People have been trying to sell high priced roulette systems for years, and based on the number of ones offered it seems like someone must be buying them.
When you read the sales pitch for a system it seems like a sure way to make money. After all, the numbers look good and the reasoning seems to make sense.
But a few things should raise red flags whenever you’re tempted to buy into the sales pitch.
The first thing is if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is too good to be true.
The second thing is if the person selling the system had such a gold mine why don’t they keep it to themselves and make millions instead of selling it for a couple thousand or less?
The third thing is if a system existed that could beat roulette the casinos would already know about it and either stop offering the game or change it so the system didn’t work.
But the casinos love people who have a roulette system because they know in the long run that the house edge is fixed and will always win out in the end. If the casino industry, which is responsible for billions in revenue every year and can afford to hire the best experts, isn’t concerned it’s a clear sign that a game isn’t vulnerable.
The casinos watch their blackjack games for counters because they know a few people have figured out a real way to beat them. But they don’t watch the roulette table much. The only reason they watch the roulette table is to catch cheaters.
The most common way to cheat at roulette is by trying to place bets after the ball lands. This may seem impossible, but teams of cheaters have done it in the past.
The only way to beat roulette in the long run without cheating is if you can find a biased wheel, learn how to track it, and then take advantage of the bias. The only biased wheels are defective and the big casinos go to great lengths to figure out if one of their wheels is defective and replace it immediately.
Why Systems Don’t Work
Roulette is offered with a single zero on the wheel, often called European roulette, and with a zero and double zero on the wheel, often called American roulette.
Single zero wheels have a house edge of 2.7% and double zero wheels have a house edge of 5.26%
The edge is created by the zero and double zero spaces on the wheel. If you bet on black you get paid one to one for a win and lose your entire bet on a loss. The wheel has 18 black spaces, 18 red spaces, and the zero space or spaces.
So when you bet on black on a single zero wheel you win on 18 spaces and lose on 19. The extra space creates the 2.7% house edge.
On a double zero wheel you win on 18 spaces and lose on 20. This creates the house edge of 5.26%.
Any honest wheel, and as I mentioned in the introduction they’re almost all unbiased, has the exact same chance to land on black on every spin. On a single zero wheel it lands on black 18 out of 37 times on average. In the long run, over hundreds of thousands of spins, the averages always play out correctly.
The wheel doesn’t have a memory and each spin is completely independent of every other spin. If it landed on red the last seven spins it still has the exact same odds of landing on black the next spin as it did each of the last seven spins.
Most systems are based on something called the gambler’s fallacy.
The gambler’s fallacy basically says that because the odds always have to work out correctly in the long run that they have to work out in the short run.
So if the ball landed on red the last seven times it’s more likely to land on black the net time to get closer to the true odds.
This seems to be a reasonable assumption, but the problem is that they only work out over hundreds of thousands of spins. Any small sample size, even one of 5,000 or more spins, can and often will be skewed in one way.
A small sample size of 10 spins means absolutely nothing concerning the long term odds.
Anything can happen in 10 spins. You can find documented proof of 10 spins or more being all one color happening many times. It’s been reported that in the 1940’s a wheel had red come up 32 consecutive times.
If you do a quick search in a major search engine you’ll find a streak of 15 straight black results another time. You’ll also find that black landed 26 times in a row in Monte Carlo in 1913.
The point is that small sample sizes don’t mean anything when it comes to the true odds of the roulette wheel.
Many players start thinking that because of streaks like this they’ll just alternate their bets between black and red. But you’ll see streaks where the two colors alternate just like you see them landing one way all of the time.
The streaks where they alternate simply aren’t noticed as much because in our mind that’s what should happen. But the streak where red and black alternate has the exact same chances of the ball landing on all red or all black the same number of times.
The truth is that most of the time these streaks are small, with most wheels delivering streaks of all red or all black no more than two or three times in a row. But if you play long enough the streaks will eventually show up longer from time to time.
All of the systems are designed to take advantage of our belief that the short term results of the wheel are going to be balanced, and it’s simply not true.
Most of the time the short term results are going to balance out in games of chance or anywhere else; but not all of the time. The only true balance is in the long run. Remember that the long run is hundreds of thousands of spins, and none of us have a big enough bankroll to play that long. Plus the casinos won’t take our bets once they get too big.
And we won’t live long enough to take hundreds of thousands of spins either, so we simply can’t overcome the house edge.
Some people get lucky and use a system for a long time with success. But some people get lucky and win the lottery and big progressive slots jackpots too. But this doesn’t change the fact that the house, either the casino or lottery system, always wins in the long run.
1 – Simple Martingale System
The Martingale system simply doubles your bets after a loss and resets your wagers after a win to the starting bet unit. You bet on an even money spot like black or red.
