You see the casinos have locked in certain percentages that are difficult to overcome by adding something extra to the game. So what is to be done to push the house at roulette?

It is important to know how the edges are arrived at – in reality, that is important in any casino game that you play. 

THE TWO ROULETTES

There are two roulette games extant in the world; the American double-zero game with a 0 pocket and a 00 pocket on the wheel, and the European single-zero roulette game with just a 0 pocket on the wheel. The European game is far superior to the American game as its house edge is almost half that of the American version, 2.7 percent to 5.26 percent respectively.

Please note: House edges can be translated into money by putting a dollar sign in front of the first number and making this the amount one loses for every $100 wagered. Thus, the American house edge will lose the player $5.26 per $100 wagered, while the European game will lose the player $2.70 per $100 wagered.

Given access to the European game and having the betting limits that a player can handle – meaning the money wagered is the same the player would bet at the double-zero wheel – then selecting the European game is the way to go. Doing that is not just pushing the house; it is merely common sense. 

HOW THE CASINO GETS ITS EDGE

Here is a simple way to understand how the edges at both roulette games are established. I am taking this directly from our guide to roulette which can be found on this site.

The American wheel has 38 numbers and the payment for a winning bet is 35 to 1. In a fair game, one where the casino does not have the edge, the payout for the winning bet should be 37 to 1. In short, you bet 1 and you win 37. So you will lose 37 times but win once and the game is even; there is no edge for either the player or the casino. That is zero percent.

Casinos cannot make a profit on such a game, so they pay back less than the bet is worth, 35 units instead of 37 units. It keeps two units for itself. Just divide 38 into 2 and the house edge is 5.26 percent. This 5.26 percent is the house edge on the inside numbers and the outside propositions such as red-black, odd-even and so forth.

The European game as stated is better than the American game, because of that single 0. There are 37 numbers and the casino pays back 35 to 1 for a winning bet. The casino is keeping “1” as opposed to the American casinos keeping “2.” Just divide 37 into 1 and the house edge is 2.70 percent. 

However, you will find that the casinos that offer both games might make the minimum roulette bet at the European single-wheel higher – maybe $25 instead of $10. If that happens you must do some quick figuring or check this chart in order to see what the expected loss of your bets would be (I’ve rounded the money) and choose the bet that loses you less money over time;

Double-Zero Bet Expected Loss Single-Zero Bet Expected Loss
$10 53 cents $10 27 cents
$20 $1.05 $20 54 cents
$25 $1.32 $25 68 cents
$50 $2.63 $50 $1.35
$75 $3.95 $75 $2.03
$100 $5.26 $100 $2.70
$200 $10.52 $200 $5.40

Please note: The reason that the European game is better has to do with the absence of that second zero. The payout for a win is based on one hit in 37 attempts in the European wheel but one hit in 38 attempts in the American wheel. The actual payouts for those hits are the same at 35 to one, making the European Roulette wheel far better to play.

SUCKER BETS AT ROULETTE

Although most bets at roulette come in with either the 5.26 percent as on the American wheel or the 2.7 percent on the European wheel, you’ll find that some bets are actually different at each of the games and one bet at the American game is so decidedly awful that it has a far higher house edge than all the other bets. The casino does not explain these bets on their signage at the tables; you have to figure them out for yourself.

Sucker Bet #1

Separately betting two or more individual numbers directly on the layout with two or more bets.

If you decide to bet two or more numbers by putting up the same amount on each of the numbers you are betting too much. A $10 bet on the five and a $10 bet on the six means the casino is going for their percent on both bets. The more bets you make, the more games you are playing which means, naturally, the more money you stand to lose.

If you must bet multiple numbers you can use special “line bets” where you bet one chip to cover two or more numbers. This keeps the bet low but gives you the chance to win at roulette if one of your numbers comes up. 

