Online Roulette FAQ - Part 4

Roulette FAQ Part 1The next set of questions in our series discuss whether there's such a thing as a standard min and max bet at online casinos. I define a few gambling terms, while I also discuss the role the American eagle played in roulette history. A few more roulette glossary questions are answered, while I discuss the subject of gambling tip e-books and the methods used to sell them. Live online roulette is touched on just a bit, while longtime readers learn what my favorite roulette film scene is.

I also include answers to a fair amount of paranoia about the people running gambling operations. Once questioner is worried the casino personnel are trying to intimidate him, while a second reader wonders how safe the new mobile gaming sites are. I answer questions about some roulette terminology, while getting into the never-ending discussion of the Martingale system and gambler's fallacy. Finally, I get to take a shot at the funniest roulette forum on the Internet, if you like unintentional humor.

Before we get to all that, let's take a look at yet another question about progressive betting systems. 

This page answers the following questions about roulette games;

You can view other roulette questions and answers in Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3

Roulette Questions Answered

If I start with $1 bets and go to $2 when I lose and $3 if I lose again and $4 if I lose again, is this a good strategy?

That is not a good strategy. That's what is called a progressive betting system, because the size of your bet progresses 1 unit every time you lose. Using this strategy on an average number of bets per session, you could walk away from the table with wins between 90% and 95% of the time. The rest of the time, you would lose so much that it would more than offset your losses. Also, you don't know when that 5% to 10% is going to happen, so you could lose your bankroll (or most of it) the first time you use this system. Computer simulations have been done comparing games where someone makes the same bet each hand versus those with progressive betting schemes like the Martingale, which is different from the one you mentioned, but is the most popular progressive system. In each case, a billion hands were played. In these studies, playing the progressive betting system would lose you more than making a consistent bet.

What your betting system assumes is that you're more likely to lose after a losing spin, which is a fallacy. Your odds remain the same each and every spin, no matter how many times you've won or lost in a row. To assume a law of averages applies to a small number of wagers is wrong.

What are the standard minimum and maximum roulette bets at online casinos?

A huge range of possibilities exist. The ranges are a little more flexible in Internet roulette, since the casinos try to appeal to a greater range of people, especially the penny players. I've noticed that many Playtech casinos have a low bet of $0.10 and a high bet of $300. I'd say that's a pretty good example of what you should expect to find.

What is a basket bet in American roulette?

The basket bet is a 3-number bet involving one or both of the 0 pockets in American double-zero roulette. Three different options are offered: 0-1-2, 00-0-2, or 00-2-3. In all three cases, you make the wager by placing your chip on the "T" where the three numbers intersect.

Do any versions of roulette use the Eagle Slot anymore?

I don't know of any active roulette wheels in existence which use the Eagle Slot, but don't give American casino owners any bright ideas. The Eagle Slot was an innovation in the Old West era of American gambling. Besides having a green-0 and green-00, also had a slot with the patriotic Eagle symbol on it. Because this gave the game atrocious odds, the Eagle slot went out of fashion in the 1880's. These days, authenticated wheels with the Eagle slot are considered rare antique items, fetching prices in the tens of thousands. By multiple sources, perhaps a half-dozen are known to exist anymore.

Who said "Always bet on black?"

Well, I don't know if he said it first, but Wesley Snipes uttered that phrase most famously in the 1992 action film, Passenger 57.

Can you really win at roulette?

Yes, if you get lucky you can win at roulette. The expectation is you'll lose $0.27 for every $10 wagered in European roulette. The expectation is you'll lose $0.53 for every $10 wagered in American roulette. In the short term, those expectations can be exceeded. People who walk away from the roulette table before the odds catch up to them can win, though.

What kind of strategy would you employ in a roulette tournament?

Assuming everyone must make the same number of bets, I would see what other players are doing and do the opposite. If other gamblers are being conservative with their bet, I suggest you make aggressive bets and try to beat the crowd. If most of the other gamblers are being aggressive, then make minimum bets and hope they go bust. If for some reason you get to vary how many bets you make, I suggest making as few as possible and maxing out those bets.