When you double your bet and hit a win you win enough to cover all of your losses and win an amount equal to the first bet in your sequence.
Here’s an example:
You start with a $20 bet and lose. So your next bet is $40. If you lose again you bet $80. This continues until you win. Once you win you start at $20 again.
So if you win the $80 bet you get back your $80 and the win of $80. The win covers your previous losses of $60 on the first two spins, $20 plus $40, and leaves a profit of $20.
If the wheel follows a fairly consistent short term balance of red and black you always make money with the Martingale.
But what happens when a long streak comes?
Let’s look at what happens with just eight straight reds when you’re using a Martingale to bet black.
The first bet is $20, the second is $40, the third is $80, the fourth is $160, the fifth is $320, the sixth is $640, the seventh is $1,280, the eighth is $2,560, and the ninth is $5,120.
You end up risking $10,220 during the string for the return of $20.
Not only is this a bad risk, the other problem is you’re not going to find a casino willing to take bets from $20 to $5,120 on an even money bet on the same table.
And even if you can find a casino that lets you play, what happens when a streak of 15 straight or more happens like the ones I mentioned earlier?
The simple truth is that eventually you’re going to get wiped out.
This simple Martingale system is combined with many different betting systems, but they all have the same flaw. In the final section below, called the two dozens, I show you a system that uses the Martingale with a couple bets that win almost two out of every three spins.
On the surface this looks like a can’t lose system, but in the end it has the same problem every other Martingale system has.
2 – Simple Progression System
Like most systems, you can find almost an unlimited supply of progression based roulette systems.
They all boil down the same thing, just like all of the Martingale based systems all end up based on the exact same concept.
A progression roulette system basically raises your bets after a loss and lowers them after a win. You’ll notice that this is somewhat like the Martingale, but instead of doubling in the Martingale, the progression just works in adding or subtracting the base betting unit.
Since they seem to be somewhat similar, you may be asking which one is best?
As you learned in the section about why systems don’t work, neither system is the best. They both will eventually succumb to the fixed house edge because each bet is an independent process that has nothing to do with what happened before or is going to happen in the future.
Here’s how a simple progression system works and the idea behind it. Remember that the idea behind it doesn’t make it work, it just is the reason so many people think it works.
In a simple progression roulette system you raise your bet by one betting unit after every loss and lower it by one after every win.
Here’s an example:
You decide to use $10 betting units so your first bet is $10. Just like the martingale system above, you always bet on one of the even money wagers or red, black, odd, even, etc. If you win the first bet you bet $10 again. You keep betting $10 until you lose.
When you lose you increase your bet to $20. If you lose again you increase it to $30. As you lose consecutive bets you keep betting another $10.
When you win you reduce your bet $10. Here’s a series of spins with how much you bet and the result.
The idea of a simple roulette progression system is to lock in wins by reducing your bets after wins and chase your losses by increasing your bets after losing spins.
In the example we just used you make 10 bets, winning five and losing five. You’re total bets are $160 with losses on $60 and wins on $100.
On the surface it looks good and when a wheel has a long streak of moving back and forth between the even money bets the system will show a short term profit.
The problem is that eventually you’re going to hit a long streak that wipes out your profit and / or pushes you against the maximum bet accepted at the table, just like the Martingale.
Remember that the roulette wheel has no memory and each spin is independent of the other. This means that over time this system is the same as placing a bunch of flat $10 bets, a bunch of flat $20 bets, a bunch of flat $30 bets, etc.
Flat bets are always at the mercy of the house edge, so in the long run you’re going to lose at close to the house edge percentage rate.
Here’s another example of 10 spins:
In this example you also take 10 spins and your total amount wagered is $390 with losses on $230 and wins on $160.
A series of losses pushes your bets up and then when the wheel starts alternating back and forth between wins and losses every spin or two you’re tuck at the higher betting amounts until you hit a streak of wins or anther streak of losses.
A second streak of losses quickly pushes your bets higher and depletes your bankroll.
3 – Two Dozens
Here’s a simple system using the Martingale combined with two bets that win on 64.87% of the spins. How can you fail with a Martingale system combined with winning 64.87% of the time? Let me show you.
If you bet on one of the dozens, either one to 12 or one of the three columns, you win 2 to 1 when you win. The chances of winning a dozen bet on a single zero wheel is 12 out of 37, or 32.43%.
So if you bet on two of the dozens your chance of winning is 24 out of 37, or 64.87%.
Here’s what happens when you bet on two dozens and win.
You bet $20 on each of two dozens, for a total bet of $40. When the ball lands on one of your 24 numbers you lose the bet of $20 on the other one, but receive your $20 bet and a win of $40 on the one you win. This is a total profit on the spin of $40. The $20 you lose and the $20 you get back even out, leaving a $40 profit.
