Roulette is one of the most recognisable features in the world of casino gaming. The game, which you are sure to have seen before, involves a large wheel split into sections (also known as pockets). Each of those pockets has a number and a colour. Depending on where you are playing, the wheel will be split into 37 pockets or 38 – the former being standard at European tables, the latter more common in the USA.
The pockets are numbered from 1 to 36, and coloured either red or black, apart from one which will bear a 0 and be coloured green (in the States, there is a second green pocket numbered 00). When a game is played, the wheel is spun in one direction, at which point the croupier throws a small ball onto the wheel in the opposite direction.
Bettors around the table make their bets on a range of possible eventualities. These include betting that the ball will land on a specific number, on one of the 18 even or odd numbers, on one of the 18 red or black pockets, or on any of a group of numbers between 1-12, 13-24, or 25-36. It’s also possible to bet on the ball landing on Green 0.
Betting in the game of roulette is an odds-based process. For example, a bet on Red or Black will be paid out at odds of 1/1, or “Evens”. While it may seem possible to split your bets, placing an equal amount on both Red and Black – in theory never losing – the presence of Green on the wheel means there is always an element of risk to any bet you make.
Of course, there is no way of knowing where the ball will come to a stop before it is thrown, and therefore no way to be sure of winning when you play roulette. However, there are strategies used by players that can ensure more of a chance of walking away with something. Step with us into the world of online roulette, and you’ll learn a bit about those methods, and how you can use them to make your roulette experience all the more enjoyable.
There are two main types of betting system in Roulette. They are termed “Progressive” and “Non-Progressive”, and are characterised by whether or not the size of the bet changes depending on the previous result. Progressive systems include the Martingale strategy, the Fibonacci sequence, the Paroli system, and what is known as the D’Alembert System.
Non-progressive systems, on the other hand, are fewer in number. Also referred to as “Flat betting”, these systems are based on looking at which numbers have not recently been rolled, and judging based on the probability that a certain number is “due” – i.e., that it will be rolled soon.
We will now look at a few examples of each type, as well as how and why they work – if indeed they do work – and explore deeper in an effort to determine which system, if any, may be the best for you to try.
Progressive roulette betting systems are systems where the player changes the amount of their upcoming bet depending on the result of their previous bet. This may mean that they increase or decrease their bet as a result of a win or loss. The idea with these systems is to recoup previous losses, and maximise the impact of wins, by relying on the likelihood of a certain number – or more usually a colour – being rolled during the player’s time at the wheel. Below, we will go through the main systems and highlight their strengths and weaknesses.
The Martingale system is perhaps the most well-known roulette betting system, and revolves around recouping losses by progressively doubling the bet each time the player loses. For example, if a player loses a £10 bet, they will then up their next bet to £20. If that bet wins, then they will have recouped the £10 that they lost before, and won an additional £10. If they lose again (meaning £30 has been lost in total), they will double their bet to £40. If they win, they recoup £30 and win an additional £10. Each time the bet is doubled, the player will recoup their prior losses and pick up £10 with a win. As this is a probability-based system, it is important to always bet on the same outcome for the duration of its use. If you lose on Black, keep betting on Black – because it will, in theory, win eventually.
The Martingale should – in theory – always eventually deliver you a profit to the value of your initial bet. It runs into trouble, though, if you have a run of losses that takes your stake beyond what the casino is willing to accept, or exhausts your bankroll.
Another system, the Fibonacci sequence, uses the chain of numbers discovered by the mathematician whose name it bears. Made famous by Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, the sequence runs 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34 and so on, with every number in the sequence being the sum of the previous two. How this works in roulette is that if you bet £10 on, for example, Red and you lose, you then bet another £10 on Red. If that bet loses, then you increase your bet to £20 (£10 x 2), and if that loses, you increase again to £30, then to £50, and so on in line with the sequence.
The main drawback to this system is that if you incur a run of losses – which is always possible – your first winning bet will only earn you the amount of your last two losses. To recoup all of your losses, you will need to move two spaces to the left each time you win. So, if your £50 bet wins, you’ll need to bet £20 and if that wins, bet another £10. If you continue with this sequence, you’ll make a profit in the amount of your initial bet – as long as you don’t run out of bankroll, or exceed betting limits, before that happens.
