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Roulette Rules & Strategies
is played using a wheel which is divided into 37 or 38 equal slots. Each
slot is numbered 1 through 36 and colored red or black. On wheels used
in Europe and many other parts of the world there is one slot which is
green and is labelled as zero (0). In the United States, most roulette
wheels consist of 2 green slots labelled zero (0) and double zero (00).
The dealer who presides over
the table (also known as the croupier) throws a small ball around the
upper perimeter of the wheel. The ball is thrown clockwise while the
wheel is spun counterclockwise. As the ball slows and gravity overcomes
the centrifugal force, the ball eventually falls into one of the 37 or
38 pockets. That is how a number is selected.
It should be noted that the
numbers on the roulette wheel are not in order but are staggered to
create a random effect and also red and black sections are alternated.
So the wheel is a mechanical random number generator.
In order to play the game, a
player must select a table and purchase chips. The player lets the
dealer know he is entering the game by casually placing his money for
his buy in somewhere in the center of the layout. This stops play so he
can get into the game.
The dealer will take the
player's money and ask what denomination of chips he wants to purchase.
A roulette table will have chips in a variety of colors. Each player is
assigned a different color. These colored chips do not come in any
designated denomination, but when the player buy's in, he tells the
dealer what value he wants assigned to his chips. Depending upon the
minimum and maximum bets allowed at that particular table, a single chip
could be assigned a value as low as 25 cents or as high as $100 or more.
If the table minimum bet is $5, then the minimum chip value allowed will
be $1. If the table minimum is $2, then a player can purchase chips
valued at as little as 50 cents, or 25 cents when the minimum is $1
(very few tables around with minimums that low).
When the value of the
player's chips is established, the dealer will place one of his chips in
a slot with a tag or a house value chip on top to indicate the value of
that chip color. The dealer then slides the player's chips over to him
and he is ready to begin placing his bets.
A player generally is not
allowed to place any bets on the layout until the dealer has settled all
bets from the previous spin and removed from the table the puck (or
marker) that marked the number of the last decision. Also, a player may
continue to make bets even after the dealer has thrown the ball but all
betting must stop when the dealer waves his hand across the table and
announces, "No more bets."
There are quite a few
different bets that a player can make on the layout (see above). In
discussing them, we will begin on the outside edge of the layout and
work our way inward.
There are 3 bets that can be
made on the outside part of the layout. And logically, these are known
in roulette terminology as "Outside Bets". The bets are Red or Black
(the most common bet made), Even or Odd, and High and Low. Naturally,
every number that spins up on the wheel is either Red or Black, Even or
Odd, or High or Low. (Note: The high numbers are 19 through 36 and the
low numbers are 1 through 18). For instance, if number 8 is selected you
would win if you had bet on Black, or Even, or Low. However, if the
green zero or double zero is selected on any spin, all of the outside
bets lose because the zero and double zero are not Red or Black, and are
not considered to be High or Low or Odd or Even. In fact, when a zero or
double zero comes up, all bets on the layout that are not placed
directly on the zeros or are grouped with the zeros lose.
All outside bets pay even
money. If you bet $5 on Red, and a Red number comes up, you win $5 plus
you get your initial $5 bet back. Also, when playing an outside bet, you
must place at least the table minimum bet on each one. In other words,
if you were playing both Red and Odd, you would need to bet at least $5
on both Red and Odd. You couldn't bet $3 on one and $2 on the other.
Dozens And Columns
Moving on toward the
interior of the layout, the next set of bets we encounter are known as
the "Dozens". A player may bet on the 1st Dozen (numbers 1-12), the 2nd
Dozen (13-24), or the 3rd Dozen (25-36). These bets pay 2 to 1. Bet $5
and you are paid $10 for a winning bet plus you get your original $5 bet
returned to you. Simple enough.
There is another set of bets
sometimes referred to as dozen bets, but they are actually the
"Columns". You find these bets at the foot of the layout right next to
the numbers 34, 35, and 36. These bets win if any number in the column
above hits. For instance the middle column consists of 2, 5, 8, 11, 14,
17, 20, 23, 26, 29, 32, 35. If you place a bet in the middle column and
any one of these numbers hits, then you are paid 2 to 1, the same as the
Dozens discussed above.
