Roulette is a game with an amazing number of bets. These bets are all about the numbers, their colors, the types of numbers they are, where those numbers exist in conceptual terms (such as high/low, columns and such). It is a game where you can get lost in the numbers. You can also lose your money. 

Players can find themselves swamped with bets and swamped with losses on those bets. The more bets a player makes the more you have a chance to win those bets but the more (the very, very more) chance you have of taking a beating. 

In the world of gambling, less is best for the player. That is a good dictum to remember.

Just to give you an idea of how dangerous multiple betting can be. Check out the inside numbers on the roulette table (let us use the double zero wheel of 0 and 00). You have numbers 1-36 and you have the 0 and 00. You have a one in 38 chance of hitting any one of those.

The payment for a hit is 35-to-1. The true payment should be 37-to-1 as there are 38 numbers. Short changing the payoffs will give the casino the advantage. That gives the house a pretty substantial edge of 5.26 percent. Translated into cold hard cash that is an expected loss of $5.26 for every $100 wagered. The more a player bucks that edge, the better chance the player will be behind.

Now, change the above scenario to this one: the player decides to bet 19 of the 38 numbers. Wow! That gives the player a 50-50 chance to win a bet. Hooray! Unfortunately, the player will still lose 18 bets on which he or she wagered and also lose 19 bets on the numbers not wagered upon. Yes, those bets will keep having the house edge removed.  

The end results? You guessed it. The house edge will still ring supreme and so much more money will be lost because of the immense number of bets the player made. Put this firmly in your brain – less is more!

Numbers Count

Players will no doubt notice that many casino games will give the player a chance to bet on many different and many multiple propositions. The game of craps offers many possible bets and most craps players will make such bets – to their chagrin.

Roulette, just like craps and some other games, can open the player up to desiring maximum coverage of as many numbers and propositions as possible. Sadly, these players are offering themselves up to be hammered. The players don’t actually think that; they think they will win more with more bets. Sounds good but is it really?

[Please note: On the new triple-zero wheels – 0, 00, 000 – the house edge is 7.69 percent. Yikes! The casinos are promising players of that game that they will get more in comps! That means literally the casino expects the players to lose more money and some of that money – the players losses – will come back to them as comps.

Now, more bets, more wins might sound logical but it is, as I wrote, wrong. The more bets going up against the house edges, the more losses will accumulate. You just can’t escape the long-term implications of that truth. You might call that “the empty-pockets and purses truth.” The more bets; the more losses. That is the unvarnished truth.

Yes, you can win at times with a lot of bets but those times will not carry you through to ultimate victory. Fewer bets risked will mean your bankroll will probably not be devasted. More bets? Bigger bets? You know what will occur.

That scenario we have to avoid. But maybe we can have it both ways?

Working Around The Many Bets Syndrome

Some players do want more than one bet on the layout because they think this increases their chances to win in the long run. We now know it doesn’t as we can readily see. 

Because of this delusion, they will bet more than one number straight up. Instead of betting say $10 on a single number, they will bet $50 on five numbers or a $100 on 10 numbers thinking erroneously that this really helps them.

We can get around this. We can bet more than one number but still not increase the house edge on us. I’ll make that crystal clear – we will have more numbers working but our losses will average the same over time. That is not bad at all. At least I do not think that it is bad. 

Split bets

Take two red chips (equals $10) and bet on a line between two numbers. Now those two numbers are your two numbers. You aren’t paying any more money to get those two numbers – betting on the line between them increases your chance to win but does not put you more in danger over time. This is casino logic, yes, but it means something good in this usage. The key? You are not betting more. If you aren’t betting more, you can’t lose more.

One more example. Look at those two green numbers (0 and 00). You can bet both of them at once just by putting your $10 between them on the line. Yes, two numbers can be wagered. You want a couple of bets? Then splitting to two numbers helps.

More More-Number Bets

There are many more “more-number” bets at roulette. You aren’t just stuck on the splits. No sir. You have the opportunity to bet plenty of numbers with just one small bet. That’s right. You can increase your winning chances. Splits can be for more than two numbers as well. Few players do this but just ask the dealer if you want to split up a bunch and he or she will explain how to do this.

[Please note: By increasing your numbers wagered, you are reducing payouts on wins but there will be more wins, perhaps plenty more wins. And what will the house edge be? Yes, that’s right; it will be 5.26 percent on the total amount of money you bet over time. Sadly, you can’t usually escape that – except in some enlightened casinos but more of that later.]

Roulette table


These bets are based on 12 numbers. They are called the columns. Look at the number 1 and go down the numbers directly under it. Now look at number 2 and do the same thing. Now look at 3 and down the column you go. These three 12-numbered columns can be separate bets incorporating a dozen numbers each.

