No other casino game has been the target of betting systems and staking strategies as often as roulette. The simple gameplay, combined with multiple betting options, has captured the imagination of generations of players out to “beat the casino.”
The house-edge of roulette can’t be overcome in the long term. There is a role for betting strategies in reducing the volatility of your results. You can also get better returns by selecting the best wheel and choosing favourable rule variations – and by taking advantage of comps and bonuses offered by casinos.
This page covers winning at roulette in-depth. You will find out the basics of how the house edge works and the best roulette games to play to keep this to a minimum below. Bet types and popular forms of roulette betting systems are then covered. The key role of bankroll management and casino bonuses are then discussed.
What roulette games have the lowest house edge?
The house edge of roulette games is determined by how many zeroes are on the wheel. There are now three different wheels. These are:
- The European wheel with a single green zero
- The American wheel with a single and double zero slot
- A new Triple Zero wheel with triple green slots
Odds for individual numbers, outside bets, and combinations are the same whichever wheel you pick. This means that the number of zero slots in proportion to the 36 numbers has a direct effect on your returns.
This makes a bigger difference than many players expect:
- Single Zero: 2.7% house edge
- Double Zero: 5.26% house edge
- Triple Zero: 7.69% house edge
Live casinos will offer American wheels at the lowest table minimums — setting aside the single-zero European wheels for higher stakes players. There is a rule variation known as French Roulette. This returns half of your stake for outside bets (odd/even and the like) if the ball lands on zero. Returns depend on what percentage of your bets are on individual numbers compared to the outside bets. If you only bet on the 50/50 chances, then the house edge for French Roulette is 1.35%.
Online casinos have a wider choice of tables. If you are playing real money online roulette games, then choosing the European wheel (or French if this is available) is a no-brainer. Online casinos also offer novelty games like Mini Roulette, games with jackpots, and multi-wheel games. You should check the house edge of these games before you play — stay away from any game which is significantly worse than the 2.7% of European wheel standard games.
Roulette bets, odds and payouts
Few casino games offer as big a choice of bets. You can bet on individual numbers, combinations of 2, 3, or 4 numbers, columns of 12, or go for the 50/50 options. Advanced players also use a betting surface that mimics the wheel. This allows for bets including “neighbours” and “orphelins.”
Here are the most popular roulette bets, along with the returns for each wager. The house edge for each bet depends on whether the wheel has one, two or three zeros:
- Odd/Even: This outside bet pays 1-to-1.
- Black/Red: 1-to-1 returns for the correct coloured slot.
- 1-18/19-35: High or low number bets pay 1-to-1.
- First/Second/Third Dozen: You get 2-to-1 for predicting 1-12, 13-24 or 25-36
- Columns: Three columns of 12 numbers length ways over the betting grid will return 2-to-1
- Number Bets: Wagers on individual numbers pay 35-to-1.
- Split: You can place a chip on the line between 2 numbers, betting half on each (17-to-1)
- Corner: Chips on the intersection of 4 numbers spread the total amount over all 4, giving you an 8-to-1 return
- Street Bets: You can bet on rows of 3 numbers across the grid for an 11-to-1 return. It is also possible to split your bet over 2 streets.
- Basket: This bet works with the American wheel. You bet on 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3. If you hit, you get a 6-to-1 return.
Advanced players use the ‘Racetrack’ betting options. This is available in high limit rooms in live casinos and for selected online casino games. Many of these bets have kept their original French names:
- Voisins du Zero: This bet is on the ‘Neighbours of Zero’. You wager on 17 numbers in total on a single zero wheel. This is the green zero itself, plus 8 numbers either side.
- Tiers du Cylindre: This is opposite bet to the one above, your bet covers the 12 numbers opposite to the zero on the wheel, this wager requires 6 betting units.
- Orphelins: Translated as ‘Orphans’ this bet covers 8 numbers which are not included in either of the bets above. You bet 5 units, covering 1, 6, 9,14, 17, 20, 31 and 34.
- Neighbours: Instead of fixed numbers, you get to choose your own number on the wheel for this wager. You are betting on that number, plus two on either side.
- Finale: This wager is on the end part of the numbers. For example, you can bet on 5, 15, 25 and 25.
What is the best roulette betting strategy?
Betting systems aim to beat the casino — by following structured staking patterns over multiple spins of the wheel. They can’t beat the house over the long run. What they can do is to help you parlay winning streaks — and to dampen the volatility of sessions where you don’t hit many numbers.
The most popular betting system worldwide is the ‘Martingale’ system. This uses the 50/50 bets on roulette wheels, doubling the stake after any loss. Most other roulette betting systems are variations on this – often adding complex rules and side bets. They are collectively known as negative progressive betting systems. There are also positive progressions. This type of system aims to turn smaller wins into big ones.
