There are more strategies to win roulette than any other casino game, but the vast majority of players consistently lose. This is partly because most roulette tips pages focus on casino promotion, rather than accurate tips.
Why Most Roulette Strategies Lose
Most don’t even consider where the ball will land. It may seem absurd, considering that roulette is all about a wheel and ball.
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Example of typical losing system:
Consider betting on RED. If you lose, double your bet on RED for the next spin. If you lose again, you increase your bet again and so on until you profit or lose everything. Let’s see what happens after a few spins:
Bet 1 unit on Red > LOSE
Bet 2 units on Red > LOSE
Bet 4 units on Red > LOSE
Bet 8 units on Red > LOSE
This is the Martingale system. The bet size rapidly increases. It works for a while, but eventually your luck runs out, and you blow your bankroll.
Furthermore, the odds of red and black spinning are always the same, so it’s the same as random bets. It doesn’t matter even if you had 100 blacks in a row.
Most players understand this, but are stuck thinking that eventually they are due to win. But this doesn’t mean you will profit. Why is explained below.
The problems with progression strategies:
1. Eventually you reach the table maximum bet. Then you cannot further increase bets to cover losses.
2. Even when you win, the payout is still unfair. For example, consider the European wheel has 37 pockets, but the payout is 35 to 1. If the payouts were fair, they would be 36 to 1, so one win in 37 spins leaves you with no change in bankroll.
Even if you eventually win, the above two points guarantee you will lose. Of course you might get lucky, but eventually your luck will run out.
Facts vs Fiction: Common False Beliefs Explained
FACT: Previous spins do not affect future spins
Even after 100 consecutive reds, the odds of red or black spinning next don’t change. To test this principle for yourself, check spin history and find streaks of red or black. Then determine how often red or black spins next. Test enough spins and you’ll find the odds haven’t changed. In this sense, previous spins have no connection to future spins.
FACT: You cannot use a “long term balance”
After 10,000 spins, you’ll probably have an uneven amount of red and blacks. So it may seem reasonable to bet on whichever color spun least, and wait for the balance to occur. This doesn’t work because:
- The past spins don’t affect future spins.
- The imbalance may be due to roulette wheel bias, which causes red to spin more. So betting on black would be worse than random bets.
- How do you know the past 100,000 spins didn’t include an opposite trend like 60,000 blacks and 40,000 reds?
FACT: Bankroll Trend Charts Are Almost Useless
A growing bankroll like below looks great. It looks like the system is “working”. But in reality, the wins occur because the player uses progression. This involved increasing bet size after losses.
Gradually growing bankroll (looks great).
The problem is eventually you either reach the table limit, or run out of money. Then this happens:
The inevitable bankroll crash (winnings and more lost).
Betting progression is like a loan that must be repaid, plus interest. It will keep you winning for a while even with random bets.
So can you just win for a while and leave when you’re “up”? Yes, if you’re a tourist and almost never play. But what if 100 tourists all did the same thing? 10 may leave with some profit, and 90 would be broke. The end result is the casino still profits.
Don’t think you can just have shorter sessions and always profit. Because sooner or later, you’ll lose your winnings and more.
FICTION: Betting Progression Helps You Win (Changing Bet Size)
Betting progression is changing bet size after wins or losses. It doesn’t at all effect how frequently you win, because each spin is independent. So progression is merely different size bets on different spins.
EXAMPLE: Your strategy may use a betting trigger, which is an event you bet after. For example, you might wait for 3 REDS to spin in a row. Then you’d start betting, and double bet size until you win. It doesn’t work because the odds and payouts haven’t changed, and all you’re doing is making difference size bets on independent spins.
This is how the player sees their progression:
Bet 1 unit on red: LOSS
Bet 2 units in red: LOSS
Bet 4 units on red: LOSS
Bet 8 units on red: WIN (hopefully)
The player thinks their “chain of betting” helps them win. But in reality they’re making a series of independent bets with these odds:
1 unit bet, odds 18/37, payout 1:1
2 unit bet, odds 18/37, payout 1:1
4 unit bet, odds 18/37, payout 1:1
8 unit bet, odds 18/37, payout 1:1
The bets are identical to 4 different players making 4 different bets. So the player has changed nothing except the amount they risk.
Progression betting does not help you win, at all. You could get lucky and win big, OR you could be unlucky and LOSE EVEN MORE. If your system doesn’t win with flat betting (no progression), then it will eventually fail with progression.
FICTION: You can build a system around “rare events” you’ll never see
Your perception of a “rare” event is actually something that will eventually happen in enough spins.
