Roulette is one of the easiest games in the casino. Sadly, one of the truths about casino games is this: The easier the game is to play, the worse the odds are for the player. Roulette is a game with no meaningful decisions. You pick a bet, the croupier spins the wheel, and you win or you lose. Thousands of people have spent decades and even centuries coming up with systems to beat roulette. Some of them work better than you might expect. Some of them are just flat-out awful.

The purpose of this post is to teach you how to win at roulette. I can’t promise you’ll win consistently. And I can’t make you a professional roulette gambler, because there’s no such thing. But I can show you how to play the game well enough that you’ll walk away a winner more often than most people. It all starts with having a bankroll for roulette.

1- Put Together a Bankroll

Your bankroll is the money you’ve set aside specifically for gambling. Roulette is a negative expectation game—more about that soon—so no matter how big your bankroll is, if you play long enough, you’ll eventually lose. But if you’re playing with scared money, you’ll always lose. You avoid playing with scared money by only using money to gamble with that you don’t need for any other purpose. This money is your bankroll.

It’s best to think of any kind of casino game bankroll as an entertainment budget. The most rational way of thinking about and looking at your gambling activities is as an entertainment expense. The amount of money in your budget is up to you, but you should have enough money in your budget to make sure you have a good time and get to play for as long as you want.

This means measuring the size of your budget in relation to the size of your bets. Your best chance of doubling your money at the roulette table is to place one large bet on an even-money bet:

  • Black or Red
  • Odd or Even
  • High or Low

In a standard roulette game, this gives you a 47.37% chance of winning. This approach has drawbacks, though. For one thing, you’re risking your entire bankroll on a single bet. If you lose, then the amount you’ve lost is significant. If you win, you have to quit, which means you don’t get to spend much time gambling.

I suggest that if you’re going to spend any significant time at the roulette table, you put together a bankroll of maybe 50 times the size of your average bet. If you’re betting $10 every spin, then make sure you have a bankroll of at least $500. This will keep you in action for a surprisingly long time.

Another strategy I like to use is to make single number bets to get a shot at a decent-sized win. This bet pays off at 35 to 1. If you’re placing $10 bets, you stand to win $350 when your number hits. Some players prefer a more conservative approach. They’d rather have a higher probability of winning a smaller prize amount. Those even money bets are fine for that. Either way, the house has the same size edge.

2- Understand Why the House Has an Edge

You can’t win at roulette in the long run because the house has a mathematical edge. They get this edge by offering you odds of winning that aren’t commensurate with the payoff odds.

Let’s take that single number bet we talked about. There are 38 possible numbers the ball could land on in a standard roulette game. There’s a 0, a 00, and all the numbers from 1 through 36. The odds of winning a single number bet are 37 to 1. You have 37 potential ways to lose and only one potential way to win. The payoff for that bet  is 35 to 1.

The house edge is the difference between those payout odds and the odds of winning. In this case, it amounts to an edge for the house of 5.26%. This isn’t the biggest edge in the casino, but it’s far from the smallest. This is also the edge for every bet on the roulette table except for one—the notorious 5-number bet. The house edge on that bet is considerably higher—7.89%. Never place the 5-number bet.

Here’s a quick way to “prove” mathematically the house edge in roulette. Start by assuming that you’re placing $100 bets. Then assume that you’re going to place the same bet 38 times in a row, and you’re going to see each result come up once. This will rarely happen in real life, but it approximates the odds from a theoretical perspective. And over the long run, you will see each number on the wheel come up as often as every other number.

So if you’re calculating the house edge for a single number bet, you’ll lose $3700 (37 bets at $100 per bet). You’ll win $3500 (one bet at $3500). Your net loss for all 38 bets is $200. To calculate the average amount you lost per bet, you just divide $200 by 38 bets, and you get $5.26—which is, of course, 5.26% of $100. That 5.26% is the house edge.

3- Learn Which Variations of Roulette Offer the Lowest House Edge

The standard version of roulette in the United States is called “American roulette.” On an American roulette wheel, you have 38 numbers. 18 of them are black, 18 are red, and 2 of them are green—the green numbers are the 0 and the 00. The house edge comes from the fact that the bets pay off as if the 0 and the 00 weren’t on the wheel. For example, if you bet on black, you think you have a 50% chance of winning. But you don’t. You lose if the ball lands on a red spot, but you also lose if it lands on a green spot. That’s 20 ways to lose and 18 ways to win.

The house edge on the game is 5.26%. But that’s NOT the only version of roulette in the world, or even in the United States. In Europe, a roulette wheel only has 37 numbers on it. It still has 18 red numbers and 18 black numbers, but it only has a single 0. That’s the only green number. The house still has an edge, obviously, because the payouts are the same. But you have one fewer chances at losing. The house edge for European roulette is only 2.70%, which is a good bit better than 5.26%. But even that’s not the best version of roulette available.

Some casinos offer an option called “en prison.” With the “en prison” rule in effect, an even money bet isn’t immediately lost. Instead, it’s put “in prison.” If it loses again, you lose the bet, but if it doesn’t, you get your bet back. This reduces the house edge to 1.35%. European roulette with the en prison rule in effect actually offers better odds than the pass line bet in craps, which has a house edge of 1.41%.

4- Pick a Casino and a Game

If you like roulette, it’s worth your time to find a casino which offers European roulette with the en prison rule in effect. Most online casinos offer both American and European versions of roulette. They don’t usually offer the en prison rule, though.

