Picture, if you will, a casino rookie in your life who doesn’t know the first thing about gambling. If you wanted to give them a short and sweet introduction to the world of betting, which game would you choose?
For my money, the roulette wheel will always be the perfect vehicle for first-time gamblers to get in the game. Binary “this or that” betting, a brisk pace of play, and premium payouts that reach 35 to 1 make roulette approachable and enjoyable for beginners and regulars alike.
With that said, players should never forget that the casino positively relishes every wager placed on a roulette spin. Check below for seven reasons why the house is always happy to offer all the roulette action you can handle.
1 – Roulette Players Can’t Use Strategy to Boost Odds
Whenever you place a wager within the confines of a casino, you can be sure that you’re taking the worst of things when it comes to the odds.
Of course, with every spin incurring a steep house edge between 6% and 8%, the slots can easily wipe away entire bankrolls many times over before ever dispensing their precious jackpots.
And all the while, players can’t do a thing except sit back and watch the reels spin while hoping to see lightning strike.
Other games, such as blackjack and video poker, give players a little rope to work with. By allowing players to act on their hand—by standing pat, drawing additional cards to potentially improve, or double the bet when favorable spots arise—these skill-based games afford several strategic elements.
The house still holds an edge, mind you, but a smart and savvy player who knows their basic strategy charts can whittle that edge down to just fractions of a percentage point.
Well, as anybody who has watched the signature red and black wheel spin round and round can attest, roulette is a pure game of chance. In other words, once you’ve placed a bet, you have absolutely zero ability to influence the outcome or improve your odds of success.
Accordingly, casinos love to see gamblers try their hand at a random game of chance like roulette rather than a skill-based affair.
2 – Roulette Offers Players One of the Highest “Base Game” House Edges Around
And now, let’s move on to some specifics…
In a modern American casino, nine out of 10 roulette tables you see will be spinning a double-zero wheel. That is to say, the wheel will feature the numbers 1-36 in red or black, along with two green spaces (0 and 00).
The original roulette wheels, and the ones used predominately in Las Vegas up until relatively recently, only showed a single 0 space. Today, those single-zero wheels are known as “European” or “French” Roulette, and they’re typically reserved for high-rollers (more on this to come).
On a single-zero wheel, the house edge against players stands at a reasonable 2.70%. But thanks to the addition of that second green space, double-zero wheels balloon the house edge to 5.26%.
Put another way, for every $100 you wager on double-zero roulette, the house can expect to win $5.26 when it’s all said and done.
When compared to a game like blackjack—which offers a house edge of only 0.50% on its “base” game bet—roulette is essentially 10 times worse from the player’s perspective.
And even if you keep your focus to games of chance alone, roulette is way worse than competitors like baccarat (1.06% on banker hand/1.24% on player) and craps (1.41% on the pass line).
3 – Roulette Players Routinely Pass up Better Odds Out of Inexperience or Inconvenience
Speaking of those single-zero roulette wheels of old, many players mistakenly believe that the corporate casinos phased them out entirely. After all, strolling any Sin City casino will present dozens of double-zero wheels, while single-zero games are seldom found.
But in reality, tables offering that reduced 2.70% house edge rate can be found all over town when you know where to look.
With the vast majority of wheels in the general pit area featuring double-zero play, the legions of tourists who arrive daily simply bet on the closest option at hand. In the process, they nearly double the odds against them without ever noticing the difference.
In fact, The Venetian even experimented with a triple-zero wheel which swelled the house edge to an obscene 7.69%.
Unsurprisingly, that shameless bastardization of roulette still managed to draw packed tables because the average gambler just doesn’t know any better.
Now that you do know better, however, venture away from Las Vegas Boulevard to the Downtown District. There, you’ll find affordable single-zero wheels at old-school joints like El Cortez and The Plaza.
