Each slot is numbered 1 through 36 and colored red or black. On wheels used in Europe and many other parts of the world there is one slot which is green and is labelled as zero (0). In the United States, most roulette wheels consist of 2 green slots labelled zero (0) and double zero (00).
The dealer who presides over the table (also known as the croupier) throws a small ball around the upper perimeter of the wheel. The ball is thrown clockwise while the wheel is spun counterclockwise. As the ball slows and gravity overcomes the centrifugal force, the ball eventually falls into one of the 37 or 38 pockets. That is how a number is selected.
It should be noted that the numbers on the roulette wheel are not in order but are staggered to create a random effect and also red and black sections are alternated. So the wheel is a mechanical random number generator.
In order to play the game, a player must select a table and purchase chips. The player lets the dealer know he is entering the game by casually placing his money for his buy in somewhere in the center of the layout. This stops play so he can get into the game.
The dealer will take the player’s money and ask what denomination of chips he wants to purchase. A roulette table will have chips in a variety of colors. Each player is assigned a different color. These colored chips do not come in any designated denomination, but when the player buy’s in, he tells the dealer what value he wants assigned to his chips. Depending upon the minimum and maximum bets allowed at that particular table, a single chip could be assigned a value as low as 25 cents or as high as $100 or more. If the table minimum bet is $5, then the minimum chip value allowed will be $1. If the table minimum is $2, then a player can purchase chips valued at as little as 50 cents, or 25 cents when the minimum is $1 (very few tables around with minimums that low).
When the value of the player’s chips is established, the dealer will place one of his chips in a slot with a tag or a house value chip on top to indicate the value of that chip color. The dealer then slides the player’s chips over to him and he is ready to begin placing his bets.
A player generally is not allowed to place any bets on the layout until the dealer has settled all bets from the previous spin and removed from the table the puck (or marker) that marked the number of the last decision. Also, a player may continue to make bets even after the dealer has thrown the ball but all betting must stop when the dealer waves his hand across the table and announces, “No more bets.”
There are quite a few different bets that a player can make on the layout (see above). In discussing them, we will begin on the outside edge of the layout and work our way inward.
There are 3 bets that can be made on the outside part of the layout. And logically, these are known in roulette terminology as “Outside Bets”. The bets are Red or Black (the most common bet made), Even or Odd, and High and Low. Naturally, every number that spins up on the wheel is either Red or Black, Even or Odd, or High or Low. (Note: The high numbers are 19 through 36 and the low numbers are 1 through 18). For instance, if number 8 is selected you would win if you had bet on Black, or Even, or Low. However, if the green zero or double zero is selected on any spin, all of the outside bets lose because the zero and double zero are not Red or Black, and are not considered to be High or Low or Odd or Even. In fact, when a zero or double zero comes up, all bets on the layout that are not placed directly on the zeros or are grouped with the zeros lose.
All outside bets pay even money. If you bet $5 on Red, and a Red number comes up, you win $5 plus you get your initial $5 bet back. Also, when playing an outside bet, you must place at least the table minimum bet on each one. In other words, if you were playing both Red and Odd, you would need to bet at least $5 on both Red and Odd. You couldn’t bet $3 on one and $2 on the other.
Dozens And Columns
Moving on toward the interior of the layout, the next set of bets we encounter are known as the “Dozens”. A player may bet on the 1st Dozen (numbers 1-12), the 2nd Dozen (13-24), or the 3rd Dozen (25-36). These bets pay 2 to 1. Bet $5 and you are paid $10 for a winning bet plus you get your original $5 bet returned to you. Simple enough.
There is another set of bets sometimes referred to as dozen bets, but they are actually the “Columns”. You find these bets at the foot of the layout right next to the numbers 34, 35, and 36. These bets win if any number in the column above hits. For instance the middle column consists of 2, 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29, 32, 35. If you place a bet in the middle column and any one of these numbers hits, then you are paid 2 to 1, the same as the Dozens discussed above.
