Not long ago, I read an article by a famous gambling writer who suggested the “big number” strategy for the game of roulette. He had an interesting warning at the beginning of his article:
He pointed out that you couldn’t get a mathematical edge at roulette using this strategy.
But then he also said that the system was fun to play.
So far, no problem.
But then he suggested that if you combine the big number roulette strategy with his money management advice, you “might” reduce the overall negative expectation of the game.
And that’s where we run into trouble.
A strategy will either reduce the negative expectation or it won’t. There’s no “might” in math.
If you’ve read about this strategy, and even if you haven’t, here’s a post about whether you can beat roulette with the big number strategy.
What Is the Big Number Roulette Strategy and How Do You Use It?
In the original article I read, the author called the big number strategy more of a trick than an actual system. I don’t think it’s necessary to make such a distinction, but here it is for people who care:
A system is a complicated approach to a game.
A trick is a simple, fast approach to a game.
The big number trick is a strategy where you place a single number bet in roulette. That’s a bet that wins if the ball lands on the specific number you bet on, and it wins 35 to 1. If you bet $100 on a single number and hit, you win $3500.
Most roulette games have a scoreboard that displays the last 20 numbers that came up. Because of the nature of random events and standard deviation, some numbers will have hit more often than they should have.
Your job with the big number strategy is to choose the number that has come up repeatedly more often than any other number. You just bet on that number.
If there’s a tie, you bet both numbers.
If another number gets hit more times than the big number, it becomes the new big number, and you start betting on it instead.
Here’s an example:
The number 7 has come up three times in the last 20 spins, but so has the number 10.
Your job is to bet on both 7 and 10 until some other number has been hit four times, or until one of those numbers gets hit a fourth time.
If 7 comes up on the next spin, you collect your winnings, but you also stop betting on the 10. It’s not the big number anymore.
The First Principle of Money Management Use in the Big Number Trick
You must decide how much money you’re taking to the table with you, and then you have to decide how much you want to bet on each spin. You should think about how long you want to play when deciding this. You should also consider your overall goals for the session.
Once you’ve decided on a bet size, that’s the amount you bet on a single number.
If you have two numbers tied for a big number, you’ll bet half that amount on each – this way you’ll still only have that much in action on each spin.
There’s not really a right or wrong way to size your bets in roulette. It all just depends on your goals and risk tolerance.
When Do You Stop Betting on a Number?
The author from the other article suggests that you should stop betting on a big number once it disappears from the scoreboard. He also suggests that if there aren’t any numbers that have come up more than once on the scoreboard, you wait until one has to place a bet.
I like this suggestion, actually, even though it doesn’t affect the house’s edge over you. That’s because your average hourly loss is based largely on how much you’re betting per hour. Any time you sit out for a spin of the wheel, you’ve reduced the statistical amount of money you stand to lose.
And that’s always a good thing.
Other Options Related to the Big Number Trick
Different players take different approaches to try to beat the roulette house edge and the game itself. Most of the time they try to bet against the trend.
The big number trick takes the opposite approach. When something has come up repeatedly, the big number player keeps betting it in the hopes that it will come up again.
In fact, you can use the big number strategy with different bets than just the single number bet. For example, you could use the big number strategy to inform you as to which outside bet to place.
The outside bets hit more often, which can make this strategy more interesting if you get bored losing all the time. The house still has the same mathematical edge, but you’ll win more often.
The only thing is that the size of your winnings will be smaller. The outside bets either pay even money or 2 to 1 odds.
All the Numbers Have Specific Characteristics
Take the number 26, for example. It has specific characteristics you can bet on.
For one thing, it’s an even number. If it’s come up twice in the last 20 spins, you could bet that the next spin will land on even.
For another thing, it’s also a black number. You could bet on even AND on black.
You could, theoretically, place the following bets:
- Even (pays off at even money)
- Black (also pays off at even money)
- Top third (pays off at 2 to 1)
- Single number bet (pays off 35 to 1)
If you hit the 26, you’ll win all four bets. But even if you miss the 26 – which, let’s face it, will be most of the time – you still have plenty of opportunities to win at least a little something.
The Problems With This Strategy
The first problem with this strategy is one that most of my readers are already familiar with. It’s called the Gambler’s Fallacy.
The probability of a number hitting on the roulette wheel is easy to calculate regardless of the situation. You have 38 possible outcomes, and only one of them is that number.
That makes the probability 1/38, or 37 to 1.
This probability doesn’t change based on what happened on any of the 20 previous spins of the wheel.
There are still 38 possible outcomes, and only one of them is the specified number.
How the House Gets Its Edge and Why the Big Number Strategy Doesn’t Beat It
The house edge in roulette comes from the difference between the payout odds and the odds of winning.
The odds of winning a single number bet are always 37 to 1. That doesn’t change based on what happened previously.
The payout odds are 35 to 1.
If you make 38 spins and see statistically perfect results, you’ll lose two units net, assuming you bet the same amount each time.
Over 38 spins, that’s 5.26% of each bet (on average).
It also doesn’t change because of any kind of money management techniques. You’ll find plenty of advice about when to quit like when you’ve won a specific amount, when you’ve lost a specific amount, etc.
But none of that changes the house edge, either.
If you play long enough, you’ll lose an average of 5.26% of the money you’ve bet, period.
And so, here’s my conclusion:
Yes, you can beat roulette with the big number strategy.
But if you do, it’s just dumb luck. Playing with this strategy isn’t superior to any other way to play roulette, but it’s worth a shot.