Reciting Roulette Etiquette

Roulette attracts a polite, dignified gambler who enjoys a laid-back, casual game, as opposed to the frenzied atmosphere of, say, a craps game. And, as with any table game, understanding a few social niceties helps you fit right in with the suave Roulette crowd. This short section provides key points you need to remember when playing Roulette.

Place your money on the table when asking for chips — the croupier isn’t allowed to accept it directly from your hand.

Bet with regular casino chips if you aren’t going to play very long, especially on the outside bets, where plenty of room exists for lots of chips. If you want to make inside bets with casino chips, make sure to keep track of them so another player doesn’t claim them in case of a win. In the case of a dispute, the croupier may call the pit boss to resolve the matter.

Wait until the croupier removes the win marker from the layout — the signal that you can begin betting again. Placing new bets before the croupier finishes paying off bets from the previous spin is easily the biggest gaffe that new players make.

You can join a game anytime after the ball has landed and the croupier has finished paying off the winning bets.

Remember that favorite numbers, such as birthdays, anniversary dates, children’s ages, high school boyfriends’ IQs, and so on, possess no magical powers for winning, although they can make gambling more fun.

Improving Your Odds

Remember to stay realistic about the long odds on this popular game of chance. Approach Roulette with the sober realization that, with a house advantage of 5.26 percent on the American wheel, Roulette is among the worst bets in a casino. Despite the odds, you can still use some simple strategies to stretch your Roulette bankroll and enjoy the thrill of the spin. This section contains a few tips that can help you improve your chances of winning.

Roulette is a drain on your wallet simply because the game doesn’t pay what the bets are worth. With 38 numbers (1 to 36, plus 0 and 00), the true odds of hitting a single number on a straight-up bet are 37 to 1, but the house pays only 35 to 1 if you win! Ditto the payouts on the combination bets. This discrepancy is where the house gets its huge edge in Roulette.

Starting with the basics

Strategy is critical if you want to increase your odds of winning. The first time you play Roulette, the players sprinkling the layout with chips may look as if they’re heaping pepperoni slices on a pizza. You can make many different bets as long as you stay within the table’s maximum limits. Consequently, few players make just one bet at a time.

Of course, the more bets you make, the more complicated and challenging it is to follow all the action. Here are two possible plans of attack to simplify matters:

Stick to the table minimum and play only the outside bets. For example, bet on either red or black for each spin. This type of outside bet pays 1 to 1 and covers 18 of the 38 possible combinations.

Place two bets of equal amounts on two outside bets: one bet on an even-money play and the other on a column or dozen that pays 2 to 1. For example, place one bet on black and one bet on Column Three, which has eight red numbers. That way, you have 26 numbers to hit, 4 of which you cover twice. You can also make a bet on red and pair it with a bet on Column Two, which has eight black numbers. Again, you cover 26 numbers, and 4 of them have two ways to win. Pairing a bet on either red or black with Column One (or on one of the three dozens) covers 24 numbers, and 6 numbers have two ways of winning. Spreading bets like this won’t make you rich, but it does keep things interesting at the table.

Playing a European wheel

If you happen to find a single-zero European wheel, you greatly improve your odds: The house edge is half that of Roulette with the American wheel — only 2.63 percent. You may see a European wheel at one of the posh Vegas casinos, such as Bellagio, Mirage, or Caesars Palace. If you can’t find one on the floor, it’s probably tucked away in the high-limit area along with the baccarat tables, so you may need to ask. You can also find the single-zero wheel at some other upscale casinos around the country.

Because casinos set aside the European wheel for high rollers, you’re likely to find a higher table minimum, say $25. But because the house edge is half that of a double-zero wheel, the European wheel is the better Roulette game to play for bigger bettors.

Avoiding Strategies That Don’t Work

Again, Roulette is a game of chance — and in such games, you’re at the mercy of the fates for the most part. Although you can follow some simple steps to stretch your money and improve your odds (for more, see the preceding section), no magic system can turn you into a consistent winner at Roulette. Steer clear of falling into these traps.

Basing your plays on history

Each spin of the Roulette wheel is completely independent, or unrelated, from the past, so don’t let previous numbers influence you. Most Roulette tables have a lighted scoreboard that displays the numbers that have hit over the last 20 rolls in two columns: red and black. However, players who try to guess what color will come up next by relying on history are wasting their time. The information means absolutely nothing. The wheel has no memory, and, although streaks of red or black for six or ten spins may occur, these streaks are no indication of the next result.

Blaming wheel bias

You don’t have to watch for wheel bias — the casino beats you to it. The house regularly balances and checks and then rechecks Roulette wheels for any suspected favoritism to certain numbers.

Sometimes a wheel becomes biased because the mechanical wear and tear results in a less-than-random play. After all, the wheel consists of metal and wood. And certainly, after a quarter-million spins every month, all that activity may cause the wheel to wear down in certain strategic points. For this reason, casinos inspect Roulette wheels routinely and monitor the results statistically with software.

Buying into betting systems

The Roulette table attracts the largest number of players attempting to apply a betting system. The most prominent progressive betting system is the Martingale system, in which you double your bet after each loss. Another popular one is the Reverse Martingale, in which you cut your bet in half after each win.

We don’t recommend using any progressive betting system because a streak of four or five bad spins can cripple your bankroll in less than ten minutes.

Despite all the systems advertised for sale, no magic bullet can help you beat a Roulette wheel. Books on Roulette systems are scams to separate you from your money. Why does someone want to share her amazing supersecret strategy with you? If you’d written such a system, wouldn’t you prefer to just make a quick fortune, buy a small island, and retire? So beware of Roulette pros. They make money by selling books, not by divulging a consistently winning Roulette system.

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