Roulette Betting & Wheel Math
by Frank Scoblete
Roulette Betting and wheel math is discussed in
this lesson at the Learn Roulette
We begin with two versions of roulette, the American
wheel and the European wheel.
The American wheel, which has 36 numbers
and a green 0 and 00, was actually invented in Europe but is rarely
played there now.
The European wheel with 36 numbers and a 0 was
actually invented in America but is rarely played here now.
Roulette Betting and chance are nothing if not ironic.
Of the two versions of the game, the European wheel is the better
roulette bet, as the house edge is a sturdy 2.7
wheel has a higher house edge, a hefty 5.26 percent. That just means
that for every $100 of roulette
betting on the European
wheel, you will
stand to lose $2.70 in the long run and for every $100 of roulette
betting on the American wheel you will stand to lose $5.26. The
Europeans got the better of that exchange.
The house edge is derived from the fact that a winning roulette bet,
which bucks 37 to 1 odds on the American wheel and 36 to 1 odds on the
European wheel, is not paid off at the correct amounts but at 35 to 1.
So every time a player wins, he actually loses either
1 betting unit or 2 betting units, depending on which
the game he is playing.
Some casinos will offer an option variously called “surrender,” “en
prison,” or “give back” that will reduce the house edge in half.
roulette betting option calls for the giving back of one-half of your
“even-money” bet (i.e., red/black, odd/even, high/low) should the 0 or
00 show up in the American wheel; and keeping the bet “locked-up” for
the next spin should the 0 appear on the European wheel. If it wins,
you get the bet back, if it loses, you lose the bet.
Over the years, many roulette betting systems have been developed in an
attempt to overcome the house edge. The most popular system is called
the Martingale, generally used on the even-money bets, which calls for
doubling your bet after each loss in the hopes that you won’t go on a
sustained losing streak of six to nine spins in a row. Most times, you
won’t. Some times, you will.
Some of the biggest wins at roulette have been recorded by players who
have recognized when a roulette wheel was “off,” that is when the wheel
was defective, causing certain numbers to appear more than other
They bet the more likely numbers and made a killing. Unfortunately,
today’s new wheels are rarely “off,” and looking for such “biases,” is
time consuming and a waste of time.
I have seen only four biased wheels, one of which, at the Rio in the
early 1990s, I jumped on and won some great money until the pit
personnel realized what was happening and closed the wheel.
However, on perfect wheels two other advantage-play methods exist:
Looking for dealer signatures and wheel watching.
A dealer signature means that a dealer either consciously or
unconsciously tends to spin the ball in such a way that it lands
approximately the same distance, give or take eight to ten pockets,
away from the last number it hit.
Some dealers can also select a given area of the wheel they wish to hit
and can, more often than not, hit it. I know a couple of former
roulette dealers who can actually do this as they practiced it for
years and years in order to perfect the skill.
Wheel watching is the nausea-inducing activity of watching the ball
spin and trying to judge, based on several factors, just where it will
land. Dealer signatures are not that hard to look for, they are just
hard to find; but wheel watching is not. I tried it several times,
under expert tutelage, and failed miserably each and every time to be
able to do it.
I also got sick to my stomach as watching that ball go round and round
For most roulette players, the best method of playing is the method
that allows you to reduce the overall hit on your total bankroll and
that means not betting on every spin. Choose some kind of betting
pattern that let’s you sit out about half of the spins.
If you can find a single 0 wheel, then do as the Europeans do and play
If you find a casino where they are offering surrender, then play the
even-money bets exclusively.
Roulette is one of the noblest of casino games but played too long and
too often, it can reduce the grandest bankroll into peasant stock.
Betting is followed by Tips
For more info about Dealer Signatures, see
to Learn to Play Roulette
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