Today’s article is about real roulette. What does that mean? Here it is: I am going to take you with me to play the game, the way I think of it and the way I play it.

I am not actually at the casino for this but it is a good compendium of the beginning, the middle, and the end of a typical session for me. I do give my game a lot of thought (maybe I overthink it) and I want my play to reflect what I know about house edges and how to get hurt by them as little as I can.

[Please note: I won a million dollars playing this way, so pay attention. Just kidding!]

I Dismiss Thee

We all have our favorite ways how to play roulette and that means there are certain bets we tend not to make, or bets we never make. We also have our very own money-management techniques. Yes, I have mine. Here they are:

• I do not want to bet, at any time, more than three units. So, if I am betting \$25, I will not bet more than \$75 dollars after an unusually long winning streak. How often do such long streaks occur? Not often at all. I use this fact to allow me to violate one of my real rules; don’t give the casino a shot at more of your money. Even with a long winning streak, you add more money to the game and that money comes under the house edge. It is bad to raise your bets even though (forgive me!) I have sometimes done it.

• But I will admit that I am not perfect and occasionally I do violate my idea that you just steady-bet your money. Please don’t hold this against me. We are all a little human, aren’t we? Even gambling writers.

• I will break up my minimum bet at times. If I am betting \$40 as my minimum bet, I have no problem making the bets \$10, \$10, \$10, and \$10. Or two bets of \$20 each or several bets of different denominations.

[Please note: I am assuming the table minimum at the game I am playing is \$10. You have to adjust yourself to the table limits. Do not, under any circumstances, overbet your bankroll.]

• I do not wager on the inside/straight-up bets, those directly on the numbers. If you bet one bet on one number you are asking for possibly long bouts of losses before you hit your number. You have a 1-in-38 chance to win on the American double-zero (0, 00) wheel or a 1-in-37 chance to win on the European single-zero (0) wheel. Yes, you could bet multiple chips but you are now asking for the house to have its edge over more and more of your money.

• I also don’t like to battle other players to get my bets on the inside numbers. Most roulette players are pleasant but sometimes the heat of the game can make other players become somewhat aggressive with getting their bets on the layout. The more crowded the table, the better chance of chip “fatalities.”

• I don’t want my bet to be under other players’ chips when chip stacks collapse. I don’t want my chip to shoot across the table by some other player trying to rush his bets. “Excuse me, excuse me, that chip in that lady’s hair is mine.”

• The multiple “line” bets such as the doubles, triples, and the like can also open you up to people knocking or blocking your chips. I do not make multiple bets by using inside numbers and the lines between and among them.

• I never give anyone advice at the roulette table during a live game (or advice at any table or machine) about how to play or how to bet. I say everything I want in my articles and books. Players are extremely sensitive about being cautioned to do this or that during a live game. Let people play the game the way they want to play it. In short, don’t be a “blabbermouth!” That’s good advice for everyone.

What I Want from a Roulette Game

I’ve written this many times; roulette can be a leisurely game. It should be a leisurely game. And that’s how I like it. I can play many fast-paced games in the casino and sometimes those are just too much for a session now and again.

I want to chill out and not be rushed either by the casino or the other players. I just want to settle in and play slowly and carefully. You can certainly do that at roulette, if you pick the right table with the right number of players. You have a chance to control the game (somewhat). You have to carefully pick the right environment in which to do that.

I want a table with players on it but not too many players. If you are alone at a roulette table, the game can go too fast. If the table is packed with players, it becomes awkward as players rush to get their bets on the layout. Too many players equal too much action and that equals very little relaxation. It’s like being in a crammed subway train in New York City.

So, an in-between number of people is the perfect roulette table. I want to be able to sit down and place my bets without having to stretch or buffet other players. That’s a big consideration.

Players at roulette can be a friendly bunch, although there is not as much communication among them as there is, say, at a craps table where every player can become every other player’s best friend during a hot roll. Roulette is more of an internal game for most players. They place their bets and then just watch. You usually won’t hear someone yelling out what number or numbers they want hit.

