This article is for you even if you have played roulette for a long time or are just picking it up now or in a few hours.
I have gathered some roulette players, each with his or her own ideas of how to play and how to manage their finances.
But just a few words from me as we begin.
These are players who know themselves and understand the game. I have avoided the wild players who just throw their money around with no sense or concept of what the game they are playing is all about. The big drinkers I have not bothered with because with a little booze comes too much of a lack of inhibition. Some inhibition is good for players.
In short, I guess you can say that the people I spoke to know the game and how the casino gets its edge at it. Here is what they know:
Roulette is a random game. It is based on the idea that the ball will spin around the wheel, descend into the pockets, perhaps hitting the bumpers on its way down, and ultimately land in one pocket after bouncing around a few pockets as it loses its energy. All this motion causes the game to be random.
The house edges on the two basic games are 5.26% on the American double-zero (0, 00) wheel and 2.7% on the European single-zero (0) wheel. These edges can be found on all bets with just a few exceptions. Read what a few players have to say about their own roulette games.
Inspired by 007
William Coatz: “I am a roulette fan and have been so since I saw Sean Connery playing the game in an advertisement for a James Bond film. I think it was a James Bond film or it was some news story. I don’t really remember which now. He was betting the number 17 and I believe that has become the most wagered number in the game.
“Also it is one of the middle numbers, so that might help too.”
[Please note: Sean Connery, the actor, played roulette and he bet on number 17. That bet has been attributed to James Bond, not to Connery. But it was Connery who made the number famous and not Bond. Bond was a gambler who tended to play baccarat.]
“When you are playing a random game, and roulette is random especially now with the new computer-controlled wheels, you are not going to find any of the old ‘biased’ wheels. The casinos check those wheels just about every day. Yes, the casino wants the game to be random. It is a guaranteed win over short, medium, or a long term when the game is random.
“Casinos are in the game, so to speak, in order to guarantee a win. Today’s players should be fully aware of this. Not being aware can cause errors in bet sizing and the like. The mantra should always be when playing a casino game that the house has the edge over the player. That can save you a lot of anguish.
“I play a very conservative game. I do not enjoy the proposition bets that you see around the main layouts. I’m a fairly big player and when I can — which isn’t often by the way — I will play the single-zero wheel, which isn’t offered very much in the casinos where I play. Percentage-wise that is a better game if you play high enough stakes to be able to meet the minimum bets. I do.
“I place six bets straight-up directly on the numbers. I do both the 0 and the 00 with four others spread between those two numbers. Two between 00 and 0 and two between 0 and 00. Basically, you have three bets on one side of the wheel and three bets on the other side of the wheel.
“I will always keep the 0 and 00 working –– or 0 on the single-zero wheel – but I will change the other numbers from time to time.
“What criteria do I use to choose the other numbers? Sometimes I will use numbers that have hit already and sometimes ones that haven’t hit or I do half and half between these extremes. I guess you could call this a ‘whim’ way of making a wagering decision. That is probably as good a way to choose bets as any other.
“The big question I get from other players is do I increase my bets when I am winning. Usually, no, I don’t. On rare occasions if chance is really favoring me, and I mean really, really favoring me; I will increase a bet on a number or two that has hit. But I am cautious about doing this because the game is, after all, random. Occasionally I will go up in my betting but keep in mind that is merely occasionally. I tend to stick with my original bets and betting levels.
“And what about comps? I get just about everything I want. I bet enough for that but I don’t really think about comps in deciding my playing decisions. I just play my game and the comps come as they come.”
Cindy Morris: “Roulette and craps are my two favorite games. I spend somewhat more time playing roulette because I can sit and relax and not have much to do with the other players. Nighttime is more roulette; daytime is more craps. I guess that’s how it splits.
“I am strictly a proposition bettor, mostly red or black, sometimes high or low. I do not enjoy staying at a table a long time waiting for a bad run to end. If you bet on one or two numbers straight up, you can wait a long time for your number to appear.
“Now, I know that the house edges at roulette are the same no matter what you bet but it seems the back and forth between player and casino is better with the proposition bets. It isn’t better in strict reality but it feels better. I am in touch with my feelings but I do not take them as a sign of truth.
