Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Roulette Strategery

I made a visit to a casino recently to loan them $80. My favorite game is roulette, mainly because it's simple and you can play for a while without losing too much money. Quick primer - there are 36 numbers that are either black or red, plus a 0 and 00 that don't count as black or red. A little ball spins around the wheel and lands on a number after everyone places their bets (usually at least a $10 minimum per roll). A bet on a color pays 1 to 1 and you have a 47% chance of winning because of 0 and 00. A bet on a number pays off 35-1 and you have 2.6% of winning. You can also put chips in between two numbers or on the corners for a 17-1 payoff or 8-1 payoff.

There are a lot of people online who claim to have guaranteed winning strategies for roulette. They are all wrong. Roulette offers some of the worst odds you can find in the casino. In the long-run, the house advantage guarantees that you will lose. However, some strategies are better than others for maximizing your enjoyment and your chance of winning a few bucks.

It drives me crazy when I see people scattering chips all over the board. The ball will bounce your way often, but who cares when you lose so much on your other bets. Betting on red or black is great if you just want to hang out at the table, but you are very unlikely to win much. Here's my preferred strategy: assuming a $10 minimum, I'll put $4 on a lucky number (11 for Isiah Thomas, 30 for Stephen Curry, etc.) and then surround it, placing two chips on half of the lucky number and three other numbers (10 chips total). For example, 4 on 11, 2 split between 8 and 11, 2 split between 10 and 11, and 2 split between 11 and 12. If 11 is rolled, your payoff is $242. If you start with $100 you'll have enough for at least 10 spins. You have a 23.4% chance of hitting your number and winning the $242 in one of these 10 spins. However, if you don't hit your number, you also have a 56.1% chance of hitting one of your splits, which would net you $34. This gets you 3 more rolls. Now you have a 29.3% of hitting your number within the 13 rolls. Using my limited math skills, you also have about a 5% chance of hitting your number twice in 10 rolls. Just be sure to take your winnings and put them in your pocket.

A couple alternate strategies to consider: $4 on two different numbers and use the other two chips to split different numbers. You have a 42% chance of hitting one of the numbers with 4 chips on it, which is much better than your 23% chance in the other strategy, but your payoff is only $150. But you also have a 82% chance of hitting one of your splits, earning you about two more rolls. Then you're up to a 47% chance of winning the $150. You have a better chance to hoot, holler, and high-five, but the payoff is lower.

A third is the simplest and gives you the best odds: betting all 10 chips on one number. You have a 23% chance of hitting it and getting a $350 payoff, but you can't extend your time at the table with the splits, so it may lead to less fun, which is my primary goal.

If you have any other strategies, let me know.

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