In the electrifying atmosphere of a casino, few games capture the imagination and excitement of gamblers like Roulette.
The spinning wheel, the bouncing ball, and the adrenaline rush of placing your bet on red or black, odd or even, or perhaps a specific number, are all a part of this game’s timeless allure.
But not all bets in Roulette are created equal. Whether you’re a seasoned pro looking to refine your strategy, or a newcomer eager to make your fortune, understanding the best and worst bets can dramatically affect your odds of walking away a winner.
In this article, we’ll delve into the math, the risk, and the potential rewards to help you make the most informed bets on the Roulette table.
What Is Roulette?
Roulette is a classic casino game that originated in France and has gained worldwide popularity.
The game is simple in design but offers a myriad of betting options, adding layers of complexity and excitement. That includes where you are in a real world casino or choose to play roulette online.
It consists of a spinning wheel, a betting table, and a small ball. The wheel is divided into 37 or 38 numbered pockets, depending on whether it’s European (37 pockets, including a single zero) or American (38 pockets, including a single zero and a double zero) style.
The pockets are coloured alternately in red and black, except for the zero(s), which are usually green.
Players place their bets on the table, which has a layout corresponding to the numbers and colours on the wheel.
Betting options include individual numbers, groups of numbers, colours, or whether the number will be odd or even.
Once bets are placed, the dealer (also known as the croupier) spins the wheel in one direction and releases the ball in the opposite direction. As the wheel slows down, the ball comes to rest in one of the pockets, determining the outcome of the bets.
The variety of betting options allows for a range of strategies, from high-risk, high-reward bets on specific numbers to lower-risk bets on colour or odd/even outcomes.
The house edge varies depending on the type of bet placed and the version of roulette being played. Generally speaking, European Roulette offers better odds to players due to having one less zero pocket.
What Is The ‘House Edge’?
In casino terms, the ‘house edge‘ refers to the mathematical advantage that the casino has over the players in any given game.
It’s expressed as a percentage, representing the average profit the casino expects to make from each bet over the long run.
The house edge is a measure of how much the odds are tilted in favour of the casino.
For example, in European Roulette, which has a single zero pocket, the house edge is around 2.7%. This means that for every £100 wagered, the casino expects to win an average of £2.70 over the long term.
In American Roulette, which has both a single and a double zero pocket, the house edge is higher, at about 5.26%.
What Are Good Roulette Bets?
In the game of Roulette, a ‘good bet’ is often considered one that offers a lower house edge, providing players with a relatively better chance of winning.
It’s worth noting that Roulette is largely a game of luck, and no bet guarantees a win. However, some bets are statistically better than others.
These are bets placed on Red/Black, Odd/Even, or High/Low (numbers 1-18 or 19-36).
They are the bets that are the closest to having a 50/50 chance of winning, especially in European Roulette.
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Considered lower-risk bets, they only offer modest payouts which are generally 1:1.
Column or Dozen Bets
These bets allow you to wager on 12 numbers at a time, either in one of the three columns on the betting layout or one of the three dozens (1-12, 13-24, 25-36).
The payout for these bets is 2 to 1, and the house edge remains the same as even-money bets in their respective versions of the game.
While the risk is a bit higher compared to even-money bets, they offer a decent chance of winning.
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Single Number Bets in European Roulette
This might sound counterintuitive, but if you’re going to bet on a single number, it’s statistically better to do it in European Roulette as the house edge is lower.
The payout is 35 to 1, making it a high-risk, high-reward bet. While it’s not a “good bet” in the sense of offering favourable odds, if you’re feeling lucky and looking for a big win, it’s less disadvantageous in European Roulette than in its American counterpart.
What Are Bad Roulette Bets?
Bad bets are generally those that have a higher house edge, meaning the casino has a greater advantage.
These bets usually offer enticingly high payouts but are statistically less likely to occur, making them risky choices.
Five-Number Bet (American Roulette only)
This bet is unique to American Roulette and involves betting on the numbers 0, 00, 1, 2, and 3.
It has the highest house edge of any Roulette bet at 7.89%, making it the worst bet you can make in the game.
The payout is 6 to 1, but given the high house edge, this is a very disadvantageous bet for the player.
Single Number Bets in American Roulette
While betting on a single number can be exciting, doing so in American Roulette is especially unfavourable due to the double zero, which increases the house edge to 5.26%.
The payout is 35 to 1, which might seem attractive, but the odds are against you. If you’re inclined to make single number bets, it’s statistically better to do so in European Roulette where the house edge is 2.7%.
Basket Bet in European Roulette
The Basket Bet in European Roulette involves betting on the numbers 0-1-2-3.
While it doesn’t have as high a house edge as the Five-Number Bet in American Roulette, it’s still considered a bad bet with a house edge of 7.7% and a payout of 6 to 1. This is a less common option but can be found in some variations of European Roulette.
Should I Always Choose To Play European Roulette Over American Roulette?
Choosing between European and American Roulette often boils down to personal preference and what you’re looking to get out of the game.
However, from a statistical standpoint, European Roulette is generally more advantageous to the player due to its lower house edge.
If you enjoy making even-money bets like red/black or odd/even, your chances of winning are slightly better in European Roulette.
That is because the European wheel only has a single zero, compared to the double zeros in the American version.
So if you’re playing purely to win and want to optimise your chances, European Roulette is generally the better option due.
However, if you find American Roulette more exciting or it’s the only option readily available, it’s still a fun game to play—just be aware that the odds may go against you.
Does Roulette Involve Any Skill?
Roulette is primarily a game of chance, not skill. Unlike games like poker or blackjack, where a player’s decisions can significantly impact the outcome, Roulette is based on the random movement of a ball around a spinning wheel.
Once the wheel is spun and the ball is released, there are no actions players can take to influence where the ball will land.
The outcome is entirely random, determined by the physics of the spinning wheel and the bouncing ball.
That said, there are some aspects of the game where a modicum of skill or at least informed decision-making can come into play.
While no betting strategy can change the fundamental odds of the game, some players use systems like the Martingale or Fibonacci strategies in an attempt to recover losses or boost wins.
One skill that can extend your playtime is effective bankroll management. Knowing how to set limits, when to increase bets, and when to walk away are important skills for any form of gambling.
While this isn’t a ‘skill’ that will impact the outcome, understanding the odds of the various bets can help you make more informed betting decisions.
Plus, players who are good at assessing risk versus reward will naturally gravitate towards bets that offer the best odds.
So while you can’t use skill to influence the outcome of a spin in Roulette, you can use informed decision-making to choose your bets and manage your bankroll.