The game of roulette was devised a relatively long time ago. Having gone through different periods of being promoted, ignored or banned, and having been spread across multiple geographies, it changed only a little and gained a strong reputation and fame among risk-takers, throughout the world, who really appreciate playing — in brick-and-mortar casinos or online.
It is more than just a game; it seems to be a symbol of gambling and risk-taking and an everlasting struggle to catch luck by the tail.
The game mechanic is quite simple. Players make their bets, attempting to predict the outcome of the next round, keeping in mind the odds and payouts. Then the moment of truth comes – the roulette dealer, or croupier, as this casino employee is called in French, spins the wheel in one direction and ball in another.
Obeying the laws of mechanics, the ball unpredictably bounces, hitting the edges of the number pockets, then loses momentum and finally lands, randomly resting on one of the numbers.
The dealer rewards the winning bets with the due payouts and moves all the other chips to the banker’s area. The round is finished. Time to make new bets. Very simple, indeed.
A generic simplicity is inherent to both types of roulette – American and European. Properly speaking, the roulette we call “American” is not American – it is just the older version of the European one. It is basically the same old French roulette, known and played in Europe before the 1840s, when a new wheel with only one “zero” and no “double zero” fields was introduced.
As the new single-zero wheel was a European invention that almost entirely replaced the older version of the game in Europe, people began to call it “European.” The double zero wheel still holds its position in the Americas. It became known as “American,” though the game was not invented but only imported there.
This ‘small’ difference in the wheel layouts actually makes a big difference to the gameplay, as well as to the betting strategies roulette players usually apply. Another distinction is the order of the numbered “pockets” on the wheel. The order is not regular, and the sequence of the numbers placed on the European and American roulette wheels is not the same.
Here is the sequence for you to ponder for a while…whether there is a secret order, a rule or maybe an ‘encoded message’ — or is it just a random sequence?
European spinning wheel:
American spinning wheel:
Interesting to mention: Some casinos in the Asian/Pacific region use so-called “combined” or “hybrid” wheels. Such wheels have one pocket for single zero and 37 pockets altogether, but the sequence of the numbers as they appear on the wheel is not European but American.
We should also mention here one more difference between American and European roulette. In American roulette, every player uses chips of one color, while in the European version the players use standard casino chips.
Already have an idea why the numbers on the wheel are not placed in a simple, straight, ascending mode from 0 to 37 or 36? Just keep reading. We’ll tell you later!
Strangely enough, many players believe that if a number has not been hit for a long time, it is getting ‘hotter’ somehow and the ball becomes more likely to land on it. While such reasoning might seem a bit logical, it isn’t true as the wheel does not have anything like “results memory.” Every spin is a separate event. Technically, the results of previous spins do not have an influence on the results of the next one. And, of course, there is no such thing as a ‘hidden cycle’ or a ‘hidden run’ of the numbers that fall out on the wheel.
That is why we call spin results random — there is no way to predict them. The result of every spin is random, and casinos invest a lot of money in maintaining this level of randomness, as close to 100% as possible. This is absolutely necessary to protect the game, as game protection is understood nowadays.
But why, you might ask, there still exist different betting strategies for roulette if everything happens by chance and there is no logic to rule the sequence of truly random events?
The answer is that there is logic behind the results, and this logic is the law of large numbers. Every number has an equal probability of being hit by the ball, regardless of when you make your bet. Therefore, there is simple math telling you the odds of every bet you might make. Comparing these odds with the respective payouts, you can get an idea about house edge, or why casinos always win in the long run. For European roulette, it is 1/37 (2.70%); for American, 1/19 (5.26%).
It means that any betting system you can try, in fact, if played long enough, takes your winning/losing results closer and closer to the house edge. The more bets you make, the more likely you are to lose 2.70% or 5.26% of your money, depending on which type of roulette you are playing. But, in the short run, you could use different strategies trying to win money before the law of large numbers takes you down to the house edge math.
