How to Play Roulette: Bets and Basic Strategy

Roulette is one of those games where it seems pointless to practice at first glance.

Why, well because the game itself is all chance. You can’t really strategize a ball bouncing around a spinning wheel that gets clipped by metal ridges separating the numbers.

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But what you can practice is betting strategy and discipline.

Roulette is one of the few casino games where you have even odds if you are betting red or black. The only technical house edge that exists on the wheel is the green squares because all outside bets lose when the ball lands on zero or in some cases, double-zero.

The true odds are 37-1 on Euro wheels and 38-1 on American wheels. You have 1 through 36 plus the zero and double-zero. But, the casino only pays 35 to 1 if you call a specific number and get the straight-up win. So, again, this slight edge to payout is because of that pesky green square. What this amounts to is a house edge of 5.26%.

That said, there are many ways to bet while playing Roulette, so it’s a good idea to get some practice swings in to learn the ropes before hitting the casino floor.

Common Ways to Bet

Straight Up – perhaps the easiest to understand and with attractive payouts of 35 to 1, you can bet a single number. Perhaps you just have a feeling that Black 33 is going to hit. So, you have the Croupier push your chips over to 33. If he pushes just $10 of your chips over 33 and the ball stops on that square, you would win $350 plus keep the $10 that you risked.

Red or Black – at odds of 1 to 1 this is the easiest way to play for a while and have your bankroll last. It’s literally almost a 50/50 chance that the ball will bounce into one of these. But, an American Wheel has two green squares, 0 and 00. So, the real probability is 47.4%. A European wheel has odds of 48.6%.

Still, if you bet black and it bounces red, common strategy is to double your wager and bet black again. You keep doing this until it hits to get your money back and win, eventually, it will hit – the odds are 47.4% each spin, so it usually won’t take long.

Odd or Even – Much like Red or Black, you get 1 to 1 odds by simply taking the chance that any odds number will land or any even number.

1-18 or 19-36 – Another one to one odds bet you can make is taking one through eighteen or nineteen through thirty-six.

Row – You can bet 0 and 00 at 17-1

Street – is taking any three successive numbers 5,6,7 or 19,20,21 etc. This type of bet plays out 11-1.

There are also a handful of 2 to 1 odds bets, such as taking columns or the first, second or third dozen.

Basic Strategy

D’ALEMBERT STRATEGY is a safer strategy than Martingale or Reverse Martingale – which is quite risky. Essentially you just increase your bets by one instead of doubling with each consecutive loss – or win. Pick a 1 to 1 bet like black or red, 19-36, odds or evens and increase your wager by one after a loss, and decrease it by one after a win.  Keep doing this until you have the same number of wins as you do losses. Once you have an equal amount of wins and losses grab your chips and cash out.

Here’s how it looks: bet 20 dollars on red. If you lose place 21 on red again. If you win, place 20 on the next spin. If you lose go back to 21. Lose again, go to 22 dollars, lose again go to 23. Win and go back to 22 win again go back to 21. So, -20, +21, -20, -21. -22, +23, +22, +21. At the end of this short run, you would have won $4. -$83 vs +$87 = $4.

What makes this strategy useful is it helps you keep track of your wins and losses. It isn’t a way to get rich quick, but you can have a lot of fun and play for a long time on your bankroll.

The Martingale Strategy is one of the most well-known in gambling. People use versions of it for everything from sports betting, to craps, to Roulette.

How it works is similar to D’Alembert. You find the table with the lowest minimum and highest max bets that you can find and start small because now you are doubling your wagers on your losses. So, pick a 1 to 1 pay-out bet like odds, evens, red, black, etc. and place the smallest wager you can. If you win, stay the same and just bet the same small amount again. If you lose, say $5.00, double your wager to $10.00. If you lose again, double again to $20.00. Now if you win, go back to your starting wager because you’ve recouped your losses. However, on a $5.00 minimum $100.00 maximum table, it wouldn’t be unheard of to reach your max bet before recouping. It would only take a bad run of five consecutive losses.

The Reverse Martingale is even riskier but can be quite profitable. The difference is, every time you lose, you keep betting the small amount. When you win, double your wager and stay on the same spot. With each win keep doubling your bet, but with each loss go down to the starting wager.

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