If I used a device to cheat at roulette, what kind of jail time could I expect if I got caught?

I wouldn't entertain these thoughts, if I were you. I mean, is there really some minimum amount of jail time which you would consider "worth" the potential rewards? If I told you, "You only have to do 9 months in jail, but you could make a $100,000," would you really think that was worthwhile? Those three guys who took 300,000 UK pounds from the British casinos ended up getting 9 months time served, but they had no cheating devices on their bodies. Better ways exist to make $100,000 than those which might land you in prison. In fact, I'd say you should avoid any activity where you have to calculate the potential jail time.

Which is the best outside bet?

No outside bet is inherently better than another one, unless you're playing under the "la partage" or "en prison" rules. If you happens to be playing with these rules, then it's far better to wager on the 1:1 bets than the 2:1. If a 0 or 00 comes up under those scenarios (Atlantic City has double-zero la partage), then gamblers who played the 1:1 bet face a 1.35% house edge, while gamblers who placed the 2:1 bet are still facing a 2.70% bet (in single-zero roulette). If such rules aren't in place, then all the outside bets have the same house edge.

Is there an advantage to making the max bet at a table?

Not really. If you are consistently making the max bet at a table in the main room of the casino, inquire about high roller tables. It's likely your wagering habits might qualify you for the high-dollar tables, which often have a lower house edge. For instance, Las Vegas has a few European roulette tables, but require a $25 minimum to qualify. (You'll sometimes hear of $15 minimums on these, usually during the week.) If you don't find European roulette, you might find la partage or en prison rules, which would also be worth your while. Make the most of your gambling bankroll.

Is there a betting system which works for a low bankroll and minimum bets?

The progressive betting systems quickly get out of reach for low bankrolls. Besides that, they aren't any good as a general rule, anyway. If you want one alternative, find a legitimate low stakes casino which lets you bet $0.10 or $0.25 or even $0.01 at a time, if you don't like the idea of making static wagers. This gives you a little more freedom to play around. Even then, avoid the Martingale.

I was up $500 betting $25 a pop and a guy in a business suit started paying real close attention to me. Did he think I was cheating and can the casino kick me out if I'm winning?

I'm assuming you think the man in the suit was a pit boss or casino manager. Casino's have to see you cheat before they can throw you out of the casino for cheating. At the same time, a casino has the right to ask someone to leave, whether it's for rudeness, breaking the policies of the house, or suspected cheating. Typically, casinos don't like to throw people out, because it's bad for business. They might try intimidation techniques, like sending men in suits to keep a close eye on people. That's not likely to happen to someone up $500, though. Luck happens and casinos are built to withstand runs of luck, unless you happen to be a high roller. Had those $25 bet been $100,000 bets and you were up $4 million, that's when casino personnel start to sweat things (or number 1/10th that in outlying areas).

Should I play multi-wheel roulette at my favorite online casino?

Multi-wheel roulette is a popular game at online casinos, especially those using Microgaming software. I would not recommend playing these games. Roulette has a house edge, so playing multiple games at once only increases your exposure to the casino's advantage. Playing a game with multiple outcomes is like playing slot machines with 20, 25, 50, or even 100 paylines. A person isn't going to soak up all the wins and losses, so less is more in gambling.

What is a corner bet?

The corner bet is made on four numbers whose corners butt up against one another. The wager would be placed at the intersection of these four numbers. You could make a corner bet on the 1-2-4-5, for example.

What is gambler's fallacy and why do roulette writers always invoke the term?

Gambler's fallacy is the idea that, because something hasn't happened recently, it is overdue. All gamblers (not just roulette players) assume that a number or other gambling result is "due", so they bet accordingly. This is most evident in the progressive betting systems like the Martingale. The idea in progressive betting is some 50/50 proposition is due to happen, so you can make up for your losses and then some by betting on that outcome. In roulette, no two spins are linked, so the fact the results was "34" on the last spin has no bearing on what happens with the upcoming spin. If the "11" hasn't hit in 200 spins, that doesn't mean it's due to hit soon. This is the fallacy which leads many gamblers astray.

