You’ve taken a seat, and luck is in the air. This is going to be the night. And if not, at least you’re only at a $5 table. Players are gathered around, sliding their chips on the red or black, favorite numbers, their grandparents’ anniversary, and a few even place a chip on that dreaded green 0 and 00.
Whether you're gambling online or playing at a casino, roulette is a fun social game with a crazy-looking board and that mesmerizing spinning wheel. But with so many options on the felt, what are some of the best bets on the board? Where should a player put those chips to not only make them last longer, but hopefully win a few bucks along the way?
Here's some advice on the best and worst bets a player can make at the roulette table.
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Take the even money and run — While a bet on black or red isn’t a 50-50 proposition, it does offer the lowest house edge on the table. Along with black/red, players have the options to wager a few bucks on odd/even or low (1-18) and high (19-36). A player has a 46.37 percent chance of winning on any of these bets. Also remember, each spin is independent of every other spin. Just because red has appeared seven of the last 10 spins doesn’t mean it won’t come up again on the next spin. These bets may not be sexy or exotic, but they won’t siphon away money as quickly as others.
Go Euro-wn way — Finding a European wheel can have a big impact on a player’s odds. European roulette wheels have only a single green 0 as opposed to American wheels, which have 0 and 00. Having one fewer zero on the wheel can pack a powerful punch and greatly influence the odds. For example, on even money-bets such as red/black, the odds go from a 46.37 percent chance of winning on an American wheel to 48.6 percent on a European wheel. That extra 2.23 percent favors the casino quite a bit in the long run. And while they may be traditionally European, single-zero wheels can indeed be found in Las Vegas and online.
Make it a combo — The likelihood of hitting a single number isn’t great, but splitting numbers or betting squares of numbers at least gives the bettor a better chance. A split pays out odds of 17 to 1 if you hit one of the two numbers. The likelihood of that happening is 5.26 percent. That’s still a better shot than betting a single number (2.63 percent).
There are several forms of combination bets you can place, including two numbers, three numbers, four numbers, or six numbers. As the number of combinations increases, so too does the probability of winning with these types of bets.
Basket bet = bad bet — This bet involves placing a bet on these five numbers: 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3. It’s only available on an American wheel, since European wheels don’t have 00. A basket win pays 6 to 1, but this is a sucker bet. Roulette is a game of chance, but this bet brings the worst odds on the felt with a 7.89 percent house edge. Leave your basket empty and look for other options.
Single number, big bummer — Everyone has that lucky number they believe will come through. You play it every spin, hoping for that nice payout when that white ball finally lands on it — or not. The fact is that most players may drain their bankroll before this actually happens — if it ever does. While it may be fun to try and make that dream of big bucks come true, the reality is usually much different. Another thing working against the bettor is the true odds of hitting one number are actually 38 to 1, but the payout is only 35 to 1.
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Punt the patterns — Despite what many may believe, each roulette spin is independent of every other spin. Number tracking and looking for patterns won’t make a difference in the long run. The casino’s digital screen keeping track of every spin really doesn’t offer relevant information. Roulette is a complete game of chance, but the house knows that players bet with emotion and feeling. Offering those number patterns does more to keep players betting than anything strategic. Showing players that there have been five red numbers in a row may make them bet more on black, but that doesn’t mean the next one is any more likely to be black. Have fun, but tracking patterns won’t impact your game.