Now come what are known as
the "Inside Bets." The most common of these is a "Straight Up" bet on a
number. This bet is made by placing a chip squarely on top of a number
on the betting layout and inside the borders of the square. This bet
pays 35 to 1 if the number you bet on hits. For instance, if you place 1
chip straight up on 29, and it hits, you get paid 35 chips, plus the 1
chip you bet is returned to you. Well, actually, winning bets are left
on the layout and if you don't want to make the same bet again on the
next spin, you must pick up your winning bet.
Note: When making "Inside
Bets", the sum total of all of your inside bets must be at least as much
as the table minimum or all your bets will be disallowed. So, if the
table minimum is $5 and you are using $1 chips, you must bet at least 5
chips somewhere on the inside numbers of the layout.
The next most common inside
bet is the split bet. This bet can cover two numbers with one chip and
is made on 2 adjacent numbers on the layout such as 5 and 8 or 22 and
23. It is accomplished by placing a chip evenly on the line which
separates the two numbers. If either of the two numbers spins up, the
player is paid 17 to 1.
Another common inside bet is
the corner bet which allows the player to cover four numbers with one
chip. An example of a corner bet would be to place a chip squarely on
the corner where the numbers 14, 15, 17, and 18 intersect. A win here
pays 8 to 1.
Streets And Double Streets
Another type of inside bet
is known as the "Street Bet". Notice on the layout how the numbers are
divided into groups of three vertically as we look at it from the side
(i.e. 1,2,3 is a street, 4,5,6 is another, 7,8,9 etc.). All three
numbers in a street can be bet by placing a chip on the line separating
the Dozens bet from the numbers on the layout. For instance, if you
wanted to bet on the street consisting of 31, 32, and 33, you would
place a chip on the line squarely beside the 31. Then if 31, 32, or 33
hit, you get paid 11 to 1.
You may also bet on two
streets at the same time. This is called a "Double Street" or a "Line"
bet. This bet is made by placing a chip on the same line as described
above except place it between the first 2 numbers of each street. For
instance, to bet on the double street (or line) consisting of the
numbers 10, 11, 12 and 13, 14, 15, you would place a chip on the line at
the intersection of the 10 and 13. A successful line bet pays 5 to 1.
The last bet we will discuss
is a bet consisting of 0, 00, 1, 2, and 3. This bet is often referred to
as the "Basket" or "Bucket" because when you view the layout it looks
like one of these containers inverted. It is actually a "Special Line
Bet" or sometimes referred to as the "Combination Bet". This bet pays a
winner 6 to 1 and is placed on the same line as the street and line bets
except it is placed at the intersection of the 1 and single zero.
Ever since the game was
introduced, their has always been a contingent of serious roulette
players who are on a quest to beat the game. They don't want to settle
for a win here and there while eventually losing in the long run; they
want to be able to tally up their wins and losses one, two, three years
or more down the road and find that they have won a lot more than they
have lost. Most experts and nay-sayers are quick to dismiss such a quest
as futile and those who would pursue such a thing as delusional. But
experts have been known to be wrong before about a lot of things.
While almost every
conceivable approach has been explored, most strategies fall into a few
There are 4 or 5 betting
strategies that crop up time and again in various roulette systems. They
are named after the men who discovered them. D'Alembert, Martingale,
Fibbonaci and Labouchere are the more common ones. However, none of
these betting methods, of and by themselves, have any chance of
overcoming the house edge in roulette.
The Martingale betting
method provides that you double your bet after each loss and continue to
do so until you eventually win. When a win is finally achieved, there
will always be a profit of 1 unit (or whatever amount you began with on
your first bet). And it is true that this would be an infallible method
except for 2 rather large flies in the ointment. First, it could take an
incredibly large bankroll to cover that long string of losses that will
inevitably come. When you are doubling your bets every time, it doesn't
take long before you are making bets of thousands of dollars even if you
only start out with a $5 bet. The other problem is that there are
maximum betting limits imposed at each table and it only takes 9 or 10
losses in a row to reach that limit where you can no longer double your
bets to recoup your losses. So when you consider that you could lose
many thousands of dollars while trying to win $5, it just doesn't make
sense to use the Martingale.