Now come what are known as the “Inside Bets.” The most common of these is a “Straight Up” bet on a number. This bet is made by placing a chip squarely on top of a number on the betting layout and inside the borders of the square. This bet pays 35 to 1 if the number you bet on hits. For instance, if you place 1 chip straight up on 29, and it hits, you get paid 35 chips, plus the 1 chip you bet is returned to you. Well, actually, winning bets are left on the layout and if you don’t want to make the same bet again on the next spin, you must pick up your winning bet.
Note: When making “Inside Bets”, the sum total of all of your inside bets must be at least as much as the table minimum or all your bets will be disallowed. So, if the table minimum is $5 and you are using $1 chips, you must bet at least 5 chips somewhere on the inside numbers of the layout.
The next most common inside bet is the split bet. This bet can cover two numbers with one chip and is made on 2 adjacent numbers on the layout such as 5 and 8 or 22 and 23. It is accomplished by placing a chip evenly on the line which separates the two numbers. If either of the two numbers spins up, the player is paid 17 to 1.
Another common inside bet is the corner bet which allows the player to cover four numbers with one chip. An example of a corner bet would be to place a chip squarely on the corner where the numbers 14, 15, 17, and 18 intersect. A win here pays 8 to 1.
Streets And Double Streets
Another type of inside bet is known as the “Street Bet”. Notice on the layout how the numbers are divided into groups of three vertically as we look at it from the side (i.e. 1,2,3 is a street, 4,5,6 is another, 7,8,9 etc.). All three numbers in a street can be bet by placing a chip on the line separating the Dozens bet from the numbers on the layout. For instance, if you wanted to bet on the street consisting of 31, 32, and 33, you would place a chip on the line squarely beside the 31. Then if 31, 32, or 33 hit, you get paid 11 to 1.
You may also bet on two streets at the same time. This is called a “Double Street” or a “Line” bet. This bet is made by placing a chip on the same line as described above except place it between the first 2 numbers of each street. For instance, to bet on the double street (or line) consisting of the numbers 10, 11, 12 and 13, 14, 15, you would place a chip on the line at the intersection of the 10 and 13. A successful line bet pays 5 to 1.
The last bet we will discuss is a bet consisting of 0, 00, 1, 2, and 3. This bet is often referred to as the “Basket” or “Bucket” because when you view the layout it looks like one of these containers inverted. It is actually a “Special Line Bet” or sometimes referred to as the “Combination Bet”. This bet pays a winner 6 to 1 and is placed on the same line as the street and line bets except it is placed at the intersection of the 1 and single zero.
Ever since the game was introduced, their has always been a contingent of serious roulette players who are on a quest to beat the game. They don’t want to settle for a win here and there while eventually losing in the long run; they want to be able to tally up their wins and losses one, two, three years or more down the road and find that they have won a lot more than they have lost. Most experts and nay-sayers are quick to dismiss such a quest as futile and those who would pursue such a thing as delusional. But experts have been known to be wrong before about a lot of things.
While almost every conceivable approach has been explored, most strategies fall into a few overall categories.
There are 4 or 5 betting strategies that crop up time and again in various roulette systems. They are named after the men who discovered them. D’Alembert, Martingale, Fibbonaci and Labouchere are the more common ones. However, none of these betting methods, of and by themselves, have any chance of overcoming the house edge in roulette.
The Martingale betting method provides that you double your bet after each loss and continue to do so until you eventually win. When a win is finally achieved, there will always be a profit of 1 unit (or whatever amount you began with on your first bet). And it is true that this would be an infallible method except for 2 rather large flies in the ointment. First, it could take an incredibly large bankroll to cover that long string of losses that will inevitably come. When you are doubling your bets every time, it doesn’t take long before you are making bets of thousands of dollars even if you only start out with a $5 bet. The other problem is that there are maximum betting limits imposed at each table and it only takes 9 or 10 losses in a row to reach that limit where you can no longer double your bets to recoup your losses. So when you consider that you could lose many thousands of dollars while trying to win $5, it just doesn’t make sense to use the Martingale.
