Why Play Roulette


Betting, waiting, watching… as the ball makes its passes in the outer rim, gradually slowing down and breaking from upper track. Spiraling down to the rotor, the ball crosses over, strikes a numbered pocket, then a few short hops later, hopefully comes to rest in one of our favorite numbers.

It's easy to get caught up in the excitement as the event unfolds right before your eyes. I can't imagine feeling more excited than seeing the ball enter the rotor right before my targeted sector of pockets and watching as it dribbles right into one of my heavily favored numbers!! What an adrenaline rush! Or the ball descends half a wheel away, but through the benefit of a strange bounce, it is suspended on the rotor's edge… waiting for my area to come into play! Then, bam, it takes a turn right into one of my pockets. Of course, the reverse happens as well. Either way, it is a roller coaster ride of emotions. It is the "highs" and the "lows" that make it addicting. Will I experience the depression of a near miss? Or will I enjoy the nirvana of a straight up win?!? …hold on to your hernia belts!


What's a casino without a roulette wheel? Imagine Rick's Café in Casablanca or James Bond's savvy wagering without a roulette wheel around. In fact, countless movies with scenes situated in a casino will frequently show a roulette wheel to help the viewer realize, "Yeah, we're in a casino now." It has been the dominant symbol of casino gambling. From movies to television shows to photographs - a roulette wheel is usually visible… and why not? Roulette is the oldest of all the modern casino games, dating back almost 300 years. Couple this long history with romantic notions of breaking the bank, and you have an irresistible lure. There are plenty of stories to go around of big wins and near misses. Ask anyone of the patrons playing roulette. They'll usually have some personal stories to share. Perhaps they even know some of the romantic tales of past heroes who tempted fate and were victorious. My favorite roulette story starts off… "One of the most spectacular and popular gamblers at Monte Carlo was a handsome young American named William Nelson Darnborough from Bloomington, Illinois. How he beat roulette at Monte Carlo from 1904 to 1911 has been a well-kept secret." Darnborough, in fact, beat the casino to the extent of $415,000. A sum, no doubt, equal to 10 or 15 times that amount in today's dollars. If you would like to hear the rest of the story, you'll have to buy Russell Barnhart's book, Beating the Wheel. With painstaking attention to details, Barnhart has included many more interesting stories.


There's something for everyone… from the more conservative "even-money" bettor to the more aggressive long-shot artist, and everything in between. There's a bet to go with every temperament. Unlike the game of craps, for example, the house's edge is consistent for conservative betting all the way up to the 35-to-1 straight up wagers. The French 2.70% edge or even the American 5.26% edge kills the double-digit edge found on the center of a craps table. Because of the variety of wagers, many systems have been developed over the past couple of hundred years with roulette in mind. Whether it's the Martingale, the Labouchere, the d'Alembert or a half-dozen others that come to mind, there are numerous betting systems available to employ. And now, with the popularity of the electronic tote board, systems players can easily canvas the pit for various combinations of results. Of course there is no way to beat the game with a purely mathematical approach, but when applied in moderation, it will help enhance your enjoyment of the game as well as your accounting skills.


Some folks just develop an appreciation for the finer things in life. Adding a touch of sophistication makes life interesting. Things like art, music, fashion or just fine dining help us to develop a more civil side to our personality. As an engineer, I appreciate the precision crafted mechanism of a casino roulette wheel on one hand, along with the richly appointed hardwoods and chrome trim on the other. Like a fine Swiss watch or an expensive German auto, there is a beautiful mixture of old-world craftsmanship and state-of-the-art manufacturing technology. Just like the automobile or the watch, a finely tuned roulette wheel is a joy to observe!


The game can be an elegant, leisurely break from the rest of the casino. With a sense of civility and decorum, where else can the common folk and the aristocracy both share the plush surroundings of a relaxed and quiet atmosphere? Roulette is often characterized as a serious, but unhurried game, graced by Kings and Queens. With plenty of time between spins, you'll have ample opportunity to play your systems. You can calculate your next series of wagers or socialize with neighbors. Relax and enjoy the company of that attractive blond on your right or that shapely brunette on your left who needs assistance reaching the layout. Of course, not wanting to appear sexist in any way, how about rubbing elbows with that dashing young Duke, or some friendly conversation with that handsome, witty Texan? You can make an event out of playing the game. Because of its slower, more relaxed pace, you can stop and enjoy the company at hand. Indeed, the game is faster here in the States, but you can still stop to chat with your neighbors if you're feeling social. In North America, only a small percentage of gamblers consider roulette to be their favorite game. It can provide a welcome diversion or change of pace for the many other patrons.


The biggest reason, I believe, that many play roulette is to make money! Whether playing systems or hunches, everyone seems to have an opinion on the proper method of play. If we thought that we had no chance of winning, we simply would not play. Most patrons will play if they feel they have some chance to beat the game, even if it's a "lucky" win. But is it possible to beat this game over the long term? I believe it is… if (and that's a big "if") you have the proper strategy and dedication to know how to employ it. While mathematical systems alone will fail in the long run, the right predictive methods can, and have beaten the game. In future articles we'll discuss such topics as "dealer's signature," "biased wheel play" and "visual tracking," to name a few. So stay tuned…