Let me give you an example from our roulette guide of such a roulette strategy: The Street Bet, or Three Number Bet or “Side Bet” or The Trio (French: Transversal)

Roulette Wheels: American & European

You’d think with all these titles for the bet that it would pay off at thousands to one. Nope. It is merely a bet on three numbers. You make the bet by placing your chips on the outside border of the three numbers. A winning bet pays off at 11 to1. The house edge on the American double-zero wheel is 5.26 percent and it is 2.70 percent on the single-zero European wheel.

You can find many such “line bets” on the numbers at both roulette games so do check out our roulette guide for all of them. These will make you ignore the big mistake of making multiple bets on multiple numbers.

However there is a far better way to bet multiple bets as I shall show you shortly. Many players, for their own idiosyncratic reasons, prefer to go the tougher route of betting more of the numbers and spending more of their money to do so – go figure.

Sucker Bet #2

Never bet the “monster” on the American roulette game. 

The monster isn’t under the bed but right there at the game of roulette – the American version of the game that is. The “monster,” also known as “the beast,” is a “line bet” of the first five numbers: the 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3 with a win paid at 6 to 1. The house edge is a huge 7.89 percent, an expected loss of $7.89 per $100 wagered. Never make this bet. Here the house is pushing the player to make a major mistake – don’t be fooled! Pass this bet by.

Sucker Bet #3

Here it is folks: get your chips, start putting them on the layout, bet it up and never ask the most important question that must be answered to understand what is really happening at the game you are playing.

There is an option in both the American and European versions of roulette that can reduce the house edge in half! That’s right, the American game can drop to a 2.63 edge from a 5.26 percent while the European game can go down to a wonderful 1.35 percent – which stands as one of the best bets in the casino.

This bet, called “surrender,” can be found at some casinos in the United States and its European equivalent, called “en prison,” can be found at many casinos outside the United States.

This pushing of the house can only occur if you are betting any of three propositions, the odd/even, the red/black and the high/low. 

If the 0 or 00 appears in the American game one-half of your bet on any of these propositions is returned to the player. The house edge drops to 2.63 percent from 5.26 percent. That is some bargain.

Now, in the European game the result is even better. If the 0 appears the “en prison” rule applies. Your bet is locked up, meaning it is neither won nor lost. It awaits the next spin of the wheel. If the spin shows a winner, you get your full bet returned; if decision shows a loser, you lose your bet.

This rule reduces the house edge from 2.7 percent to 1.35 percent. This wager is now better than the Pass Line or Come bet at the game of craps. It is truly silly to play a European wheel that has this option and not just stick to these three propositions.

ROULETTE BETS: THE ONE, THE MANY OR THE MAYBE?

There is a tension, so to speak, between those roulette players who prefer to bet one chip and those who prefer to spread out their money on multiple bets. To me the one-chippers have the right idea because one chip can actually be a multiple-number wager. 

That is correct.

If you take a look at the premier propositions at roulette, the odd/even, the red/black and the high/low you only have to bet one chip yet you are actually betting on almost half the numbers in the game. On the American wheel you are betting 18 numbers of the 38, while on the European wheel you are betting 18 numbers of the 37. That’s a lot of numbers for just one chip.

Throw in the “surrender” or “en prison” rule and you have multiple bets with one-half the normal house edge at the game. There is no reason to bet any other way.

But what of the players who just love that big payout on betting directly on those inside numbers? I certainly recognize that a 35 to one win is a great payout. Still, those wins do not come very often do they? 

Yes, the house edge is always 5.26 percent or 2.7 percent on any single bet but your chances of winning on any given decision with the premier even-money proposition bets is far better than your chances of winning that 35 to one payout. In addition, many players cannot resist putting out more (or far more) money when the bet on the inside than they would if they were betting one of the premier even-money bets. Consider that.

Please note: the premier bets of the odd/even, red/black or high/low are also called even-money bets because they pay out at one-to-one. You bet $10 and a win is $10.

If you wish to save money and still have loads of fun at roulette let me encourage you to seriously consider betting those premier even-money bets. If the casino game has either “surrender” or “en prison” then there should be no question about only using these as your betting options. Why would anyone want to play against a house edge that is double at games with “surrender” or “en prison”?

All the best in and out of the casinos!

About the Author
By

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.