Here’s a quick look at some gambling-related questions posed to me in 2021.

QUESTION: “I have been enjoying your articles but when it comes to betting at roulette, I have some disagreements with your analysis. You say to bet the ‘even-money’ bets of red or black, odd or even, high or low. Why not go for the two-to-one payoffs on the ‘columns’ or ‘dozens’ bets? While your chances of winning are reduced, you still get a better payoff of two-to-one.” 

FRANK RESPONDS: “You are right, of course, the payoffs are better on the two-to-one wagers. In addition, you can still go back-and-forth with the wins and losses during most sessions. The back-and-forth between the player and the casino is what I enjoy. 

“Remember that the ‘even-money’ bets have an expectation of 18 wins against 20 losses on the American double-zero (0, 00) wheel and 18 wins and 19 losses on the European single-zero (0) wheel. Your two-to-one bets have 12 winning numbers with many more losing numbers. You can get into a hole faster betting this way.

“When a player bets on an inside number straight-up there can be many long losing streaks. Some losing streaks can be amazingly long. That usually requires a bigger bankroll for such betting because you have to hang in there during those bad runs waiting for a hot hit. In terms of patterns of wins and losses such a method is very similar to playing a slot machine, losing streaks and big hits. Requires patience and the ability not to panic to bet this way.

“The house edge on the game is the same in either form of betting. But one betting method has more engagement than the other and that, my friend, is the one that I like. Kidding aside, you have to bet the way that makes you enjoy yourself the most. I don’t go for super big wins because I want to keep my exposure low each and every time I play. Yes, the long-run edge is the same but the steps of getting to it are quite different.”

Going Inside

QUESTION: “You can bet on more numbers inside, right? There you get a better game in terms of back-and-forth but you will leave yourself open for some nice hits. So why not go that way to increase potential profits?”

FRANK RESPONDS: “You are not actually increasing profits in the long term. Your long-term expectations will be the same no matter which way you bet. That expectation, sadly, is negative. The casino has the winning expectation; the players do not. Yes, it’s sad but true. Naturally, if the casino did not have the positive expectation, then there would be no casinos. That’s a major truth too.

“If you play casino games you have to understand that you will be playing against a house edge.

“On a given session you can have an epic win, whereas the ‘even-money’ bets rarely give you such an epic hit against the casinos. But with ‘even-money’ bets you also rarely take an immense hammering. As said, I prefer caution every time I play. Long run, the game is the same. Today, it can be really different. I play for today.”

Surrender Explanation

QUESTION: “Now you have mentioned something called ‘surrender’ at the ‘even-money’ bets. Explain that again, please.”

FRANK RESPONDS: “Some casinos and even some venues will give back half of your ‘even-money’ bets if the 0 or 00 hits. On the double-zero wheel this will reduce the house edge from 5.26 percent to 2.63 percent. On the single-zero wheel, the house edge goes from 2.70 percent to 1.35 percent. The single-zero wheel might have the option of ‘en-prison’ which essentially does the same thing.

“Now reducing the house edge at roulette by one-half is a great benefit for the player. The single-zero wheel becomes one of the best bets in the casino!”

Single Zero Versus Double Zero

QUESTION: “You are therefore saying always bet the single-zero wheel if you can? It’s always a better bet than the double-zero wheel?”

FRANK RESPONDS: “Well, yes, and no. Sometimes the minimum bet on the single-zero wheel is much higher than the minimum bet on the double-zero wheel. The expected loss can then be much higher even though the house edge is much lower. If you are a player who bets $10 per decision and the minimum is $50 then you would be asking for trouble betting that $50.

“Let us say that you are experiencing 50 decisions per hour on the wheel. You are betting one of the ‘even-money’ wagers. If you bet $10 per wager on a double-zero wheel, your total bet for the hour is $500. Your expected loss is $26.30. Or half of that, which is $13.15, if there is surrender.

“Okay, you bet $50 per ‘even-money’ wager at a single-zero wheel. You are now betting $2,500 per hour. Your expected loss is $67.50. If the game has en-prison, your expectation will be a loss of $33.75.

“This is important; your expected loss-per-hour must be lower at the game. In short, you have to be able to afford the losses. Otherwise, you are getting a better game with worse economic results. You don’t want that.”

Shifting Gears

QUESTION: “But can’t you change how you bet? I don’t mean bets that are not ‘even-money’ but I mean how you bet?”

FRANK RESPONDS: “Yes, true, you could for example bet half the time or less than half the time. Now with those $50 bets you only bet 40 percent of the spins. Your expected loss would be $27 or $13.50 with ‘en-prison. Not much worse than the double-zero game. You could go to 39 percent of the spins and be losing less at this game than you would at double-zero ‘even-money’ bets!

