Roulette is a casino favourite in part because of its simplicity, an element that makes it a fine game for players new to the casino environment. The rules are easy to pick up and the game takes less than a minute to play.
Despite that simplicity, though, a number of strategies have been devised, many of which we’ve outlined for you below. The goal is to find ways to make money, and while some methods are more effective than others, knowing about all these strategies can only help you at the roulette table.
Best Online Casinos for Roulette
Every casino, both brick-and-mortar and online, has roulette players who stare at the spinning roulette wheel and just hope for a win. There’s nothing wrong with that, but just like a smart player would know several blackjack strategies so must a roulette player. Deciding on a roulette strategy allows your game to begin before the turning of the wheel. It means betting according to a plan, and sticking to that plan, knowing that nothing beats a cool head and a time-honoured strategy. Here are some systems that work for all the different roulette variations.
Martingale and Reverse Martingale System
In the Martingale system, players start with an even-money bet on the table, and double that bet if they lose. The pattern continues into subsequent rounds: If you lose, you double; if you win, you return to your original bet. This strategy allows you to recoup your losses in a single spin. So long as players aren’t hit with an extended losing streak that pushes them beyond their bankroll, they can quickly rebound from losses and bank their winnings.
The Reverse Martingale is similar, except players expand their bets after wins and shrink them after losses. The goal is to make hot streaks really count, so while there isn’t any mathematical edge, it can make the game more entertaining.
Unfortunately, most online casinos nowadays have ways to prevent the Martingale and Reverse Martingale systems being used after a certain point (for example, you can’t bet over a certain amount) – so you should use these system with caution online, or choose a casino that allows you to keep going.
Fibonacci and Reverse Fibonacci System
Remember the Fibonacci system from Math class? 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 24…
Here’s how using Fibonacci numbers can help with roulette:
- In this case, 1 represents your unit, which is whatever you’re willing to bet in the beginning. Let’s say that’s $10.
- If you lose the first round, you add the next numbers in the sequence and you bet that amount on the next round.
- In our $10 example, your second bet would be for 1 + 2 in the sequence, or $10 + $20 = $30)
- But if you win, you delete the most recent two numbers of the Fibonacci sequence.
- In our $10 example, you would delete the 0, and your second bet would be for the first 1 in the sequence, again, or $10.
- If, however, you were betting after a win that followed three losses, and your first bet was for $10 (or 1), your second bet was for $30 (or 1 + 2), your third bet was for $50 (or 2 + 3), and your fourth bet (your first winning bet) was for $80 (or 3 + 5). At this point, you would remove the 3 and the 5, making your fifth bet worth $20 (or 2, the number directly in front of the two numbers you deleted).
- This lowers your bet and allows a safe return towards the starting amount.
Players appreciate the Fibonacci system because it avoids the high variance of the Martingale system. However, it should be noted that it takes a much longer period to regain losses using the Fibonacci system.
The Reverse Fibonacci, like the Reverse Martingale, has winners increase bets after wins instead of losses. After a win, players move forward one step in the sequence and move back two steps after a loss.
The Labouchere system is perfect for risk-averse players.
Before the game begins, pick a stop-win. This is the amount of money (within reason) that you would like to win. Let’s say that the stop-win is $50.
Next, make a list that works up to your stop-win in a Labouchere system of even units. For example:
- Start with a list: 1, 2, 3
- Bet the sum of your first and last numbers: 1 + 3 = 4 units
- Cross out the highest number: 1, 2
- Bet your first and your last numbers: 1 + 2 = 3 units
- Add your loss to the list: 1, 2, 3
- Bet your first and your last numbers…
Note: If you lose at step 2. above, you would add the number 4 to your list, so your list would be 1, 2, 3, 4, and you would bet 1 + 4 = 5 at step 4. above.
The Labouchere system works because the stop-win number allows the player to stay focused and aware of his or her strategy. If the stop-win is $50, the player knows to cross out all the numbers, collect the $50 in winnings, and leave with a win.
