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Like most casino games, roulette is tough to beat. Not only is it a game with no skill, a player’s odds of winning are always in the house’s favour, no matter how she bets or how the croupier spins the wheel. Yet the game has fascinated gamblers for over 300 years.
We gathered some expert tips for rookies at the wheel.
Pick your wheel
There are two types of wheels in Roulette: the European and the American.
The American wheel has 38 slots with numbers 0 and 00 and numbers 1-36, which alternate between red and black.
The European wheel has 37 slots with only one zero. This small change significantly increases a player’s expected value per bet. Unfortunately the American wheel is used in most US casinos.
Make your bet
This part is easy. Almost every bet has the same expected value of -$0.053 per dollar on an American table; -$0.027 on a European table.
That means if you bet $1 on the American table, you should expect to leave with $0.947.
“Outside bets” on red or black or even or odd are more likely to pay, but they pay less. “Inside bets” on single numbers are less likely to pay, but they pay more.
Avoid the five-spot
Betting on the row that contains numbers 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3, aka the five-spot, is the only bad bet on the American roulette wheel. Your expected return per dollar on this bet falls from -$0.053 to -$0.079.
Forget “wheel clocking”
Back when roulette wheels were mechanical, if they had a manufacturing flaw or didn’t balance correctly gamblers could note their biases and win.
But today’s wheels are electronic and there’s absolutely no way to game it, says Frank Scoblete, author of Casino Craps: Shoot to Win. “Even the pockets are shallow.”
Don’t buy into the gambler’s fallacy
Thinking you’ve got a formula is the fastest way to lose, says statistician William Briggs.
“Each and every spin is independent of each and every other spin,” he says. “The probabilities are brand new, so you have to forget everything that’s happened before.”
Know when to quit
Gamblers should avoid betting in negative progressions, which is where you lose $5, then bet $10 in the hopes you’ll get ahead by $5; If you lose that $10, then bet $20 … well, you get the idea.
“You can be destroyed with that because the house will limit your bet by maybe $1,000,” says Scoblete. “You’ll win a lot, but then there will come that time when you are destroyed.”
The same goes for positive progressions, or increasing your bet with each win.
With every game in the house’s favour, you’re guaranteed to lose no matter how long you play.
“Fix yourself a budget and don’t go ahead,” says Briggs. “And if you find yourself winning at any point, quit. Even if it’s only a dollar.”
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