In 1891, a gentleman, inventor and sometimes confidence trickster by the name of Charles Wells walked into the Casino de Monte Carlo, played roulette for several hours and walked out with winnings that equated to $500,000, or $13 million in today’s money. Months later, he managed to repeat the feat. His story was the inspiration behind the music hall song The Man Who Broke the Bank in Monte Carlo.
What’s the system?
Wells said only that he had “a system” and the secret of how he did it went with him to the grave. Given his chequered history, the general assumption is that there was some jiggery-pokery involved, but that hasn’t stopped countless players from trying to come up with the perfect roulette strategy.
Of course, these days, you don’t have to travel to Monte or Vegas for a spin of the wheel. There are dozens of online casino platforms you can visit, and even sites dedicated specifically to roulette, including the appropriately named https://www.liveroulette.com/. A spin of the wheel, a metal ball, it’s all down to chance. Surely any “system” is down to pure superstition, like choosing family birthdays for the Lotto numbers. That’s not entirely true.
Choose the right battle
People say that roulette is “you against the wheel” but that’s like saying football is you against the ball. In a game of roulette, either you win or the house wins. That all comes down to the “house number” of zero. There are various bets you can place, but the edge is the same for all of them, so let’s keep it simple and look at black or red, an “even money” bet.
Here, the payout is 1:1, but the odds are slightly less than 50 percent due to the zero or zeroes. A European roulette wheel has 18 reds, 18 blacks and one zero, so if you bet on red, your odds of success are 18/37 or 48.6 percent. An American wheel also has a double zero, so the odds are 18/38 or 47.4 percent. The first strategy, then, is always to play on a single-zero wheel if you have the choice.
Progressive strategies can reap rewards
The best-known strategy is to achieve successive minimum stake wins and to cover off losses by increasing your stake. Again, let’s assume you play red. Bet the minimum table bet (for example $1). If you win, you get a dollar payout and you get your dollar stake back. Pocket your prize and bet $1 again. If you lose, double your stake and keep doing so till you win, at which point you go back to the beginning and bet $1.
Here, even if black comes up five times before it’s finally read the sixth time, you will bet $1 + $2 + $4 + $8 + $16 + $32. That adds up to $63. You’ll get $32 payout plus your $32 stake back, and there’s your $1 win for your back pocket.
The downside to this strategy is that sooner or later, a long run of blacks will happen, and you are liable to hit the maximum table limit, meaning you cannot cover the loss. However, if you are only playing for an hour or so, a strategy like this can make sense. It won’t make you rich like Charles Wells, but you will often come away with enough in your pocket to buy the next round of drinks.