Pro Roulette Strategies – Can You Beat The House?
A spinning wheel, a bouncing ball and where she stops, no one knows. In any discussion surrounding games of skill and chance, roulette is typically held up as one that falls firmly into the latter category. It’s not like a card game where you can make strategic decisions on the basis of your hand and that of the dealer or opponent, and there’s nothing you can do to influence the outcome.
Yet whether you walk the casino floors of the Las Vegas strip or spend time in cyberspace, you will encounter plenty of people talking about roulette strategy. That’s fine, people talk about all sorts of things, but the fact is that there are individuals who make a living out of roulette. That means beating the house consistently, and even more importantly, beating the law of averages.
So how do they do it? Roulette is one of the simplest games in the casino and one that attracts beginners, who might be a little nervous around a deck of cards. We won’t go into the full ins and outs of the game – for that, you can check out a complete guide to playing roulette online. But what we will do is zero in on three of the most popular, and apparently successful, roulette strategies. We will also look at their shortcomings and examine why beating the law of averages is no simple task.
It’s the best-known roulette strategy of them all, and is even used in the world of finance. If you’ve spent any time near a roulette table, you’ve almost certainly encountered the Martingale strategy – even if you didn’t know it by name. It’s stunning in its simplicity and at first glance, it looks like a surefire winner.
Here’s how it works. You start off betting a base amount. Every time you win, you bet the base amount again. Every time you lose, you double your wager till you win. Let’s assume you are betting on red and your base amount is $10. If you win, you’re $10 up. If you lose, you keep doubling till you win, and when red finally comes up, you’re $10 up. Then you start again with a new $10 stake.
Even if it takes five spins for red to come up, you will bet $10 + $20 + $40 + $80 + $160, which comes to $310. But the payout for that fifth spin is $320. Try it with any number of iterations and it still works.
So what’s the problem? Well, suppose it goes to a sixth spin, or a seventh or an eighth. Every roulette table has an upper limit, and you will be bumping up against it. All it takes is a bad run, and all those small $10 gains will be wiped out by a catastrophic loss. It happens more often than you think, and ultimately, remember that in the above example, the player was betting $160 at even odds to achieve a $10 win. Put that way, it doesn’t seem quite so clever.
For all the cautionary notes, people do find a degree of success with the Martingale, and it is definitely better than no strategy at all. If you could only do something to mitigate the risk of those catastrophic losing streaks, surely you’d be onto a winner.
The Paroli strategy seeks to do exactly that. In some respects, it turns the inherent risk of the Martingale system on its head by taking advantage of those freakish streaks. Starting with the same $10 wager, if you win, you double the stake. If you win again, you double it again. Then, you put the winnings safely away and start again at $10. Here, you essentially “win some and lose some” on the $10 stakes but also get some bonus money from those three-game streaks.
The Paroli system protects you from a disastrous run that could ruin your whole evening, and that has to be a positive thing. The trouble is that all you are actually doing is changing the bet amounts. This has no bearing on the odds of winning, so if you play long enough, you will ultimately finish down by something close to the house edge.
The straight-up Martingale
The strategies we have explored so far have all centered around the even money bets – black or red, odd or even, high or low. Here’s one that takes things a little differently. A straight-up bet is one in which you bet on a single number. Let’s say lucky seven, but it doesn’t matter – in fact, you can bet on a different number each time.
Every spin, you bet your $10 on that straight-up seven. Remember, there’s a 35/1 payout when you get it. If you fail, you just go again. If you win, you pocket the money and go again. In some ways, this is the diametric opposite of the regular Martingale, in that you will usually lose, but occasionally, you will win big.
Which strategy is for you?
Ultimately, every strategy has its shortcomings because none of them alter the odds of the game. The house always wins, and if there was a cast-iron way around that, every casino in the world would go out of business.
That’s not to say roulette strategies are a waste of time. Tools like the Martingale and Paroli help you to manage your bankroll and make it last longer. And surely for any gamer who really understands the odds of the game and the law of averages, that should be the real strategic objective.