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Roulette Betting Systems

Roulette is a game of chance. The croupier spins the wheel and where the ball falls is entirely random. You win some, you lose some, but what if there was a way to increase your chances of winning and maximising your luck?

Many people believe that if they could only discover the right strategy, they could enjoy a real, profitable advantage at the roulette table. Thousands of books, blogs and YouTube videos have been dedicated to the pursuit of the perfect system, with many less-than-scrupulous individuals offering to sell punters the “ultimate roulette strategy” which will make their fortune (often at an eye-watering price).

But don't fall for the sharks. No matter which system you use, roulette success is ultimately up to the Fates. After all, what casino would offer a game which could be beaten with the right strategy?

With that said, many experienced roulette players believe that it is possible to capitalise on good fortune and minimise bad luck by playing in a particular way, placing strategic bets and managing money shrewdly. There's no escaping the fact that roulette is a game of chance, but many experts believe that within this randomness, it's possible to play roulette more intelligently to boost your winnings and reduce losses.

In this guide we'll be introducing you to a few of the most prevalent and widely used roulette betting systems and strategies. These are not recipes for success or shortcuts to “hitting the big time”, instead, they are methods of thinking about and playing roulette which many players believe give them some advantage.

THE MARTINGALE SYSTEM

Just like the game of roulette itself, the Martingale System originated in the casinos of France. Popularised in the 18th Century, the premise of the system is actually very simple and can be applied to many forms of betting with odds which are 1:1. Flipping a coin is perhaps the best example of this system in action:

Imagine you are betting on the result of a series of coin tosses. After the first toss, you lose. However, rather than pulling out of the game, the Martingale System advocates doubling the amount you bet on the next flip. If you lose that flip, the system means you will again double your bet.

This may sound like pouring money down the drain, but the concept is actually fairly solid. In a game where you have a 50% chance of winning or losing, a run of bad luck should be countered by continually doubling your bet so that, when the coin finally lands on tails, you recoup all of the money you lost, plus an additional amount equal to your original bet. For every bet you win, players should restake no more than their original bet. Here's how it could play out:

Flip #1
Bet: £5
Result: Loss
Net: -£5

Flip #2
Bet: £10
Result: Loss
Net: -£15

Flip #3
Bet: £20
Result: Win
Net: +£5

This system only applies to a particular way of playing roulette, which may not seem like much fun to many players. To use the Martingale System you'll need to place bets which are close to 1:1 such as red or black, odd or even, high or low. Of course a 0 result (or a 00 result in American Roulette) will count as a loss, so the chances are not exactly 50/50.

While the logic behind the Martingale System makes sense, when you get to the roulette table there are a few risks and downsides to bear in mind. While a very long losing streak is relatively unlikely, it can happen. The success on this system depends on you having the funds to continually double your bet when you're down. If you can't continue betting or you hit the table limit, you can't eventually recoup your losses.

Another thing to bear in mind is that the Martingale System may succeed more often than it fails, but the winnings you can accumulate are humble compared to the rarer losses you could face if you experience a run of bad luck which you can't fund. Although this is a system which mitigates luck to some degree – it's still a game of chance! Win some - or lose big.

THE LABOUCHERE SYSTEM

Also known as the Cancellation System or the Split Martingale System, the Labouchere System is also used for “even money” roulette bets (like red or black, or odd or even). It's closely related to the Martingale System in that, if you lose a bet, you'll need to increase your stake with the goal of eventually making a profit.

Here's how it works:

The player sets a goal figure
In this case, their goal is to win £100. It's best to view this “goal number” as a number of units. For the purposes of this explanation, let's say that the goal figure is made up of ten units (each equivalent to £10).

The player writes a list of rounds and stakes
These “rounds” must add up to the goal figure (10) in total. For example:
2 1 2 1 3 1

The goal is for the player to cross each of these numbers off their list as they play, taking a number from each end of the “line” at each play and working inwards, crossing the numbers off as bets are won.

The player makes their first bet
Now it's time to get started. Using the first and last number on the list (in this case 2 & 1), the player adds the units together and places their stake (as 2 + 1 = 3 our bet will be £30). If they win the bet, the player then crosses off the two numbers at either end of their list. In our example, the list would look now like this:
1 2 1 3

However, if the player loses the bet, they add the total of the first and last units as a new figure at the end of the list. This means they'll need to win again and bet more to reach their target. Now our list looks like this:

2 1 2 1 3 1 3

This means that the next bet would need to be £50.

The player continues until the list is completely crossed off
Just like the Martingale System, this technique relies on the fact that long losing streaks are much less likely than occasional wins, which allows bets to be gradually recouped. Although long losing streaks are possible (and very expensive), it's statistically more likely that if the player continues, they will eventually clear all of the numbers from their list, leaving them with their target winnings.