Some less experienced gamblers get the bright idea of using a limited Martingale where they only double say 3 or 4 times. But the bad news with this is that unless you have a superior bet selection method that is actually managing to put the odds in your favor, even a limited Martingale will result in your losing at the basic rate of the house edge for that particular game over the long term.
The Labouchere betting strategy is sometimes referred to as the “cross-out method”. It works like this. Begin with a small string of numbers such as 1-2-3. Your bet is the total of the first and last numbers in the series, in this case the sum of 1 and 3 which is 4. If you win that bet, you cross off the 1 and 3 and your next bet is 2 because it is the only number left in the series. Should you lose a bet, then you add that total to the end of the series. So, if the original 4 unit bet had been lost instead of won, the series would now be 1-2-3-4 and your next bet would be 5 units. When all the numbers in the series have been crossed out, then you win the total number of units in the original series which in this case would have been 6 units (1+2+3).
The advantage of this betting approach is that you only need to win 1/3 of your bets to make a profit. The disadvantage is that it doesn’t take a very long losing streak before you are making some pretty big bets. If luck goes against you, your whole bankroll may be consumed before you can say Labouchere.
To counter escalating bets, some advise breaking down a series that contains numbers too large to bet comfortably into two smaller series. For example, the series 4-6-4-8-12 could be broken down into two series of 2-3-2-4-6. That may seem like a good idea on the surface, but the problem is that you now have to win twice as many bets as before in order to cross out the whole series and win your 6 units. You must now win not one out of three bets but two out of three bets until the two series are completed. In other words, now, in order to be successful, you have to play at a much higher win percentage than would normally be expected in order to cancel out both series. Otherwise, the series just grows longer and longer and you have to keep breaking it down again and again until eventually it will get to the point that you would have to win at a very high rate for a very long period of time in order to cancel it out. Since this method is normally only used for even money bets which you have slightly less than a 50% chance of winning to begin with (because of the zeros on the wheel), you are really in trouble if you break down a series and don’t immediately begin to win at a 67% clip. You are destined to fall further and further behind and eventually go bankrupt because of the ever increasing need for a much higher win percentage than would normally be expected.
The D’Alembert betting method is simple yet perhaps the most effective of all the approaches described thus far. You simply increase your bets by 1 unit after every loss and decrease by 1 unit after every win. So if you begin with a 1 unit bet and lose, you then bet 2 units; lose again and bet 3 units; win and decrease to a 2 unit bet and so it goes. Usually when this betting approach is employed, bets return to 1 unit as soon as there is a profit on the series. The effectiveness of this method lies in the fact that you always have more money bet when you win than when you lose. And, with a little luck you may even experience several winning sessions but sooner or later this method will also fail just like all the others discussed previously.
The Fibonacci betting progression is a mathematical pattern that is commonly found in nature. In this progression, the bet called for is always the sum of the 2 previous bets. For instance in the series 1-2-3, the 3 is the sum of 1 and 2. The next bet called for would be 5 because it is the sum of 2 and 3. Then would come 8, 13, 21 etc.
A Fibonacci progression generally increases to the next bet in the series after a loss but is often decreased by 2 levels after a win. For instance in this series, 1-2-3-5-8-13, had the 13 unit bet been won, the following bet would be decreased 2 levels and a 5 unit bet would be made. However, some prefer to play more aggressively and only reduce one level after a win. As long as luck holds out, this of course will produce larger wins.
But like all the previous betting approaches described, the Fibonacci, of and by itself, will not produce long term wins.
Law Of Thirds
Many roulette systems are based upon a theory called the “Law of Thirds”. The Law of Thirds is a mathematical principle that expresses a tendency of random numbers. The principle is basically this: over the course of any 36 spins, on average only 24 of the 36 numbers will come out (not considering zeros). There will always be one third of the numbers that will not spin up. This means that for every 36 spins there will be approximately 12 multiple hits.
