Online Roulette FAQ - Part 2

Roulette FAQ Part 1The following roulette question-and-answer session begins with a question that all online gamblers ask themselves at some point: can I trust this game isn't rigged? I give reasons why should believe the game is fair, then to show I'm not completely naive, I move on to debunking progressive betting systems.

The mysteries solved on this set of questions include why two different minimum and maximum bets are posted on roulette table signs. This set of answers also includes a discussion of the fairness of the game ("roulette bias"), along with the famous cheats in roulette history. I also warn players about a typical roulette charlatan, which should serve as a warning about reading just anyone on the subject.

This roulette Q&A also has one of the most imponderable questions I've ever been posed about casino gambling (the odd/even question). When finished, you should be a little smarter about roulette gambling. I also answer the eternal question of all chronic roulette gamblers: why do we keep losing all the time?

While roulette is a game without any real strategy to pursue, a few helpful hints and tips have made their way into this piece. Knowing when and how to walk away is part of a sound money management strategy, so pay particular attention to those answers. I wish all those reading good luck the next time they play.

This page answers the following questions about roulette games;

You can view other roulette questions and answers in Part 1 - Part 3 - Part 4

Roulette Questions Answered

Can I trust online roulette and its random number generators?

If you're talking about online casinos which are licensed, regulated, audited, and tested for security flaws, the answer is yes. If you're talking about online casino which aren't licensed and regulated by a legitimate government agency, I wouldn't trust it. When a site doesn't have a third-party specialist audit and test their software (and results) thoroughly, bad things can happen. Look for the TST (Technical System Testing) logo on websites, because this is a company out of Australia which tests casinos and audits their books to make sure everything is fair and safe. Look for industry watch groups like eCOGRA, which was started by industry companies (Microgaming), but has respect. Check to make sure the software being used is brand name and research a site's reputation before playing there for real money.

Of course, you can't trust operators at their word, because these aren't people you know. Trust something more certain than that: trust self-interest. When a casino operation is licensed to provide fair gaming, this is an effective license to print money. The vast majority of legit sites would never want to risk that license by cheating, because they already have the advantage on their side.

Is there a roulette equivalent to the "basic strategy" used in blackjack?

No. Blackjack has a system for optimizing bets. Learning it optimizes your chances for success. Roulette has no similar set of tips to lower the house edge. All bets have the same house edge, except the box bet.

Are outside bets better than inside bets?

It depends on your preferences, really. Outside bets are 1:1 wagers are made either on the 50/50 propositions like black/red, even/odd, and high/low, or on the 2:1 bets like column and dozen bets. These wagers hit more often, so players who get bored or discouraged with long losing streaks should play outside bets. Inside bets don't hit nearly as often, but they pay off more when you hit them. If you like the thrill of the bigger payout and don't mind waiting a while, play the inside bets. From an odds perspective, the house edge is the same on inside or outside wagers, so don't worry about that. (The only exception is the "top line bet" in American roulette, which has attrocious odds and should never be made.)

What is the D'Alembert betting system and would you recommend it?

The D'alembert betting system calls for you to double your bet after a loss and decrease your bet by 1 unit if you win. If you bet $1 and lose, then you bet $2 (in this model, the lowest you go is $1, even on a winning spin). If you bet $2 and lost, you would bet $4. If you won on the two-dollar bet, you'd lower your wager to $1. If you lost a $4 bet, it would be raised to $8, while a winning $4 bet would be followed by a $3. This is a progressive betting scheme similar to the Martingale, based on the gamblers fallacy that you're more likely to win after a losing spin and less likely to win after a winning spin. Since this is a fallacy (all spins are separate), it would not recommend the D'alembert method. If you need further incentive to avoid progressive betting systems, do the math on those exponential losing bets and you'll soon be betting hundreds of dollars per spin.

In the history of roulette, which has come up more often: "even" or "odd"?

I hope this is a joke. You might as well ask which has come up more often: heads or tails. Given the high number of spins involved, though, I'd guess the number for each hovers around 47.4%, which is the theoretical odds on an American roulette wheel.

Why don't online casinos have "orphelins" betting?

They do, but you have to find the right rules for them to be in-effect. In online gambling, you'll find orphelins bets (and all "announced bets") in games under the "French roulette" designation. This is used to designate the game separately from most European roulette games, which don't have this kind of betting. Announced bets like orphelins, jeu zero, voisins du zero, le tiers du cylindre, and neighbors betting are found in French roulette.

Does a money management system help players win more money at roulette?

Money management won't change the odds of the game, which are fixed. If you happen to win a chunk of cash, money management might assure you hold on to some of those winnings. Managing your bankroll also keeps you from going bust at times, but these are far different propositions than helping you win at roulette.

