Online Roulette FAQ - Part 3

Roulette FAQ Part 1Welcome to our roulette FAQ. These roulette questions tackles the seemingly age-old question of progressive betting systems. This Q&A also discusses basic terms like croupier, imprisonment, and dealer markers. For those who don't know what the proper tipping etiquette is, you should have a rough guide to spreading around gratuities.

You will also find some of the basics including; the inside/outside bets, seating arrangements at the table, and why the chips are different in roulette. These questions get into online gambling software and the concept of "luck", too. Hopefully, the beginning players can learn a few basics, while those new to Internet gambling can learn a bit about online casinos. Also, if you've decided to go out and buy your own spinning wheel, I discuss in general terms how much you can expect to spend.

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact the owners of this website to get accurate roulette information.

This page answers the following questions about roulette games;

You can view other roulette questions and answers in Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

Roulette Questions Answered

Can a player beat the casino by starting with low bets and doubling the bet after each loss, then returning to the original bet after a win?

This is the Martingale betting system and it's not recommended. The Martingale offers a high chance of making a small profit. Unfortunately, it has a small chance of taking your entire bankroll. The risk/reward factor on most progressive betting systems like the Martingale is not going to be favorable. If you have average luck, the Martingale is going to assure you walk away with a few more dollars in the pocket than when you started. The problem is, that one time you get bad luck and lose a lot of turns in a row, it's going to wipe out your profits and then some.

The Martingale involves exponential mathematics, which any math student can tell you turns into substantial amounts real quickly. Start with $1 and lose eight hands in a row and you're suddenly betting $256 in order to win back $1. Tell me how many people who make minimum limit bets want to risk several hundred dollars on the outcome of the next spin. Don't assume your chances of winning went up with those 8 losses, either. You get the same 47.5% chance of winning you would any other hand--less than 50%.

Does playing on a single-0 wheel helps your odds?

Yes, single-zero roulette lowers the house edge from 5.26% to 2.70%. Anytime you have the choice of playing without the 00 pocket on the wheel, take it. The problem is, most American land-based casinos don't offer European roulette. A few Las Vegas casinos do, but usually in a high-roller room. In online casinos, European (single-zero) roulette is offered alongside American (double-zero) roulette. Also choose the European version.

Is it true dealers can make the ball stop where they want it to?

No. Even the most experienced croupier is not going to be able to make the ball land where they want. The dealer training school doesn't teach these any such techniques. In fact, most dealers can't reproduce the same velocity from one spin to the next, so it's little value trying to chart their trends and bet on a quadrant you expect the ball to land.

What is the "dealer marker" in roulette?

The dealer marker is a wood or plastic marker placed on the winning number after the spin. This lets the players know which number won. The market looks a little bit like a chess piece or even a small bottle of cologne, depending on the venue. These are sometimes called the "dolly", because some bear a resemblance to a child's doll.

Is tipping allowed at the roulette table?

Tipping is not only allowed, but it's encouraged. Dealers work long hours and the casinos don't pay them a whole lot. They depend on your generosity for their well-being, so be a giving tipper. If you're losing, this isn't expected. If you have a big win, offering a tip to the dealer is just good manners regardless of whether you are tipping in blackjack or roulette. You'll also have a better gaming experience if your dealer is happy.

How do "en prison" ruled work?

"En prison" is the French term for "imprisonment". This refers to a 50/50 bet which has been imprisoned for a spin or more. By that, the player has neither won nor lost the wager, nor can he/she back out of the bet. A special marker is placed on those chips and the outcome of the next spin determines what happens to them. Under imprisonment rules, the bet is imprisoned when the ball lands in either the 0 or 00 pocket. Instead of immediately losing the wager, the player has a chance to win back their original chips. For example, if they bet on "black", then if the next spin lands on black, they win back their wager. If the ball lands on red, they lose the bet as they normally would have. Games exist which have double-imprisonment and triple-imprisonment, in which you have to win two or three of these face-offs in order to receive back your chips.