“It could be even better too. If the single-zero wheel is only coming in with a $25 minimum then lowering the number of decisions you face doesn’t have to be too drastic. Your expected loss at this $25 game is $33.75 or $16.88 with ‘en-prison.  Reduce the number of spins played by 20 percent and you have that expected loss down to $27 or $13.50 with ‘en-prison.

Bankroll Management

QUESTION: “What kind of bankroll would you need to play the way you are suggesting?”

FRANK RESPONDS: “Okay, first, you must have an account for casino gambling from which to take your playing money. Do not use your household money or serious savings money. I call this the 401G account, with the ‘G’ standing for gambling. Put this money in some interest-paying account.  You can add to the account with wins and/or with small deposits as you would with a regular 401K.

“Now you want to play a conservative game. You do not ever, ever, ever want to wake up the next day and say to yourself ‘I did what last night?’ If you are a drinker, try to limit your consumption until after your last session of the day. You’ll thank yourself for that.

“So let us say you are betting $10 on those even-money bets. How much should you give yourself for each session of play? First of all, how long of a session do you want? An hour, two or three? How many sessions a day? These are the parameters that you have to fill in and stick to.

“Let us say that you will play for two hours a session for two sessions a day. You’ll actually have to come up with your ideas. I’m just giving my overview.

Roulette layout with all numbers

“We estimate how many decisions per hour. Let’s keep it at 50 per hour as in the above examples. You will therefore be playing 100 decisions in that two-hour period. That means you will be wagering a total of $1000 during that time. 

“What don’t we want during those 100 decisions? Obviously, we don’t want to be wiped out and lose every penny we brought with us to play for that session. Now just figure you will win 18 times and lose 20 times on the double-zero wheel. Let’s make it simple by using nine wins and 10 losses. For every 19 decisions, the math says you will lose one bet of $10. 

“Keep in mind that we are just dealing in averages. You could be ahead after 19 decisions or behind, or monstrously ahead, or cripplingly behind. Who knows? In 100 decisions, the math indicates a loss somewhere around $50. Here we go with a guesstimate: bring enough money to lose $100. Make it easy for yourself, bring $300 to play ‘even-money’ bets for 100 decisions.

“There’s an excellent chance you will not get wiped out by having $300 as your session stake. 

“And what if you are getting hammered? Must you plug away and stay in the game? Of course not. You can pull that plug anytime you wish and take a break from play. Whatever money you have left over, just put it away and don’t use any of it for your next session. 

“If you are winning, just play your two hours and rejoice as you take your win with you. You won’t use any of that win during your next session.

“Session two is done the exact same way. Give yourself $300 again and proceed. That comes to $150 per hour or per 50 decisions.  

“The total you need to bring with you is $600 to play four hours with a decent expectation that you won’t get wiped out.”

Single-Session Fun

QUESTION: “I like to go for one afternoon a week and I just play one session. What then?”

FRANK RESPONDS: “Play $150 per hour if you are betting $10 per decision given the parameters above. If you play for four hours it still comes to $600.”

Expanding Gaming Sessions

QUESTION: “And what if I go to the casinos for a vacation, say for four days, what then?”

FRANK RESPONDS: “Just make it $150 per hour of play. Stick with that and try to keep the number of decisions to 50 per hour or even fewer if you can. 

“Obviously, I am taking a shot in the dark about what will happen in an hour’s time or two-hour’s time but it is a shot that can’t destroy you if bad streaks happen.

“My biggest concern is losses, especially among those of us who are committed casino players. You want to go to the casinos often? Then you have to be contained, controlled, and yes, disciplined. That includes cutting short a session that isn’t going right if you start to think that you don’t want to take any more negative hits. You can always come back for more.”

‘Action’ players

QUESTION: “All of this sounds good but I really don’t like the ‘even-money’ bets. I am an action player in the best definition of that word. I am looking for a thrill. Don’t you have ways to play that can give me a thrill and keep my money safe or as safe as possible?”

FRANK RESPONDS: “I think you should take the same context that I’ve been giving and extend it to the inside bets. You have a one-in-38 chance to win on the double-zero wheel and a one-in-37 chance to win on the single-zero wheel with a single inside-number bet. 

“The question you must ask yourself is exactly how much to give yourself per session betting those inside numbers? Basically, you go per number. If you decide to bet 18 numbers all at once, then you give yourself $300 for a two-hour session. If you decide to go to nine numbers, you give yourself $600 per session, meaning $1,200 for two hours. 

“The bottom line is simple: The more numbers you bet at once, the less your bankroll has to be since it is easier to get a hit. The fewer numbers you bet, the more your bankroll must be because you can have – and you will have – major losing streaks.

“Yes, you can get a big hit right off the bat betting inside and then the day may turn out to be clear sailing. Drowning is what I fear most.”

All the best in and out of the casinos!

About the Author

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.