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Always Bet on Black – Was Wesley Snipes Onto Something?

A Hand Placing a Stack of Casino Chips on a Roulette Table

“Always bet on black” has to be one of the most iconic movie lines of all time. Of course, Wesley Snipes was talking about himself, and not roulette, when he said that infamous line back in the 1992 film, Passenger 57.

I recently re-watched Passenger 57, and began to wonder… Was Wesley Snipes onto something? I decided to play 500 spins on roulette to find out!

I Put “Always Bet on Black” to the Test

Before I tell you about the results of this test, let me outline the parameters of it. To make sure that my individual decisions or biases didn’t influence the test, I did the following.

  • I used a generic roulette simulator which I found online. I didn’t want to pick any specific software company like Microgaming, which would have been an individual preference.
  • I set the simulator to auto-play. I set the simulator to play random numbers and even money bets so as to get a good mix.
  • I used a European roulette variant for this test. That means there was only one zero pocket. I had slightly better odds than I would have if I’d played American roulette.
  • I set the simulator to stop after 500 spins for a large sample size. I also downloaded the results and set them up in a format that’s easy to read for you.

Let’s look at the results.
Roulette - 500 Spins Results Graph

As you can see, from 500 spins, black came up 47% of the time, red results occurred on 48.8% of the spins, and the ball landed in the zero pocket on 4.2% of the spins.

So, I’m disappointed to tell you, but there’s absolutely nothing to Wesley Snipe’s infamous line when it comes to roulette. On this occasion, you’d have lost money if you always bet on black, but you wouldn’t have been much better off if you had bet on red either.

Of course, the truth is that I already suspected this would be the case going in. That’s because I understand how roulette games work. Now, I’m going to explain to you why red and black will always come out about an even number of times when you play roulette long-term.

Understanding Roulette Odds

I make it a point to try and educate my readers whenever I can, and I also try to dispel myths, gambling superstitions, and false beliefs. Holding them will only cause you frustration, and even worse, could actually cause you to lose money when you play roulette and other casino games.

Like all casino games, cold-hearted math governs roulette.

  • American Roulette – When you make an even money red/black bet when playing American roulette, your odds of being right are 47.4%. That is regardless of whether you bet on red or black.
  • European Roulette – When you play single-zero European roulette games, your odds of being right are 48.6%. Why slightly better odds? It’s because there’s only one zero pocket, whereas, in American roulette there are two.

Scroll back up to our game results again and have a look. You’ll find that the results, 48.8% (red) and 47% (black), are perfectly in alignment with what you’d expect after learning about European roulette odds.

Any short-term deviance from these odds will be leveled out over enough hands. Sure, it’s possible that black may come up 10 times in a row, and when it does, you can yell, “Yeah, baby! Always bet on black!” But it will all even out over a long enough timeline.

How Are Online Roulette Results Determined?

It’s quite easy to understand how live roulette game outcomes are determined. You see the dealer spin the wheel, they release the ball from their hand, and it lands in either a red, black, or green pocket.

There are 18 opportunities each for it to land in red or black pockets (36 in total), and one for it to land in a green pocket when you play European roulette.

But what about when you play digital roulette games? How are roulette outcomes decided then?

That’s where Random Number Generators come in. There’s a top-notch article on RNGs here. In short, these are computer algorithms which generate millions, or even billions, of numbers per second. Each number is associated with a game outcome, in this case, a roulette number. When you hit spin, one of these numbers is selected, and the number will either be red, black, or green.

So, with “always bet on black” dead in the water as a piece of roulette advice, what can you do to improve your chances of winning roulette?

Five Roulette Tips That Work

First of all, forget about always betting on black. That might work in the short-term if you use the Martingale system but, as our results show, you won’t get anywhere with it in the long run.

Here are the only effective roulette tips I’m aware of:

  • Always go European – Pick European roulette when you have a choice. The house edge may only be slightly lower, but over hundreds of spins, that will add up. Over thousands of spins… You get the idea.
  • Use roulette bonuses – Some casinos will offer you no deposit bonuses or deposit matches. If you’ve been playing for a while, they might offer you a reload bonus. Always take these, but be aware of their requirements. When bonuses are fair, they are literally free play on real money roulette. Why would you turn that down?
  • Quit while you’re ahead – You’ve already seen that, in the larger scheme of things, roulette results roughly even out to what game odds dictate. If you go on a winning streak and quadruple your money, WALK AWAY. You can’t beat the house in the long run. Scroll back up, and study the results of my 500 spins. Do so for as long as it takes to sink in. You cannot defy math. It runs the universe, and it runs roulette, too.
  • Forget roulette systems – Just like “always bet on black,” the popular roulette systems will fail you in the long-term. Whether it’s the Martingale, the Paroli, or the Fibonacci system, the gods of the odds will level all of them to the ground. These can work over the course of a few dozen spins but, over 500, they are rendered impotent. Just pick a number or an even money bet and spin.
  • Understand the roulette bets – Every roulette bet has different payouts and odds. If you’re betting on single numbers, for example, you have a 2.7% chance of winning a 35-1 payout when playing European roulette. If you make a red or black bet, you have a 48.6% chance of doubling your money. Understanding all of the different roulette bets will help you make better betting decisions.

Conclusion

So, Wesley Snipes was wrong, at least when it comes to roulette. There’s no way to beat the system. Roulette is a fun game of chance, and you have just as much of a chance of winning if you bet on red as you do on black. If you always bet on black, you will lose.

This has been a lot of fun for me, and I hope it was for you. If you enjoyed Passenger 57 and found this article useful, why not share it with your friends and fellow film fans? Oh, and while you’re at it, why not test my results by putting them to the test for yourself?