Every time I’m in the casino, it seems like the popularity of roulette is dying. Sometimes, there isn’t anyone at the table or there are only a few people playing. I’m sure that roulette is still popular in many places, but where I play most often, I’m surprised it’s still available.
I understand why roulette isn’t as popular as it once was. As you’re going to learn in the next section, there are many good reasons to stop playing the game. But there are also a few reasons why you should play roulette, which I’ll introduce in the later sections.
Why You Shouldn’t Play Roulette
I rarely play roulette because of the three reasons outlined below. I have a roulette system I developed years ago that I use from time to time, but it has the same problem as every other gambling system in existence. It produces a small profit most of the time, but when it fails, it creates a huge loss. It’s still fun to use, so I still play roulette every once in a while.
1 – Terrible House Edge
The number one reason why you shouldn’t play roulette is the terrible house edge. In some casinos, the only available roulette wheel is called an American roulette wheel, and it has a house edge of 5.26%. This is a terrible house edge and almost every other table game in the casino offers a lower house edge.
When you make a bet on one of the even money spaces, like black, you win when the ball lands in one of the 18 black spaces on the wheel. You lose when the ball lands on one of the 18 red spaces or one of the two green spaces for zero and double zero.
This means that you win on 18 out of 38 spaces on an even money bet on an American roulette wheel. When you play on a European roulette wheel, which I cover next, you win on 18 out of 37 spaces. Of course, the casinos prefer you play on an American wheel, because they make more money when you do.
A European roulette wheel has a single zero space, but doesn’t have a double zero wheel. This lowers the house edge to 2.7%. This is still a high house edge when you compare it to many other table games. Most blackjack games have a house edge of less than 1%, with some coming in under 0.5%. The two best bets on baccarat come in at under 1.5%, the craps table has a few bets under 1.5%, and some video poker games have a house edge under 0.5%.
If you’re going to play roulette, always play on a wheel that doesn’t have the double zero space. But the best option is to play a game with a lower house edge.
2 – You Simply Can’t Win
I covered the large house edge that roulette carries in the last section. The truth is that every game in the casino is designed with a house edge. This is the way casinos make money. You can play a few games with particular strategies that give you a chance to overcome the house edge, but few people learn how to do it. If this is something that interests you, learn more about poker and blackjack.
When you play most casino games, you’re going to lose money in the long run. The higher the house edge, the faster you lose money. You also have a lower chance to win any particular playing session when you play high house edge games. When you play a game with a low house edge, like blackjack, you have a chance to leave many playing sessions ahead.
In the long run, you’re still going to lose more than you win, but you have some winning sessions. When you play a game with a higher house edge, like roulette, you lose more in the long run and you have a lower chance to win individual playing sessions as well.
3 – Lack of Good Wheels
I touched on this earlier, but casinos want you to play American roulette wheels. They don’t want you playing single zero wheels. This is why many casinos don’t offer any European roulette wheels.
Many of the casinos that offer both types of wheels force you to play for higher stakes at the single zero wheels. The minimum bet is higher, and some casinos only have the better wheels in high roller areas.
If you play roulette online, you can find single zero wheels in most casinos. I understand why online casinos have double zero wheels, but I can’t understand why anyone ever plays them.
One thing that many gamblers don’t know is there’s actually a third type of roulette wheel. In a few places, you can play on a French roulette wheel, which looks like a European wheel. The difference is that a proper French wheel has a couple of rules that lower the house edge. The rules are La Partage and en prison.
Why You Should Play
Now that I’ve covered why you shouldn’t play roulette, there are a few reasons why you might still consider playing. If you’re going to play, look for a French roulette wheel. If you can’t find one, stick with European roulette. The house edge on an American wheel is simply too high to ever play.
1 – Even Money Betting Options
The even money betting options on roulette give you a good chance to double your bet. On a single zero wheel, when you make an even money wager, it’ll win 18 out of 37 times. This means that 48.65% of the time you make an even money bet, you double your bet.
While this still ends up losing more than you win in the long run, it’s one of the best available chances to double up in the casino. As a matter of fact, you have a better chance of leaving the casino by placing your entire session bankroll on an even money bet once than playing several hours with smaller bets.
2 – It’s Easy to Play
Roulette is one of the easiest games in the casino to play. You can put your money on one of the even money bets or pick a single number. Once you place your bet, the casino personnel takes care of everything else.
I recommend starting with one of the even money bets, which are red, black, odd, even, 1-18, and 19-36. These are called outside bets, and each has a space outside of the single numbers where you place your bet. Other bets pay out higher amounts, but all bets have the same house edge so it doesn’t matter what you choose to bet on.
3 – Roulette Is Slower Than Many Games
Casinos want their games to run as fast as possible because the more bets they take, the more money they make. Some games, like slot machines, can be played at a rate of over 500 spins per hour. Table games are slower, but they all run at different rates of speed.
When you’re gambling, you need to consider how fast the game plays. Games that play slower are usually better for your bankroll. Roulette plays slower than most other casino games, so even with a higher house edge, you might lose less because you’re risking less every hour.
Here’s an example of how much you can expect to lose per hour playing a few different casino games.
When you play roulette on a European wheel with bets of $10 at 50 spins per hour, your total amount wagered is $500 per hour. With a house edge of 2.7%, you can expect to lose an average of $13.50 per hour.
When you play a slot machine with a house edge of 8% with a $1 bet at 500 spins per hour, you can expect to lose $40.
Playing blackjack with a 1% house edge with $50 wagers at 75 hands per hour, your expected loss rate is $37.50.
Roulette isn’t a good casino game for players. It’s not even close to the top 10 casino games to play. The high house edge and lack of good wheels simply make it a bad choice. But it’s not the worst game to play if you’re looking for something simple and slow. The even money bets offer one of the best chances in the casino to double up on a single bet.