Why do Americans and Europeans have two different roulette wheels?

The game of roulette evolved at an earlier enough time that gamblers on both sides of the Atlantic weren't entirely familiar with gaming practices on the other side of the ocean. The double-zero roulette wheel was the original way the game was played. The Blanc Brothers had a single-zero wheel designed in 1843, hoping to lure customers to their casino with a lower house edge. When they moved their game to Monte Carlo in the 1860s and Monte Carlo resorts became the place to gamble in Europe, the single-zero game became the standard way to play roulette for Europeans. In America, that innovation was never embraced. Since American gamblers were thousands of miles away from a single-zero wheel, they were blissfully unaware the odds were so much more against them in their version. Now that online casinos exist, many US players are beginning to read and realize their version of roulette is inferior--at least from the player's point-of-view.

Who was the best roulette player ever?

The flippant answer would be to say the luckiest player. Instead, I'll give a more comforting reply: you're just as good at roulette as anybody else. Roulette has no basic strategy or betting strategy that increases your chances of winning. Name any brilliant gambling professional and the probability of you winning at roulette is just as good as theirs. That's why you shouldn't buy roulette books and try to read too many tips and suggestions. That brings me back to my original point: luck is what wins roulette games.

Why do some roulette experts suggest "winning quickly" is the best strategy?

They know that, in a game with a high house edge, the results deviate less from the theoretical edge the longer the game goes. The best way to skew the results is to get lucky early and walk away while you're ahead. The longer you expose yourself to the high house edge of roulette, the more likely you're going to lose. This isn't to say that any given spin makes the house edge go up, but it's harder to beat bad odds over and over again. Of course, for this strategy to work, you have to get lucky quickly. The best thing you could do is win an inside bet quickly and get the heck out of Dodge City.

Remember, roulette has no game clock or specific number of innings, like you'd find in football, basketball, or baseball. You get to say the game's over anytime you want. So when you're ahead, it's best to call an end to the game and walk away a winner. Of course, this is easier said that done.

Does roulette bias play into results?

For those new to the game, "roulette bias" is when a machine is not level or has loose struts on the pockets and therefore one number or set of numbers is more likely to win than others. Tipsters often suggest these can be found and exploited to gain an advantage. I'm not going to say that roulette bias is a myth, because I'm certain wheels occasionally do get out of whack and slant the results slightly in one direction or another. Mechanical things break. That does not mean it's so common that you can walk into any casino and find the biased machine.

The truth is, every roulette machine is tested and retested, using 21st century precision techniques (machines and computers) to test the equipment and chart the results. Once the machine gets to the casino, employees test and retest the equipment. Results are charted and managers are paid to spot inconsistencies. This is big business, so the casino personnel put a whole lot more time into maintaining the equipment than you or I could put into finding the flaws. So roulette bias has occurred in the past and will in the future, but it's a bad bet wasting your time looking for examples.

What is the difference between European and American roulette wheels?

The European wheel has 37 number pockets, including the number 0 and then 1 through 36. The American wheel has 38 pockets, including, 0, 1 through 36, and the 00. Since the 0 and 00 pockets cause both sides of the 50/50 bets to lose, the European wheel is more advantageous for the player (see this article for a more detailed explanation). For instance, if you bet red or black and a 00 comes up, both red and black loses (the 00 is green). If you bet even and your friend bets odd and the ball lands on 0, both you and your friend loses. So single-zero wheels are better than double-zero wheels.

What is the best cheating method for roulette?

I hope this is for the sake of simply knowing. I wouldn't recommend cheating the casino in any form, because cheating devices are going to land you in jail, maybe even prison. For the sake of entertainment, I'll say that successful cheats in the past have exploited short term loopholes and were eventually stopped by game designers and better security procedures. Sector targeting with laser scanners which help a cheat plot the descent of the ball is considered one of the best methods, because it lets you lower the possible outcomes to a number that gives you the advantage. Dipping the wheel, deadening the pockets, wheel gaffing, rigged wheels, and (in one case) a magnet in the ball have been used to cheat the casinos. I should mention that we know about these methods because the people using them were caught.

Funny enough, one of the most successful methods in the past generation appears to be the old "top hatting" method, which Italian roulette cheat Francis Farrugia and accomplices used to cheat dozens of casinos around the globe over a 20 year period. They eventually were caught in a London casino in 2012. Top hatting requires one gambler to distract the dealer, while another literally switches the ball's place in the wheel. Since croupiers are taught not to be distracted, this usually requires the dealer to be in on the scam. This wasn't the case with Farrugia, which makes it more amazing this low-tech method worked so well. It goes without saying these cheats were caught and served time in jail. This brings me to my point: the best cheats never get caught, so we don't know what they're doing to move the odds in their favor. Whatever the case, don't try this at home.

