Ever since the first gambler put their money on the line wagering on games of chance and skill, bettors have strived to get better.
Indeed, neutralizing the house’s inherent edge has always been the holy grail for gambling enthusiasts.
Blackjack specialists with advanced degrees in mathematics devised basic strategy to make optimal decisions on their hand every time they act. From there, eagle-eyed players with memories like an elephant realized that tracking exposed cards offered insight into how future hands would play out — a process known as counting cards.
Poker pros have long used their uncanny ability to read opponents for tells to gain the upper hand. And in the modern age of video poker, a cold assessment of the first five cards dealt allows experts to decide exactly which hold/draw decision offers the most expected value (EV).
But while these skill-based games are subject to strategic thinking, pure games of chance like roulette have been relegated to random luck — at least to those who don’t know any better.
By practicing sound game selection, exploiting casino comp programs to subsidize losses, and avoiding common myths and misconceptions concerning strategy, any roulette player can gain some degree of control over their roulette outcomes.
On that note, keep reading to learn about five simple ways every gambling enthusiast can become better at playing the game of roulette.
1 – Play the Lowest House Edge Wheels You Can Find
For millions of tourists who flock to Las Vegas each and every year, all roulette wheels look alike.
Corporate casinos know this too, so at some point in the gambling industry’s murky past, some clever table game manager decided to go for the jugular.
By adding a second green space to the standard single-zero European wheel, the American double-zero wheel was born. And with it, players saw their odds of winning roulette slide drastically in the wrong direction.
Double-zero roulette wheels — which feature both the “0” and “00” green spaces along with alternating red and black spaces numbered 1 through 36 — have actually been around since roulette’s invention back in the 17th century.
But over time, gamblers and casinos alike agreed that two house spaces to dodge was a bridge too far, so the single-zero European wheels came into fashion.
When playing with just one green “0” space on the wheel, players betting on both sides of any even-money proposition — red or black, odd or even, low (1-18) or high (19-36) — have a 1 in 37 chance of disaster. By doing the quick math, you can see that 1/37 = 2.70%, which just so happens to be the house edge on every possible bet found in single-zero European roulette.
Now staring at a 2 out of 37 chance of disaster, the house edge climbs to 5.26% (2/37 = 5.26%).
Naturally, the corporatized casino scene found along the Strip ensures gamblers there almost always find American double-zero wheels awaiting their action. As the casino owners’ reasoning goes, if 9 out 10 players don’t even know about the alternative, the house has no good reason to offer single-zero wheels and their significantly lower house edge rate.
Thankfully, a few venues still spread single-zero European tables — but only for the right price. In order to enjoy the reduced 2.70% house edge, players must bet quite a bit higher than the regular double-zero tables crowding every casino floor.
The following casinos have single-zero roulette games ready to go.
If you’ll notice, the majority of double-zero wheels in Vegas require you to wager at least $100 per spin across whichever roulette bets you prefer. The Aria, Bellagio, and Mandalay Bay each drop the minimum bet to $50, and over at the MGM Grand, you’ll find the cheapest double-zero roulette in town at $25 per spin.
2 – Up the Stakes to Secure the Lowest Possible House Edge
If you liked the house edge falling from 5.26% to 2.70%, wait ‘til you get a load of this.
Under a special set of roulette rules known as “La Partage,” which is French for “the divide,” a few casinos offer an extremely player-friendly rebate. Under the La Partage rules — which are only offered on single-zero wheels known as French roulette — any player betting on an even-money proposition will have exactly half of their wager returned should the ball find the green “0” space.
That still sends $5 on a $10 bet into the casino’s coffers, but you’ll get to keep that other $5 you would’ve lost. Because of this generous rebate, roulette wheels with La Partage in effect — which is the norm throughout Europe — cut the house edge on even-money bets precisely in half, from 2.70% down to 1.35%.
Casinos in Las Vegas offering La Partage roulette are even fewer, but the list below showcases the seven venues where you’ll find the best roulette odds of them all.
3 – Use Your Player’s Club Card at All Times to Offset Losses
Let’s face facts. Roulette, like every other casino game under the sun, is a negative expectation gamble.
That’s not to say the game isn’t highly entertaining and potentially lucrative when Lady Luck is guiding the wheel along, but however you slice it, players are always at a disadvantage against the house.
Those house edge rates of 5.26%, 2.70%, and 1.35% may be flexible depending on your game selection, but even the best La Partage wheels cause players to lose $1.35 of every $100 wagered on average.
That’s a simple statistical fact, and no amount of wishful thinking — more on this in a moment — can make it go away.
Knowing this, roulette players should strive to squeeze every penny they can out of Player’s Club promotions and other casino rewards programs.
As the table below shows, double-zero roulette is by far the most productive game in terms of earning Player’s Club comp points.
|Comps Earned per Hour by Game ($20 Bets)|
Knowing these numbers, you should never bet a buck on roulette without first displaying your Player’s Club card to the croupier and/or pit boss.
From there, sticking to a sensible betting strategy based on even-money propositions should pump your comp points account up in a hurry, thereby subsidizing any reasonable losses you might incur.
You’ll still be losing money in the long run, and the comps won’t change that fact. Never bet more money or play longer than you would have otherwise just to earn more money in comps.
4 – Stay Disciplined and Don’t Drink
This one’s tough because roulette can be extremely infectious when everybody’s having a good time, but hear me out here.
Complimentary cocktails can be tempting, but drinking too much at the roulette table is a recipe for disaster. All it takes is one ill-timed lightbulb to go off over a drunken spinner’s head for their entire stack of chips to get splashed across the betting board.
After that, the ball finding one of the few holes in your defenses will wreak havoc on your bankroll while you’re stuck wondering what just happened.
5 – Set Win and Loss Limits, Then Stick to Them
On a final note, roulette’s very nature as a random game of chance makes it extremely volatile.
Streaks, both of wins and losses, are inevitable over the short-term. But over the long-term, the odds lie squarely in the house’s favor.
Knowing this, a strict policy of limiting your wins and losses is a great way to manage your roulette bankroll the right way. For $20 bettors, walking away after a win or loss of $500 seems reasonable, but you should apply your own personal bankroll needs and risk tolerance to decide on the right limits for you.
Roulette became one of the most popular gambling games of all time for one simple reason —anybody can win when the wheel cooperates. Whereas more complex games of chance like craps require a fair amount of knowledge to play well, roulette offers the rank and file recreational players the easiest of decisions.
Red or black, odd or even, low (1-18) or high (19-36), or pick any number(s) on the board.
This simplicity is what makes roulette so much fun, but don’t let the ease of entry fool you — roulette can still be played well by folks who know the score.
And now you do, so get out there and play roulette as proficiently as you possibly can.