Did Francois Blanc really bargain with the Devil to acquire roulette?

Well, I wasn't there, so I can neither confirm nor deny that fact. I can confirm that's a popular legend from the history of roulette. Ever since someone realized the numbers 1 to 36 all added together equal 666, roulette has been called Devil's Game. I'm guessing that's the genesis of the Francois Blanc legend, but you can believe what you wish.

Can you explain how betting the hot numbers is a winning strategy for roulette?

Not really, because betting on "hot numbers" is not a winning strategy. If you bet on the numbers which are hitting often on a given day, you'll be a winner. In that case, you can consider yourself lucky. No method exists for guessing what that number might be any given day, because no such thing as a "hot" number exists. A roulette number is landed on once every 38 spins, so a number which hits 2 or more times within 38 spins can be considered hot. That's looking in the rear view mirror, though. No two spins are connected, so if you bet on 26 and win, that doesn't mean 26 is any more or less likely to win on the next spin. Unless you have a crystal ball and can guess the winning number beforehand, the hot number method won't help you win.

Is mobile casino roulette fair?

Mobile roulette casinos which are licensed and regulated by legitimate government authorities are fair. For me to trust an online casino or a mobile gambling site, it needs to be audited and tested by a third-party specialist like TST or Techical System Testing. If outside entities license, regulate, test for security flaws, and audit the records of a site, I trust that it's fair.

In what context is the word "imprisonment" used in roulette?

Imprisonment is a roulette term for what happens to the 1:1 bets under a certain set of rules which are advantageous to gamblers. When you make a red/black, high/lo, or even/odd wager using "en prison" rules and the ball lands on the "0", you don't lose your bet immediately. Instead, your chips are marked and placed in prison until the result of the next spin. If your side of the proposition wins the next round, you receive back your original wager (but no payout). If you lose, then you lose the bet as you normally would. This rule lowers the house edge in European roulette from 2.70% to 1.35%. La partage rules do the same, though this rule works like surrender would in blackjack--you lose half your bet.

Which roulette forums are best? 

I don't want to tout too many other websites on this site, for the sake of credibility. I'll make suggestions for forums to avoid. Avoid roulette forums which have pop-up advertisements for roulette betting systems. Avoid message boards which have headings for "Precognition and Telekinesis". Avoid the John Patrick roulette forum, unless you want a few laughs.

The online roulette community is a fascinating thing to watch. I want to thank all the forum members who tirelessly work to disabuse players of the notion that exotic-sounding wagering systems are going to work. You people are outnumbered, it would seem, but you deserve a pat on the back for spreading the truth. I'm still laughing about the forum discussion of whether telekinesis could help someone win at roulette (I'm sure it would), but I'm hoping admin created that section of the site as a joke.

Could you describe the final bets for me?

Final bets are all numbers which end with the same number. A final 3 bet would involve 3, 13, 23, and 33. A final-5 bet would involve 5, 15, 25, and 35. If you chose a final-8 bet, this would only involve 8, 18, and 28. This is sometimes pronounced finale, finaal, or finals. This wager is made in French roulette.

I like to pair an even-money play with a column or dozen bet. Is that a good strategy?

While that betting pattern doesn't increase or decrease your odds of winning, it's a good way to keep the results interesting. For example, if you wager "red" and make a column bet on column 1, you'll bet betting on 8 black numbers, as well. If you make the same red bet and also bet on column 2, this gives you 6 red and 6 black numbers in addition to the red wager. If you bet red and wager on column 3, this gives you 4 black numbers and 8 reds in addition to 1:1 red wager. This means you can win double on a certain percentage of wagers. Once again, the overall odds remain the same.

What's the best depiction of roulette in the movies?

While The Sting had an interesting roulette scene and Sean Connery played "17" three straight times as James Bond 007, my favorite is the roulette scene in Casablanca. A young Hungarian couple are trying to scrape together enough money to bribe the police captain Renault, but the husband is losing at the roulette table. Rick (Humphrey Bogart) takes pity on the couple and tells the husband to bet "22", while signalling the croupier to rig the outcome. After the man wins, Rick tells him to let it ride, and "22" wins again. Rick tells the man to cash out the chips and never be seen in the casino again, while the man's thankful wife gives Rick a big hug. I defy anyone to top that for a classic film depiction of roulette.