The same risks apply to this system as they do to the Martingale System, however under the Labouchere System, players need only win around a third of the time to eventually reach their goal, as long as they have the funds to continue “reinvesting” in play. Be warned though, long losing streaks can and do happen, leaving some players high and dry.

THE PAROLI SYSTEM

Many players who use roulette strategies see the Paroli system as a more positive, less risky version of the Martingale System. Where the Martingale doubles your bet every time you lose which takes money straight from your own pocket when it feels like your luck is down, the Paroli system asks players to double their bet each time they win, with the goal of attaining a three win streak. Any loss resets the three bet progression, while a win begins it. Again players will typically use this strategy on even odds bets like red/black, even/odd or high/low.

The goal? To capitalise on good fortune while minimising the damage of bad luck.

Here's how a game played with the Paroli System might look:

Bet 1: £5
Result: Lose
Net: -£5

RESET
Bet 3: £5
Result: Win
Net: -£5

Bet 4: £10
Result: Win
Net: £5

Bet 5: £20
Result: Win
Net: £25

END OF PROGRESSION

Unlike Martingale and Labouchere, when you need to raise the stakes, you'll largely be playing with your winnings from the house, rather than from your own pocket. The three bet progressions also go some way towards preventing substantial losses due to losing streaks which don't abate, which can happen with other systems. The downside? You're more likely to lose small amounts more often.

THE D'ALEMBERT SYSTEM

The D'Alembert System isn't known as the Gambler's Fallacy for nothing. This strategy is based on the idea that, if an even odds game (for example red vs black) seems to be weighted in favour of one outcome (for red 80% black, 20% even), it's likely that the balance will soon swing in the opposite direction. Unfortunately for gamblers, while this may be mathematically true in the extreme long run, over the course of one gambling session, it just plain and simple isn't.

However, despite the inherent fallacy behind the D'Alembert, many players do use this system as a less risky version of the Martingale. Here's how it works:

For every win the player reduces their next bet by one unit (or chip), for every loss they add one unit (or chip) to their next bet. The theory is that, by the time wins and losses are (hypothetically) even, the player will be in profit. Here's how the system looks in practice:

Bet 1: £50
Result: Lose
Net: - £50

Bet 2: £60
Result: Win
Net: £10

Bet 3: £50
Result: Win
Net: £60

Bet 4: £40
Result: Lose
Net: £20

Bet 5: £50
Result: Lose
Net: - £30

Bet 6: £60
Result: Win
Net: £30

Although players should always be aware of the risk of losses, or even very bad losing streaks, the D'Alembert System is relatively low-risk compared to the Martingale and its ilk. That's because, rather than doubling the stake when losses are made, stakes are increased by just one unit. This also means that the game is longer and players will often need to be more patient to secure a profit. It also means that wins are likely to be more modest.

Have you tried any of these five systems at the roulette wheel? Did they work for you? Do you have a different system you swear by? Have your say below.
Fancy trying out one of these strategies yourself? Our busy online tables are ready for a spin!

THE FIBONACCI SYSTEM

If you remember your secondary school maths lessons, you'll recognise the Fibonacci sequence:

1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34 55 89 144 233 377 610...

This infinite sequence adds together the two preceding numbers to create the next number, and so on. But how does Fibonacci relate to roulette systems?

Again, the Fibonacci System is an even bet system, just like the Martingale and Loubouchere Systems. However, unlike both of these systems, the risk of a substantial loss is smaller, while the potential profits remain at +1 (that's double your initial stake). This is because you'll need to bet less to create the same effect.

You can start betting at any point in the Fibonacci sequence, the important thing is that you always return to the first number you bet with to secure your win. Experts recommend starting at 1 however (bearing in mind that Fibonacci begins with two 1s) to bet as safely as possible (although losses can always happen).

The premise is simple: After each loss, continue betting with the next number in the sequence. After each win, move back two numbers in the sequence until you return to your original figure. Here's how a typical progression might look if each unit was equal to £10:

Bet 1: Lose
Net: - £10

Bet 1: Lose
Net: - £20

Bet 2: Lose
Net: - £40

Bet 3: Lose
Net: - £70

Bet 5: Win
Net: - £20

Bet 2: Lose
Net: -£40

Bet 3: Win
Net: -£10

Bet 1: Win
Net: £0

Bet 1: Win
Net: £10

Again, long runs of bad luck which the player cannot fund can result in steep losses compared to the final +1 winnings, however patient players with sufficient funds will statistically more often than not eventually see a win.