Roulette is a negative expectation game. The casino has a mathematical edge that can’t be overcome in the long run. That doesn’t stop people from trying to win using various strategies.
Most real gambling experts who are familiar with the math behind the game will tell you that no roulette strategy is even worth trying. They come from the perspective that the only gambling strategy worth fooling with is one where you have a long-term advantage.
In the long run, they’re right about that, by the way. In fact, most people probably do spend too much time thinking about the short term. If they focused on the long run more, they’d be in much better places in life as they got older.
But realistically speaking, some people can find uses for some of the “roulette strategies that don’t work.”
I read an article from Michael Bluejay once where he explained how the Martingale System can increase your probability of walking away from a short roulette session as a winner, even though in the long run you’ll eventually have a big losing session which will wipe out the wins from those short roulette sessions.
That changed my thinking about roulette systems and strategies.
Now I think they can be a fun way to play.
Below I’ve listed 5 roulette strategies for you to consider. None of them will get you an edge over the house in the long run, but any of them will give you something interesting to do while you court Lady Fortune.
1- The Kavouras Strategy
The Kavouras strategy is one of the newer and more entertaining approaches to winning at roulette. It seems complicated, but that’s okay. Roulette’s such a simple game to begin with that it could use some extra complexity just to add interest.
The Kavouras strategy was first published in 2010. The creator had the following goals:
He wanted to minimize the volatility of the system. He achieved this by creating a system where you bet on enough numbers that you’ll have a high hit frequency.
He also wanted to do something chaotic, as he suggests that roulette is a game of chaos. (I’m not sure that chaos is the right word, although we’re definitely looking at a random game.)
Finally, he wanted a system that if you did get a hit, you’d wind up with a profit. (It’s easy to get low volatility, a high hit frequency, and a net loss on every bet.)
With the Kavouras strategy, you bet on 20 different numbers in a specific pattern. This pattern looks like this:
You start by finding a European roulette wheel. Then you decide on the size of your betting unit. For this example, I’ll use $10.
You’ll bet a single unit on the corner bet for 0, 1, 2, and 3. (That’s a $10 bet.)
You’ll also bet a single unit on the following split bets:
You’ll bet 2 units on a double street bet for the following numbers: 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, and 36.
Your total amount of money in action with this strategy is 8 units ($80).
If you win the corner bet, you win 9 to 1 on your money. That’s $90, which results in a net profit of $10.
If you win the double street bet, you get 6 to 1 on your money. That’s $120, which results in a net profit of $40.
If you win one of the split bets, you get 18 to 1 on your money. That’s $180, which results in a net profit of $100.
You’re always betting 8 units. When you do, you’ll see one of the following outcomes:
- You’ll lose all 8 units.
- You’ll win 1 unit.
- You’ll win 4 units.
- You’ll win 10 units.
Since you’re betting on 20 numbers, you’ll see some kind of win more than half the time. The roulette wheel only has 37 numbers on it. 20/37 is the same thing as 54.05% of the time, which means that slightly more than half the time, you’ll see a net win of some kind.
The house still has an edge, though, because even though you’ll win more often than you’ll lose, you’ll lose enough money on a loss that it will eventually compensate for those previous win and then some.
But think about the worst case scenario:
You lose 8 units.
You place the same bet again, and some of the time, you’ll win back the 8 units you just lost with a 2-unit profit. Even when you don’t, you’ll win back some of your losses most of the time.
Of course, you can easily lose twice in a row.
Still, it’s an interesting way to play. I think you could have a lot of small winning session with this system, just like you could with the Martingale. I think this system avoids some of the big swings in the Martingale, too.
2- The Reverse Martingale Strategy (or the Paroli System)
With the Martingale System, you double your bet size every time you lose. Eventually, you’ll recoup your losses and wind up with a single unit profit. Other people have written about how this system doesn’t work, and I talk about it elsewhere on this blog.
The Reverse Martingale, or the Paroli System, does just the opposite. Instead of doubling your bet size after a loss, you double it after a win.
This is a legitimate system if you want to try to win a large amount of money. Winning streaks and losing streaks happen, and if you get more money into action when it happens, you could win big.
Here’s what 8 win in a row would look like if you doubled up after every win:
Winning 128 to 1 at roulette by plowing your winnings back into an even-money bet actually provides you with better odds at a big win than playing most slot machines, which have a top jackpot of 1000 units and a low percentage chance of winning.
Of course, once you’ve lost, you’ll go back to a single unit bet and start over.
It’s customary to combine this strategy with a money management technique so you’ll have a stopping point besides being unable to bet the table max.
3- Finding a Biased Wheel
The idea behind finding a biased wheel is that roulette wheels are machines, and as such, they’re subject to imperfections. A truly random wheel will have an equal probability for each number coming up.
But a wheel with a slight imperfection will favor some numbers over others.
Depending on the extent of the bias, this might cause some numbers to turn up more often than others. If you can identify those numbers, and if the bias is significant enough, you can profit by betting on those numbers.
Here’s an example:
On a standard American roulette wheel, you’ll see the ball land on the number 25 once out of every 38 spins, on average. That’s 1/38, or 37 to 1.
