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7 Ways Roulette Players Sabotage Their Chances of Success

| December 19, 2017 12:00 am PDT

Roulette strategy mainly boils down to game selection. Nevertheless, many players struggle to use correct roulette strategy and maximize their chances of winning.

Making roulette mistakes will torpedo your odds of beating the house.  In fact, when you select the wrong wheel, roulette has one of the worst house edges among table games.

That said, let’s look at 7 ways roulette players sabotage their odds of success, so that you can avoid making the same mistakes.

Playing on the American Wheel

You have three main choices when it comes to roulette games:

  • American roulette
  • European roulette
  • French roulette

Selecting the right game is the biggest aspect of roulette strategy.

Unfortunately, many players don’t know the differences between roulette games. And this sometimes leads to choosing the worst version of all: American roulette.

The American wheel has 38 numbers, including a single zero and double zero. Both of the zero pockets favor the house, which gives the casino a 5.26% house edge (2/38).

Let’s compare this to European and French roulette, which have a 2.70% and 1.35% house edge, respectively.

The European wheel has 37 numbers, including a single zero. The fact that European roulette doesn’t have the 00 pocket lowers the house edge to 2.70% (1/37).

French roulette is also played on the European wheel. But the difference is that this game has either the la partage or en prison rule in effect.

Here’s how these two rules work:

  • La partage – You get half back on losing even-money wagers that land on zero.
  • En prison – Your losing even-money wagers that land on zero are kept in prison. The next spin decides whether you win or lose your bet.

The French roulette house edge is 1.35%, no matter which rule is in effect. This means that the French version should be your top choice.

If you can’t find French roulette, then your backup choice should be the European variation.

Whatever you do, avoid playing American roulette, due to the 5.26% house advantage. You can see how bad this game is by comparing it to house edges from other table games:

  • Blackjack = 0.5% to 2.0% (varies by table rules)
  • Baccarat = 1.06% (banker bet)
  • French roulette = 1.35%
  • Craps = 1.36% (don’t pass line & don’t come bets)
  • Pai gow poker = 1.46%
  • European roulette = 2.70%
  • Let It Ride = 3.51%
  • Caribbean stud = 5.22%

Ignoring Online Roulette

Obviously, you don’t want to play American roulette if European or French roulette are available. But the problem is that not everybody has access to these games.

This is especially the case in land-based North American casinos, where the American wheel is widely prevalent.

You can find European and French roulette in a few Las Vegas casinos. But you may not like the stakes that are offered.

Here are some examples of Vegas casinos that have these two games:

  • MGM Grand – French roulette with $25 stakes.
  • Aria – French roulette with $50 stakes.
  • Bellagio – French roulette with $50 stakes.
  • Mirage – French roulette with $100 stakes.
  • Wynn – French roulette with $100 stakes.
  • Bally’s – European roulette with $3 stakes.
  • Binion’s – European roulette with $5 stakes.
  • Caesar’s Palace – European roulette with $10 stakes.
  • Circus Circus – European roulette with $10 stakes.

The MGM Grand is definitely the place to play French roulette, thanks to the $25 stakes. But even this can be a big risk for low rollers.

This makes online roulette a great choice for players who can’t find decent European or French roulette games in their area.

Both Microgaming and Realtime Gaming (RTG) offer French roulette games with $1 stakes. All you have to do to enjoy their French roulette action is find online casinos that feature Microgaming or RTG software.

The only catch is that, due to laws, Microgaming excludes a number of countries from using their software.

RTG, on the other hand, accepts most countries, including America. You can play at Real Time Gaming casinos if you’re not accepted at Microgaming sites.

If you’d rather use a different software provider, note that most gaming companies offer European roulette.

But based on the fact that online casinos offer European and/or French roulette, you should definitely consider playing online. Even land-based players should consider mixing up their play in order to take advantage of the cheap stakes and low house edge.

Failing to Get Roulette Rewards

Getting online roulette loyalty rewards is easy. Internet casinos begin offering rewards as soon as you start playing real money roulette.

