Roulette strategy is simple: just play

The game of roulette is like a mini version of the entire casino. Almost every wager has the exact same payback. You bet a single number and it comes up, you win 35-1. The payback is 36 divided by 38 (assuming a Double 0 wheel), or 94.74%. If you wager on a Split (2 numbers), you’ll get paid 17-1. Again, the payback is 94.74%.

A Street wager (3 numbers in a line) pays 11-1 and again pays back 94.74%. If you go for one of the even-money wagers the payback will still be 94.74% (unless the casino gives you half of your wager back on 0 and 00).

I’m frequently asked what strategy should a player use when playing roulette. There really isn’t one. When asked that question about craps, at least I can say avoid the low paying prop bets. These don’t really exist with roulette. Essentially, you can bet on 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 12 or 18 numbers. The only difference is the volatility of your experience.

Imagine walking over to a roulette table with 20 chips. You’re going to make one wager per spin. You pick your favorite number and play it every spin. You have a 58.7% chance of losing all 20 spins. You have a 31.7% chance of hitting your number once. If you stop at 20 spins no matter what, this means you will lose your bankroll nearly 59% of the time and walk away a winner more than 42% of the time.

All things considered, it’s not bad. But is it fun? That’s a personal choice.

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At the other end, we have someone who is going to play 20 spins and play Black each time. The odds of losing all of the spins are 0.00027%. We’ll go with not very likely. At the same time, the odds of winning all 20 are even lower so you have no chance of doubling your money.

The odds of losing is just over 50%. The odds of winning is just over 32%. That leaves 17% of the time, you will end up right where you started. Nearly 50% of the time, you’ll wind up within one wager of even. Is this fun? Again, a personal choice.

In between, the player can pick lots of other choices and mix and match all he wants. The payback is the same 94.74% and the longer he plays, the more likely that will be close to how he winds up. He’ll lose just over 5% of the total amount he wagers. All that changes is the ride that the player will be on.

It is also why very few players make only one type of wager. They have a tendency to splash chips all over the place. In the end, the experience winds up not so far from any other game. Sometimes, you lose. Sometimes, you win a wager or two, but you still lose overall on the spin. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you win big.

So long as you are having fun and doing it with your eyes open. And, if you can choose, pick a single 0 roulette wheel over a double 0 roulette wheel. It will do more for your bankroll than which wager you pick.

About the Author

Elliot Frome

Elliot Frome’s roots run deep into gaming theory and analysis. His father, Lenny, was a pioneer in developing video poker strategy in the 1980s and is credited with raising its popularity to dizzying heights. Elliot is a second generation gaming author and analyst with nearly 20 years of programming experience.

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