Can you bet after the ball is sent spinning?

Yes. Players can bet until the dealer says "No more bets", which is after the ball begins its revolutions. Do not touch chips or try to make a bet after the dealer makes his or her call.

Where is the best brick-and-mortar venue to play roulette in the United States? 

Play roulette in Atlantic City casinos if want the best game in the USA. State regulations in New Jersey allow the casinos to take only half your bet when you make an even-money bet and the ball lands on 0 or 00. So if you wager on red/black, high/low, or even/odd and the ball lands on one of the green pockets, the casino only takes half your bet. This lowers the house edge to 1/2 of what it normally would be. Finding a casino which has a single-zero roulette wheel does the same thing for you, though these are usually only found in the high-roller rooms in a few Las Vegas casinos. Also, remember that all other bets have the same house edge, so in Atlantic City, only bet the 50/50 bets to get the 2.63% house edge. 

I was considering buying "Roulette Strategy: Dozens & Columns Using C.O.N.T.R.O.L." by Johnny Depot. Would you recommend it?

Absolutely not. I checked this out on Amazon and was a amazed at the fallacies just in the write-up. First, Johnny Depot claims he's going to teach you how to "attack" the roulette wheel. Unless this is some method of loosening one or more of the pockets so the ball lands there more, I'm pretty sure it won't work. The house edge is what it is in roulette: there's no mathematical attack which could change that. Johnny claims he invented C.O.N.T.R.O.L. in order to beat the house edge, so people wouldn't do silly things like bet their children's birthdays or favorite numbers. The fact is, betting your favorite number is just as likely to work as any number CONTROL suggests, despite whatever is written in this 32 page manual. I know someone might say I shouldn't criticize a book without having read it, but the facts are no strategies exist to beat roulette, so Johnny Depot is a scam artist. Besides, who wants to learn anything from someone named Johnny Depot ($100 says it's not his real name).

Who invented roulette?

That's unknown, because the game has several antecedents. Blaise Pascal is given credit for building the first roulette wheel and is the best guess for who invented the game. The mathematician had other considerations in mind and it's unknown exactly what the rules of his game were like. The English had wheel games like Roly-Poly and E.O., which were similar to roulette. The Italians had similar board games, like Hoca and Biribi. Even in France, a board game named roulette existed. Somewhere along the way, some mysterious person put all these game elements together into the game we know as roulette, probably sometime in the 18th century, but before 1758. It was in 1758 that the first public mention of roulette was made, in documents banning the game in French-controlled Canada. The first mention of the rules are in a 1796 French novel.

Why are two different minimum and maximum bets posted on roulette table signs?

These refer to the minimum/maximum on the inside bets and the mix/max on the outside bets. If you see the $2 minimum on inside bets, this means the sum total of all your inside bets on that spin. You could bet $1 on two different numbers, $2 on one number, or even $0.50 on four different numbers. The total has to be $2.00, though. The total bet on the outside bets is often larger, so it wouldn't be surprising to see you have to wager a $5 minimum on the outside bets. One stipulation which trips people up is you have to make the minimum $5 on a single play. Though you could make $5 on red and $5 on even, the minimum on each of these would have to be $5.

How many spins per hour does roulette have?

The number depends on how many players are sitting at the table. The more gamblers are playing, the longer it takes for the croupier to take bets and pay up those who won.

A 6-player table has about 35 spins per hour, while a 5-player table has something closer to 48 bets per hourly cycle. A game with 4 players is going to have about 55 spins, while a table with 3 players is going to have closer to 60 wagers and spins. If you have 2 people sitting at the table, that number goes up to about 75-76. Finally, if you're the lone player sitting at a table, then you can expect to see about 112 spins per hour. The number fluctuates, depending on how quick the dealer is and how fast the players make their wagers. Remember, though, roulette has a high house edge, so it's better to play as few spins an hour as you find entertaining. If you seek out a 1-player table to increase your betting potential, you'll likely be throwing money away.

Why do I keep losing at roulette? 

That's you and me both, brother. It's called the house edge.

Unless you play in Atlantic City, you probably aren't likely to find too many good odds in American brick-and-mortar casinos. Some of the best advice you can give to young roulette gamblers is to dispel the myths and rumors about who's cheating and whether it's worth it to try. While it's easy to be cynical about everything, most casinos want to run a fair game, because they don't want to risk alienating their patrons. Also, it's a good idea to avoid cheating yourself, because risking a trip to jail isn't worth beating the casino out of a few dollars. The house of edge should be seen as an entertainment fee, while your casino winnings should be seen as the equivalent of getting free tickets to a sporting event or concert--nice, but not to be expected.