Roulette is one of the oldest and most popular table games on the casino floor. You’d be hard pressed to find a casino anywhere, online or off, that doesn’t have at least two roulette wheels spinning ‘round all day long. You’d also have trouble finding a table without at least one player trying to break the bank with their roulette strategy.
Roulette is an amazingly simple game. Spin the wheel. Roll the ball. A random number wins. It seems like it shouldn’t be all that difficult to come up with a strategy that would win over a game that’s this easy to play.
Some roulette strategies can help you extend your bankroll — and maybe even bring some big wins over the short term — but, unfortunately, the truth is that no strategy is going to make you a long-term winner at the game of roulette (other than cheating).
The odds are always in favor of the casino. Because of the way the wheel, the bets, and the payouts are structured, the casino has an edge of about 2.5% on European roulette and about 5% on American roulette. There’s no way around that.
Even so, that doesn’t mean that playing the game isn’t still fun. Let’s take a look at three of the most popular roulette strategies and how you can use them to get the most fun and excitement out of your time playing at the roulette table.
We also wrote an article talking about odds – how to calculate and understand them that I recommend you read to follow our table game guides.
The Martingale Roulette Strategy
The Martingale Strategy is probably the best-known casino betting strategy. Sometimes called progressive betting, it has been recommended as a “system” for just about all casino games in one form or another. In roulette, it is used for the 50/50 bets: red or black, high or low, odd or even.
The basic idea is that you start betting with one “unit”, the minimum bet for the table. You’ll make the same bet every time. Each time you place a bet and lose, you double your next bet. You’ll continue to do this until you win, at which point you should win back everything you’ve lost plus a small profit. When you win, you bet one unit again and repeat the process.
Yes – Why To Use The Martingale Roulette Strategy
- On tables with high or no betting limits, the strategy can work for quite a long time allowing you to play for extended periods and seek out a small profit.
- The house still has an edge, but these bets have the lowest chance of losing. Odds are almost 50/50 compared to single number bets where you only have 1 chance in 37 to win.
No – Why Not Use The Martingale Roulette Strategy?
- At tables with maximum betting limits, you may reach the limit before you win, making it impossible to double up again and win back losses.
- Doubling bets increase in size very rapidly. Starting at £5 and doubling each time you lose will put the bet at £5120 after 10 losses — which is entirely possible. Sufficient bankroll is a must.
The James Bond Roulette Strategy
This strategy involves spreading bets across about two-thirds of the wheel to increase the likelihood of winning. We’ll assume we’re going to bet a total amount of £200, but the overall sum can be scaled up or down to suit your taste.
The betting scheme goes as follows. £140 will be bet on the high numbers, 19-36. Bet £50 on 13-18 (bet on the six numbers, not £50 on each). Finally, put £10 on zero.
You will only lose if the ball stops on numbers one through twelve. So you will win 24 times out of 37, which really isn’t bad odds. If the ball stops between 19 and 36, you’ll net a profit of £80. If it stops between 13 and 18, you’ll be £100 ahead, and if it lands on 0, you’ll come out with an extra £160.
Yes – Why To Use The James Bond Roulette Strategy
- The multiple bets create almost the same odds of winning as a red/black bet but provide a bit more excitement and involvement in the game.
- Successive wins can lead to some impressive profit in a short period of time.
No – Why Not Use The James Bond Roulette Strategy?
- Bankroll requirements are somewhat high, even for low limit tables.
- Several losses in a row can become a significant amount very quickly.
The Split Martingale Roulette Strategy
You may see the Split Martingale strategy referred to as the Labouchere Progression, Cancellation System, American Cancellation, American Progression, or Montante Americaine. This betting system, like the Martingale, is meant to be used on the simple 50/50 bets.
The idea is similar to the standard Martingale method but attempts to recover losses in a more balanced way. Instead of continually doubling losing bets to win back all losses in one spin of the wheel, this method attempt to recoup losses over an amount of winning spins equal to half of the losing spins.
Once you decide the value of the unit you will be betting, you will start your session by writing down your initial betting sequence as three numbers, 1, 2, and 3. The sum of these numbers will be your expected profit at the end of the session, in this case, 6.
To start, you will bet the sum of the first and last number in your sequence, 4 in this case. When you win, you will erase the two numbers you bet (1 and 3). When you lose, you will add the number you bet to the end (1, 2, 3, 4). Play continues until you have no numbers left.
- Start with 1-2-3
- Bet 4 and lose
- Now 1-2-3-4 (added 4)
- Bet 5 and win
- Now 2-3 (removed 1 and 4)
- Bet 5 and lose
- Now 2-3-5 (added 5)
- Bet 7 and win
- Now 3 (removed 2 and 5)
- Bet 3 and win
- End of session (removed 3)
At this point, if you wish to continue, you would start over again with 1-2-3. If you have a larger bankroll, you can also adjust the numbers to start with a higher amount such as 3-4-5, for example. You can also do the reverse and tune it down by starting with 0-1-2.
Yes – Why To Use The Split Martingale Roulette Strategy
- This betting system only requires about a 33% win rate (in spins) to return a profit.
- The increase in the progressive bets is not as drastic as the standard Martingale System.
- The player has a much better chance of playing longer and staying within their bankroll with this betting system compared to the Martingale System.
No – Why Not Use The Split Martingale Strategy?
- Like other progressive betting strategies, the player must be aware of bankroll or table betting limits that could prevent correct bet sizing to recoup losses.
- Although bad runs that would defeat this strategy are rare, they can and do happen.
- Several losing spins in a row can increase the necessary bet rapidly. The player must have sufficient funds to weather losing streaks.
- This strategy can be a bit difficult to keep track of and execute in a live casino environment.
Some Closing Thoughts
It’s important to realise that no matter what strategy you use, you just cannot overcome the house edge in the game of roulette. You may win, and even win big, for certain periods of time, but eventually that small house advantage will chip away at your bankroll and bring it down to zero. It is a mathematical certainty.
Any strategy you choose to employ can only, at best, extend the amount of time you will be able to play with your bankroll. In other words, it can’t help you win, it can only help you lose more slowly. The only way to overcome the house edge on roulette is to gain the ability to predict where the ball will land — which requires devices that are illegal in most jurisdictions.
This is why it’s vital to only gamble with money you can afford to lose, and set a limit for yourself before you start playing. If you hit your loss limit, stop. Progressive betting strategies can be especially disastrous when you try to make “just one more bet” to get back losses from a losing session. We wrote an article about this, mentioning 5 signs that you should leave the casino.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t play and have fun — as long as you have the right expectations. Roulette is a fast moving and exciting game with a lot of action. It can be especially fun when you end up at a table with some lively people and everyone is cheering and talking and playing together. And there’s nothing like that feeling when your lucky number hits and the croupier pushes a big stack of chips your way! The closest experience to this is available at the best live dealer casinos.
Cheers and good luck!