Brick-and-mortar casinos are different, though, because you need to be rated before receiving comps. Many beginning players are unaware of this and fail to receive comps at the end of their session.

This is why you must make sure that you’re being rated and earning rewards.

One common way that roulette players get rated is by going to the table and buying in for several hundred dollars. When the boxman sees this, he may get the pit boss’s attention and have him rate you.

Another way is to bet $25 or more per spin. This isn’t a tremendous amount of money in the casino’s eyes, but it shows that you’re a fairly serious player.

One more way to get rated is to sign up for the players club.  You can then give your card to the boxman and tell him that you wish to be rated.

Here are few different ways to sign up for the players club:

  • Visit the player’s desk and tell them that you want to sign up for the loyalty program.
  • Visit the casino’s website and see if they have a place to join the players club.
  • Call the casino directly and ask if you can sign up over the phone. If not, ask if you can sign up online.

In addition to getting roulette rewards, you can also use your players club card for slot and video poker machines.

Believing the Gambler’s Fallacy

The gambler’s fallacy is the idea that past outcomes can affect future results. Here’s an example that pertains to roulette:

  • You see red win four consecutive times in the red/black bet.
  • Red has approximately a 50% chance of winning (actually 48.64%) in European roulette.
  • You think that red is due for win.
  • You double your next bet and put it on red.

This seems logical in theory because red has an almost 50% chance of winning. And the odds of this bet losing five times in a row are slim.

But the problem with the gambler’s fallacy is that past results don’t change the present odds.

The odds of you winning a red/black wager are 19/18, or 48.64%. This fact doesn’t change, regardless of how many times an even money bet has lost.

Nevertheless, one of the most common roulette mistakes involves believing that patterns can help you dictate future results.

Casinos know that many players believe in the gambler’s fallacy, which is why they have electronic boards that show the past 10-20 spin results. Many players use these boards to determine their next bet.

Making bets based on patterns is harmless in theory. This is especially the case if you keep your wagers the same size.

But the problem comes when you start doubling and tripling your bets because you think certain results are due to win. Again, past results never change the odds of any roulette wager.

Relying on Roulette Betting Systems

Betting systems are a fun way to spice up your roulette sessions. These strategies have you bet in a specific way in hopes of beating the casino.

The only problem is that some players develop an overreliance on systems and quickly burn through their bankroll.

The nature of betting systems lends itself to high risk strategies that can put you in an uncomfortable position. Let’s look at two different betting systems to show why this is the case.


The Labouchère, otherwise known as the cancellation system, begins with creating a string of numbers meant to represent betting units. The goal is to win enough bets that you cancel out all of these numbers and end up with a profit.

Here are the steps to using the Labouchère:

  • Set your unit size. The minimum table bet usually works best.
  • Create your number string (e.g. 4, 3, 2, 6, 2). The sum of the numbers should add up to your desired profit.
  • Add the first and last number in your sequence to determine each bet.
  • If you win the wager, cross off each number that you used. If you lose, add the sum of the numbers to the end of the sequence.
  • The goal is to keep playing until you cancel all the numbers.

Now let’s look at an example of using the Labouchère:

  • You hope to win 20 units during your session.
  • Your number string is: 4, 3, 2, 3, 2, 4, 2 (20 total).
  • Your first bet would be 6 units (4 + 2).
  • You win this wager, making your new number sequence: 3, 2, 3, 2, 4.
  • Your next bet would be worth seven units (3 + 4).
  • You lose this wager, making your new sequence: 3, 2, 3, 2, 4, 7.

Again, continue betting until you eliminate every number in the string.  Once you do this, you’ll book a profit worth 20 units.


The Martingale is the easiest betting system to understand, because all you do is double bets after every loss. Following any win, your wager size returns to the minimum bet.

One more point about the Martingale is that you should make even money wagers so that it’s easy to keep doubling bets following losses.

Here’s an example of the Martingale:

  • You bet $5 and lose.
  • You bet $10 and lose.
  • You bet $20 and lose.
  • You bet $40 and win.
  • You win back the $35 losses, plus a $5 profit.

