Roulette Guide

There's a moment in the great film Havana that sums up the reality of roulette pretty well.

Robert Redford's character, Jack Weil, is explaining to Bobby Duran (Lena Olin) some top winning roulette strategy.

"Will I win more often this way?" Bobby asks as Jack tells her to stick to the red-or-black bets.

"No," he replies, "but you'll lose more slowly this way."

Roulette is a negative expectation game, and as with any negative expectation game, if you play long enough, you will lose - it's a mathematical certainty.

But that doesn't mean you can't win some of the time, and it also doesn't mean you should avoid playing altogether. Let's take a look at some good online roulette strategies to make sure you don't fall in that latter camp. In no time you will learn how to play better online roulette.

Online Roulette Tips 1:
American vs. European Roulette

US and EU roulette

Taking American Roulette as our example, even though the different bets at an Internet roulette website in 2023 feature varying payouts, the house edge and the expectation remain the same. That's because every top bet on the table pays out as if the two green slots didn't exist.

A 35-to-1 payout on a single number would be a fair bet if there were only 36 numbers on the wheel, but there aren't - there are 38 numbers in total.

Once you understand that, you'll realize there's no way to guarantee a win at online roulette in 2023. You'll also understand that the differences between American and European roulette on the net are significant.

A European roulette wheel only has the single green zero. What this does is cut the house edge in half (from 5.26% to around 2.7%) - a huge difference to gamblers.

That doesn't mean you'll be more likely to win at online roulette in over time. It just means that you'll lose more slowly.

But any time you can reduce the house edge in a casino game you should take it. You'll win at online roulette more often and lose more slowly. In the long run, you'll be a net loser, but if you're playing roulette you are, by definition, a recreational gambler rather than a professional.

Online Roulette Tips 2:
The Bet You Should Always Avoid

Roulette warning

Winning roulette strategy is about knowing your edges. The American roulette wheel has one bet with worse odds than all other bets, offering a house edge of 7.89% instead of the standard 5.26%. This is the five-number bet, which means you are betting that the ball will land on a 0, 00, 1, 2, or 3. The bet pays out 6-to-1.

When you're playing with a house edge of 5.26%, you can expect to lose $5.26 for every $100 you wager. On the five-number bet, however, you can expect to lose $7.89 per $100 wagered. Since you're going to receive no more pleasure from a 5-number bet than any other bet on the table, there's no reason to pay the casino that extra money.

Online Roulette Tips 3:
Positive Expectation vs. Negative Expectation

Gambling luck

If you want to know how to play better online roulette, try to think like a pro.

Professional gamblers analyze what kind of expectation a bet offers. It's said to be a positive expectation if it favors the player and a negative expectation if it favors the other guy (usually the casino). But what does it mean in regard to roulette odds strategy?

Suppose you have an even-money bet. If the odds of winning are 50/50, your expectation is 0. You'll win half the time and you'll lose half the time.

Modify the odds of winning or the amount of money that you win or lose, and you can adjust that expectation. For example, if you only get paid $45 on a $50 bet with a 50/50 chance of winning, you now have a negative expectation.

Adjusting the payouts and the odds is how the casino industry stays profitable. For example, a bet on red in roulette seems like a fair enough bet. It pays out at evens, and half the results are red, right?

Well, actually, slightly less than half the results are red, and slightly less than half the results are black. Roulette wheels always have one or two green slots on them, and that single change to the wheel makes roulette a negative expectation game.

There are 38 numbers on an American roulette wheel - two of them are green, 18 are red, and 18 are black. Your chances of winning by betting on red, therefore, are 18/38, or 47.37%.

Suppose you're playing for $10 a spin. If you place 100 bets, how much money can you expect to lose, if you see mathematically expected results? You'll win 47 of those bets, so you'll have $470 in winnings. But you'll lose 53 of those bets, so you'll have $530 in losses for a net loss of $60.

Of course, in 200 spins, the chances are that you'll see results different from the expectation. That's why sometimes you'll come home a winner.

The only way to win at online roulette with any kind of mathematical certainty, then, is to own a casino.