You know those people who tell you, “You’ll never win at roulette”? Well, they are partly right. In the long term, at least. That’s because, just like in every other casino game, from slots to blackjack, and from baccarat to casino hold’em, there is something called the house edge.
The house edge is the percentage that you are expected to lose from your gambling. Every game is skewed towards the casinos winning in the long term, whether you are a roulette novice or an expert. Of course, you can get lucky and win over a single or several sessions. But if you were to keep playing relentlessly, we’re afraid to tell you you’re going to lose.
But before you cry foul and say it’s unfair that the odds in casino games are stacked against the players, you need to ask yourself why that is so. Imagine a scenario where there was no house edge, or even where some games favored the player? Before long, the word would get around, and every player from here to Australia would be lining up to play that game. Within weeks, the casino would lose so much money that its profits would be wiped out. With no profits, it could not pay its rent or staff.
And then it would have to close.
Where are you going to get your casino entertainment now? At an online casino, you say? Well, hard luck because all games at online casinos, from the cool new live roulette games, where you play with a real dealer in real-time, to slot machines have the same house edge as in a brick-and-mortar casino. Online casinos need to make a profit, too, to pay staff, tech, and marketing costs. Live dealer casino games, like live roulette and blackjack, are particularly expensive to maintain.
For this reason, you really should consider the house edge in roulette to be a small tax on your entertainment. Once you get used to that idea, you can get back to doing what you love – and have fun.
What is the House Edge in Roulette?
There is a big difference between the house edge in single-zero European roulette and its American roulette cousin, which has a single and double zero segment.
The house edge in the single zero games is 2.6%. That means for every nominal $100 you bet you are expected to lose $2.60. Of course, you can win big amounts on a single spin or make a profit over a long session. Sometimes you win; other times, you lose. Many have tried to unlock the key to make it profitable, but the house edge is the amount you would lose over a continuous game.
It’s the single zero that gives the casino the house edge. Without the zero, bets like the odd and even numbers, or the red or black numbers, would be strictly 50/50. Over the long term, you would neither win nor lose any money betting on the 50/50s.
But because of the green zero, the chances of winning a supposed 50/50 bet is, in reality, 18/37, because if the ball lands on zero, all bets are lost. While 2.6% might sound punishing, it is one of the most player-friendly in a casino.
Although many locals love playing American Roulette, they are at a distinct disadvantage. That’s because the house edge in this game is a more punishing 5.26%.
In this version of the game, you have a single zero and double zero segments where all other bets are lost. So, now your “50/50” bet is really an 18/38 shot. This unfortunate fact helps nudge the house edge in American Roulette up, meaning for every $100 you bet on American Roulette, you are expected to lose $5.26. With this knowledge, you should always seek out a European Roulette table.
Can a Player Reduce the House Edge?
Unfortunately not. Unlike in blackjack, where the house edge can be reduced to around 0.5% if you employ a basic blackjack strategy, there is no skill you can use in roulette. The whole game is based on chance, determined by where the ball lands on the roulette wheel.
Therefore, the game’s house edge is based entirely on stats and probabilities, and these cannot be changed. However, a player might dabble in some betting strategies to try and improve their short-term profits.
Some players swear by the James Bond roulette strategy or the Martingale system, whereby you choose a red or black, or odd or even bet. If you lose, you double your stake and keep on doing so until you win. You then return back to your starting stake. The idea is that when you win at the start, you bank the profit – and you can’t lose unless you can no longer afford the doubling stake. Beware, losing streaks are common, and you might lose all your money before you can win again!
In conclusion, treat your roulette games as entertainment, and you won’t be too disappointed if you lose a small amount in your session.
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