Would you recommend an instructional video for roulette?

I imagine you might be talking about a video guide you order through an online vendor or buy in a store. Roulette is simple enough you can probably get all you need for free from YouTube. Take a look at the instructional videos on roulette hosted by Steve Bourie, author of the American Casino Guide. Steve Bourie hosts videos for more complicated casino games, where he asks questions of gambling experts like Michael Shackelford, The Wizard of Odds.

What does the French term "rouge ou noir" mean?

"Rouge" means red and "noir" means black, so "rouge ou noir" means red or black. This bet is simply the red/black bet.

Would you recommend virtual roulette or live roulette online?

I'm a little partial to live roulette games, which have come a long way in the past 5 years. The live streaming broadcasts have been touted before as "television quality", but they really are in the year 2013. Several competing online casino software companies now have their own live studios and the competition has increased the quality all-around. While I'm a believer in the random number generators used by online casinos, it is nice to see the game played out in a real-life setting. Plus, most of the croupiers are highly attractive females, which I won't complain about.

Is it true that American roulette was invented in New Orleans?

That is not true. Double-zero roulette, better known as American or Las Vegas roulette, was invented in France, of all places. In fact, double-zero roulette was the way the original way the game was played, though earlier versions might not have had 36 whole numbers. It wasn't until 1843 that the Blanc Brothers created the single-zero game, hoping to lower the house edge and bring in more customers to their casino (then located in Germany). This became the accepted form of the game throughout most of the world, except the United States, which retained the older version, which is more profitable for casinos.

Someone mentioned at the casino one bet which is really bad. Which one is that?

In American roulette, the top-line bet is the worst, with over a 7% house edge. The top line bet is made on five numbers: 0, 00, 1, 2, and 3. Never make this wager. Those playing European roulette won't have this option, so they need not worry.

Should I buy a commercial betting guide like "You Bet, You Win"?

Absolutely not. I looked at the "You Bet, You Win" site and it sells (in one package) fourteen different "winning" betting systems. These include a horse betting system, five (count them, 5) craps systems, poker, blackjack, and roulette. Not only do the claim to teach a roulette system which levels the playing field, they also have a guide called the "No Risk" system. Any book which tells gamblers they can win at gambling without any risk is preposterous. While I give them they might be able to teach you techniques to beat certain games or blackjack or become a professional poker player, I doubt these guys have the chops to do that. I guarantee you they don't know five different ways to beat craps, because no such ways exist. Just because they have all sorts of (supposed) testimonials with nice-looking people's head shots, does not mean those people exist under those names.

Online testimonials are a dime a dozen. "I know a system to beat the lottery and I made $100,000 the first week", says Kevin from Scottsdale. See, slap a photo next to that blurb and you have an instant testimonial. The blurb which suggested someone won $328,000 tax-free last year using these systems is no less outrageous. If these guys knew how to make a fortune beating the casinos, they wouldn't waste their time selling e-books. In fact, the last thing they would want is to publish how they beat the casinos. Save your money.

The last time I was at the casino, the dealer wouldn't move my bets off the layout. Is that accepted practice?

Yes. Dealers usually advance your winnings beyond the layout, but they tend to leave your original bet sitting. If you don't want to make the same bet on the next spin, it's your responsibility to make take the chips off the layout. Some croupiers pay the winnings on the outside bets right next to the original chips (on the layout). In this case, an unwary gambler might end up going double-or-nothing without realizing it. It's up to you to take back your bets, so remember to do so on every hand.

Okay, so I might have tipped my hand on the whole Casablanca thing in the introduction. This set of questions was filled with culture. Readers learn a quick history of roulette, get a few movie watching tips, and even learn a little French. The most important advice for the new roulette player, though, is to avoid the roulette expert scam artists.