Roulette Odds and Variance

Roulette is one of the most popular games in the casino, be that online or in Vegas or anywhere else and part of the game’s appeal is that it is very simple to play. Indeed, there is no “playing” as such, with the bettor’s involvement nothing more than selecting their bets and standing back to allow good fortune to work its magic. However, that’s not to say that the betting is without strategy and here we take a look at the odds of different bets and how they impact the game.

Never Play Double Zero Roulette

Double zero roulette has a house edge of 5.26% (on almost all bets) whilst single zero has an edge of just 2.7% (on ALL bets) and so the first thing to state is that you should never play double-zero variants. Sticking to single zero gives you the best chance of winning and also simplifies the math of this piece as the house edge is the same on all bets.

The Odds May Change but Your Chances of Winning Don’t

Roulette is, in many ways, a wonder of mathematical design and whilst the various bets have odds ranging from even money (red or black, odd or even, high numbers or lows) right up to 35/1 for a single number, however you bet, including all possible combinations of bets, the relationship between the odds and your chances of winning stay the same.

That is to say two things: firstly, backing any two single numbers offers the same odds and chance of winning as backing a split (a single bet on two adjoining numbers). The same is true of backing four single numbers and a corner, or of backing 18 numbers at random as compared to simply backing a color.

Secondly, if you bet $360 per spin on a single number and played for an infinite length of time, your loss would be identical to someone who instead put $10 on every number from 1-36.

Variance Changes

Roulette is so designed that the house edge is the same on all bets and combinations, meaning the risk/reward ratio is identical on all bets. What changes is the likelihood that you will win any given spin but not the long term results. This is another reason roulette appeals, because you can decide whether to play for frequent smaller wins or hold off for the less common but much more rewarding big win when a single number hits.

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