Roulette is one of the most popular Table Games in the Online Casino, known for its elegant but simple gameplay. The roulette wheel is divided into grooved squares that are labeled with a number and a color. A small ball is thrown into the wheel by the roulette dealer, or croupier, in the direction opposite that of the wheel's spin. The ball will eventually lose momentum and fall into one of the numbered squares. Players make wagers simply on what number the ball will fall into, either by betting directly on the number or groups of numbers, such as even, red, or first dozen numbers.
The house edge in roulette comes from the single and/or double zeroes on the wheel. Single-zero (or European) roulette has a house edge of 2.7%, whereas double-zero (or American) roulette has a house edge of 5.26%. Many players think they have devised means of overcoming this house edge. Let's take a look at some common methods players use to try and beat the casino and see if they work.
By far, the most common system bettors use to try and overcome the house edge in roulette is riding streaks. This is one of the reasons roulette is so popular, after all: red numbers come up three times in a row, and suddenly everyone is flocking to the table to take “advantage” of a red hot streak before it ends. Inversely, if red comes up several more times, players usually suspect the streak will end and place their bets on black.
The problem with riding streaks is quite simple: that little ball spinning around in the wheel doesn't have a brain. It doesn't remember where it landed last; therefore, past events have no impact on where it will land next. This logical error is known as the gambler's fallacy. It's the same principle that makes people chase losses. Many gamblers think that, because they have lost 20 times in a row, they are due for a win; however, this is simply not true. Thus, trying to ride streaks to gain an edge in roulette is worthless.
Other players think they can beat the casino in roulette with a sort of betting system. One of the most popular is the Martingale. In the Martingale, a player begins by placing the minimum bet on an even-money space (red/black, odd/even, 1-18/19-36). If the player loses, he or she will double the wager, doubling until they win. The principle behind this method is that, eventually, the player will win back all their losses plus the minimum bet. Seems pretty foolproof, right?
However, there are two problems that arise from using the Martingale. The first is the table limit. Suppose there is a table with a $5 minimum and a $100 maximum. It doesn't take much brain power to realize that after only 5 losing bets, a player would be unable to double their wager, and would be unable to recoup their losses with this “guaranteed” method.
Many think that the reason for the table limit is to prevent Martingale players from winning. However, this is not true. Martingale players would still lose over the long run even if the table had an unlimited maximum. Why? Because gamblers do not have an infinite bankroll. Let's be extravagant and suppose that you come to the casino with $100,000 and are betting at a $100 minimum roulette table without a maximum bet. Surely you'd turn a profit with the Martingale? Not so. In fact, only after nine consecutive losing wagers would you be unable to double. This will only happen .1% of the time, which may seem rare, but look around. People are hitting slot jackpots, progressive payouts on Caribbean stud poker, and royal flushes on video poker, all of which are much less probable than .1%.
So, can you beat the casino in roulette? The definitive answer is no. As evidenced by the gambler's fallacy, riding streaks is a futile effort. In addition, we have proven that the Martingale system and all other betting progressions are worthless. Gamblers should not try to beat the casino at roulette, but rather enjoy time spent trying to defy the odds. While in the long run everyone will lose, who's to say that you won't hit a big win playing an elegant game of roulette?