The variety of bets you could make playing roulette is really very broad, which can be exciting, but at the same time somewhat confusing, especially for a beginner. But there is nothing too complicated about it.
If you prefer to play more conservatively (i.e. at a lower risk level), you may want to go ahead with outside bets. The odds are high, but the payouts are low. In case you are a beginner, start with these bets and watch the run of the winning numbers for a while to better understand the gameplay. Small outside bets let you play longer sessions and get used to the game.
Outside bets are the bets on a category of numbers and not on a specific one:
You bet on one of the columns (12 numbers at once). For European roulette, this bet covers 32.4% of the wheel. The payout is 2:1.
Your wager is made for 12 numbers, too, but this time on one of the dozens (1st, 2d or 3d). The wheel coverage, the odds and payouts are the same as with column bets.
These bets cover 48.6% of the wheel of European roulette, and the payout is 1:1.
If you feel you could try a more adventurous style of playing European roulette, you could switch to more specific inside bets. The risk is higher but so are the payouts.
This is a bet on one specific number you believe (or hope) the ball will land on. The highest payout here is 35 to 1, but the odds against you are also the highest: 1:36.
Sometimes called “double straight up bet,” you wager on two adjacent numbers of the layout, vertical or horizontal. The winning payout is 17 to 1, the odds against you, 17.5 to 1.
You wager on three numbers in a row (1-2-3, 4-5-6, etc.). The winning payout is 11 to 1, odds against you, 111⁄3 to 1.
You bet on four adjoining numbers (1-2-3-4, etc.). The payout is 8 to 1, odds against you, 8.25 to 1.
The bet on 0-1-2-3. The math is the same as with the corner bet.
It is a bet on six numbers from two horizontal rows (1-6 or 28-33, etc.). The payout is 5 to 1, the odds against you are 61⁄6 to 1.
You could try switching from outside to inside bets, taking more of a risk when you think you could be lucky at a particular spin of the wheel. But making too many inside bets can be stressful as the odds against you with these bets are really very strong. That is why coming back for outside betting is recommended. Here you are going to have more flexibility and a chance to try different betting strategies.
With outside bets, you could double your bet every time you lose with the hope that the next spin will give you the success to recuperate the previous losses. This betting system is called Martingale. Alternatively, you could double up your bets every time you win in order to maximize the effect of the winning streak; this approach is called Anti-Martingale. But be careful with the latter strategy — you never know when your winning streak is done.
There can be another algorithm of increasing your bet size: Fibonacci row. In this case, your bets are proportional to the numbers of Fibonacci (0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55…), which is a bit more conservative than Martingale. But it depends on how exactly you go ahead with this sequence. If you choose to go up along this line of numbers not by one position but by two, then it can be a really tough test for your bankroll.
Or you could try Super-Martingale (double-up your previous bet plus one unit), but it is not a good idea as even a relatively short losing streak could deplete your bankroll. Of course, increasing your bets after losing can be done in a more conservative way: just add one unit and use no multipliers. It is the famous D’Alembert strategy.
You could also try multiple bets in an attempt to hedge your risks and cushion the impact of unsuccessful wagering, but remember that you should not trespass on it as hedging one risk with another risk can turn too risky in the long run. James Bond used to wager on zero for such ‘insurance,’ but it is hardly the example to follow regularly.
Now, have you got an idea about why the numbers on the roulette wheel are lined up in such an irregular sequence?
They just have been shuffled to arrange them as randomly as possible! The rule is that from 1 to 10 and from 19 to 28 the odd numbers are red and the evens are black. From 11 to 18 and from 26 to 36, the other way around. As you can see, the very fundamental idea of the gameplay is randomness! That is why you should remember that any kind of betting system can only work in the short run when you don’t play too long. If you do not make too many bets, the law of large numbers does not have enough room or span to work — then your luck, if any, can really manifest itself!
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