There is only one problem with the so-called “Law of Thirds” and that is the fact that it is not really a law. If it were a law, it would work exactly the same way every time. Laws of mathematics and nature never fail. However, the Law of Thirds does quite frequently fail and can greatly deviate one way or the other. The Law of Thirds as defined is only applicable over the long haul. In any limited roulette session of 100 to 150 spins, you may see vast deviations from the so-called “Law of Thirds”. For this reason, I have never yet seen a mechanical roulette system based upon it that worked long term. And I’m sure I never will.
Gaining An Advantage?
Some roulette strategies try to give the player an edge by covering more numbers. Even some knowledgeable roulette players have made the mistake of thinking they are actually increasing their odds of beating the game by covering more numbers. In reality, covering more numbers does absolutely nothing to increase the player’s odds of winning long term. When considering any one isolated spin, then obviously if you cover 24 of 37 numbers you have a better chance of winning on that one spin than you do if you only cover 6 of 37 numbers. However, over the course of a normal session, covering 24 of 37 numbers will have no effect at all because when you win you would only be profiting by 11 units and when you lose you would be losing 24. If you only cover 6 numbers straight up, when you win you will profit by 30 units and only lose 6 when you lose. See the trade off?
The house edge for a roulette wheel having only one zero is 2.7%. It is 5.26% for an American type wheel with 2 zeros.
Actually, the house edge is not derived from the wheel having a zero or double zero added to the other 36 numbers. Therefore, covering more numbers does not affect the house advantage. The house edge is a result of the casino not paying correct odds on a winning bet. There are 37 numbers on a single zero roulette wheel, therefore the proper odds for the game to be a break even proposition would be 36 to 1. However, the casino only pays 35 to 1 for a winning straight up bet on a number. And on even money bets such as red/black, odd/even and high/low the house should pay you approximately 1.0135% of your winning bet instead of simply paying you even money. This is how the house actually acquires the edge that ultimately beats you.
Before completely turning away from the discussion of strategies that will not work, let me include a word of warning. Any method that requires you to put your whole bankroll at risk with every session you play should be avoided. Strategies like this never work long term and will only result in your losing your entire bankroll sooner or later.
You should never risk more than 20% to 25% of your total bankroll in any one session. And for a roulette method to be successful long term, it should have a recovery rate (after a loss) of close to one to one. In other words, suppose you are using a 30 unit session bankroll. Should you have bad luck and lose a session, your method of play should have the potential to recover that full 30 unit loss the next session you play. Long term, your net average win (after subtracting losing sessions) should be around 50% of the total bankroll you place at risk for any one session. In other words, if your table buy in for a session is 30 units, then your long term average net win per session should be around 15 units. (Average net win is calculated by taking your total units won after subtracting losing sessions and dividing by the total number of sessions played.) This is an acceptable return on investment compared to the amount of money placed at risk.
What Will Work
I’ve spent a lot of time talking about strategies that will not work, is there anything that can be effective? Yes, but any strategy that is effective over the long run will require a lot of time and effort on the part of the player to successfully implement it.
One strategy that has worked in the past for those few serious and dedicated players with the patience to do a lot of research is called “clocking the wheel”. Basically this entails the recording of hundreds if not thousands of consecutive spins off of a single wheel in order to determine if there is any kind of mechanical bias that may cause certain numbers to appear more than others. This normally requires at least 2 or more players working as a team and monitoring a wheel around the clock for an extended period then analysing hundreds of recorded spins to find out where the bias lies if indeed there is any bias at all.
