Roulette is one of the most random games in the casino. The ball spins around a wheel and can bounce into one of over three dozen pockets.
This makes roulette seem like a pure gamble. This leaves many players wondering if there is any way to reduce this randomness and gain an advantage.
I, too, have this same question.
Several other casino games give you a chance to earn long term profits. This includes blackjack (card counting), poker, sports betting and video poker.
Certain card counters, poker players and sports bettors have made a very good living through their skills. My question is whether or not roulette is another game that you can make a living with.
Follow along as I go over the house edge, betting systems, advantage play methods and how much profit you can make in roulette.
The standard roulette house edge depends upon which game you’re playing. Here are the three main roulette games and their respective house edges:
American roulette has 38 numbers, including both a single and double zero pocket. The zero pockets are where the house gains its edge on most bets.
By dividing the house friendly numbers (2) by the total amount of numbers (38), I arrive at the 5.26% house advantage.
European roulette differs because it only has 37 numbers with only one single zero pocket. By dividing the lone house friendly number (1) by the total pockets (37), I get a 1.35% house edge.
French roulette is also played on the European wheel, but the difference here is that it offers the la partage rule.
This rule pays half back on losing even money bets that land on zero. Thanks to la partage, French roulette cuts the European wheel’s house edge in half.
Obviously, your chances of winning in roulette improve greatly as you move from the American to the French version. Nevertheless, you’re still facing a house advantage and are destined to eventually lose your money.
This is why many roulette players turn to systems and other strategies to try and beat the game.
Roulette doesn’t offer much strategy beyond selecting the right games. If you play European or French roulette (with even money bets), you’re already using good strategy.
Mathematicians have devised their own methods for trying to beat the house edge over the years. Dubbed gambling systems, these consist of betting patterns used in an effort to beat the casino.
The simplest roulette strategy is to wager based on trends. It’s especially popular to bet the opposite of any outcome that’s on a hot streak.
Gamblers think that the losing outcome is “due” to win, which is why they bet this way. Here’s an example of trend betting:
Most roulette systems are more complicated than this, but they can still be learned rather quickly.
The Labouchere system (a.k.a. cancellation system) is one example. This is a “negative progression” system, which means it involves increasing the size of your bets during losing streaks. The theory is that you should eventually win back your losses plus a profit.
The problem with this system (and others) is that they only manipulate your short term winnings – they don’t overcome the house edge.
Eventually, you’ll hit a losing streak so long that you either run out of money or hit the table betting limit. In either case, you can no longer win back your losses and/or properly implement the Labouchere.
Long story short, no gambling strategy has ever been invented that can beat roulette long term. While these systems are fun to use, you should never look at them as a path to guaranteed profits.
The only way to truly win in roulette is to become an advantage player. There are three methods that players have used over the years to beat this game.
Let’s discuss each roulette advantage play strategy along with the pros and cons of each one.
Casinos make more money when roulette games move quickly and efficiently. Dealers are encouraged to spin the ball and collect bets at a decent pace to make this happen.
But worrying about speed can also cause dealers to unconsciously spin the ball the same way every time. This, in turn, leads to what’s called a dealer signature.
A signature involves the dealer’s spin results behaving in a predictable pattern. Oftentimes, this predictability means that the ball lands anywhere from 6 to 10 pockets away from the last winning number.
While this doesn’t automatically guarantee you wins, dealer signatures can give you an advantage. Here are aspects that you want to look for when trying to spot a dealer signature:
The first point is the biggest thing you want to watch for. If the dealer consistently releases the ball at 3 o’clock and it usually lands around 6 o’clock, you can bet on numbers/sections in this range.
Watching the ball’s velocity also helps because you can count how many revolutions it makes around the wheel. Noticing a consistent pattern in the number of revolutions can indicate a signature.
Watching the wheel is another similar situation where you want to try and spot a pattern in revolutions for each turn.
The hope is that you can put everything together and get a good read on which section the ball stops on. It helps that you don’t even need to be right 100% of the time after finding a dealer signature.
Here’s an example:
Any roulette player would be happy with winning $40 every three spins.
The uncertainty surrounding dealer signatures is whether they’re truly real or not. After all, we don’t have any famous stories about the MIT Blackjack Team crushing roulette games through signatures.
Furthermore, there aren’t a lot of roulette pros like there are poker pros.
But casino behavior collectively indicates that they believe in dealer signatures. They’ll change the wheel position, ask winning players to leave, or change dealers when their roulette table is being dominated.
You can also find anecdotal evidence around the Internet of dealer signatures working. Even dealers themselves attest to this advantage play technique being real.
One roulette advantage play technique that has undeniable proof is wheel bias.
This method involves tracking roulette results in hopes of finding a wheel that favors certain numbers. You can then bet on these specific numbers and gain an edge over the house.
For this to happen, the wheel needs enough wear and tear to where it no longer produces totally random results.
You also have to watch a roulette wheel and record results for a considerable amount of time. I’ve seen estimates that you need at least 5,000 spins to spot wheel bias with confidence.
This means that you need to watch an individual roulette wheel for 100 hours at a rate of 50 spins per hour (5,000 / 50). As if this isn’t already time consuming, you also run the likely risk of not spotting any bias after 100 hours.
