The Truth About Hot Numbers in Roulette

Casino Roulette Wheel
You can find several attitudes about the game of roulette among gamblers. Most roulette players do believe in hot numbers, and this post is meant to reveal the truth about that phenomenon.

But first, I want to talk a little bit about roulette player attitudes. Some people understand that roulette is entirely random and that the house has an edge. They’re hoping to beat the odds this session and have some fun while they’re at it.

Others don’t understand the math behind the game or think they have psychic powers that will help them win. They’re optimistic but foolish.

Still, others think that they’ve found an exploit which will help them win at roulette. They might think that the roulette wheel has a bias toward certain numbers, for example. Or they might think that a systematic method of raising and lowering their bets can help them succeed at roulette.

This post is about people trying to take advantage of roulette hot numbers.

What Are Hot Numbers and What Do They Have to Do With Biased Wheels?

A roulette wheel has 38 numbers on it, which means that the odds of a specific number coming up are easy to calculate (1/38, or 37 to 1). This, of course, assumes that each number has an equal probability of coming up.

Modern casinos use well-calibrated roulette wheels. They change them out periodically so they don’t get worn out. And they also move the roulette tables around in the casino, so even if you do find a bias, that wheel might not be in the same place tomorrow as it was today.

Casinos still display what the most recent numbers to hit have been on an electronic toteboard. The idea is that players will decide what numbers to bet on based on what’s happened on previous spins of the wheel.

You don’t need a big change in the odds of winning to get an edge over the casino. If a number comes up 1 out of 34 times instead of 1 out of 38 times, you have an edge over the casino.

It’s finding those hot numbers that’s the problem. You can’t find such a bias using a small number of trials, because variance in the short run is to be expected.

Just because the number seven has come up four times in the last hour doesn’t mean that it’s going to keep coming up more often than it should, statistically.

In fact, if you want to be confident that a roulette wheel has a bias toward certain specific numbers, you’d need to have the results of 10,000 spins or more. Assuming 50 spins per hour, you’d need to watch a roulette wheel for 200 hours before you could be confident that your results were statistically accurate.

You could go with fewer spins than that if you were comfortable with the idea that you might be mistaken. But even watching 1000 spins would take 20 hours.

Since the casino changes out and moves roulette wheels from one spot to the other, you can’t be confident that “clocking” the roulette wheel will accomplish anything. But if it did, what would that do to the house edge?

What Hot Numbers Will Do to the House Edge

The house edge in roulette is based on the fact that you have 38 numbers, each specific number has a 37 to 1 probability of hitting, and the payoff if and when you do hit is 35 to 1.

Look at a statistically perfect set of 38 spins. Assume a $100 bet on each number, and each number comes up exactly once. You’ll win $3500 on your winning bet, but you’ll lose $3700 on the other 37 bets, for a net loss of $200.

Roulette Wheel Spinning, Pile of Money

Average that into 38 spins, and you’ve lost an average of $5.26 per bet (or 5.26%). Now, assume the same situation, but the single number is “hot” and has a 33 to 1 probability of coming up.

In 34 perfect spins, you’ll win $3500 once, and you’ll lose $3300 on the other 33 spins. That’s $200 in net profit, or $5.26 per spin. You have a 5.26% edge over the casino in this situation.

And the casino’s okay with this, because the other numbers come up less often, and everyone betting on them loses more money than they statistically should.

Are There Any Betting Techniques You Could Use?

My favorite strategy for betting on roulette is to bet only single numbers. I sit down at the table and look for the number that’s come up the most often recently based on what’s showing on the toteboard. If there’s a number that’s come up three times, and some of the other numbers have only come up two times, that’s my number.

If another number overtakes that number of repetitions, I switch to that number. So, if I’ve been betting on that number that came up three times, and some number has now come up four times, I switch to that number.

I like to have specific win goals and loss limits, too. Normally, I’ll sit down at the roulette table with enough money to play for at least 38 spins, about $400 if I lose every spin betting $10 per spin.

My goal is to hit a single number once or twice during those 38 spins. If I hit that goal, I quit early. If I run out of money, I walk away. That’s a simple system for taking advantage of hot numbers, but I should warn you about something.

It’s not a system that will change your probability of walking away a winner.

You’re not dealing with any kind of certain mathematical edge. Your win goals and loss limits don’t affect the odds. You’re just hoping that a number will get hot and stay hot long enough for you to win a single number bet a couple of times in an hour.

This happens sometimes, in fact, it’s bound to happen on a regular basis. In the short run, you can take advantage of this occasionally. In the long run, the times you win using this technique will be overcome by the number of times you lose using this technique.

What About Raising and Lowering the Sizes of Your Bets?

Hot numbers are a separate strategy for roulette from most betting systems, although both betting systems and hot numbers have a common flaw. They both assume that past results somehow predict future results.

For example, if you’re using the Martingale system, you’re doubling your bet every time you lose until you eventually win. The assumption is that if you bet red multiple times in a row, it’s eventually bound to hit.

This works some of the time, but occasionally, you’ll hit a losing streak that will wipe out all your gains in the amount of the house edge.

Casino Roulette Wheel with Casino Chips on the Side

The hot numbers strategy I outlined above does the same thing. It assumes that these numbers are more likely to come up than you’d think because they’ve come up before. In almost all modern casinos, the roulette wheels are carefully calibrated and new. This means that the probability of getting a single number is always the same, 1/38.

Sure, in any subset of results, you’ll see a number come up more often or less often than you’d expect. That’s the nature of a random event.

But the Law of Large Numbers indicates that over a long period of time, the probabilities and the actual results will start to mirror each other.

Conclusion

The truth about hot numbers in roulette is bound to disappoint you. In a modern casino, you’re not going to get an edge over the casino by trying to find out which numbers are coming up more often than you’d statistically expect.

There was a time when this was possible, but that time is long past. My best advice for playing roulette? Use any system you like, including searching for hot numbers and raising or lowering your bets.

Just don’t ever expect a system to work in the long run, because it won’t.