The D’Alembert system is one of the simplest. To begin, choose a starting bet. After each loss, increase your bet by one unit. After each win, decrease your bet by one unit.
A word of warning: the D’Alembert system relies on the gambler’s fallacy—that is, that wins are more likely after a streak of losses and losses more likely after a streak of wins. This basis is completely false,as the odds reset with every new spin of the roulette wheel.
There are many other betting systems for roulette, but most others rely on the gambler’s fallacy mentioned above. Other systems aim to follow “streaks” and search for patterns in randomness, but players must understand that roulette is a game of luck, and no spin is connected to any other spin of the wheel. It is wise to follow systems that offer counsel on careful betting, or systems such as the Labouchere, which have a stop-win built in to protect your pot against your ambition.
There are many betting systems sold online that promise guaranteed win. These are not genuine roulette systems and should not be trusted.
General Betting Tips
Playing European Instead of US Roulette
A European roulette table has a green ‘0’ at the top, and an American roulette table has an additional ‘00’ alongside its ‘0’. This means that there is one more potential place for the ball to land on the American table, and the odds of winning are a little bit better on a European table!
Outside and Inside Betting
It is important to know the difference between outside and inside bets at the roulette table. Outside bets are a shortcut to betting on multiple numbers with a single bet, following a given pattern, found on the outside of the individual number squares (see image below). Inside bets can also allow for betting on multiple numbers with a single bet, but will only apply to individual number squares, or a number of adjacent number squares.
Outside bets include:
- Manque: All numbers 1-to-18
- Passe: All numbers 19-to-36
- Red or black
- Even or odd
- Dozen bets: Players can bet on the first dozen (1-12), second dozen (13-24) or third dozen (25-36)
- Column bets: The numbers are placed in three columns on the roulette table, and players can wager on entire columns at a time
- Snake bets: Players can place individual bets on adjacent numbers to form an M-shaped “snake” on the table. Some in-person casinos offer this as a standard bet, though most online casinos would require players to align those bets individually.
Inside bets include:
- Straight: Betting on a single number
- Split: Betting on two numbers by placing a chip on the line between them
- Street: Also known as a row or line bet, players can wager on a row of three numbers to hit (for instance, 4, 5 or 6) by placing chip on the vertical line separating the inside and outside betting areas from that line.
- Corner: Betting on four numbers at once by placing the chip at the intersection of four numbers.
- Six line: Also known as a double street bet, the six line lets players bet on two streets, or rows, at once. This bet is placed similarly to the street bet, but at the intersection of the vertical line and the horizontal one splitting the two streets you wish to wager.
- Trio: Players can bet on either 0-1-2 or 0-2-3 in single-zero layout games. The house edge on this bet is higher than for other bets, making it a poor bet.
- Basket: In double-zero layout games, players can bet 0-1-2, 0-00-2 or 00-2-3. Like the Trio bet, the basket has a higher house edge than other bets.
- Top line: Also available only in double-zero layout games, this bet lets players wager on 0-00-1-2-3, and also has a higher house edge.
Other Betting and Money Management Tips
- Roulette is a game of luck, and it’s easy to fall into a negative thought pattern where you are convinced that the wheel is working against you.
- Bet with your head, not your emotions. Never let yourself get caught up in the thrill of a winning streak. Instead of betting on your lucky number, which has lower odds as a single digit, bet on higher odds options like black/red, even/odd, or high/low.
- Be aware of the odds of the table you’re playing on. American tables have an extra number (00). It’s just by a bit, but the odds are still slightly better on European or French roulette tables.
- Never jump into a roulette game without a strategy, even if it’s just a general commitment to a stop-win. It’s easy to fall for the gambler’s fallacy, but remembering why you’re playing and what you’re after can help keep you focused.
There are a lot of ways players can make their online roulette experience more interesting. In the end, though, there’s little a player can do to actually improve his or her odds. The house will always hold a slight edge at the roulette table, but that doesn’t mean players won’t improve their odds through smart betting. To give some of these systems a try, or to try some of the various bets for yourself, be sure to check out our recommended roulette casinos below.