4 – Roulette’s Most Popular Bet Will Only Win 2.7% of Spins on Average
Whenever you see a Hollywood scene featuring roulette action, the players are never betting on binary even money options like red or black, odd or even, and low (1-18) or high (19-36).
Instead, they place a few chips on their favorite numbers and hope to see the bouncing white ball land perfectly in place. These single-number bets are a roulette table’s bread and butter, thanks in large part to a juicy 35 to 1 payout.
That’s right, a measly $5 chip on your birthday or lucky number can bring back a whopping $175 in return. You won’t find payback ratios like that outside of the machine games, or the longest longshots in craps, which makes roulette appealing to the average gambler.
I mean, why try to grind out a dozen winning hands in blackjack when just a single fortunate spin produces the same profit?
Well, that 35 to 1 payout might be sweet, but it’s still a far sight from the 37 to 1 odds against landing a single roulette number. And based on that discrepancy, you can expect to see your number come in just 2.70% of all spins.
Yep, on more than 97% of your single-number plays, the wheel will fail to cooperate and the house wins. Given those odds, it’s no wonder why casinos spread more roulette action than any other table game.
5 – Roulette Creates a Fast Pace of Play Which Sees One Spin Made Every Minute
Another big boon roulette affords the house stems from the game’s rapid pace of play.
That means you’ll be playing at a pace of one spin per minute during your time at the table.
The pace of play itself is relatively equal to games like blackjack and baccarat, but as you learned earlier, roulette’s house edge is much, much higher. That 5.26% advantage held by the house, pressed over and over again each and every minute, only compounds the poor odds players face.
6 – Roulette Is Rife for Betting “Systems” Like the Martingale and the D’Alembert
I absolutely loathe fake gambling “systems” sold by the unscrupulous to the unsuspecting, so I’ll leave this entry mercifully short.
Self-proclaimed roulette “experts” have long hawked “can’t-miss” betting “strategies” which purport to produce consistent profits.
You might have heard of the Martingale, which directs players to double their even money bets after any loss. By doing so, as the scammers claim anyhow, whenever you finally end the losing streak you’ll be left with a one-wager profit.
The D’Alembert system adjusts this model slightly, pushing players to double bets after a loss, while halving them after a win.
None of that matters though, because how you bet doesn’t have any conceivable connection to the eventual outcome.
Double after a loss, halve after a win, bet based on the Fibonacci sequence for that matter—another scam system actually sold to desperate gamblers—and in the end, you’ll still face the same 47.40% win probability on even money wagers.
You can read more about roulette betting systems on our website if you want to learn more about how they work.
7 – Roulette Attracts Superstitious Players Who Succumb to the “Gambler’s Fallacy”
Lastly, have you ever noticed that brightly-lit display board which accompanies every roulette table?
The board shows recent results, highlighting which numbers and colors have been landed upon over the last 20 or so spins. By showing players short-term streaks like five reds in a row, or no single-digit numbers in the last 10 spins, casinos prey on a phenomenon known as the “gambler’s fallacy.”
Wrong. Every roulette spin represents a completely independent event, one unrelated to what happened before. Thus, after five consecutive red spins, the odds of hitting red again on spin #6 remain set, as they’ve always been and always will be, at 47.40%.
The typical Las Vegas tourist refuses to believe this indisputable fact, especially when roulette’s color- and number-based patterns are concerned, and the casinos are happy to oblige.
Live dealer roulette makes for the perfect entry point to enjoying the thrills of casino gambling. You can basically flip coins on the even money wagers, or shoot for the moon with single-number and other “inside” bets.
The first option produces small winners every other spin (minus the dreaded 0 and 00 spaces), while the second sets up major rewards for a relatively minor risk. And with no strategies to worry about, players can feel free to sit back and enjoy the ride.
Roulette’s popularity with the gambling masses is undeniable, as is the game’s importance to casino operators. With such a high house edge, combined with that bet-per-minute pace, the age-old wheel-spinning game gets players to gamble on bad bets like clockwork.