Roulette isn’t a game that lends itself to a lot of strategy. After all, the house edge remains the same in nearly every instance no matter what bet you make. The only true maneuvering that you can do with roulette strategy involves picking the right wheel.
For example, if you play American roulette, you’re facing a 5.26% house edge on just about every bet (5-number wager has 7.69% edge). Contrast this to European roulette, where the casino advantage drops down to 2.70% since one house-friendly number (00) is removed.
Because roulette strategy is hard to influence, some players use progressive betting systems to change their fortunes. The idea here is that by varying bet sizes when you play online roulette, you’ll capitalize on hot streaks and take less losses during downswings. Obviously this is an intriguing prospect, so let’s discuss the idea further and determine whether or not progressive betting can help you in roulette games.
How Progressive Betting works
The average roulette player uses flat betting, where they make the same wager over and over again. And while this keeps things simple, many players feel like they don’t have much control over results. So they like to use progressive systems such as the Martingale, D’Alembert, Labouchere and others.
To illustrate progressive betting in action, let’s say that you use the D’Alembert; this calls on players to increase betting units by one following a loss and decrease units by one after a win. Here’s a little sample of how using the D’Alembert might go:
- Lose a $5 wager: net gain is - $5
- Lose a $10 wager: net gain is - $10
- Win a $15 bet: net gain is $0
- Win a $10 wager: net gain is $10
- Lose a $5 bet: net gain is $5.
Despite only winning two out of the five bets, you’d be up $5 after five wagers. Contrast this to flat betting, where you’d be down $5 after making the same bet each time. Taking all of this into account, it’s easy to see why progressive betting seems attractive when you play online roulette or in land-based casinos. However, we’ve only told half of the story so far…
Still the Same House Edge
While it might seem like varying your wager sizes is a good way to beat roulette games, the truth is that you’re no better off than flat bettors. Looking at the D’Alembert again, you have the exact same chance of winning on every wager – regardless of how much you’re increasing or decreasing unit sizes. And remember that the house edge is the same each time too. So if you were to lose a $5 European roulette bet and increase your next wager to $10, the house edge is still 2.70% in either case.
Now some people will argue this point by bringing up hot and cold streaks. For example, if you lose five bets on “black” in a row, wouldn’t it seem logical that “red” would win next and you should bet big on red? However, the rebuttal to this is that every result is completely independent of the last, meaning it doesn’t matter if black losses 20 times in a row because it’s got the same chance of winning next time.
Be Mindful of your Bankroll
We’ve established that progressive betting won’t overcome the house edge when you play online roulette. However, people are still going to use these systems because it’s fun to switch things up sometimes. Plus you can really capitalize on a good run with some of the progressive systems.
Assuming you decide to test the waters with progressive betting, be sure to put some thought into your bankroll beforehand. After all, varying bet sizes can not only help you during the good times, but it could also severely damage your bankroll during a bad streak. That said, you should probably stick to low stakes roulette games if you’re going to try progressive betting. This way you’ll minimize losses if you keep losing with the system.
Above all, have fun when you play online roulette and test out a system or two if this brings you more enjoyment.