Roulette is a classic game that can be enjoyed at any online casino or in a gambling hall. Roulette has an air of sophistication and glamour that’s hard to beat. What not many people know is that roulette was invented by a scientific genius who was trying to defy the laws of the universe. In the 17th century, French mathematician, physicist and philosopher Blaise Pascal set his mind to inventing a perpetual motion machine. His invention didn’t work, but he did succeed in creating “the Devil’s Wheel” – an early version of the familiar roulette machine. Did Pascal have a winning formula? If so, he took it with him to the grave – but the good news is that by applying basic science, you can learn how to master roulette.
The mechanics of roulette
The game consists of a wheel with 38 numbered and coloured slots and a table with the same numbers and colours.
The American version of the roulette wheel has 38 numbers (1-36, zero, and double zero) while the European version has 37 slots and one zero. Numbers are arranged randomly but coloured alternate red and black, apart from the zero and (in the American version) double zero, which are green.
On the table, the 36 numbers appear in three columns in the same order as on the wheel. To the outside of the columns, there are boxes with a variety of betting options: on the ranges 1-18 and 19-38, 2 to 1 column bets and odd and even bets. There is a red and black diamond to bet simple colours and green spaces at the top of the columns for the zeroes.
Once the players have placed their bets on the table, the croupier spins the wheel in one direction and then spins the ball in the opposite direction on the inside of the wheel. Eventually, the wheel slows down and gravity pulls the ball down to hit the slots, usually bouncing up to five times before coming to rest. If the ball lands on your colour or number, you’ve won your bet.
The odds are not even
It’s natural to assume that with all those slots, if you just place a bet on black or red, your odds of winning are 50/50. Unfortunately, the green spaces spoil that theory. In reality, every bet has 18 possible positive outcomes, 18 possible negatives plus the zero factor. Under the American system with double zero, that means a 52.63 of losing a bet on black or red. House advantage is therefore 5.26% every time.
Don’t be fooled by bogus math tricks! There are many mathematical strategies out there based on the flawed idea that past spins somehow relate to future spins – that eventually, statistically, your number is bound to “come up”. The fact is that the odds are the same with every spin, whether you bet once or a thousand times.
Money management systems make sense that is more mathematical. For example, the Martingale progressive betting strategy has you double your bet every time you win, because it is statistically probable that you will eventually win – if you have deep enough pockets. Unfortunately, nowadays the house-betting limit tends to prevent this after the seventh or eighth consecutive loss.
The bias of science
Mastering roulette demands a scientific approach. It’s all based on physics: the spinning wheel, the spinning ball, and the effect of gravity on the bouncing ball. It’s the physics that can help you predict the outcomes and boost your chances of landing a big win. That’s because not all roulette wheels are created equal. Most of them have some kind of bias that makes them hit some numbers a fraction more than others. A man named Joseph Jagger noticed this in 1891 and saw that a bias of only 1% would be enough for him to beat house odds – and so he did, becoming known as “the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo”.
If you’re serious about increasing your chance of winning by spotting dominant diamonds or predictable ball bounce patterns, there are many free tools available to help you. You can even use a specialised roulette computer for increased accuracy, although many casinos don’t allow them. It takes practice, but eventually you’ll be able to work out which wheels are biased in your favour.