It's the dream of many roulette players to catch a hot number or number set. A short streak of winning single-number bets with 35-1 returns can bring a big payday.

Casinos feed right into streak players' dreams with tote boards that post the last 12, 18 or24 winners at live tables. Online casinos and electronic tables at live casinos often enable you to see longer-term results. A touch of the screen can bring a display of number history.

Getting Streaky

What to do with that information? When recent results show the same number coming up twice or more in a row, or several times within a short period such as five or 10 spins, the streak players go to work.

There are several approaches:

●    Bet the hot number until it loses several times in a row.
●    Bet the hot number and those surrounding it until there are several misses in a row.
●    Ignore the supposed hot number. Continue betting your usual favorites confident that there is no tendency for a hot number to stay hot or a cold number to stay cold.

That last approach squares with what the casino expects from the game. In a live game or a live feed to online casinos, as long as the wheel is properly balanced and the dealer is alert and well-trained, the odds are the same on every spin. Streaks are a part of normal probability, but past outcomes have no bearing on future results.

The same goes for online games and electronic games in which results are driven by random number generators. As long as there's no programming glitch, the most you can say about a streak is that there has been one. Streaks are not indicators of more winners to come. 

But what if there has been a programming glitch? What if a wheel has not been properly maintained and is out of balance, or has a slight groove worn into the wood through repeated play? What if a tired dealer has fallen into a rut, releasing the ball in the same way at the same speed time after time?

Streak players live in hope, and there is no harm in playing hot numbers. With the random results the casino strives to insure, the odds of continuing to win on hot numbers are the same on any other number.


Grabbing Numbers on the Wheel

Making single-number bets on hot numbers is easy enough. But what about playing combinations and betting on surrounding numbers as well as the one that has won several times in recent play?

There's a trap. The numbers surrounding a hot number on the betting layout are not the same as the numbers surrounding it on the wheel. Should you encounter the rare situation where there is a bias in favor of an area on the wheel, it's the wheel numbers you want to heed.

Imagine the ball has landed on No. 17 twice in a row and four times within 10 spins. You want to take a chance on there being a wheel bias and decide to bet 17 and its surrounding numbers.
On the layout, including horizontal rows, vertical columns and diagonals, 17 is in the middle of 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20 and 21.

There are several ways to approach that. You could bet all nine as single numbers. You could put extra emphasis on the hot number by betting on 17 by itself while betting the three-number streets of 13-14-15 and 19-20-21, while accounting for 16 and 18 in a street that repeats 17 or in two-number splits. You can bet splits including 16 with 13, 19 and 17 and splits with 18 and 15, 21 or 17.

You also could approach the combinations with four-number corners, with 13-14-16-17, 16-17-19-20, 14-15-17-18 and 17-18-20-21 all as viable corners.

Regardless of how you build your combination, the house edge is 2.7% on a single-zero wheel or 5.26% on a wheel with 0 and 00 as in standard American roulette.
The streak player is counting on a wheel or dealer bias in favor of the hot numbers and those that surround it to swing edge in favor of players.

roulette players


Adding Numbers for Streak Wagering

➔    Problem: Even if there is a wheel bias, there is no physical cause that would increase the frequency of the ball landing on numbers that surround the hot number on the layout.

Roulette wheels are set up so consecutive numbers are approximately opposite each other on the wheel. They're not perfectly opposite. Perfectly opposite isn't even possible on a single-zero wheel that has an odd number of slots with 1 through 36 plus the zero.

On a single-zero wheel, 16 is not adjacent to 17. There are 12 numbers between them. Likewise, 18 is not next to 17. In the shorter trip around, there are 15 numbers between them.
On the wheel, the numbers on either side of 17 are 25 and 34. If you wanted eight additional numbers, such as those surrounding 17 on the layout, the four numbers clockwise from 17 are 34, 6, 27 and 13, and the four numbers counter-clockwise from 17 are 25, 2, 21 and 4.
Those numbers are not adjacent on the layout. There's no easy betting pattern of splits, streets and corners that will cover everything.

If you want to bet the numbers closest to the hot number on the wheel, you're looking at several single-number bets. Streak players might be well advised to limit extra bets to the two or four numbers closest to the hot number rather than the eight numbers surrounding on the layout.

Numbers are rearranged a bit on a double-zero wheel to accommodate the extra slot for the 00. There are 14 numbers between 16 and 17, and 18 between 17 and 18.

The numbers closest to 17 are 5-22-34-15 going clockwise, and 32-20-7-11 going counter-clockwise.

As on the single-zero wheel, there is no easy combination of combinations such as streets and corners that will cover all the numbers in a minimal number of bets. If you want to take a chance on a bias or a programming glitch and want to bet the hot number and those closest to it, single numbers are your opportunity.

Should you decide to take a chance on building a streak with a hot number, start with the knowledge that actual wheel biases are very rare. Do not increase bets in an attempt to catch a streak. Bet your normal amount, using the streak numbers instead of your usual bets. Hope for the best and enjoy the streaks when they come, but understand the house edge almost always will take its toll.

For nearly 25 years, John Grochowski has been one of the most prolific gaming writers in the United States. He’s been ranked ninth by GamblingSites among the top 11 gambling experts at Gambling Sites and his Video Poker Answer Book was ranked eighth among the best gambling books of all time.