The Paroli system takes a different approach to the previous two, in that it seeks to maximise profits rather than compensate for losses. The key to this system is to start small, and each time you win, re-bet the winnings from the previous bet. So if you initially stake £1 and win, your next bet will be £2. If your second bet wins, then you bet £4; if that wins also, you bet £8. Four consecutive wins on a 1/1 chance will turn £1 into £16. The advantage this system has over the others is that you are betting with won money rather than your starting bankroll.
Of course, there is a drawback to this system, which is that it relies on being lucky a number of times in a row to generate a significant profit. You can maximise the amount of profit by betting on a riskier outcome (a range of numbers, for example), but that is… well, riskier, which makes it problematic. Many players of this system like to implement a cut-off point, such as stopping the system after four wins in a row and reverting to their initial stake, in order to lock in profit.
Finally, the d’Alembert sequence is – like the Paroli – based on small initial stakes. It also has something in common with the Martingale and Fibonacci strategies in that it involves an incremental increase when you lose. When you win, you decrease the bet by the same increment. If for example you start with a £1 bet, and you lose, your next bet will be £2. You will then increase your bet to £3 if that loses, and £4 if you lose again. If you win on the £4 bet, you decrease the stake to £3, and then to £2 if you win again. The sequence ends when you get back to £1 and win, at which point you will have won your initial stake times the number of wins you have had in getting there.
The primary drawback to the d’Alembert sequence is that it can take a long sequence of wins to get back to the point where you are betting £1, or whatever your initial stake was, and winning. Unless you’re making small bets (and thus generating small wins), you also run the risk of exhausting your bankroll.
There are other systems based on progressive increases and decreases of your bet, many with close similarities to the above strategies. Your best option may be to experiment, at small stakes, with a few different ones and find which suits you.
A non-progressive roulette system is one which is not based on increasing or decreasing your bet depending on the result of the last play. The idea with a non-progressive system is to seek to predict which number the ball will land on, based on a variety of factors. In each of these systems, you will be basing your prediction on watching the numbers, the wheel, or the croupiers themselves.
Some players theorise that, if a number has not appeared for a while, it becomes “due”. Therefore, for example, if the number 26 hasn’t come up recently, the chances of it being rolled increase due to the probability of an even distribution for every number on the wheel over the course of time. This is not an effective system, however, because while it is true that the number 26 will come up at some point, it may take hundreds or even thousands of spins for it to eventually arrive. At payout odds of 35/1 for a single number at most casinos, this is very poor value.
Other players will insist that the wheel in a given casino has a “bias”. For some mechanical reason, so the theory goes, this will make it more likely that a certain number or group of numbers will win. This “system” is, realistically, nonsense; even a new casino will notice if it is being taken for big payouts on certain numbers time after time, and will fix any bias long before any bettors cotton on to it.
Players might also claim that a certain croupier in a land-based or online casino “throws” the ball in a certain way, making it more likely it will land on a specific number. This, as with the “bias” idea, is highly unlikely to be true. The way that a ball moves when it hits a roulette wheel cannot be predicted, and with all the crevices and gutters on a wheel, there are literally infinite ways it can deviate before it comes to a stop.
This theory falls down even further when considering playing roulette online. Firstly, while the presence of “live roulette” with an actual croupier is a feature of many of the best online casinos, the above explanation still applies: there are simply too many variables for the way the ball is thrown to be predictable. Secondly, for online roulette that is played via standard software rather than “live” options, a randomised algorithm performs the throw – so, either way, the theory simply doesn’t stack up.
As we have seen above, the range of non-progressive strategies is, in general, worse than useless when it comes to successfully playing roulette. What about the progressive strategies, though? Could they be feasible?
Well, no. Simply put, it’s true that – sooner or later – the wheel will bring up what you want it to bring up, but as all of the above progressive strategies make clear, your chances of success are limited by your bankroll and by betting limits. Some strategies give you a better chance of a win and eventual profit, but they don’t guarantee it.
In truth, deciding the best roulette strategy depends on what you are aiming to do. If you have a decent bankroll and manage it properly, then your best approach is probably a combination of the above progressive strategies – making a profit with the Martingale and then seeking to maximise it with the Paroli, for example, could work. Nothing, however, is guaranteed. Realistically, the only thing that anyone can say for sure is to go to the table with an amount in your head that you can afford to lose and – if you get lucky – to quit while you’re ahead. It might not be a flashy, exciting idea, but this basic principle should serve you well during your time playing online roulette.
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