The game we now call Roulette has been played since the 18 th Century in Europe , and is perhaps the simplest and most straightforward of all casino games. It also gives you plenty of action as you get to lay your bets on a colorful board and chat with your fellow players. Like that other big table game, Craps , there are numerous possible bets in Roulette , but only a few offer us the best chance to win. Let's take a closer look and see how best to beat this fun and exciting game.
Roulette is played on a board of 36 numbered squares, which run in 3 columns. Each square is either red or black; at the top of the board there are 2 small green boxes marked “0” and “00”. Each red, black, or green position corresponds to a slot in an ornate wooden wheel, with 38 spaces, 18 black, 18 red, and 2 green.
After all players have placed their bets, the dealer, often called the croupier, spins the wheel and tosses a small white ball into the quickly moving rim. As the ball slows, the ball falls down inside, finally coming to rest in one of the numbered slots. That number wins, all other bets are taken by the croupier, and the game begins anew.
Sound simple? It is! All we really need to decide is how we want to bet this game. Some people believe that Roulette is strictly a game of luck and that no strategy is involved. Not so.
Lets talk about the most common 6 bets you can make in Roulette ; These can be divided into 2 types, inside bets, and outside bets.
Inside bets are small wagers placed on individual numbers; these bets are usually made in $1 chips. Every player gets a different color of chips, so several players can bet on any spot on the table and the dealer will know to pay each of them if they win.
To make an inside bet, place at least the minimum number of chips on any number or combination of numbers on the board. Each table will be marked with a sign saying, for example $5 Minimum Bet, or $10 Minimum bet. For the inside bettor, on a $5 table, this means always betting at least 5 chips somewhere on those 38 inside spaces.
There are 3 types of inside bet:
BET  PLACE THE CHIP  WINNING CONDITION  PAYOUT 
Straight  Center of the numbered square.  If that single number is a winner.  35to1 
Split  On the line between 2 squares.  If either number is the winner.  17to1 
Corner  On the corners of 4 squares.  If any of the four numbers wins.  8to1 
Which is the best bet? Let's use a little math. We think the ball is going to fall in one of four adjoining squares, and we have $4 in chips to bet. What's the best way to bet? Put one chip on each square, or 2 chips on the lines between each of the sets of squares, or make one 4chip corner bet to cover them all? The result is the same; we cover all the squares, and we use all $4 to do it. Now let's compare the payoff.
Straight bet: 1 square wins: $35+$1(the chip we bet originally)  $3 are lost (the other 3 squares that didn't win) Total win, $33.
Split bet: 1 square wins $34 (17 x $2) + $2(the chips we bet originally)  $2 are lost (the other 3 squares that didn't win) Total win, $34.
Corner bet: 1 square wins $32 (8 x $4) + $4(the chips we bet originally) – nothing is lost Total win, $36.
So, we can see that not only does the corner bet allow us to cover more of the board, the payoff is actually better than the other bets; not because we win more, but because we don't lose as much money.
Outside bets are larger wagers placed on groups of numbers; these bets are usually made in $5 or larger chips, although you can put a stack of your colored inside chips on an outside betting space. Each table will be marked with a sign saying, for example $5 Minimum Bet, or $10 Minimum bet. For the outside bettor, on a $5 table, this means always betting at least 5 worth of chips on any of the outside betting spaces.
There are 4 types of outside bet: Even / Odd and Red / Black bets pay 1to1. You are betting that the winning number will be either Red, or Black; Even or Odd. If you guess right, you get paid, if not, you lose. There are 18 of each of these numbers.
Then you have the Dozens bet, which is that one of 12 numbers will win: either the first dozen, 112, the second dozen, 1324, or the third dozen, 2536. The last bet is Columns , where you bet a column of 12 numbers, for instance, 147101316192225283134. Both these wagers pay off at 2to1.
Which is the best outside bet? We have to use a different calculation this time. We know that the odds of any number winning are 1in38. If we're betting 18 numbers, the odds become 18in38, or 47.4%  if we're betting dozens or columns, they're 12in38, or 31.6%.
Now, let's say we are playing at our $5 table, and we have $500, enough for 100 outside bets. If we bet either Red/Black or Odd/Even , we can expect to win 4748 times. In the best case, that means we would lose 52 chips, win 48 chips (1to1 payout,) and end up with 96 chips total, or $480.00. If we bet Dozens or Columns , we can expect to win only 3132 times. Best case now is winning 32 bets that pay 2to1, and losing 68 chips. So we win 64 chips, and we're back to 96 chips total, or $480.00
So, there really is no best outside bet, it's whatever you feel luckiest about.
Just out of curiosity, what if we had turned our $500 into colored chips and bet 12 numbers on the inside each time instead? Using 12 Straight bets each time, we could only make 41 bets, and we'd end up with 8 chips left over. The odds are going to be the same as if we had bet dozens or columns; 31.6% and in 41 bets, that means we should win 13 of our wagers. That means we lose $336 on 28 bad bets of 12 chips each, and our 13 wins give us $455 in wins, but also another $143 in losses – because only 1 square out of 12 would win each time, the other 11 chips would be taken by the house. So, when all is said and done, we have $500$336$143+8$+$13+$455= $497.00
The math tells us that inside bets are better than outside bets.
As we've seen from both examples, you always seem to lose some money if you play long enough. That's because Roulette , like the other table games in the casino, is a game of negative expectation . That's because the odds of hitting any number are 1in38, or about 2.64%
That means in 384 spins, you're going to hit a given number 10 times. The house will pay you 35 each time, for a total win of $360. But you will have lost $24 overall.
Just to illustrate my point, if Roulette was going to allow you to win money consistently, the payoff on any number would have to be 39to1.
Well, now you know the basics of Roulette , and you have the key to the winning strategy – always bet inside and use corner bets to reduce your losses and increase your winnings. And after a few big wins, walk away, because we know that Roulette is a game of negative expectation, and if we play long enough, the casino always wins. But in the short run, you can use your newfound knowledge to beat the house! So what are you waiting for? Go ahead, give it a whirl!
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