Roulette:Understanding The Game

Roulette understand it's rules and game variations

The game of Roulette needs little introduction. As a matter of fact it’s such a simple game any neophyte can play and understand its rules. In this article I’m going to explore and discuss the basic components of this wonderful game.

What Does It Entail?

There are two fundamental rule variations that can have a significant impact on the house edge:

Number of Zeros

In most cases there are either one or two but some games can have more.


In some variations when the ball lands on zero or double zero on even-money bets, the player will lose have his or her money. In European roulette, the wheel normally features just one zero as well as the half-back rule on even-money bets. The latter is often dubbed ”en prison”.

Single Zero Half Back Even Money Bets Additional Bets
Yes Yes 1.35% 2.70%
Yes No 2.70% 2.70%
No Yes 2.63% 5.26%
No No 5.26% 5.26%

*The above table indicates the house advantage based on all four combinations of the above two rules.

Popular Roulette Variations


All even-money bets are ”improvised” when the ball lands on zero. The bet is normally resolved by the next spin. The bet is released and returned to the player without winnings if the next spin results in a win. Otherwise the bet is lost even if it includes a subsequent zero. On even-money bets the house edge will be 1.39%.


This variation of the game is pretty much the same as Berlin. The only difference is that when the zero is hit on two consecutive spins, the bet becomes double imprisoned. In order to release the bet, two consecutive wins must ensue. The player will experience a loss if there’s further zeros. On even-money bets this results in a house edge of 1.37%.


When the ball lands on zero, half of the even-money bets are returned. The house edge in this variant of the game is 1.35%. If the game has more than two zeros, not only is this unheard of but it’s in your best interest to avoid it.

Where To Play

In the United States most of the roulette games follow the double zeros and no half-back on losses. But there are exceptions. Let’s take Atlantic City for example: The double-zero wheels feature the half-back rule. In Atlantic City there’s a myriad of single-wheels but the half-back rule is excluded. Las Vegas has several single-zero wheels, at times with high minimums. The Nevada Palace and Stratosphere casino features low-minimum, single-zero games. If you’re looking for roulette that offers the best rules you can pay a visit to the Bellagio, Mirage and Aladdin casinos. They offer single-zero roulette with the half-back rule.

Roulette Strategy

The best advice I can give you is to find a roulette game with favorable rules. Rather play single-zeros instead of double zeros. I know it’s easier said than done but try and stick to it as far as possible. This may sound obvious, when both are available side by side split them. Players who play double-zeros are not aware that the casinos’ house edge is nearly cut in half.

Only make even money-bets when the half-back rule is in play. In double-zero roulette avoid the 5-number combination bet offered. The reason for this is simple; you won’t be able to predict the numbers, the bet placement or bet size. You might as well put a rattlesnack in your pocket and ask a fellow player for a match.

Betting Systems

It does not matter how many times the ball landed on red. Reason being the odds on red on the next spin will always be equal to that of black. Contrary to popular belief among roulette players, the numbers, columns, colors and so forth are long overdue. The game has been around for 300 odd years and ever since players have tried to find a way to beat the house edge.

Some players even believe that the odds favor numbers that are overdue to hit. Others even believe that the methods of bets size variation can cause wins to exceed losses. Both these assumptions are wrong. Research indicates that it’s mathematically impossible to gain an advantage in a fair game of roulette. No one ever accomplished this and neither will anyone.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica it deems the futility as follows:

  • The Martingale is the oldest and most popular betting system. It’s also called the ‘doubling up’ system since the bets are placed progressively. This probably dates as far back as the invention of the roulette wheel.

There’s always some nut, yeah you heard me right trying to reinvent some variation of the game. Over the years hundreds of ‘sure-fire’ winning systems have seen the light of day just to shrivel like a paper in a bonfire. Whatever system is used, one thing is clear, it can never beat the house’s advantage of 0, or 0 and 00. The only system that consistently wins in the long run is the house advantage.

Biased Wheels and Dealer Signature

Most players believe that they can track the wheel. How effective is it and can it really be done? Those who believe in a theory known as the ”dealer’s signature” are of the opinion that some dealers have a very good memory, as such they consistently spin the ball at the same speed everytime. They believe that some players according to the wheel’s position can predict where the ball will land once it’s released. To be honest I doubt if the human eye is this fast and neither do I see it as a viable way to beat roulette.

Then there have been cases where players have beaten the house by exploiting biased wheels with computer-aided prediction. How does this work? Smart players find a wheel with a pronounced mechanical deficiency favouring certain numbers. Modern technology is used to determine the wheel’s speed, ball speed and the ball’s position to predict what part of the wheel the ball will land in. In 2004, a London-based team used laser scanners and microcomputers won 1.3 million pounds with roulette prediction were caught. Just keep in mind if you’re thinking of using a device in Nevada it’s a felony and you will go to prison.


Just like keno, it’s not the numbers you place your bets on that count but where you play. Always look for wheels with a single zero, or half back on losses if the ball lands on zero or even better, both. The game of roulette has been around for a long time, if you’re thinking of dredging up a system so that its sole purpose it to beat the house, it’s not going to happen. Any casino game is designed with one thing in mind and that’s to always beat the player.


Gambling 102: The Best Strategies for All Casino Games by Michael ”The Wizard of Odds’‘ Shackleford



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