Charles DeVille Wells was said to be "The Man Who Broke the Bank in Monte Carlo." An enduring mystique has grown around this story even inspiring a song about it. It was also said that he accomplished this feat using the "Labouchere" or Cancellation System. It's hard to say how much truth there is to the legend, but I do know this is an insidious little system that seems to win on balance until a long series of unfavorable decisions creates a catastrophic loss. Wells died broke in 1926.
Roulette is one of the simplest of all casino games but holds a remarkable fascination for it's followers. The crudest recorded versions date back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. The modern game we know today began in France in the 1800's. The name Roulette is a French word meaning "little wheel."
In England a variation of the game was called E O (stood for even/odd) and in the 1800's America's wild west saloons they played another variation of a wheel game called Faro.
The European version of roulette is designed with 36 numbers and a single 0. With an odds payout of 35 to 1 the house percentage is vastly more favorable than the double zero wheel that is used on this side of the Atlantic.
With the single zero wheel and a feature called "en prison," the house percentage is 2.7%. When the zero appears, all wagers on the outside of the table(odd/even, red/black, high/low) are not lost and remain on the table for the next spin or the player has the option to forfeit half his bet. These features reduce the casino's percentage to 2.7% and on even money wagers it is further reduced to 1.35%.
Roulette in American casinos employs a zero/double zero on their wheel and is a world apart from the European ones. Using the 0/00 added to the 36 numbers increases the casino's advantage to 5.26% which is why the game enjoys much greater popularity in European casinos than it does here in the U.S. The payoff on winning bets are the same, 35 to 1, the negative house percentage is double.
Despite the increased house edge against the player, there are still some advantages to playing roulette. First, it can be a very relaxing game and provides a nice diversion from some of the more serious table games. It can be an enjoyable way to pass the time.
Secondly, since it is a game with a low expectancy of a winning outcome, it can be played with very low table minimums or starting capital.
This is not to say that it is impossible for the intelligent player to win playing roulette. On the contrary, compared to wagering on slot machines or the BIG 6 wheel where the percentages range from 10% on certain machines, to as high as 18% against the player it is by far a better bet.
Although I regularly hear the "experts" say that the roulette wheel cannot be beaten, that the player is guaranteed to lose, I cannot help but to disagree. Losses do occur at times, but on balance, I have been a net winner my entire life. If it can't be beaten, how is that possible?
In the 40 years I have spent gambling in casinos I have experimented with a wide variety of playing and betting methods. Some of these methods were marginal at best, but some that I've used were excellent performers. The long odds payoffs on the inside layout (the numbers) combined with a disciplined wagering system have the ability to produce exceptional results.
Although I agree that in the "long run" no system can overcome a negative expectancy, it is in the "short run" that the player must exercise the discipline to always quit when winning.
The game lends itself nicely to even money wagering on the outside of the table layout and most "up as you win" wagering systems tend to also be profitable when combined with reasonable expectations.
My problem with the "experts" regarding roulette is that they look at the negative house percentage and quickly dismiss it as a game that cannot be beaten. Their real life casino gambling seems to be either very limited or possibly nonexistent. My own personal experience is in sharp contrast.
The player's advantages are clear. The low capital requirements make it ideal as a low risk venue. The pace is leisurely and the rules uncomplicated with low table minimums. There are playing strategies that will, in the short run, give the player the opportunity for very attractive gains.
These are a few of the rules that must be followed to be successful playing roulette.
1. Familiarize yourself with the correct playing and betting systems.
2. Do not vary from these playing methods by betting on hunches or riskier wagers.
3. Decide on the amount of capital you will risk and do not exceed that amount. If you lose that amount have the discipline to walk away.
4. Bet minimum amounts when losing and only increase your bet size after a winning wager. Never increase your bet size to try and recoup losses... ever.
5. Keep your playing sessions short.
6. The game of roulette was not designed to favor the player...
Always quit when you are winning!
7. Do not gamble with money you cannot afford to lose.
Greedy players are seldom if ever winning players. Do not try to "break the bank." It cannot be done. But, with good judgment and a fair amount of discipline, roulette can be can be both enjoyable and very profitable. Play to win.