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Essentially there is no strategy and no system and no skill to betting on roulette, all of which are part of what it makes it so popular, odd as that may sound. It is one of the simplest games in the casino, whether that’s your favourite online casino or the local real world offering. However, here we give information about one or two things worth noting, as well as some things to avoid, whilst we’ll also take a look at the odds and how that fits into the strategy, or lack thereof.

I’ve Heard About a Roulette System That Can’t Lose

Roulette Strategy & Odds

We’ve put this section first to help you avoid one of the most common pitfalls of playing roulette. Many players either hear of betting systems, tactics or techniques, or even think they themselves have stumbled across a strategy that can’t lose. When they play this system for themselves, they may even “prove” it works by embarking on a long run of small wins.

However, the reason for our warning is that what all of these people will one day find is that the system is deeply flawed and we want you to avoid discovering this in the way that lots of people do (and have done since roulette was invented and will continue to do so as long as it is played): by losing a huge amount of cash in one session that far outweighs all the small wins that have gone before it.

The Martingale System

The Martingale System describes a system of betting where after every loss the player doubles their stake. It can be used to bet on anything but is most commonly applied to even money bets and more specifically to betting on red or black (though odds and evens or high and low would work exactly the same) at roulette.

Players believe that by doubling their stake after a loss they cannot lose because whenever they do eventually win, the staking plan means they will always end one unit up. For example, if you bet £10 and lose, then bet £20 and win, you end up £10 up. Should you lose again, you would be £30 down, but your next bet of £40, should it win, would once more leave you £10 up. The problem is that eventually one of four things will happen that will mean you have sustained a huge, huge loss.

Unless you have an infinite bankroll you will, perhaps, run out of money and thus not have anything left to stake the next bet. Alternatively, as the stake required to return you to profit grows you may lose your bottle and decide the risk is too great. Another possible option is that you run out of time – either the casino closes or you have to leave. Obviously you could resume another time so this isn’t really an issue but a final problem, assuming you have a very large bankroll, is that you will reach the casino’s limit for roulette, meaning you cannot stake enough to recoup your previous losses.

People Think Losing is Unlikely but it Isn’t!

Even armed with the facts above, many players think the chances of them losing so many times in a row that one of the problems with Martingale will affect them are very, very slim. I mean, surely, they reason, after six or seven blacks the next spin MUST be a red, right?! However, this is simply not true and whilst you may win five, 10, maybe even 100 times in a row if you are very lucky, eventually, a long run of losses will destroy your profit… and probably much more.

Assuming you play with a very small stake of just £2, by the time you have lost six hands your next stake is £128, with a total loss of £254 if that loses. If your stake is £10 those figures become a whopping £640 and £1270! And a streak of six blacks or reds is far more likely than you may think, with the odds of five reds in a row slightly more likely than hitting a single number and the odds of an amazing 10 reds (or blacks) in a row actually very similar to hitting a single number two games in a row! Indeed, any croupier who has worked in the game for a year or so will probably have seen runs of 13, 14 or even more of the same colour and to handle a streak such as that you would need a bank of more than £15,000… all to make a £2 profit!

So, in short unless you have unlimited time, money and a casino with no limits at all, avoid martingale like the plague.

But if Three Reds Come up, the Next One Must be More Likely to be a Black

This is another common misconception that can fool even the soundest of minds but the odds of a red, black, odd, even, zero, high number, low number or anything else are unaffected by what has gone before. The idea that if there has been a run of reds then a black is more likely links into Martingale and as with that flawed system it is simply wrong. Though it may be hard to “believe” and fully grasp, after 99 reds, the odds of a black coming up next remain the same (of course there is a possibility the wheel or the random number software are faulty but numerous extensive, independent tests have never found such issues). In a way this is the same logic that applies to lotteries, whereby the chances of numbers 1-6 being drawn are the same as any other six numbers and likewise, the numbers that won last week are as likely as any other six numbers to win again this week.

The wheel, like the lottery, has no memory. It’s completely random and there is no way to beat it. Remember that, play for fun, use casino bonuses (be that free money online or free drinks offline!) and hope for a little bit of luck.

Roulette Odds and House Edge

The reason that Martingale and other systems don’t work is that you can’t escape the simple truth that the casino pays slightly less than the probability of any given scenario and thus the house has an edge. American roulette has two zeroes, making a total of 38 single numbers the ball could land in but, like single-zero European roulette (37 options), it pays out at just 35/1, thus creating a house edge of 5.26% for American and 2.7% for European.

As such you should never, ever, play American roulette as it is akin to throwing money away. If for some strange reason you do choose to play it then avoid the “top line” bet, which covers 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3 but pays out at odds of just 6/1 for a house edge of 7.9%.

Other than avoiding the top line, play on roulette has the same risk-to-reward ratio whatever type of bet you place, meaning that the odds on any type of bet are proportionate to the probability of that outcome. As such, backing 18 individual numbers gives you the same chance of success as backing a colour, whilst backing nine split numbers (pairs of numbers) also has both the same chance of winning and the same payout should you win.

Likewise, if you played for long enough, putting £100 on a single number every spin should lead to the same outcome financially as putting £100 on a colour, despite one having a probability of one in 37 and the other one in two. Of course, backing the single number has a far greater variance, by which we mean luck will have a far greater bearing in the short term (so you might get lucky and hit the number on your first spin and be well in profit but on the flip side you might not hit the number in 100 spins and be well down). You will win more often betting on the colour but as the payout is proportionately smaller, the long-term outcome remains the same.