Some less experienced
gamblers get the bright idea of using a limited Martingale where they
only double say 3 or 4 times. But the bad news with this is that unless
you have a superior bet selection method that is actually managing to
put the odds in your favor, even a limited Martingale will result in
your losing at the basic rate of the house edge for that particular game
over the long term.
The Labouchere betting
strategy is sometimes referred to as the "cross-out method". It works
like this. Begin with a small string of numbers such as 1-2-3. Your bet
is the total of the first and last numbers in the series, in this case
the sum of 1 and 3 which is 4. If you win that bet, you cross off the 1
and 3 and your next bet is 2 because it is the only number left in the
series. Should you lose a bet, then you add that total to the end of the
series. So, if the original 4 unit bet had been lost instead of won, the
series would now be 1-2-3-4 and your next bet would be 5 units. When all
the numbers in the series have been crossed out, then you win the total
number of units in the original series which in this case would have
been 6 units (1+2+3).
The advantage of this
betting approach is that you only need to win 1/3 of your bets to make a
profit. The disadvantage is that it doesn't take a very long losing
streak before you are making some pretty big bets. If luck goes against
you, your whole bankroll may be consumed before you can say Labouchere.
To counter escalating bets,
some advise breaking down a series that contains numbers too large to
bet comfortably into two smaller series. For example, the series
4-6-4-8-12 could be broken down into two series of 2-3-2-4-6. That may
seem like a good idea on the surface, but the problem is that you now
have to win twice as many bets as before in order to cross out the whole
series and win your 6 units. You must now win not one out of three bets
but two out of three bets until the two series are completed. In other
words, now, in order to be successful, you have to play at a much higher
win percentage than would normally be expected in order to cancel out
both series. Otherwise, the series just grows longer and longer and you
have to keep breaking it down again and again until eventually it will
get to the point that you would have to win at a very high rate for a
very long period of time in order to cancel it out. Since this method is
normally only used for even money bets which you have slightly less than
a 50% chance of winning to begin with (because of the zeros on the
wheel), you are really in trouble if you break down a series and don't
immediately begin to win at a 67% clip. You are destined to fall further
and further behind and eventually go bankrupt because of the ever
increasing need for a much higher win percentage than would normally be
The D'Alembert betting
method is simple yet perhaps the most effective of all the approaches
described thus far. You simply increase your bets by 1 unit after every
loss and decrease by 1 unit after every win. So if you begin with a 1
unit bet and lose, you then bet 2 units; lose again and bet 3 units; win
and decrease to a 2 unit bet and so it goes. Usually when this betting
approach is employed, bets return to 1 unit as soon as there is a profit
on the series. The effectiveness of this method lies in the fact that
you always have more money bet when you win than when you lose. And,
with a little luck you may even experience several winning sessions but
sooner or later this method will also fail just like all the others
The Fibonacci betting
progression is a mathematical pattern that is commonly found in nature.
In this progression, the bet called for is always the sum of the 2
previous bets. For instance in the series 1-2-3, the 3 is the sum of 1
and 2. The next bet called for would be 5 because it is the sum of 2 and
3. Then would come 8, 13, 21 etc.
A Fibonacci progression
generally increases to the next bet in the series after a loss but is
often decreased by 2 levels after a win. For instance in this series,
1-2-3-5-8-13, had the 13 unit bet been won, the following bet would be
decreased 2 levels and a 5 unit bet would be made. However, some prefer
to play more aggressively and only reduce one level after a win. As long
as luck holds out, this of course will produce larger wins.
But like all the previous
betting approaches described, the Fibonacci, of and by itself, will not
produce long term wins.