If you bet $100 on 25 every time, you’ll win (on average) $3500 once every 38 spins. You’ll lose $3700 on those 38 spins, though, so your net loss will be $200. That’s an average of $5.26 lost on every spin, which means that the house edge for the game is 5.26%.
But let’s say you’ve found a biased wheel, and the number 25 comes up twice as often as it should. This means that you’ll win $3500 twice out of every 38 spins, or $7000. You’ll still lose $3600 on the other spins, but your net win will be $3400. That’s an average of $89.47 per spin, or an edge over the casino of 89.47%.
That’s a huge advantage, but you won’t find roulette wheels with that much of a bias. You’re more likely to come across a wheel with a number that comes up only slightly more often than it should. Maybe 10% or 20%.
That’s enough to get an edge.
But how do you find such a wheel?
They’re not labeled, I can promise you that.
In fact, you won’t find biased wheels often in modern casinos. Most larger casinos make enough money that they can afford state of the art equipment. When their equipment starts wearing out, they start replacing it.
One interesting strategy for trying to take advantage of a biased wheel is to use the number that’s come up the most often in your session. If a single number has come up twice, and none of the other numbers have come up twice, bet on that number until another number comes up twice or more.
This isn’t a guarantee that you’ll find a bias. This could just as easily be short-term deviation.
But on the occasions where you do find a real bias, you can profit easily.
4- Oscar’s Grind
Oscar’s Grind is an easy roulette strategy. It’s a 4-level betting system, where you bet between 1 and 4 units depending on how things have been going so far. Any time you get ahead by 1 unit, you go back to the 1st level of betting—where you’re betting just a single unit.
I’m going to stick with the one unit = $10 example, because it’s easy to follow. Keep in mind that you could just as easily use this system by setting up a unit as $5.
Like many roulette systems, Oscar’s Grind assumes you’re going to be making even-money bets. You can bet on red/black, odd/even, or high/low—it doesn’t matter as long as it’s one of the bets with an even-money payout.
You start by betting a single unit. In our example, we’ll bet $10. If you win, you bet a single unit ($10) again.
If you lose, you also keep betting $10, but now, once you’ve had a loss followed by a win, you increase the size of your bet to the next level–$20, or 2 units.
Once you’ve had a loss followed by a win at level 2, you move up to level 3 and start betting 3 units ($30).
Once you’ve had a loss followed by a win at level 3, you move up to level 4 an start betting 4 units ($40).
At any point during this progression, if you get ahead by $10, you go back to level 1.
That’s the most important part of the Oscar’s Grind system, in fact—the idea that you want to get ahead by just $10 during a progression.
Here’s an example of how a playing session might work in practice.
You sit down with $500, and you bet $10 on black and lose. You now have $490.
You bet $10 on black again, and this time you lose. Now you have $480.
You bet $10 on black again, and you lose again. Now you have $470.
You then bet $10 on black and win, which brings you back to $480. But now you also get to move up to level 2 and bet $20.
You bet $20 and lose. Now you’re down to $460.
You bet $20 and win. You’re back up to $480, and you get to move up to level 3, and you bet $30.
You win, and now you’re up to $510. You’re $10 ahead, so you go back to betting $10 per spin.
This time, your goal is to move up from $510 to $520.
This system doesn’t increase your probability of walking away a net winner, but it is an interesting way to play. The idea is that you’ll grind out small wins of $10 at a time.
5- Money Management Strategies
A money management strategy in gambling is much simpler than most betting systems. It just involves setting a win goal and a stop loss limit. The idea is to get away from the table before losing too much money or after a big win.
You can set these win goals and stop loss limits at any amount you like. You can also combine a money management strategy with the other strategies on this page.
But you don’t have to.
You can just go with the money management strategy by itself.
Here’s an example:
You have a $500 bankroll. You set a win goal of $100. You also set a stop loss limit of $250.
You can place any combination of bets you like, but if at any time the amount of money in front of you exceeds $600, you have to call it quits. If the amount of money in front of you drops to $250, you also have to call it quits.
You can set your win goal or your stop loss limit at any amount you like. Most people like to use a percentage of their bankroll as a guideline. 10% and 20% are common numbers. My stop loss limit of $250 in the preceding example is an aggressive 50% of my bankroll that I’m willing to lose.
You could even start taking riskier bets as your bankroll started to dwindle. Maybe you start by making even money bets, but once you’re down to $400 or $300, you start mixing in some single-number or 2-number bets.
You won’t have to win many of those to hit your win goal, even if you’re down quite a bit since you started.
Money management proponents think that you’re getting an edge for the session by quitting while you’re ahead. Real gambling experts understand that your life is one long roulette session, unless you quit while you’re ahead and resolve to never play again.
None of these roulette strategies will help you be a long-term winner at roulette. The game has an unassailable mathematical edge in favor of the casino.
But since you have no other decisions to make when playing than the size of your bet and what you place that bet on, why not try to win by using some interesting strategy that involves changing your bet sizes?
If it’s just entertainment, make it as an entertaining as possible. You might have a winning session in spite of the house edge. People do that every day, in fact.
Just don’t fall into the trap of thinking your roulette strategies or systems actually give you an edge over the house. You can’t win at roulette in the long run, so don’t even try.