You can place a bet at the bottom of any of those three. Indeed, you can even bet on two of the columns. If you are somewhat nutty you could bet all three. That, of course, would be somewhat ludicrous.

The winning column bet pays 2-to-1. However, those green zeroes do not fit into any column. If you wish to bet either of those along with a column or two that would take a separate bet on each or both of them split. Don’t bother doing that. It will cost you more.

The Dozens 

Okay, you don’t have to bet a “column” to be able to bet a dozen numbers at once with just a single bet.  Here’s another way to bet a dozen numbers with just one wager.

On the outside of the layout farthest from the dealers are the dozens bets. They are set off with a small box on the outside edge of the numbers. There are three dozens you can bet on: 1-12; 13-24; and 25-36. Most roulette tables will have each of these dozen bets in their own boxes numbered (you guessed it): First Dozen, Second Dozen, and Third Dozen.

The payout for hitting a dozen box is 2-to-1. Again, you have to bet the green zeroes as a separate bet if you want to cover those numbers. Nah! I don’t recommend doing this. One bet is the best bet. Always keep that in mind when you play roulette in the safest way.

The Even-Money Bets

I have saved what I consider to be the best bets at roulette for last. These will close the show as they say in, well, show business. I only bet them and I ignore all the other bets when I play the game.

Why is that? My chances of hitting an outstanding (meaning a miserable losing streak that seemingly goes on forever spin after spin) are quite small when I play the even-money bets. Oh, yes, I can lose playing this way and I will over time be a loser playing the even-money bets but I won’t get knocked out in the first round. I can usually last.

Why is that? 

First “even-money” does not mean the bets are 50/50 propositions between player and casino. Each bet, the high/low, the red/black, and the odd/even, will win for the player 18 times (nice) but will lose 20 times (not so nice). 

Yes, the house edge is again 5.26 percent – nuts! – because the casino wins more and the player wins less. We can’t seem to shed the house edge can we? In a little while we might be able to reduce it somewhat. Hold on for that. It’s one of the best things some casinos do for the roulette even-money players!

I ignore all the other bets when I play roulette. I want to last and my bankroll certainly lasts playing this way. It has for 40 years!

A Present for the Players

And, and, and – here is some good information for some of you. Some casinos give the even-money players a benefit for playing those even-money bets. It is called surrender on the double-zero wheel.

Here is what the benefit means. If the 0 or 00 hits, you will only lose half your even-money bet. This is a great gift (and it is a gift!) because now the house edge on players who only bet even-money bets is reduced in half. Correct. Now you only face a 2.63 percent house edge – a much lower house edge than before. 

[Please note: The casino usually doesn’t have a sign indicating this fact on their game. Indeed, please note that the casinos don’t have signs explaining the house edges on any of their games, table games, slot games, etc. Yes, we know what certain rules mean in terms of a house edge at this or that game but the casino won’t broadcast those. Tables don’t have any indication on any game what that game returns in terms of percentages going against the player. These you must find by reading websites such as this or my books or articles and books by other serious casino writers. That’s how it is, folks, players who lack knowledge is not good for players. It’s good for casinos.]

Now, to discover whether the house has surrender you must ask them thusly: “Do you have surrender on the even-money bets where you give back half the bet when a zero or zero-zero shows?” Most will say, “No,” but some will say yes. Those are the roulette games you should play.

And What About Those Other Roulette Games?

The most common roulette game across America has been the double-zero game (0, 00). However, there are also two other roulette games, one good, one absolutely awful. The awful one is being shoved into casinos because it has an outrageously high house edge. I’ll save that horror for last.

The single-zero wheel (0) is known as the European/French wheel. There are 37 numbers 1-36 and just that one zero. The house edge is 2.7 percent. Pretty good, right?

It has all the bets on the American double-zero game (0, 00) with one exception the “five number bet,” a crummy bet with an insane house edge. 

On the even-money bets, if that (0) shows, the casino might merely lock up the bet for the next spin. That bet is not a loser. This (called en prison) also reduces the house edge in half – to 1.35 percent, one of the best bets in all of the casino.

And now for the worst roulette game being introduced into the casino – the triple-zero games (0, 00, 000). The house edge is a ridiculous 7.69 percent. Yuck! 

If you find that is the only game being offered then just bet half the spins. There is no law that says you must bet every single spin of the wheel. Protect yourself.

All the best in and out of the casinos!

Frank Scoblete grew up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. He spent the ‘60s getting an education; the ‘70s in editing, writing and publishing; the ‘80s in theatre, and the ‘90s and the 2000s in casino gambling.

Along the way he taught English for 33 years. He has authored 35 books; his most recent publisher is Triumph Books, a division of Random House. He lives in Long Island. Frank wrote the Ultimate Roulette Strategy Guide and he's a well known casino specialist.