Law Of Thirds
Many roulette systems are
based upon a theory called the "Law of Thirds". The Law of Thirds is a
mathematical principle that expresses a tendency of random numbers. The
principle is basically this: over the course of any 36 spins, on average
only 24 of the 36 numbers will come out (not considering zeros). There
will always be one third of the numbers that will not spin up. This
means that for every 36 spins there will be approximately 12 multiple
There is only one problem
with the so-called "Law of Thirds" and that is the fact that it is not
really a law. If it were a law, it would work exactly the same way every
time. Laws of mathematics and nature never fail. However, the Law of
Thirds does quite frequently fail and can greatly deviate one way or the
other. The Law of Thirds as defined is only applicable over the long
haul. In any limited roulette session of 100 to 150 spins, you may see
vast deviations from the so-called "Law of Thirds". For this reason, I
have never yet seen a mechanical roulette system based upon it that
worked long term. And I'm sure I never will.
Gaining An Advantage?
Some roulette strategies try
to give the player an edge by covering more numbers. Even some
knowledgeable roulette players have made the mistake of thinking they
are actually increasing their odds of beating the game by covering more
numbers. In reality, covering more numbers does absolutely nothing to
increase the player's odds of winning long term. When considering any
one isolated spin, then obviously if you cover 24 of 37 numbers you have
a better chance of winning on that one spin than you do if you only
cover 6 of 37 numbers. However, over the course of a normal session,
covering 24 of 37 numbers will have no effect at all because when you
win you would only be profiting by 11 units and when you lose you would
be losing 24. If you only cover 6 numbers straight up, when you win you
will profit by 30 units and only lose 6 when you lose. See the trade
The house edge for a
roulette wheel having only one zero is 2.7%. It is 5.26% for an American
type wheel with 2 zeros.
Actually, the house edge is
not derived from the wheel having a zero or double zero added to the
other 36 numbers. Therefore, covering more numbers does not affect the
house advantage. The house edge is a result of the casino not paying
correct odds on a winning bet. There are 37 numbers on a single zero
roulette wheel, therefore the proper odds for the game to be a break
even proposition would be 36 to 1. However, the casino only pays 35 to 1
for a winning straight up bet on a number. And on even money bets such
as red/black, odd/even and high/low the house should pay you
approximately 1.0135% of your winning bet instead of simply paying you
even money. This is how the house actually acquires the edge that
ultimately beats you.
Before completely turning
away from the discussion of strategies that will not work, let me
include a word of warning. Any method that requires you to put your
whole bankroll at risk with every session you play should be avoided.
Strategies like this never work long term and will only result in your
losing your entire bankroll sooner or later.
You should never risk more
than 20% to 25% of your total bankroll in any one session. And for a
roulette method to be successful long term, it should have a recovery
rate (after a loss) of close to one to one. In other words, suppose you
are using a 30 unit session bankroll. Should you have bad luck and lose
a session, your method of play should have the potential to recover that
full 30 unit loss the next session you play. Long term, your net average
win (after subtracting losing sessions) should be around 50% of the
total bankroll you place at risk for any one session. In other words, if
your table buy in for a session is 30 units, then your long term average
net win per session should be around 15 units. (Average net win is
calculated by taking your total units won after subtracting losing
sessions and dividing by the total number of sessions played.) This is
an acceptable return on investment compared to the amount of money
placed at risk.
What Will Work
I've spent a lot of time
talking about strategies that will not work, is there anything that can
be effective? Yes, but any strategy that is effective over the long run
will require a lot of time and effort on the part of the player to
successfully implement it.
One strategy that has worked
in the past for those few serious and dedicated players with the
patience to do a lot of research is called "clocking the wheel".
Basically this entails the recording of hundreds if not thousands of
consecutive spins off of a single wheel in order to determine if there
is any kind of mechanical bias that may cause certain numbers to appear
more than others. This normally requires at least 2 or more players
working as a team and monitoring a wheel around the clock for an
extended period then analysing hundreds of recorded spins to find out
where the bias lies if indeed there is any bias at all.