Casinos welcome players using roulette betting strategies and systems. This should clearly show you that they don’t work in the long run. Many new players pay money for some ‘secret’ betting system. They quickly find that the only person making any money are those charging for the system – not those using it.
Examples of roulette betting systems
- Martingale System: This is the simplest betting system. It uses 50/50 bets (black/red or odd/even) and involves doubling your bet after each losing spin. You bet 2, 4, 8, 16, and 32 units – reverting to a single unit when you win. While rare, runs of 9+ black (for example) numbers do happen. This means you could be betting 500+ units to win back a single one.
- Labouchere System: This progression is more complex. You start by splitting your desired win into units, marking them as either 1 or 2. If you win, you remove the bet from your card and continue betting. If your bet loses, then you add the number to the end of the sequence and continue through the list. This system is designed for 50/50 roulette wagers.
- Paroli Betting System: Instead of raising your bet when you lose, the Paroli system increases it when you win. It is designed to press hard on winning streaks, giving you the potential for a memorable session. The core concept is to double your bet after 3 consecutive wins, before returning to your original unit.
Many players stick to their lucky numbers, family birthdays, and their choice of odd/even or black/red, and so on. If you are enjoying online roulette, you can repeat your favourite betting pattern with a single click.
Optimal bankroll management for roulette
As with all gambling activity, the key to enjoying roulette starts with only betting with money that you can afford to lose. Setting aside a bankroll keeps you in control – and also gives you an idea of how much to bet on each spin.
The ideal bet size is one that provides meaningful wins — yet does not risk going broke with a dry run or burn through your money too quickly. You should aim to balance enjoyment with a shot at a big windfall.
Setting aside between 5% and 10% of your overall bankroll for a roulette session is the sweet spot for this game. If you have a $2,000 bankroll in total, then up to $200 on a session will reduce your risk of going broke. If you lose a significant proportion of your total bankroll (for example after a series of bad sessions) then you can start to take smaller amounts to the tables each time you play.
How much to bet on each spin depends on your coverage of the table. If you bet on the outside (50/50) wagers and cover a lot of numbers, then you will win more often. Balancing this is the lower win amounts in proportion to your bet — plus the bigger losses if all your wagers should miss. If you are more selective, you can bet smaller amounts of your daily budget. This will keep you playing during the naturally longer dry spells.
Taking advantage of roulette bonus offers
Bonuses are a great way to give your bankroll a boost. Both live and online casinos offer rewards to players. Roulette’s lower house edge means that the bonus deals are more complex than those aiming to win at slots. You need to account for weightings and rules about how much coverage of the table is allowed before you enjoy bonus deals.
Live casinos in Canada have free play offers for players that sign up for their loyalty reward scheme. Typical deals start with $10 of free play. This is for slots, though there is nothing to stop you from cashing out your slot winnings and heading to the roulette table. Roulette play is tracked, with comps paid based on the points you accumulate. At a live roulette table, you should hand your card to the croupier. Electronic roulette games will keep track of your play if you insert your card into the slot.
Online casinos also offer free play. Whether it can be used for casino table games including roulette depends on the casino. Most online casinos either restrict their no-deposit bonuses for slots — or add weightings to table games including roulette.
Weightings refer to the play-through required to clear a bonus. Every casino bonus needs to be played through (bet) a specified number of times before it is considered cleared. When you meet the play-through, you are free to withdraw whatever you have won.
With a low house edge, roulette will be weighted at between 5% and 25%. This means only part of every bet counts towards clearing your bonus. Seen another way, you need to bet a lot more money on roulette to clear your bonus compared with slots.
There are many types of bonuses available from online casinos. While they will not overcome the house edge, these deals mean you are improving your returns. Look out for matched welcome bonuses, reload bonuses, free spins on slots, chips to try out live dealer roulette games or mobile casino games, and loyalty reward (comp) schemes.
Wrapping up: is it possible to win at roulette?
Over the long run, the house edge of roulette games will always win out. You can enjoy winning sessions — with big payouts possible if your numbers come in. Enjoying roulette is all about pressing your winning sessions and reducing the variance when you hit a dry spell.
Winning at roulette starts with choosing the right wheel. You will not always have a choice, but when you do, the smaller the number of green zero slots on the wheel the better. French rules reduce the house edge even further. Betting systems can be negative progressions or positive ones. They won’t beat the house edge over time, though they can help reduce the natural swings of fortune.
After choosing the right wheel, bonuses and comps are the most important factor. Both live and online casinos in Canada offer incentives for players. Make sure your bets are tracked, rewards include free play, resort credit, and even comped hotel rooms.
Roulette has been a hugely popular casino game for hundreds of years. With smart bankroll and bonus management and sticking to the wheel with the best house edge – you can give yourself the best possible chance of a winning session.