The Martingale would theoretically leave you a winner after every roulette session. But there are two major problems:

  • There are table betting limits.
  • You’d need an infinite bankroll to survive lengthy losing streaks.

The first point is the biggest problem, because you’re eventually going to hit the table limit if you keep doubling bets.

Many roulette tables have between a $1,000 and $2,000 betting limit. Losing several bets in a row could quickly put you up to the max limit.

Let’s look an example:

  • The table minimum bet is $10.
  • You bet $10 and lose.
  • You bet $20 and lose.
  • You bet $40 and lose.
  • You bet $80 and lose.
  • You bet $160 and lose.
  • You bet $320 and lose.
  • You bet $640 and lose.
  • You bet $1,280 and lose.
  • Your next wager puts you up to $2,560.

Even if you win the last bet, you’ll still have $560 in overall losses. Because of this, the Martingale is yet another betting system that will eventually fail you.

Making Long Shot Bets with a Small Bankroll

One exciting thing about roulette is how many different wagers are available. And if you’re playing European or French roulette, every wager has the same house edge.

This means that you can make a long shot bet on a single number and still be using optimal strategy. Assuming you win a single number bet, you’ll receive a 35:1 payout.

Here are some are roulette wagers that will offer you large payouts:

  • Split – 17:1 payout, 17.5:1 odds in European roulette
  • Street – 11:1 payout, 11.33:1 odds
  • Corner – 8:1 payout, 8.25.5:1 odds
  • Six line – 5:1 payouts, 5.17:1 odds

It’s perfectly fine to make any of these bets when you have a large bankroll. After all, you have enough money to sit back and wait for long shot bets to come through.

But you’re not going to last very long if you place these wagers with a small bankroll. Let’s check out an example:

  • You continue making single number bets on your lucky number 21.
  • The odds of winning this wager in European roulette are 36:1.
  • The payout is 35:1.
  • Your bankroll is only large enough to cover 20 minimum bets.

This means that you have a much greater chance of losing your entire bankroll than you do of winning the single number bet just once.

Maybe you enjoy a riskier roulette experience and don’t care if you bust before winning. But if you want to maximize your time on the roulette tables, then you should avoid frequently placing these wagers.

Playing Without Understanding the Rules or Roulette Etiquette

One more thing that players do to ruin their roulette experience involves not understanding the rules and/or etiquette. These factors don’t directly affect your chances of winning, but you’ll feel embarrassed if you violate the rules.

Here are some simple rules that you should abide by when playing roulette:

  • Don’t make wagers after the dealer says “No more bets.”
  • Don’t mix your color-coded chips with anybody else’s, because they separate your wagers from other bets.
  • Never touch your chips between the spin and point when the dealer makes payouts.

Moving to etiquette, the main thing to remember is that you should be courteous to the dealer and other players. This means no excessive celebrations following wins or berating the dealer during a losing streak.

Also remember to tip the dealer. Casinos don’t force you to tip dealers, but this is an unspoken rule because they rely on tips for much of their salaries.

A good rule of thumb is to tip $5 for every hour you’re at the table. You might give further tips if you’re in the midst of a big winning streak and/or the dealer takes time to explain rules to you.

If you don’t want to tip the dealer, then you should stick to online roulette, where tips aren’t a requirement.


As you can see, there are several ways that roulette players sabotage their chances of winning. But the main ways that you can hurt yourself include picking the wrong game and relying too much on risky betting strategies.

Both European and French roulette give you a good opportunity to win. European roulette has a 2.70% house edge, while French roulette has an even better 1.35% house advantage.

The one game that you don’t want to play, though, is American roulette, because it has a 5.26% house edge. In fact, American roulette is one of the worst games in the casino.

Regarding betting systems, these can bring you short term profits and inject more fun into the game. But you should never put much stock into systems, because they can’t overcome the roulette house edge.

One more point is to make sure that you’re in line for comps before playing roulette. I discussed a few different ways that you can do this in point #3.

In summary, make sure that you choose the right roulette games, get comps, and avoid relying on betting systems.



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