It’s rare to find a casino in the United States offering European roulette, especially in Las Vegas. It’s more common in Atlantic City, though. (But who wants to go to Atlantic City when you could visit Vegas, right?) If you want to maximize your probability of winning at roulette, you’ll do the work to find a casino which offers the best version of the game, and you’ll play there.

5- Try the Maximum Boldness Strategy

I touched on this briefly earlier, but here’s the concept: If your goal is to double up, the best way to do it is to make a single big bet on one of the even-money options. The more bets you make, the more opportunities you give the casino’s edge a chance to eat away your bankroll. On a standard roulette game, that’s a 47.37% chance of winning. If you place 2 bets half that size, your probability of doubling up is much smaller—less than 25%. You might also break even, or you might end up with a winning in the size of a single bet. You could also still go broke.

Here’s how the probability works out for winning 2 even-money bets in a row at roulette:

  • The probability of winning both bets is 47.37% X 47.37%, or 22.42%.
  • The probability of losing both bets is 52.63% X 52.63%, or 27.7%.
  • The rest of the time, you’ll win one bet and lose the other bet. That’s 50.12% of the time.

You’re a lot more likely to win a single bet once at roulette (47.37% of the time) than to win 2 bets in a row (22.42% of the time). You’re most likely to just break even, but when you don’t break even, you’ll lose more often.

And the more bets you make, the worse your odds of doubling up become. This is a great example of how and why the house edge works. Since the house edge is a long-term expectation, it relies on the larger number of bets. The only way to buck the house edge is to get lucky once and quit. If you ever play again, the house edge will start to creep back up on you. You might even have bigger goals than just doubling your money. I’ll cover the best way to do that in the next section.

6- Try Doubling Up Repeatedly

I read a great article on Michael Bluejay’s website about how much easier it is, odds-wise, to win a huge jackpot by betting repeatedly on a table game and re-investing your winnings every time than by playing some kind of progressive jackpot game. If you’ve gambled much at all, you’ve probably noticed that a streak of red numbers or black numbers that lasts 4 or 5 spins isn’t that uncommon. Even winning streaks of 8 spins aren’t unheard of.

Look how fast your money grows if you win repeatedly, doubling the size of your bet every time using those winnings:

  • $10
  • $20
  • $40
  • $80
  • $160
  • $320
  • $640
  • $1280
  • $2560
  • $5120
  • $10,240

Yes, you’re unlikely to win 11 times in a row.  But the odds of winning 11 times in a row at roulette are still far better than the odds of hitting a progressive jackpot.

Another approach might be to bet on a single number repeatedly. Look how fast your money grows when you hit that number multiple times in a row:

  • $10
  • $350
  • $12,250

If you want a big payday, I think making a single number bet and letting your money ride is one of the best ways to do it. What are the odds of winning twice in a row or 3 times in a row at roulette? You calculate that by multiplying the odds of winning. The probability of winning once is 1/38. The probability of winning twice in a row is 1/38 X 1/38, or 1/1444. The odds of winning 3 times in a row are 1/38 X 1/38 X 1/38 = 54,872.

You don’t have to bet $10 on a single number bet to use this strategy. You can usually bet just a single dollar.  The house edge is still clearly on display here, by the way. If the odds of winning are 4443 to 1, and the payoff is 1225 to 1, it’s clear that the house has the edge.

7- Consider a Different Gambling Game with Better Odds

I just had to throw this one in here. There are a LOT of casino games with better odds than roulette—especially if the only roulette game you can find is an American roulette game. Some people don’t want the stress and burden of making decisions while they play. Blackjack probably isn’t for those people, but if you can handle making decisions repeatedly, you can play blackjack and face a house edge of 0.5%.

The truth is, you don’t really have to make any decisions in blackjack to gain that low house edge. You just memorize basic strategy and follow those rules for how to play. If you can memorize a basic strategy table, you can avoid making decisions. In fact, you SHOULD avoid making decisions. Your decisions will only sometimes be the right move. Basic strategy is ALWAYS right.

The difference between a 0.5% house edge and a 5.26% house edge is huge. With a 0.5% house edge, you stand to lose 50 cents every time you bet $100, on average. With a 5.26% house edge, you stand to lose $5.26 every time you bet $100, on average. Sure, in the short run, you could win at either game. But guess which game you’re likelier to win? Baccarat and craps also both offer much lower house edge numbers than roulette. In baccarat, stick with the banker bet, and you’ll be facing a house edge of only 1.06%. In craps, stick with the pass line bet, and you’ll be facing a house edge of only 1.41%.

You don’t have to make any other decisions in either of those games. Just choose the right bet and cross your fingers. Don’t replace roulette with slot machines, though. The house edge on a slot machine game is much higher, but worse, you’ll put more money into action per hour on a slot machine than you will a roulette game. This will drive your predicted hourly losses through the roof.


There is no system or strategy which will make you a consistent winner against the house in roulette. It just can’t happen. There was a time when you could clock a roulette wheel and try to find a bias which would get you an edge over the house, but modern casinos use excellent quality equipment.

If you’re going to play roulette, accept the fact that you’ll lose in the long run. But also realize that sometimes you’ll win. The key to walking away from the roulette table a winner is to set a win goal and quit once you’ve hit it. You can set small win goals or large win goals. This is more a matter of personal preference than anything else. But if you don’t have a quitting point in mind, you’ll never walk away from the roulette table a winner. If you gamble on a negative expectation game long enough, you’ll always lose all your money.

Don’t fall into that trap. As far as practical tips for improving your odds of winning go, it’s as simple as picking the best possible roulette game at the best casino. Then place your bets and hope.

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