So if you simply flat bet two dozen bets you show a profit of $40 64.87% of the time.
When you lose the other 35.13% of the time you lose $40.
This sounds like an unbeatable system already.
Now, let’s incorporate the Martingale to create a system using our dozens bets.
We place our two $20 bets to start on two different dozens and lose. Because we win $40 when we win we make the same two $20 bets after our first loss, because if we win the second set of bets we break even over the two series.
The first bet loses both $20 bets for a total loss of $40 but if we win the second set of $20 bets we win $40, which covers the first two bets.
If we lose two sets of bets in a row we double our bets on the third spin. So now we’ve lost a total of $80 on the first two sets of bets and are betting $40 each on two of the dozens.
If we win the third set of bets we get back $40 from the winning bet that cancels out the other $40 bet and we win $80, which cancels out the $80 total we bet on the first two sets of bets.
This doesn’t sound great, but we have a good chance of winning at least one out of every three bets when we have a 64.87% chance to win each individual bet. So we combine the chance of making money on the first bet 64.87% of the time with an excellent chance of chasing our losses on the next bet or two and breaking even.
This is the kind of twisted math the system sellers use to convince you that their system is worth a ton of money. It sounds like a can’t lose scenario, but when you investigate further you find out that when a long streak of losses comes, which always happens if you play long enough, you still end up losing a large amount.
What happens with our system with three straight losses?
You’re going to need to double your bets again, to $80 and $80, after three straight losses.
You bet a total of $160 on the first three sets of bets and now you’re betting another $160. Of course the chance of losing four of these bets in a row is miniscule, but it does happen from time to time.
When you win the fourth set of bets after three losses the $80 return from the winning bet covers the $80 loss of the other bet and the $160 win covers the total of $160 from the first three sets of bets.
By doubling your bets in this system you’re chasing your losses to break even, but with a higher chance of winning each bet in the series than a normal bet on even money bets.
The danger in this system is the same as any Martingale system. Eventually a long series of losses comes and you’re forced to continually double up to have a chance of breaking even.
If you want to change the system so you can show a win that is above breakeven if you don’t win the first spin you can double u after each loss including the first one instead of waiting until you lose two in a row.
When you use the first system most of the times you’re going to win more than you lose because you have an above average chance to win the first spin. And the advanced percentage edge you have on each spin makes it more likely you’ll hit the break even win almost every time before you lose your entire bankroll or reach the table limits.
So it can and will often show a consistent profit for a long time. But don’t let this fool you into thinking the system is a long term winner. It simply isn’t going to win in the long term.
Let’s look at the numbers if you double after each loss instead of waiting until two losses in a row.
The first column is the amount of each of the two bets. The second column is the total amount lost across all bets in the series if you lose both in the current series. The third column is the total amount won including the return of the winning wager and loss of the other wager when you win the current spin in the series. So you need to compare the total win against the total amount wagered from the previous line to see the amount won in total.
So if you win the fourth set of bets you win $320, which covers the total loss of $280 from the first three spins and leaves a profit of $40.
If you win the fifth spin of the series you win $640, which covers the total loss of $600 on the first four spins and leaves a profit of $40.
Once again, this looks like the perfect system. After all, the odds of losing six consecutive double dozens bets are almost non-existent. But it’s possible, so you still end up risking a large amount in hopes of winning a small amount.
The question you need to answer is if you’re willing to risk $2,500 for a chance to win $60 on a 64.87% chance of winning?
If you understand expected value then you know this is a terrible bet. But if you put it into the context of a series of bets you’re convinced it’s a good idea.
But remember that each spin of the roulette wheel is independent of all of the other spins, so this is what you face using the Martingale.
If you determine the expected value of risking $2,500 to win $60 with a 64.87% chance of winning you find that you expect to lose $8,782,500 when you lose and only $389,220 when you win, over 10,000 hands.
I know what some of you are thinking. You think you’re only risking $1,220 to win $60 because you’re counting on winning the sixth bet in the series. This thinking is flawed, but let’s take a look at the expected value using these more friendly numbers instead.
Over the same 10,000 spins you win the same $389,220 and lose $4,285,860.
Remember this example the next time a system sounds too good to be true. The fact is you can’t beat roulette with a system.
Roulette systems simply don’t work in the long run. But they do offer a way to win most of the time.
The problem is your wins are small and when you lose it tends to be large. The few large losses wipe out all of your small wins and end up pushing your overall results into a loss.
If you decide you want to play around with systems like those described above feel free to do so. Just set a win limit and a loss limit so you walk away with a win most of the time and don’t lose too much when things go against you.
The double dozens system offers a way to win almost every time you play, so if you have to try something use it. Just be prepared for the doom that eventually will come your way.