Single-play en prison rules lower the house edge from 2.70% to 1.35% in European roulette, while they lower the house edge from 5.26% to 2.63% in American roulette (though it's rarer to see this rule in the American game).

Can I get rich playing roulette?

To borrow an old thought, the only way you'll get rich playing roulette is if you own the casino. Roulette has a high house edge, especially in the American or Las Vegas version of the game. If you see a wheel with the green 00 pocket on it, you'll know you face heavy odds against you winning. Perhaps if a person had a ton of cash to begin with and played at high stakes, they might make an additional fortune if they got lucky. A person grinding out at $1 or $5 a spin is unlikely to get rich playing roulette. If you're in the game for the money, learn basic strategy and card counting and play blackjack. Alternately, play full pay video poker. Neither of these games are going to make you rich, but they have the smallest house edge and, if you're dedicated enough, you might play at a slight advantage. If that doesn't work for you, become a master poker player and join the cash games. Don't assume you'll get rich on roulette, though.

How much does a roulette wheel cost? 

The answer to this question depends on how fancy you want to get. You can buy a roulette wheel at Target for $70. If you want something more substantial, it's going to cost you $500 or $600 to get one. Someone wanting to buy a casino-quality table is going to need to spend $3,000 or more.

Why are roulette dealers called croupiers?

Like the name of the game itself, many terms in roulette use French words. Look at all the announced or called bets and you'll notice a string of French terms, like orphelins and jeu zero. So it's no surprise a French word for dealer, croupier, is used in the game. "Croupier" has come to mean, according to Webster's, an employee who collects and pays bets, and otherwise assists at a gaming table. The term originates from the French word croupe, which means someone who rides behind another on a horse. Now, if someone could explain that derivation to me.

Why is roulette called "The Devil's Game"?

Add up all the numbers between 1 and 36 and they equal (you guessed it) 666. This is reason enough to call roulette the Devil's Game.

That's it for another set of ten roulette questions. I hope I haven't scared off any potential gamblers by mentioning the Devil in the discussion. Gamblers are a heart bunch, though, especially roulette gamblers, who have to brave a high house edge. Hopefully, I've disabused naive players of their assumption they can beat the casino at this particular game.

What is the minimum chip value?

This is the smallest value chip that you'll be issued. If a minimum chip value is 50 cents, this is the lowest amount you can be issued, though you can ask for more. So if you trade in $25 and ask for the minimum chip value, you'll be given fifty $0.50 value chips. You could ask for $1.00 chips, if you prefer.

Does it matter whether I bet three straight bets or make a street bet if I want to bet on 3 numbers?

Most of the time, no difference exists when breaking up the bet or making a single wager. A couple of instances exist when that isn't the case. If the house is letting players keep 1/2 of their original bet on the 50/50 wagers (la partage, imprisonment), then it's better to make the 50/50 bet on red/black, even/odd, or high/low. Let's assume you make eighteen $1 bets on the single odd numbers. Then let's assume you make an $18 on odd. These bets are going to turn out when you win in most cases. If the 0 or 00 comes up, you pay full price on the 18 inside bets (or $18) and you only pay half price (or $9) on the outside bet. The second instance is the box bet, which includes the 0, 00, 1, 2, and 3. If you make instead make five separate straight bets on that same number, you're far better off. The box bet is the only wager in roulette gambling with worse odds than all other bets, so avoid it in every instance.

My aunt told me to place chips on two column bets each hand and I'd win 2 out of 3 spins. Does this work?

If only it could be so easy. This is a case where a fact and the truth aren't the same. The fact is, you'll win 2 out of 3 spins. This also assures you'll lose 3 out of 3 spins. Worse, on one of those 3 spins, you'll lose twice. Add up those numbers and you're losing 4 out of 6 bets, where you would normally be losing 2 out of 3 bets. In other words, the house edge stays the same and you (and your aunt) loses their money twice as quickly.

Is luck involved in winning or losing at roulette?

