Is Roulette 50/50?

Does a player have a 50/50 chance of beating the house when playing roulette? This article will answer this question, explain the odds for this casino game, and present strategies to increase a player’s chances of winning.

Although roulette wheels have an equal number of red and black slots (18 each), the odds of winning on red or black are skewed in favor of the house at 47.4% on an American roulette wheel and 48.60% on a European wheel.

Roulette Wheel
Roulette Wheel

The reason for the skew is the fact that an American roulette wheel also has two green slots (0 and 00) with the European wheel having only one (0). The odds quoted in this article apply to American roulette.

Types of roulette bets

There are three types of bets that offer odds of 47.4%.

Black /Red — When a player places a $1 chip on one of these colors and wins, the house pays out even money 1;1.and the player returns $1.

Odd/Even — The same applies to this bet. A player bets that the number the roulette ball land on will be odd or even.

High/Low — In this wager, a player bets that the ball will land either on a number between 1 to 16 or one between 17 to 36.

All of these bets have an equal chance of winning, and there is no way a player can increase their winning odds by selecting one over the other.

Betting on fewer numbers reduces the odds but increases the potential payout.

Columns — In a column bet, the player wagers on the numbers in one of the three columns on the roulette board for a 31.6% chance of winning.

Dozens — Here the player places his chip on 1-12, 13-24, or 25-36 again with a 31.6% chance of winning. The house pays out 2:1 on a win.

The risky bets

Street — Betting on three numbers in a row is called a street bet. An example is wagering that the ball will land on 1, 2, or 3 on the wheel. The bet pays out 11:1, while the odds of winning are 7.9%.

Split — If a player chooses two numbers next to each other on the betting table, this is known as a split bet. It has a 7.9% chance of success and pays out 17:1.

Straight up — Betting on a single number offers a 35:1 payout but a minimal chance of winning (2.6%).

These are the most popular roulette bets. There are many others for a player to choose from including call bets that are only available when playing European and French roulette.

Roulette betting strategies

Roulette odds are the same regardless of whether you play in a physical casino or online. There are several roulette strategies that may increase your chances of winning. Most involve the outside bets (black/red, evens/odds, and high /low) because these have the best chance of success (47.4%). The two most popular strategies are:

The Martingale system

Suppose a player chooses to bet on black. They double their bet after every loss until they win. Now, the bet value reverts to the starting bet size and the process is repeated. For example, a $1 bet is placed on black and loses. The player then bets $2 and fails again. The next bet is $4 and wins. The bettor returns $8 in total for an investment of $7.

D’Alembert system

This system is a variation of the Martingale. The difference with this strategy is that the player does not double the bet but instead adds the same amount to it every time. So, the player bets $1 and loses. Then another $1 is added to make a bet of $2. The bet loses again. The third bet is successful with a wagering amount of $3, and the player returns $6 for an investment of $5.

Disadvantages of these betting strategies

There are downsides to these betting strategies:

  • High risk, small reward — The potential returns are small compared to the risk involved.
  • The player is not guaranteed to win — Although the strategy is sound, it does not guarantee that a player will win. Players have winning odds of 47.4% on every spin of the wheel, and a win is down to luck not skill.
  • Table limits — Because the better increases his bet after every loss, there is a risk that the table’s betting limit might be exceeded. For example, suppose a player has a starting bet of $1 at a table with a $20 betting limit. After five consecutive losses, the bet progression would be $1-$2-$4-$8-$16. The next bet should be $32 but exceeds the table limit. The player will not be allowed to bet $32, and as such, all his money is lost.

Riskier betting strategies are available for roulette, but they tend to be targeted more toward the professional gambler.