When you think about roulette, there’s a good chance that you imagine it as the ultimate game of luck. There’s really nothing that the player can control: the wheel and the ball are more or less random, especially nowadays, when it’s unlikely that you’ll find a wheel (in a real world or online casino) that’s biased that you can exploit.
But despite the fact that the game is mostly one of random chance, there is still a place for roulette strategy. Smart players will know when to play and what to avoid at the roulette table to keep the house edge as low as possible.
American Roulette vs. European Roulette
By far, the most important decision a player can make in terms of roulette strategy is whether to play American roulette or European roulette. To the casual observer, the games look almost identical. Sure, the European roulette table will sometimes have a few more fancy bets available, while the American wheel has a second zero, but how much does that really matter?
Well, the second zero on the American wheel is actually very significant. In fact, it almost doubles the house edge! The reason is that both American and European roulette games pay out the same exact amounts on all bets – for instance, 35-1 on a single number bet. These odds would be perfectly fair (with no house edge) on a wheel with 36 numbers. However, the single zero on European roulette wheels gives the wheel 37 numbers, while the American wheel, with two zeroes, has 38. These extra slots on the wheel give the house the advantage. This means that the house edge in European Roulette is just 2.7%, while the American version has a house edge of 5.26%. In some cases, you may not have the choice of which game to play; but if you do, the only smart roulette strategy is to play European roulette.
There is one other important roulette strategy tip to keep in mind while playing American roulette. In general, every single bet on the roulette table (in either game) carries the same house edge. However, this is not true of one bet at the American roulette table. The “top line” bet, which covers the 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3 spots, has a higher house edge of about 7.9%, and should be avoided at all times.
Roulette Betting Strategy
Some players attempt to gain an advantage at roulette by altering their bets according to a betting system, such as doubling their bet after every loss. However, since each spin of the wheel is independent and random, no betting system will change the house edge that the casino holds. Strategies such as the Martingale System – where a player places money on one of the even money bets, and continues to double their bet until they win, then dropping back to their original betting amount – change the feel of the game,
but in the long run, the house will win at the same rate no matter how you structure your wagers.
That said, there are ways to play roulette that can change your betting experience. If you like the opportunity to win big and don’t mind losing on most spins, restrict your bets to one or two numbers on the roulette table. On the other hand, if you want your money to last a long time even if it means you won’t have a chance to win big, stick to a roulette strategy that focuses on the outside bets and covering lots of different numbers. Finally, if you want to have a great chance of coming out ahead by a small amount on any given night, and don’t mind the risk of losing all of your money quickly, the earlier mentioned Martingale System might be right up your alley.