Roulette Systems and Strategies – What Works and What Doesn’t
Ever since the invention of the game in the 17th century, players have strived to find a reliable system to enable them to make money whilst playing roulette. Over the centuries, various strategies and betting systems have been developed to do just this. In this page, I will show you how these different systems work, and fill you in on the advantages and drawbacks of each. I will show you which systems work and which don’t, and the best strategy to play with.
Generally speaking, all roulette systems can be divided into 3 categories: progressive, non-progressive and physical. Progressive systems aim to win back any money you have lost with bigger bets. Non-progressives use sequences of numbers and statistics to predict the outcome of games. Finally, physical systems try to use small failures in the roulette wheel, or the way the croupier throws the ball to the players’ advantage.
Progressive betting systems have been around for many years. In essence, it is the results of previous bets that determine how you will play the next round. They involve using bigger bets in order to recuperate any previous losses that are made. Here you will find more details about some of the most famous of these types of roulette betting systems.
Martingale: The Classic System
The Martingale system is one of the most famous and popular strategies, thanks to the very simple and easy way you use it. It involves betting on simple chances only (e.g. red/black) and starting with a relatively small bet size. If you lose a bet, then you double your stake in the next game. As soon as you win, you will have won back all your previous losses, plus, you will make a small profit, equal to the size of the original bet. As you are betting on simple chances, you have an almost 50:50 chance of winning, so it seems easy to win over just a few games. You should preferably play European or French Roulette with the La Partage rule, to keep the advantage for the casino as low as possible.
If you ever try playing with this system, you soon come to realise that losing streaks are not uncommon, regardless of the 50:50 odds. In this case, the size of your bets rise rapidly, and pretty soon, you will either have exhausted your bankroll, or exceeded the maximum bet limit for the table. In fact, within just 6-7 doubled bets, you can exceed the betting limit. When this happens, the Martingale system can no longer be used, and the player walks away with significant losses. It is for this reason, that many players who want to use this system will look for roulette games without table limits. This enables them to continue to double their bet many more times in the case of a losing streak.
|Stake||Cumulative Stake||Payout||Net Profit|
Another drawback of using this system is the relatively small profits that can be made. As you can see from this table, regardless of the amount of times you double your bet, when you win, your profit will only be the size of your original bet. Therefore, you can risk huge amounts of money, but you will end up with only a small profit.
In order to try and avoid losing streaks, some players will not bet on a game, until a series of the same colour numbers has occurred. The logic here is that when say 5 reds have won, then the law of probability means that blacks are more likely to win next. So at this point, they would start to bet. However, this practice is based on several false assumptions. For one, long streaks of the same colour are unlikely. You will therefore waste a lot of time waiting around for a pattern to occur. What’s more, even when a streak of one result has occurred, this does not mean that the following games will produce the opposite results. At the end of the day, using this system has exactly the same expectation of winning. The only difference is that it will be much more boring due to the long periods of waiting and watching, rather than playing.
The Fibonacci Sequence
Another progressive system that is used in roulette is the Fibonacci system. As the name implies, it involves the use of the Fibonacci numbers. As with the Martingale strategy, this system can be used on simple chances only. The way it works is when you lose a bet, your next bet will be the sum of the previous 2 bets. The progression of the bets is therefore much slower than with the previous system, and therefore you can survive longer losing streaks. However, one drawback is that when you get a win, you only get back the money from the previous 2 bets.
As this picture shows, with each loss, you move one step to the right. Whereas if you win, you go back 2 steps. Once you end up back at your starting bet, you will earn a profit equal to your first bet.
Overall, you need to win just one third of your bets to get back to your starting bet and get a profit. This sounds quite simple, given that you have approximately 48.3% chance of winning on simple chances. Yet, as with the Martingale system, the risk of a long losing streak still exists. Therefore, there is the possibility that you will not have enough money to continue betting, or you will reach the maximum betting limit for the table. In these instances, you stand to lose a substantial amount of money.
The Paroli strategy is also progressive, but in a different way to the other 2 systems. Rather than trying to compensate for previous losses, the purpose of the system is to make bigger profits. You will always start with a relatively small bet, then when you get a win, you bet the profits a couple of times in order to increase your winnings. If you win a series of 3 or 4 bets, you then take the winnings as your profit and start another series. Yet if you lose, just your initial bet it lost.
|Starting bet £1||£2|
|End of Series||£15 Net profit|
The advantage of this system over Martingale is that you can always bet with small amounts. Plus, it provides the opportunity to win some big amounts, whilst limiting the amount of money you can lose. Of course, in order to earn significant profits, you need to get a series of consecutive wins. Say for example you start with a £1 bet on any simple chance. If you bet the winnings and get 4 wins in a row, you will end up with a profit of £16. Another advantage of the system is that you are not limited to betting on simple chances. You can bet on dozens, columns, single numbers – whatever takes your fancy. By making a riskier bet, you can also reduce the number of times you need to bet the winnings. For example, you would only need to win twice in a row when betting on a single number, to pocket an impressive sum of money. Of course, the chance of a straight up bet winning twice in a row is pretty slim, but when it happens, the profits rise massively. In this situation, if you bet £1 on a single number and won, you would get £36 back (£35 profit, plus the £1 stake). If you bet this again and got a second win, the total payout would be £36 x 35 = £1260, quite a result!