EXAMPLE 1: You may never seen these winning numbers in a row: 1,2,3,4,5. And chances are you’ve never seen this sequence either: 32,4,18,9,1. If you see enough spins, both sequences will happen the same amount of times.
EXAMPLE 2: You’ll probably never see 37 different numbers appear in 37 spins. But it will happen just as often as any other sequence of 37 spins.
EXAMPLE 3: Imagine waiting years to see the spin sequence 1,2,3,4,5. It seems almost impossible that #6 will spin next. But actually the odds of #6 spinning next are the same as any other number.
You cannot change your odds by betting that rare events wont happen. What matters is the payouts are unfair, even when you win. This is how the casino gets its advantage.
FICTION: Bankroll management helps you win
Bankroll management only varies the rate at which you win or lose. It doesn’t help you win, at all. It’s no different to betting progression. Yet many players think the right “money management” strategy is the final missing key to a winning system.
EXAMPLE: Your bet size may be in proportion to your bankroll. As you lose, you decrease bet size. This doesn’t at all help you win. Remember that each spin is independent, so all you’re doing is change the amount you risk on each spin.
Unless your roulette strategy changes the odds of you winning (to be better than random), bankroll management will only make you lose at a faster or slower rate. Specifically positive progression will make you lose faster, and negative progression makes your bankroll last longer (because your bets get smaller).
FICTION: You only need a short-term winning strategy
Players often don’t see the point of testing millions of spins, because they don’t expect to ever play that long. They’re forgetting the house edge affects every spin independently.
Many players claim their strategy wins, but requires you to stop playing once you reach your daily profit target. Let’s say the daily profit target was +1 unit. Ask yourself:
- If the strategy worked, wouldn’t playing more mean winning more?
- What if 10,000 players all used the same system? Would they all win +1 unit?
- What if 1 player used the same system 10,000 times?
The reality is regardless of how many spins you play, the casino has the same edge. That is unless you change the odds of winning to be better than random.
FICTION: Roulette has streaks you can use for advantage
Even random number generators have occasional “freaky-looking streaks”. The streaks are not predictable. It’s just ordinary probability and statistics.
EXAMPLE 1: You might bet on consecutively repeating numbers. The odds of 0 spinning three times in a row are 1 in 50653. But the odds of 0,0 then 2 spinning are exactly the same. The odds of any number spinning next are the same.
EXAMPLE 2: You may wait for the first dozen to spin three times consecutively, then bet on the second and third dozens. But the odds of each dozens spinning next haven’t changed at all.
Humans are pattern-seeking animals. We tend to think we see patterns and trends where none exist.
FICTION: A strategy that “lasts” for 100,000 spins is better than most systems
Almost every systems is just random betting, and varying size of bets – nothing more. It’s only different in the player’s mind.
Some systems may be more likely to profit over 100,000 spins. This is because of the betting progression, and the amount of numbers covered.
EXAMPLE 1: A system’s betting progression may reset whenever a “new bankroll high” was achieved. This helps prevent bets from spiraling out of control. Such a progression usually lasts longer than aggressive progressions like the Martingale. Less-aggressive progressions last longer only because average bets are smaller, NOT because they are “better”.
EXAMPLE 2: If you use a negative progression by decreasing bet size after losses, your system will survive more spins. This is only because your bets become progressively smaller.
EXAMPLE 3: Your system could wait for rare “triggers”, so you skip many spins before betting. This makes your system last longer, only because you bet less frequently.
FICTION: A strategy that mostly wins is all you need
If your system won 4 out of 5 days, the results may be:
Day 1: +100 units
Day 2: +50 units
Day 3: +20 units
Day 4: +100 units
Day 5: -300 units
When you consider days, it’s an 80% win rate. But the reality is you’ve made a loss. A system can win even 95% of the time. But the rare losing day wipes out profit from previous days.
FICTION: Waiting for a trigger to bet increases your chances of winning
Waiting for something to happen, like a sequence of numbers, wont improve your chances of winning. Remember that each spin is independent. The wheel doesn’t know or care about what happened before.
FICTION: Winning after you reach your target profit for the day helps ensure daily profits
It makes no difference if you play 1 spin a day for 100 days, or 100 spins in 1 day. It’s still 100 spins. The odds of you winning or losing are the same in either case.
FICTION: Skipping spins you bet on can help you profit in the long term
If you tested a system over 1,000 spins, your “trigger” may require you to bet on only 200 spins (20% of spins). If you profited, it doesn’t mean you’ve won over 1,000 spins. It means you’ve won over just 200 spins.