Interestingly enough, if you play in somewhat large casinos, you will meet many players from different countries. This is especially true of Las Vegas and Atlantic City (as well as in other countries). Roulette might be the world’s number one game in terms of its ethnic breakdown. You might find it interesting to watch how different people from different countries play the game. And there are strong ethnic differences that you will notice right off the bat.

Some cultures are more superstitious than other cultures. Some are somewhat bullying in their aggressive style of placing their bets. Some wait until the last second to push out their bets. Yes, it takes all types from every corner of the earth. Play roulette and you’ll meet many of them.

Now We Begin

I have left the following bets as possible wagers when I play: the columns bets and the even-money bets.

The columns are bets on 12 numbers: You have the first column which are numbers 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31, and 34. The second column are numbers 2, 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29, 32, and 35. The third column are numbers 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, and 36.

The 0 and 00 are not part of any of the columns and are losing bets if either one of those zeroes hits.

So, you have 12 ways to win a column bet and 26 ways to lose on the American double-zero wheel and 12 ways to win and 25 ways to lose on the European single-zero wheel.

The payout for a win is 2-to-1. The house edges remain the same for these bets at 5.26 percent on the American wheel and 2.7 percent on the European wheel.

If you wish to bet these columns exclusively, your best seat is at the very end of the table.

Even-Money Bets

These are my favorite bets at roulette. There are three of them: the high/low, the red/black, and the odd/even. They are called “even-money” bets because they pay out one-to-one, not because they hit the same number of times.

On the American double-zero wheel, you have 18 chances to win and 20 chances to lose on these even-money bets. Remember you lose on the zeroes and on the opposite proposition, so a bet on red means you can win when one of the 18 red numbers shows but you lose on the black numbers and on those pesky zeroes. House edge? The same as always, 5.26 percent.

Yes, the European single-zero game is better as there are 18 ways to win but only 19 ways to lose. House edge? The same as always, 2.7 percent.

I prefer a session of casino play where I go back and forth with the casino; I win some, I lose some. I do not like to get myself in a hole that requires a bolt of lightning from the gods to rescue me. Inside, straight-up bets to me are just too disturbing most of the time.

It is true that you can get lucky right off the bat with inside, straight up bets and find yourself showered in chips. Still early monster wins are not a regular occurrence with this type of betting. If you bet a bunch of bets, you are just asking for the house edge to grind away at all of them.

I am just not the “hanging in there” player if my losses seem somewhat staggering. Even with a losing streak at an even-money wager, you are never so far down that you figure you have to run away from the table and hide from the action. At least, I never feel that way.

How to Pick the Even-Money Bets

You can use any method you like to decide which even money-bet to wager. Then which of the two propositions to wager. How should you pick what to do?

You have a host of ways. Here are just a few:

• If you have a proposition that you like, then by all means go with it. Seriously, you only have three choices: odd/even, high/low, red/black. I bet the red or the black, maybe 90 percent of the time.

• If you don’t have a proposition you favor then just flip a coin and go with the winner.

• You can use the classical trend-betting scheme of betting the side of the equation that came up. Black hit? Then bet on black. Even hit? Then bet on even.

• You can bet the anti-position too. Red just hit? You bet black. Odd just hit? You bet even.

• If you see on the scoreboard that in the last 20 spins one color clearly dominates (maybe 12 hits) then go with that color or whatever proposition is dominating.

Good News: If the casino where you play offers either surrender or en prison one half of your wager will be returned if the zero or zero-zero shows. This is on even-money bets only. On the American double-zero game, the house edge is reduced to 2.63 percent and on the European single-zero game, the house edge is reduced to 1.35 percent – one of the lowest house edges in the casino!

[Please note: En prison keeps the bet on the proposition for the next spin, effectively saving the player 50 percent of those wagers.]

Bad News: The European game is far superior to the American roulette game and if you get a chance to play it, then do so … except! Casinos that have both versions of the game will usually make up for the difference in house edges by establishing a much higher minimum bet at the European wheel.

It makes no sense to play a much higher edge at the European game than your normal betting levels. If you bet \$10 at the American game but you must bet \$25 at the European game, your expectation is to lose 53 cents at the American game but 68 cents on the European game. You would be better off sticking to the American game in such a case.

In short, my real roulette game satisfies my personality. Your game should too!

All the best in and out of the casinos!