This system is named after the French mathematician and philosopher Jean Baptiste le Rond d’Alembert. The progression here rises very slowly. For example, if you bet £1, each time you lose, you increase the bet by £1. At the same time, you decrease your bet by £1 after each win. If you make it back to the original bet amount, then your profit is the amount of the starting bet multiplied by the amount of wins.
|Stake||Bet||Profit/Loss of the Round||Cumulative Stake||Cumulative Winnings||Net Profit|
The advantage here is that because the bets increase very slowly, you are less likely to exhaust your bankroll or hit the maximum betting limit. Yet this does depend on an equal distribution of wins and losses. If you don’t reach the equilibrium, it is highly likely that you will have a loss overall. You also have to factor in the zero on the wheel. This further reduces the probability of profits.
There are plenty of other progressive systems which see the stakes increase slowly. Such examples include the Labouchère system, the Montante Hollande, the Whittacker Progression, the Goldstein Progression and the Fitzroy system. They all have more or less the same way of playing progressively, and have pretty much the same advantages and disadvantages.
Unlike progressive betting systems, the size of the bet does not change depending on previous results. Non-progressive roulette systems are also referred to as flat betting. Here, players use the numbers that have won previously to predict which will win next.
Playing the Numbers
Here players bet on single numbers that have not made an appearance in a while. The idea behind this is that if some numbers have not been drawn in a while, then they are overdue, and more likely to win. This practice assumes that these numbers must occur at some point to fulfil the “law of large numbers” (the equal distribution of all numbers over a very large number of games). These so called overdue numbers are also referred to as retardaires.
The opposite system is to bet on numbers that have been drawn in previous rounds. This practice uses the two-thirds law. This assumes that in 37 consecutive rounds, the binominal distribution sees around 36% of the numbers not winning, with 37% appearing once, and 25% winning twice or more (these numbers are called dominants).
However, this approach is based on the law of small numbers. Therefore, as you play more and more rounds, the average times a number appears begins to even out, as per the law of large numbers. Therefore, neither of these systems work. Not the short term observation of overdue numbers, nor the long term play with dominant numbers.
These types of systems aim to predict which number will win, based on flaws in the wheel, or on the actions of the croupier. You can learn more about the bias wheel system and how players try to exploit the dealer’s signature here.
Some professional players claim to use failures in roulette wheels to their advantage. Many wheels are not 100% correct and have small quirks that can result in favouring some numbers over others. These could be created during the manufacture of the wheel, or even during the installation. For example, the wheel may not be placed completely level, which could cause some numbers to win more often. Yet these different characteristics of the wheels are very hard to spot, and it therefore takes the keen eye of a professional player to notice them and use them to their advantage. Yet it is worth noting that if a wheel were compromised, and players were able to use this to their advantage to overcome the house edge of around 2.7%, this would soon be recognised by the casino. Roulette games are regularly tested to ensure their fairness and integrity. Both the wheel itself and its level installation are checked. Therefore, using failures of the wheel to win is simply a myth. Players who claim otherwise have most likely just had a short term run of good luck.
How the Dealer Throws the Ball
Another system used by professionals to gain an advantage is to watch the actions of the dealer closely. They asses how the ball is thrown, and the position and speed of the spinning wheel, to enable them to predict which section of the wheel the ball will land in. In this way, they can bet on the numbers around that position and be more likely to get a win.
One of the arguments for this roulette strategy is that the dealer has their own routine for throwing the ball, which they are probably unaware of. As such, the velocity and angle at which they throw the ball into the spinning wheel does not change, and can therefore be used as an indicator as to where the ball will land. Whereas this is true to some degree, even the slightest difference to how the ball is thrown can result in a completely different outcome. Then you also have to take into consideration how the ball reacts when it hits a diamond, and the impact that has on which number the ball will come to land on. Overall, there are so many slight differences that can occur when the ball is thrown that it is pretty much impossible to predict an accurate result each time. Therefore, this strategy cannot be used to overcome the house edge and provide favourable results for players.
Is there Actually a Roulette System that Works?
The simple answer is no. It has been mathematically proven that no system exists that results in profiting from the game in the long term. As for using physical systems to overcome mathematical probabilities, as we have seen, this is not possible. If there were a failure in the wheel, it would be recognised and corrected by the casino. As for predicting the position the ball will land based on the position and speed of the throw; this too is not accurate, owing to the many slight variations that can impact the result.
So what is the Best Roulette Strategy to Play?
As roulette always has a negative mathematical expectation, meaning that you cannot profit in the long term, you could simply choose to not play the game at all. Of course, you will not win, and you will not lose, but you then miss out on the fun and entertainment that the game provides.
Alternatively, you can accept the small house edge and simply try your luck at the game. You may have a lucky streak in the short term and pocket some winnings. However, you should of course keep in mind that this will even out in the long run, and you could end up losing a little more money than you win.
Another option is to bet big, to try and win big. When you bet small amounts of money, you will slowly lose your money over the long term, owing to the house edge. Whereas if you make a big bet and get a significant payout, then the best option is to quit and walk away from the table. After all, you cannot win in the long term, your losses will even out your big win. Of course, the only drawback with this approach is that you could spend (and lose) your bankroll really quickly with big bets, meaning you get less time to play, reducing the entertainment factor.
It is really important to set yourself a limit and never wager money that you cannot afford to lose. The best approach is to see the money you are willing to bet as a fee for the entertainment you get, with the possibility to win big. It is important to stick within your limits, and never be tempted to overcome a loss from a previous session by playing with higher stakes than you can afford. Ultimately, this can lead to real problems.