There used to be several
professional teams that engaged in this activity some of which were
pretty successful. Probably the most noted team was a group of 13
players that won around $250,000 from the casino in Monte Carlo back in
the 1960's. There was even a very interesting book written about their
exploits entitled "Thirteen Against The Bank". As I recall, they
recorded spins for several days off of various wheels until they
determined the ones they wanted to play. Then when they did attack the
wheels, they used a reverse Labouchere. In other words, instead of
crossing off numbers in a series when they won, they crossed them off
when they lost and added them when they won. Recall that I stated
earlier that the only time one of these betting methods would work is if
the bet selection method afforded the player a definite advantage. Of
course, by clocking the wheel and determining a definite bias, this did
give the players an advantage when it came time to place their bets.
Otherwise, merely using a reverse Labouchere would not have produced
long term positive results.
It should be noted that in
more recent years, finding a biased wheel has become very difficult
indeed. Casinos do regular maintenance on their roulette wheels and
check them for any possible bias. Any wheel found not performing
according to rigorous standards is immediately replaced. Wheel
technology has steadily improved also and today's roulette wheels are
remarkably balanced and true. A few years ago mechanical biases were
more likely to affect spin results because the frets that separate the
numbers were taller. Also, the ball that is most often used today is
lighter and has more action than previous versions.
I am told that it takes up
to 3700 spins to definitely identify a true bias. Because of the time
and effort needed to gather the information coupled with the fact that
truly biased wheels are very rare these days, in my opinion, it just
isn't practical to search for biased wheels. Few players have the time
and patience to log and study that many spins. Most of the teams who
used to travel around looking for biased wheels are gone although I
think there may still be one or two in operation.
That brings us to another
strategy that has been embraced by many serious players. It is called
"Dealer Signature". This strategy is based upon the belief that through
constant repetition most experienced dealers tend to develop what is
known as a dealer signature. Their spins will begin to group up in
certain sections of the wheel or move across the wheel in a discernible
fashion. This is supposedly a result of something called "learned muscle
response" or "repetitive muscle response". A couple of very expensive
roulette systems are based upon this and even many experts believe this
approach has merit. However, I studied this method in depth over a
period of about a year. I started out as a believer but eventually
discovered that it is pure fiction. So-called Dealer Signature as
presented in certain roulette methods and discussed by some experts, in
my opinion, is a myth. I won't take time and space to go into it here,
but if you want a copy of an article I wrote on it
Before leaving the subject
of dealer signature I will say that many experienced dealers have the
ability to hit certain 6 to 8 number sections of the wheel more often
than not when they put their mind to it. This is different from what is
perceived as dealer signature because dealer signature is supposedly
involuntary but what I'm talking about now is an action that is
consciously performed. When a dealer is shooting for a section, he will
be looking at the wheel and gauging his release point. I've seen dealers
hit the section they were aiming for on as many as 6 out of 8 spins.
Being aware that many
dealers have this capability can be used to your advantage. If you
should find a roulette table where a player is betting pretty big and
covering a certain section of the wheel (as I said this is a popular
strategy employed by several systems), and you notice the dealer looking
at the wheel when he releases the ball, simply bet on the section of
numbers directly opposite his bets. But be sure to bet at a much lower
level. If a dealer is trying to burn the high roller, most often he will
shoot for the section opposite the one he is playing since the dealer
will try to hit as far away as possible. Also, sometimes you can bribe
the dealer for a hit by placing a bet on a number that is right in the
middle of a 7 number section and telling the dealer that if he hits that
number you will split the profit with him, or at least give him a nice
tip. Then when he hits it, be sure to honor your deal. In fact, if he
hits any of your numbers in that section a nice tip would be in order.
Since dealers depend on tips for the bulk of their income, it can
sometimes be quite profitable to get the dealer on your side. I've seen
this work especially well when the dealer was male and the player an
Exploiting Random Number
What has been perceived as
dealer signature is in fact something else entirely. It is a result of
the natural action of random numbers which is explained in detail in
System 6+ Roulette. In fact, the ONLY WAY to beat the game of roulette
on a long term basis is to exploit the tendencies of random numbers. It
can be done consistently because there are professional players who have
become knowledgeable and skilled enough to make their living playing
roulette. But it does take study, practice, dedication and self
discipline. Success at any endeavor never comes without a price.