Roulette is one of the oldest casino games, and has offered glamour, mystery and excitement to players since it first appeared in the 17th century. Though often thought of as a simple game, there is a surprising level of depth to roulette, and the right strategy can reap high rewards.
In the game of roulette, bets are made concerning which red or black numbered compartment on a revolving wheel the ball will enter as it comes to rest. The wheel itself is a solid wooden disk, slightly convex in shape with thirty-six compartments, painted alternately in red and black (on European wheels, a 37th compartment carries the number zero, and on American wheels two green ones – known as “canoes” by the croupiers – carry the numbers 0 and 2).
The dealer spins the wheel in one direction, and then rolls a small ball in the opposite direction around a tilted circular track that runs around the outer edge of the wheel. Bets are placed until the wheel slows down, and then players place their chips on a table marked to correspond with the compartments of the wheel. Each bet pays off at different odds depending on the type of bet, and players can make multiple bets during a single turn.
There are many variations of roulette, but the house edge remains relatively constant across most types of the game. Players can choose to bet on a single number, various groupings of numbers, odd-even, red or black, and other propositions such as the first, second, or third dozen, as well as on the color of the rim of the wheel.
In theory, a skilled player can minimize the house edge by placing bets on those parts of the board that have lower edges, but the reality is that most players do not have the discipline to play consistently to take advantage of the available edges. Even when the house edge is low, there is still no guarantee that a player will win.
Frank Scoblete, a former New York Times columnist and author of 35 books on casino gambling, has long argued that a proper roulette strategy is possible, although he acknowledges that it requires patience and a substantial bankroll. Fortunately, there are several free online resources that offer basic strategies to get you started. For example, the James Bond strategy combines bets that maximize your chances of winning while minimizing your risk of losing. If you’re new to the game, start by betting smaller amounts. This will help your bankroll last longer and give you a chance to try out a strategy without running out of money before the next spin.