Roulette Betting & Wheel Math

by Frank Scoblete

Roulette Betting and wheel math is discussed in this lesson at the Learn Roulette Wheel program.
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 percent.
The American 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 version of 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.
This 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 numbers.
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 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 that.
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.

Roulette Betting is followed by Tips
For more info about Dealer Signatures, see this lesson
Return to Learn to Play Roulette Program

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