Yes, luck plays a huge role in roulette. That's why the government considers roulette a "game of chance". In American roulette, the house edge is 5.26%. In European roulette, the house edge is 2.70%. What that means is you're going to lose more than you win, on average. The good thing is, some gamblers get lucky for a while and beat the casino. To do that, the gambler has to get lucky, because the odds are they aren't going to win. Those odds aren't too insurmountable against you--a 47.5% chance of winning a 50/50 bet every time the ball is sent spinning. But it definitely tilts the advantage in the favor of the casino. The longer you bet and the more people gamble on the game, the more likely the results are going to look like the averages and the casino will be able to keep its doors open. Somebody has to pay for all that fancy equipment, and that's the house edge. If this meant you always lost, though, nobody would trouble to go to a casino.

Do I have to download roulette software to play?

Most of the time, the answer is no. Most online casinos offer a no-download or instant play version of the casino. Most, if not all, of their games are converted for browser-based play, where the game opens in the web browser instead. This saves you from having to install a bunch of software on your hard drive. Casinos which have no-download games use either Flash or Java technology to make this happen. If this is your preference, looking for terms like "instant play", "Flash Casino", or "no download" when you get on the homepage of your chosen gambling site.

Why are roulette chips different than all other casino chips?

Special roulette chips are passed out because the casino wants each player to have different color chips. This allows the croupiers to keep track of who made what bet. If everyone had the same color chips on the table, it would be easy to mix them up. This encourages players to make multiple bets on any one hand. Imagine a table where one player bet the 1, 4, 9, 17, 29, 33, and 34 and the other player bet 2, 5, 10, 16, 28, 33, and 35. That would get awfully confusing if the chips were all the same color.

The last few times I was at the casino, I noticed the roulette table didn't have as many players as it did 10-20 years ago. Why is that?

I've read that roulette is less popular in the United States than it was a decade or two ago. For one thing, the odds are better published now, due to the Internet, than they were a few years back. More people now know the great odds on video poker and blackjack. More people also know that craps and baccarat have better odds than American roulette. The only reason more people don't flock to the baccarat table is the fact that it's often in the high-roller room. Of course, mini-roulette exists for the rest of us plebeians. Another reason is the new popular games in the casino, like Let It Ride and Caribbean stud. At the end of the day, American roulette has a higher house edge than most other table games, so players eventually start looking for another game to play. Believe me, European roulette is still hugely popular in Europe, and it's because the odds are more commensurate with other games in the casino.

How many seats are at a live casino table?

Most roulette tables have room for six players. Each player is given a different color chip and those 6 colors are usually the maximum amount at any given table.

If one color has won a lot lately, is it better to bet on that color or the other?

Neither bet is more likely to occur because of the last spin, or the last 10 spins, or the last 100 spins. Each spin is its own proposition. If the red won 5 times in a row, this doesn't mean red is hot. It also doesn't mean red is due. Each spin is separate and the law of averages does not apply to sequences of 5 or 10 numbers. The law of averages is wishful thinking that some random event is going to even out over a short number of instances. The law of averages is just that...wishful thinking. It's bad statistical analysis that 4 reds out of 5 spins represent some pattern. The deviation from 50/50 in a finite number of rolls can be huge. Remember, every spin is 50/50 and it doesn't matter what happened on the last spin.

Why are certain bets called "inside" and others called "outside"?

When you walk up to the table, you'll notice a number grid with the numbers 1 through 36 on the felt (with 0 and 00 at the top of the grid). Certain bets are placed inside this number grid, while other bets are placed outside this number grid. The inside bets are on smaller sets of numbers, between 1 and 6. Winning these pay out more, but you win them less frequently. The outside bets are on larger sets of numbers, either 12 or 18. These pay off less, but happen more often. But those terms derive from where you place your chips when betting. 

That's all for this particular Q&A. Keep coming back to learn the answers to more roulette mysteries. Hopefully, the one fellow's aunt will happen across this column one day and finally see the light. If not, I at least hope you do.