There used to be several professional teams that engaged in this activity some of which were pretty successful. Probably the most noted team was a group of 13 players that won around $250,000 from the casino in Monte Carlo back in the 1960’s. There was even a very interesting book written about their exploits entitled “Thirteen Against The Bank”. As I recall, they recorded spins for several days off of various wheels until they determined the ones they wanted to play. Then when they did attack the wheels, they used a reverse Labouchere. In other words, instead of crossing off numbers in a series when they won, they crossed them off when they lost and added them when they won. Recall that I stated earlier that the only time one of these betting methods would work is if the bet selection method afforded the player a definite advantage. Of course, by clocking the wheel and determining a definite bias, this did give the players an advantage when it came time to place their bets. Otherwise, merely using a reverse Labouchere would not have produced long term positive results.
It should be noted that in more recent years, finding a biased wheel has become very difficult indeed. Casinos do regular maintenance on their roulette wheels and check them for any possible bias. Any wheel found not performing according to rigorous standards is immediately replaced. Wheel technology has steadily improved also and today’s roulette wheels are remarkably balanced and true. A few years ago mechanical biases were more likely to affect spin results because the frets that separate the numbers were taller. Also, the ball that is most often used today is lighter and has more action than previous versions.
I am told that it takes up to 3700 spins to definitely identify a true bias. Because of the time and effort needed to gather the information coupled with the fact that truly biased wheels are very rare these days, in my opinion, it just isn’t practical to search for biased wheels. Few players have the time and patience to log and study that many spins. Most of the teams who used to travel around looking for biased wheels are gone although I think there may still be one or two in operation.
That brings us to another strategy that has been embraced by many serious players. It is called “Dealer Signature”. This strategy is based upon the belief that through constant repetition most experienced dealers tend to develop what is known as a dealer signature. Their spins will begin to group up in certain sections of the wheel or move across the wheel in a discernible fashion. This is supposedly a result of something called “learned muscle response” or “repetitive muscle response”. A couple of very expensive roulette systems are based upon this and even many experts believe this approach has merit. However, I studied this method in depth over a period of about a year. I started out as a believer but eventually discovered that it is pure fiction. So-called Dealer Signature as presented in certain roulette methods and discussed by some experts, in my opinion, is a myth. I won’t take time and space to go into it here, but if you want a copy of an article I wrote on it email me.
Before leaving the subject of dealer signature I will say that many experienced dealers have the ability to hit certain 6 to 8 number sections of the wheel more often than not when they put their mind to it. This is different from what is perceived as dealer signature because dealer signature is supposedly involuntary but what I’m talking about now is an action that is consciously performed. When a dealer is shooting for a section, he will be looking at the wheel and gauging his release point. I’ve seen dealers hit the section they were aiming for on as many as 6 out of 8 spins.
Being aware that many dealers have this capability can be used to your advantage. If you should find a roulette table where a player is betting pretty big and covering a certain section of the wheel (as I said this is a popular strategy employed by several systems), and you notice the dealer looking at the wheel when he releases the ball, simply bet on the section of numbers directly opposite his bets. But be sure to bet at a much lower level. If a dealer is trying to burn the high roller, most often he will shoot for the section opposite the one he is playing since the dealer will try to hit as far away as possible. Also, sometimes you can bribe the dealer for a hit by placing a bet on a number that is right in the middle of a 7 number section and telling the dealer that if he hits that number you will split the profit with him, or at least give him a nice tip. Then when he hits it, be sure to honor your deal. In fact, if he hits any of your numbers in that section a nice tip would be in order. Since dealers depend on tips for the bulk of their income, it can sometimes be quite profitable to get the dealer on your side. I’ve seen this work especially well when the dealer was male and the player an attractive female.
Exploiting Random Number Tendencies
What has been perceived as dealer signature is in fact something else entirely. It is a result of the natural action of random numbers which is explained in detail in System 6+ Roulette. In fact, the ONLY WAY to beat the game of roulette on a long term basis is to exploit the tendencies of random numbers. It can be done consistently because there are professional players who have become knowledgeable and skilled enough to make their living playing roulette. But it does take study, practice, dedication and self discipline. Success at any endeavor never comes without a price.