Roulette is one of the longest-established casino games, with a history going all the way back to the 17th or 18th century.
Fast, simple gameplay has ensured that it remains a firm favorite but how easy is it to win at the online roulette table?
It’s a Game of Chance
The first thing we need to consider is that this is a game of chance. You could play your first ever game of roulette, put your bet on the table and win. Or you might lose a few games before you get to taste that winning feeling.
No one knows what is going to happen on each spin and there are no such thing as lucky numbers or hot numbers. When the dealer spins the wheel, the ball has an equal chance of landing in any of the pockets.
Over time, the distribution of wins across the different numbers should be more or less equal. But this doesn’t help us work out accurately where the ball will come to a stop on the next spin or on the one after that.
What the House Edge Means
You may have seen the house edge mentioned. This is a number that casinos use to tell you how much they expect to earn overall from all of their players. The other way of looking at this is with the return to player (RTP), which is the opposite and tells you how much they expect to pay out.
So how can they work out these numbers if the game is completely random? Well, by taking a statistical approach we can see that the ball should land equally in each number over a huge number of spins.
The zero pocket, or pockets, then ensure that the casino wins slightly more than 50% of the time. If we take the example of a single number bet, you can choose from 36 numbers and get paid at 35 to 1 if you get it right.
But the American version has two zero pockets that mean this bet has a 5.26% house edge. In European games, the single zero pocket gives a house edge of 2.70%. This same house edge applies on all bets except the five number bet on American wheels, which has a 7.89% house edge.
To get the RTP, we need to subtract the house from 100%, meaning that European games have a 97.30% RTP and American versions sit at 94.74%. The only exception being that five number bet at 92.11%.
Of course, there is no guarantee that this is exactly what you’ll get back. These numbers are calculated over millions of games and you could win more or less than this. However, in general terms this is one of the best RTPs in casinos, and certainly European roulette games have a lower house edge than most slots.
Some Bets Give You a Better Chance of Winning
We’ve just seen that the RTP or house edge is the same on each type of roulette except the one covering five numbers. Yet, some bets may give you a better chance of winning during a particular playing session.
Bear in mind that the overall results are expected to be the same for each bet over a huge number of spins, but will vary a lot over fewer games. This is because some of these wagers are more likely to come up frequently than others.
For example, if you place 20 bets on a single number you might not win on any of them, as there are almost double that number of pockets on the wheel. Or you might see your number come up once or even more.
On the other hand, if you choose an even money bet like odd or even, you would expect to win on about half the spins. It’s extremely unlikely that you could go through a spell of 20 games without at least a few wins.
Therefore, you need to consider what type of win you hope to collect. Let’s assume that you hope to win big and don’t mind taking some risks to do this. By betting on a single number you’re giving yourself the chance of winning a 35 to 1 payout but you know that there is a chance you go through a number of games without a win.
At the other extreme, you could place an even money bet. This should pay out regularly but at a rate of 1 to 1, which makes it difficult to win a lot of money unless you place large stakes or get a winning streak. There are other wagers between these two extremes, of course.
All of this means that while roulette is a game of chance you still have to make some decisions about how you want to play. Winning a game isn’t as difficult as you might think, but winning regularly enough to come out with a profit is the bigger challenge that you need to put some thought into.