A Look at Roulette Systems and Their Patterns

American double-zero roulette tables are not usually a place where you find serious, mathematically-minded casino players. While roulette may be a pleasant change of pace from the chaos of the craps table or the slow grind of blackjack, it is the 5.26% house edge on the game that keeps serious players from considering the game to be anything more than a little entertainment.

That being said, roulette remains one of the most popular games among amateur players who see hidden secrets in the wheel and think they can somehow be the one to exploit it. Even more serious players can sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that they have finally unlocked the game and developed a system that will beat the odds and make them rich.

With the exception of betting systems such as the Martingale system, which can cause real financial damage, the systems that roulette players come up with are all completely harmless. Because the fact of the matter is, as long as they avoid the hideous five-number bet (0, 00, 1, 2, and 3 with its 7.89% edge) every single roulette system follows the same pattern where the house edge remains 5.26%.

To show you what I mean, I'll tell you about an acquaintance of mine who, not too long ago, told me about a new roulette system he had that, he claimed, helped him win more. What he does is place a split bet on each of the lines in the center column. So there is $1 split on the 2/5, $1 split on 5/8, $1 split on 8 /11, $1 split on 11/14, $1 split on 14/17, $1 split on 17/20, $1 split on 20/23, $1 split on 23/26, $1 split on 26/29, $1 split on 29/32, and $1 split on 32/25.

With this system, he has $11 bet on every spin. If any of the numbers in the center column hit, he wins. The 2 or 35 at the end of the column pay off 17-1 so he wins $17, keeps his $1 wager and collects $18 total. If any of the other numbers he bets on come up, he collects two bets on the number, $17 and $17, and keeps two initial bets to collect $36. Of course, if any other number comes up, he loses his entire $11 bet.

Over the course of 38 spins where the ball lands on a different number each time, he would eager a total of $418. On two of the numbers, 2 and 35, he would win $18 each for a total of $36. On the other 10 numbers in the column, he would win $36 each, for a total of $360. $360 plus $36 equals $396, which is how much money you would have after all 38 numbers came up.

That means he would end up down $22, which is not coincidentally the amount of his two bets on zero and double-zero. $22 lost out of $418 wagered equals 5.26% lost, precisely the house edge.

When I asked him why he didn't just play the center column and collect on the 2-1 bet, he shrugged his shoulders and said, 'it's better this way.' It certainly isn't any worse.

About The Author

Journalist and author John Grochowski is one of the foremost experts on casinos in America. He writes a syndicated weekly gambling newspaper column and he is a frequent contributor to gambling magazines, websites, and radio programs. His books include the best-sellers The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Casino Answer Book.

  • "You cannot convert your chips back to cash at the table. Instead, ask to 'colour up' and the dealer will convert your stack to higher denominations. Then take your chips to the cashier's cage to get cash back."

  • "In the nineteenth century, immigrant labourers from China introduced keno, which would eventually become video keno, to the United States. Because of its origins, it was called the 'Chinese Lottery' at the time."

  • "In shoe-dealt blackjack, you must use your hands to tell the dealer what you want to do. While you can also say your intention out loud, the hand signals are required for the security cameras."

  • "If you want to join a craps game, wait for a break when the dice are in the centre of the table. Then place your money down on the table and wait for your chips."

  • "The long run, so to speak, is the expected amount that you would win or lose if you played the game long enough to equal an average result. This is expressed as the EV, or expected value."