The great game of Roulette has been captivating players of all shapes and sizes since the late 1700s. Kings and queens have played this game; countless novels and movies have been made about Roulette, and the iconic Roulette wheel (first developed by the famous mathematician Blaise Pascal) was the basis for what we know today as probability theory. We might still be in the Dark Ages had it not been for Roulette.

People have been trying to figure out how to win at Roulette for centuries. There have been all sorts of attempts to beat Roulette using betting systems like the Martingale, where you double your bet after every loss. People still use these systems, hoping to gain an edge on the Roulette wheel, but unless you get a biased wheel – which almost never happens with modern technology – all the outcomes are completely random. What you can do to become a better Roulette player is understand the odds and make the smartest bets, which is what this comprehensive Roulette guide is all about.

The Difference Between American and European Roulette

If you want the best Roulette odds, you need to know the two different versions that you can play at Bovada Casino: American Roulette, and European Roulette. The European version is still the most popular across the pond, using a wheel with the numbers 1 through 36 in Red and Black colors, plus the single zero (0) marked in green. The American version, which was actually the original version of Roulette – imported by settlers from France – has an added double zero (00) on the wheel, also in green.

This extra green space makes quite a difference. It changes the odds for all the different possible outcomes in Roulette, which changes the house edge (the casino’s advantage, represented as a percentage) in return. By understanding the relationship between the odds and the house edge, you can manage your Roulette bankroll more easily. As we’ll explain shortly, there’s no point in changing your bet size between the even-money outside bets (like Red/Black) and the long-shot inside bets (like the Single bet). But you might want to bet smaller when playing American Roulette compared to European Roulette.

House Edges Between American and European Roulette

The most important thing to remember about Roulette is the different house edges for American Roulette (5.26%) and European Roulette (2.70%). There’s no skill involved in either form of Roulette, so with average luck, you can expect to lose $5.26 dollars for every $100 you bet playing the American version (not including the Top Line bet, which has a 7.89% house edge), and $2.70 playing the European version.

We can calculate these house edges by looking at the odds that both wheels offer. Again, the European wheel contains the numbers 1 through 36, plus the single zero, making 37 spaces in total for the ball to land. That extra space is where the house edge comes from. If you place a Single bet of $5 on Black 20, you will win 35X ($175) your bet once every 37 spins (that’s 1-in-37 odds, or 36-to-1), and lose your bet the other 36 times. Here’s how the math looks:

(35 units)(1/37) – (1 unit)(36/37) = –1/37 unit = –0.0270 units

That final result still holds true when you make any other bet on the European wheel. Let’s say you wager $5 on Black instead of Black 20. You will be paid out, at even money, 18 times every 37 spins, and lose your bet the other 19 times:

(1 unit)(18/37) – (1 unit)(19/37) = –1/37 unit = –0.0270 units

With American Roulette and the double zero added to the wheel, you’ll win 35X your Single bet on Black 20 once every 38 spins, and lose your bet the other 37 spins, which works out like this:

(35 units)(1/38) – (1 unit)(37/38) = –2/38 unit = –0.0526 units

Once again, the house edge stays the same for every bet you make on the American wheel – except for the Top Line bet that we mentioned earlier. The Top Line bet covers the numbers 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3, and it pays out at 6-to-1. That means you’ll win 6X your bet five times out of 38, and lose the other 33 spins:

(6 units)(5/38) – (1 unit)(33/38) = –3/38 unit = –0.0789 units

This is why we recommend making smaller bets when you play American Roulette compared to its European cousin – and sizing down even more when you make the Top Line bet. You still won’t generate a profit in the long run, but you’ll get the most value out of your entertainment dollar this way.

Betting Systems in Roulette

The math doesn’t lie, but people still try to use betting systems as a Roulette strategy, hoping to stave off potential losses while maximizing immediate returns. This is a tempting strategy. Consider the Martingale; if you double your even-money bet (say, Red/Black) every time you lose, at some point you’d expect the ball to land in your favor, allowing you to recoup your losses and show a profit.

The problem with that idea is your bankroll, which is not infinite. If you try the Martingale, at some point, you’ll go on a losing streak that’s so long, you won’t have enough money left in your account to place the next bet. Other Roulette systems like the Fibonacci, where your bets increase in size based on the Fibonacci series (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13…) rather than doubling every time, will keep those bet sizes from growing so quickly, but the issue with a finite bankroll remains.

Best Bets in Roulette

In the end, your best Roulette bets are the ones you enjoy making the most. For the lowest house edge possible, play European Roulette and make any of the bets that are on the layout. If you enjoy having the double-zero on the wheel, and/or you want to make the Top Line bet, play American Roulette. Either way, Roulette should be played for entertainment, so enjoy the games, and we’ll see you at the tables.