The Illusion of a Winning System
Around 20 years ago, my first system involved betting dozens with a progression. I won lots of money for about a year, and was convinced my system “worked”. My proof was the amount I had won.
Eventually, I began to lose. So I thought either the casino had changed something, or that my system was missing a key ingredient (like better money management). I then slightly modified my system, which also seemed to win for a while, and eventually lose. I didn’t understand all my systems were no better than random bets, and my wins were just from luck.
How the delusion affects players on a mass-scale:
Say there were 1,000 players all applying different systems in a casino. After a week of play, the collective results are:
- 48% of players WIN a total of $480,000. These players think their system “worked”.
- 52% of players LOSE a total of $500,000. These players start working on a new system.
The casino takes the profit of $20,000 and doesn’t care who won or lost. They only need more losers than winners. But the casino needs winners to keep hope alive, so gamblers keep coming back. The winnings paid are like an investment for the casino.
Keep in mind that I was once a deluded loser too. I thought I had a winning strategy and that I could effortlessly milk the casinos. But the delusion was revealed with further play.
Some players win, most players lose
I provide a free multiplayer roulette game at www.rouletteplayers.org/register/ and the results for all players are at www.rouletteplayers.prg/leaderboard/
Currently there’s over 1,000 players. You can see how much they’ve won, how much they’ve lost, how many spins they’ve played, and the “win rate” (wins vs losses). A win rate of 1.0 means the player has broken even. The expected win rate is about 0.97 because of the house edge.
The top of the leaderboard:
Leaderboard from multiplayer roulette game. The combined result is a loss.
The far right column shows the win rate. This is the ratio between amount lost and amount won. A ratio of 1.0 means they broke even. Below 1.0 is an overall loss. And above 1.0 is an overall profit.
Some players have profited even after tens of thousands of spins. They’d think their system “worked”. The reality is it’s probable that some players will profit, even with random bets. It doesn’t mean their system is better than others.
Changing The Old Way Of Thinking
All gambling is probability vs payout.
Consider a coin toss. The odds of heads or tails is 50/50.
If its HEADS, you pay me 1 unit.
If it’s TAILS, I pay you only 0.90 of 1 unit.
I’m paying you an unfair amount. So how can you profit? It’s the same problem you have in casinos, and it’s called the “house edge”.
You can’t just double bet size after losses, because then all you do is increase the amount you risk. You may get lucky and win, but you also risk losing big.
So there is no escaping the unfair payouts UNLESS you know which side of the coin is more likely to appear. Then you would be changing the odds of winning. And if you won much more often than 50% of the time, then the unfair payout wont matter as much. Calculating which side is more likely to win is called advantage play, because it gives you an advantage.
Advantage play exists in almost every casino game including roulette. And it’s the only proven effective approach.
In the Simplest Terms Possible
1. The winning number is determined by real physical variables, like wheel and ball properties, spin spins etc.
2. If spins are random, the odds of winning are fixed. For example, if you bet on 0, you expect to win about 1 in 37 spins (on a single zero wheel)
3. The payouts never change. They are casino rules. For example, a win on a single number pays 35 -1.
4. The house edge is the casino’s advantage over you. It is simply unfair payouts when you do win.
5. Almost every system is based around junk like the law of a third, waiting for numbers to hit then betting, martingale progression etc. They lose because they don’t change the odds of winning. So if the odds are unchanged, and the payouts are unchanged. The result is guaranteed long term loss. No betting progression changes it.
6. The average player has no idea of these simple fundamental facts, which is why they keep producing losing systems.
7. Everything in roulette is long term, unless you have detailed data that accounts for why the ball lands where it does (like dominant diamond, rotor speed, ball bounce). You cannot possibly test a system properly from a few minutes or even weeks of play. Proper testing requires months, otherwise a loss or win can be plain good or bad luck. So for proper testing to be practical, you need at least 50,000 recorded spins from a real wheel. The only exception is if you have supporting information to back up results, like dominant diamond, rotor speed, ball bounce (so you can plainly see all factors contributing to where the ball lands).
8. The ONLY way to beat roulette consistently is to increase the accuracy of predictions, AKA increase the odds of winning.
9. Most players will either flat ignore the above, or not have proper understanding of it. Professional players, players who aren’t new to roulette, or players who are reasonably intelligent, will understand the facts and wonder what other players are thinking.
Anyone can take or leave these simple facts.
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