“In a random game your feelings don’t actually matter but you do experience those feelings for good or bad, right? You experience feelings whether you are playing in a casino or on the Internet. I recognize my feelings and one feeling I have is I want back and forth with the casino. A random game? Yes. But I like to play the random the way I want to play it.
“I have a minimum bet and a maximum bet, which is just a parlay of my minimum bet. I will parlay if I have doubled my session bankroll. So let us say I am betting $10 per decision and I have $500 as my bankroll. If I get to $1,000 I will go up to $20 per bet. I will make that bet until I lose back $100 and then I call it a night.
“Actually I will usually call it a night before I get into that betting realm.
“Okay, the casinos where I play have an option on those three proposition bets of red/black, high/low, and odd/even. It’s called surrender. If the 0 or 00 is the winning number you only lose half your proposition bet! You know, that reduces the house edge in half so now I face a 2.63% edge over my roulette game. That’s a great benefit.
“I am reducing my potential losses in half. That’s better than most comps I can get at my betting levels. Look for that option if you play roulette and prefer to bet the proposition bets.
“You don’t really find this in most casinos but when you do, it is a real gift given to you by the house. Think of it this way: saving money is like making money!”
Playing Against the Roulette Gods
C. M. Pemberton: “I am superstitious. Okay, I will admit that. I think most casino players are superstitious even if they think they aren’t.
“You play games that the house has an edge over you and anything you do with your play, aside from stealing the chips and fleeing like a criminal (and you’ll probably be caught there too), everything will ultimately lead to losses. I know that. I am sure readers of this column know all this too.
“With that said, I truly enjoy roulette. Yes, yes, I am going up against the gods playing this game in the casino but I like challenging the gods. In some way, don’t we all? Don’t we want the powers that be to notice us and maybe praise us for our knowledge, intelligence, and discipline. Maybe that’s what comps are.
“My significant other thinks I am nuts to think this way but hey I am who I am. I play what I consider to be an intelligent game.
“I bet one proposition bet for $20 and two inside straight up bets for $10 each. So on each spin I am wagering $40. I can afford this level of betting and doing it gives me a thrill. No denying that, my friends, no denying that.
“Look, I gamble to win some money but over and above that I gamble because it is fun. I do not bet money that I use for anything else. I have a separate account for my casino exploits and that is the only money I use to play with. I think that is a smart way to play, don’t you?
“I do not go up on my bets when I am winning. I think it is hard enough to win without giving the casino a shot at more of your money. The big lesson casino gamblers fail to understand is that any money you put on the layout is going up against the house edge. I say to play with your normal amount and be happy if you win a session.
“Therefore, I do not go for the killing. Very few players can actually hurt a casino. Stories are written about them but they aren’t me and they are probably not you either. If I am ahead towards the end of my session, I will take the win and be happy as can be.
“I am happy about how I play and I know I can play this way for the rest of my life. I think you can’t beat that, can you?”
The Numbers Game
Patrick O: “Prepare yourself for an interesting, perhaps unique, way how to play roulette. I am talking about my way to play the game.
“I do not stay at one table if I can move around from table to table. I usually play in the afternoon or early evening when the tables are not that crowded. I like, as they say, maneuverability.
“I have two numbers I enjoy betting on at all times. Why do I enjoy them? Because they were the first numbers I won on in the beginning of my roulette-playing career. I use them as my opening bets on every table. But I also bet two other numbers, picked kind of randomly, like off the top of my head.
“Therefore, I am betting on four numbers in total.
“I will go four spins [decisions] for a wheel and if I am ahead, I will stay at that wheel. If not, I move to another wheel if I can and start the process all over again. Bet my two favorite numbers and two others.
“I keep my bets the same until I have a perfect win for my session, meaning I am definitely finishing the session up some money. I might increase just a bit before I am about to leave the game and take a break.
“It is true that sometimes I can’t hop from table to table because the games are full. At those times I am stuck only playing at one table for a session or part of a session.
“So, Frank, what do you think of my method?”
Frank: “I wish you all the best in and out of the casinos!”