Nevertheless, the rewards are great for anybody who does find a biased wheel. Here are three roulette legends who made millions thanks to this advantage play technique:
Obviously, it’s encouraging to see that there are real stories of wheel bias working, but the major downside is that all of these big winners were playing on older wooden wheels.
Almost every casino today uses what’s called a Starburst wheel. Created by John Huxley, a Starburst wheel has metal frets and is much less likely to wear down than a wooden wheel.
This makes it harder than ever to find and exploit a biased roulette game. Therefore, wheel bias is an outdated strategy today.
The chaos theory deals with the butterfly effect, or the idea that any sensitive change in initial conditions can have larger consequences later on. Anybody who saw the 2004 film Butterfly Effect with Ashton Kutcher will understand this concept.
A group of physicists from the University of Western Australia Perth used roulette to demonstrate the chaos theory. Furthermore, they measured the motion of the roulette ball to prove that one can overcome the game’s odds.
“Knowing the initial conditions allows you to beat the odds,” said Michael Small, a statistician from the University of Western Australia. “In some cases, you can beat them quite significantly.”
This research essentially amounts to a combination of dealer signatures, wheel bias and technology to predict results.
The chaos theory refers to wheel bias, where the physicists’ gadgets found any slight change in a wheel that gave them an advantage.
“A very slight slant in the roulette table could … substantially enhance returns,” Small explained.
“If you wish to beat the house, look for a wheel for which the ball drops only from one side of the rim – that is, a crooked table. Prediction becomes substantially simpler and more reliable.”
Small and his partner, Chi Kong Tse of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, used equations to predict what path the ball would take once it left the dealer’s hand.
“We extrapolate that prediction to the point where the ball hits one of the deflectors, the raised bumps in the wheel’s rim that are added to increase the random bouncing of the ball,” said Small. “Then, we make a guess as to what portion of the wheel the ball is likely to land in.”
Insider Science reports that the team set up a roulette wheel in their laboratory to carry out their study. They also used a computer and other equipment to measure the ball speed as it passed a fixed point on the roulette wheel.
“You basically press a button when the ball passes a certain point and then use that timing to make a prediction,” noted Small.
Small and Tse used their technology to predict the correct half of the roulette wheel 13 out of 22 times (59.1%). This would earn them an 18% profit on even money bets.
These two are far from the first to beat roulette using gadgets. The “Eudaemons,” a team of physics postgraduates, created a shoe device that helped them win against Nevada casinos in the 1970s.
But Tse and Small used an original method via the computer and a digital camera placed directly above the wheel.
Of course, the distinction to be made here is that it’s no longer legal to use electronic devices to beat roulette. The Eudaemons got away with it in the 70s because there weren’t any laws against doing so.
It would certainly be a dream to be able to use devices in roulette. After all, Tse and Small were able to spot both wheel bias and dealer signatures much quicker than the average person.
I covered three different advantage play methods that work in roulette. but only dealer signatures are actually viable in today’s casino climate.
The dealer signature isn’t the greatest advantage play technique of all time. In fact, card counting, daily fantasy sports, poker and sports betting are more reliable.
But spotting dealer signatures is the most realistic way to beat roulette. As discussed earlier, you need to watch the ball’s velocity, wheel velocity and where the ball consistently lands.
If you want to make a living through roulette, then I recommend mastering dealer signatures. Assuming you watch a certain dealer and don’t notice a signature, move on to a different table and watch a new dealer.
Going back to the dealer signature section, I discussed a scenario where you make a $40 profit every three spins. Here’s some math on how much you could theoretically make if there are 50 spins per hour:
This is an extremely generous estimate that assumes you nail a dealer signature and win a single number bet one third of the time.
The reality is that you’re probably going to win less often and spend hours trying to find a reliable signature. Here’s a detailed example on such a scenario:
Here’s how this would translate in terms of hourly winnings:
This is still an excellent win rate – it’s just not as lofty as the $667 hourly profit that I came up with earlier.
Odds are that the average player will lose money until they get more experienced with dealer signatures, but even at a $136 hourly rate, the rewards are big.
You don’t have to use the system I described above, but no matter what type of wagers you make, you’ll need a large bankroll to properly execute this strategy.
After all, you must make multiple bets to cover a wide section.
In my example using single number bets, you need to wager $45 every spin. Multiply this by 50 spins per hour, and you’re looking at $2,250 in bets.
We also have to take into account that you’ll go through some losing streaks, even if you have a 2% to 10% edge on the casino.
Here’s an example:
The hope is that your edge will balance out and you’ll win this money back, but there’s no guarantee that things will rebound in your favor.
That said, I recommend starting with at least $3,000 to $4,000 if you’re going to bet big on dealer signatures. This gives you between 69 and 89 betting units ($45) to work with.
You can’t beat roulette with gambling systems, but you can through dealer signatures, wheel bias and gadgets.
Out of these, dealer signatures is the best route to go because it’s both legal and still relevant.
Assuming you can spot a dealer signature and win consistently using the system I covered above, then you could win over $100 per hour.
Of course, the biggest step is to spot the signature first. This will take some practice and hard work.
I suggest that you learn more on the subject and visit your local casino to practice. You can even stand off to the side of the game and watch for dealer signatures using the various factors involved.
If you master it, then you could be looking at a very good living.
Proceed with caution. No advantage play technique is guaranteed, especially a murky one like dealer signatures.