Roulette is one of the most exciting table games in a casino, but it’s also one where the outcome is determined completely by chance. With that being said, it’s also one of those games which a lot of people think that they know how to beat. The reality is simple, though. Unlike blackjack or poker, where the player actually does have some semblance of control over the game, roulette is basically just a big slot machine where the only thing a gambler can control is how much money he chooses to bet. In fact, the only decision you can make that isn’t bankroll-related is to…
There are two types of roulette tables: European and American. It’s important to know the difference because the house advantage changes significantly depending on which one you play. In European roulette, there are 37 pockets (1-36 and then 0) while American roulette features 38 pockets (1-36, 0, and 00). The house advantage on European tables is 2.7%, but by adding the extra pocket on American tables, that advantage jumps up to 5.26%. The moral of the story? Play European tables whenever possible.
When I mentioned earlier that a lot of people think they know how to beat roulette, I was referring to what’s commonly known as the “Gambler’s Fallacy.” This is essentially the belief that past results can be used to predict future outcomes. In their defense, it’s hard to find a roulette table that doesn’t display the results of the last ten spins in bright flashing lights directly above the table… why would those numbers be there if not to help guide you, right?
Wrong. Past results mean nothing. Just because the ball landed on black ten times in a row doesn’t mean that it’s more likely to land on red next time. You’re just as likely to win by playing the same bet every time as the guy next to you who’s wildly changing his bet to try and game some statistical system that he read about online.
Unlike blackjack, being a pro at roulette is not about trying to beat the house (other than by playing European instead of American tables, as mentioned above). Unlike craps, it’s not even about learning all the different bets, because each one has a fair payout vs. the risk of the bet. Unlike poker, it’s not about trying to beat other players, because you’re all in the game together.
No, being a pro at roulette is simple. It’s all about knowing that, given enough time, you’re going to lose… but that you still have the opportunity to win big over the short run. It’s about getting your adrenaline pumping as the ball starts to slow and then hops between pockets, only to land on your color, column, dozen, odd or even, and number. It’s about having a ton of fun but knowing when to walk away.