The Biggest Roulette Myths
Our experts debunk popular roulette myths
While roulette is known for its grace, elegance, and storied history, there really isn’t any special magic involved.
As a game of chance, every spin really is random and independent. Yet even people who ordinarily put their faith in logic, reason, and evidence often fall for roulette myth in the heat of the moment.
Fortunately, it’s easy to guard yourself against all sorts of misconceptions and ill-conceived notions simply by being aware of them. Keep reading as our experts discuss and debunk the biggest myths surrounding the game of roulette.
Myth #1 - Online Roulette is Rigged
You’ve probably heard from at least a few of your friends that online roulette is rigged. Some people believe that there’s nothing stopping a casino from manipulating where the ball lands after you’ve placed your bets. Yet this myth ignores the fundamentals of the game as well as various safeguards that are in place.
Like just about every game of chance, roulette has an inherent house edge that favours the casino over the long term. That’s true whether you play live or on the internet.
Consider the European roulette wheel for a moment. As you might know, the wheel has 37 numbered pockets ranging from 1 to 36 plus a 0. If you place a bet on odd, you’ll win even money, which sounds entirely fair. Yet you actually have less than a 50% chance of winning since 0 is neither even nor odd.
In other words, the rules are set up to give the house a slight advantage, which is how casinos make money. In the case of European roulette that house edge is 2.70%, which means that casinos can expect to keep an average of £2.70 for every £100 that players bet over the long haul. Of course, over the short term, there’s plenty of variance and any outcome is possible.
When you play roulette at a live casino, every outcome is a result of the laws of physics. A croupier spins a physical wheel and ball, which ultimately lands in one of the numbered pockets. Yet most versions of online roulette are effectively real money video games that approximate these outcomes using RNGs or random number generators, which are sophisticated computer algorithms.
RNGs not only ensure that every outcome is random, but they are independently audited. Licensed and regulated online casinos give you the same mathematical shot at winning as live casinos. Yet if you’re looking for a more authentic way to play online roulette, most sites now offer live dealer games, which make use of webcast technology to stream a real table from the floor of a casino to your device.
Myth #2 - It’s Possible to Beat Roulette Using a Mathematical System
If you spend just one minute searching for winning roulette systems, you’ll likely encounter dozens of so-called experts peddling fool-proof strategies. Before you waste your money, it’s important to understand that all systems are fundamentally flawed.
Consider a typical Martingale betting strategy which requires you to double your bet with each subsequent loss. On the surface, this seems like a logical approach. If you double your bet after every loss, your eventual win will compensate for all the losses along the way.
While that’s great in theory, it ignores that all roulette tables have betting maximums. That means that if your losing streak is long enough, you’ll have to abandon your strategy along the way. This is true even if you start out placing small bets. After a £1 loss you’ll need to bet £2, which seems reasonable, but if you lose 10 times in a row you’ll need to bet £1024 for a £1 profit. What’s worse is that you could very well hit the table limit of £500 or £1000, which will force you to abandon your strategy after eight or nine losses.
If you opt for a positive progression betting system that requires you to adjust your bets after a win rather than a loss, you’ll still have to deal with the same limitations. While there are no foolproof systems, mathematical betting systems aren’t all bad. They can help you play with greater discipline. Sound bankroll management can help insulate you against losing streaks, but it’s by no means foolproof.
Myth #3 - You Can Predict Where the Ball Will Land by Considering Previous Spins
Anyone who has ever played roulette at a live casino has probably noticed at least a couple of people keeping score. While it’s smart to know how much you’re winning and losing at any given moment, that’s probably not what’s happening here.
Many players like to keep tabs on every spin so they can look for patterns. In reality, these players are wasting their time and falling victim to the gambler’s fallacy.
If you aren’t familiar with the gambler’s fallacy, it’s the false belief that if something happens infrequently in the past, it’s more likely to happen in the future. In other words, many bettors believe that things have a way of evening themselves out.
People who fall for the gambler’s fallacy often assume that it’s more likely that the next number will be red if the last five numbers were black. This ignores the fact that every spin is independent and random. The wheel has no memory and is unaware of what happened on previous spins. The same probabilities apply no matter what happened previously.
Myth #4 - All Roulette Games Are the Same
Although the casino always has a statistical advantage when playing roulette, the house advantage varies widely depending on the version you play. If you want to improve your odds of winning, it’s a good idea to steer clear of the American roulette tables. Thanks to the extra 00 slot on the wheel, the US version of the game has a whopping 5.26% house edge.
Compare that to European roulette, which is offered at live and online casinos in Britain, which has a 2.7% house advantage. Given the discrepancy, we recommend avoiding American roulette tables altogether.
If you’re looking to reduce the house edge even further, you’ll want to give French roulette a go. There’s no need to be intimidated by the French terms that appear atop the playing surface. This game uses the same wheel as the European game, but special la partage and en prison house rules reduce the house edge on even money bets.
In the case of la partage, you’ll get half of your even money bet back if the ball lands on zero. When en prison is in effect, your losing even money bet remain on the table for a second spin if the ball lands on zero. Either way, the house edge is reduced to just 1.35%.
Playing It Safe
Now that you understand the most common roulette myths, you won’t have to worry about falling victim to them. Of course, if you’re looking to play it safe, you’ll want to choose a trusted casino.
Whether you play live at a local venue or on the internet, you can count on the UK Gambling Commission to license and regulate casinos. When you choose a casino with a valid licence, you’ll know that a site is safe and you have a fair shot at winning. It’s also important to know your limit and play responsibly no matter what game you’re playing.