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Best (and Worst) Betting Systems for Casino Roulette (Live Table Games)

Posted on October 7, 2020 | 10:54 am

When it comes to the internationally beloved casino table game of roulette, betting systems get a lot of attention.

The reason is clear enough: while the game’s simplicity, glamor, and decent odds against the house lend the game tremendous appeal, there are actually a great deal of betting options once a player actually sits down at the table.

This article explores some of the better-known betting systems, as well as some lesser-known ones that are worthy of consideration from serious players.

Before we dive in, though, readers and players alike should be aware of an important caveat:

Most betting systems are centered on the so-called 50/50 bets of the roulette wheel: red/black, even/odd, and 1-18/19-36.

Anyone want to guess which of these bets is actually a 50/50, even-money proposition?

How about… none of them!

The presence of the zero in French and European roulette, as well as the double zero in American, maintains the house advantage at all times. None of these systems can undo that house edge, so anyone promising ‘guaranteed’ wins against the house is definitely not to be trusted.

With that said, here are the best and worst betting systems available. Learn your lingo first, then dig in!

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Martingale (worst)

casino-play-with-unlimited-bankrolls-players-dont-image2There’s question about it: the Martingale is the oldest and most famous roulette betting system around.

It sounds deceptively simple: players double the size of their bets after any loss. In theory, since losses and wins are mathematically proven to both occur over time, this should offset any losses and guarantee some wins, even if they are small in size.

There’s a fatal flaw to this otherwise elegant theory, though…

casinos play with unlimited bankrollsPlayers don’t.

With bet sizes doubling and re-doubling, it doesn’t actually take that long for players to burn through their entire bankrolls.

Consider that, starting with a bet of $2, a string of 8 consecutive losses – hardly a statistical outlier for a player who intends to put in some serious time at the roulette tables – would require a bet of $512 for the 9th bet. And that’s following a loss of $510! Lose that 9th spin and you’re over $1020 in the hole.


And you’ve made a whopping $2.

With a risk/reward ratio like that, we strongly advice players to avoid this system.

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D’Alembert (not the worst)

This system is named after the 18th century French mathematician who developed it.

The D’Alembert is akin to the Martingale in that it is a negative progression system – that is to say, bets increase following a loss and decrease following a win.

Whereas the Martingale uses an exponential progression, with bet sizes doubling following a loss, the D’Alembert is a linear progression. This means that bet size increases or decreases by only one betting unit at a time. (That unit could be $1 or $100, depending on one’s bankroll and style of play. The math will remain the same at any scale.)

This system successfully avoids the dangerous trap of the Martingale system: it won’t drain players bankrolls in one fell swoop. The downside, though, is that more wins will be required to make up for losses.

For those interested in learning more, our sister site offers an excellent exploration of this system.

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Oscar’s Grind (the best…?)

If the Martingale is the grandfather of all betting systems, Oscar’s Grind is the young upstart just making a name for himself. It first came to light in 1965, featured by Allan Wilson in his well-regarded book The Casino Gambler’s Guide.

The goal of this system is specific and modest: win one unit.

As above, the betting unit could be $1 or $100… it works the same for any bankroll. Here’s the rundown:

Each series starts with a bet of one unit. After a win, the next bet increases by one unit. After any loss, the next bet is identical to the previous bet. Sound simple enough?

There’s only one more element to consider: no bet should be placed that would result in a win for the series of more than one unit.

Again, a phenomenal, in-depth guide to this system is available over at our beloved sister site.

No single system is going to meet every gambler’s needs, especially over the long term…

…but Oscar’s definitely checks a lot of boxes.

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The “Three-to-Two” or James Bond (the most complicated… but why?)

the-three-to-two-or-james-bond-the-most-complicated-but-why-image3The above systems are all progressive in nature, and all somewhat simple to understand. The James Bond system is a whole different kettle of fish.

It comes to us not from the famous secret agent, but from the author who created him: Ian Fleming. This is one of the rare cases where the author’s life is almost as interesting as the character he created! Fleming was, among other things, a noted spymaster, hard drinker, and serious gambler…

…is it any surprise that the author of Casino Royale was a force to be reckoned with at the roulette tables?

This is a flat betting system: that is to say, the player bets the same amount the same way on every spin, regardless of what came before.

The core of the strategy is to place several bets on every spin, creating more ways to win than to lose. Though this system can be employed at any scale, we could take a bet of $20 as an example. According to this system, bets would be made of:

$14 on 19-36

$5 on the line bet 13-14-15-16-17-18

$1 on 0

This creates 25 winning numbers, and 12 losing ones.

The appeal is clear, but without getting too far into the computational side of things, suffice to say that, even with all of these bets…

the house still has the edge.

Which means that this system will leave players shaken and their bankrolls stirred… or worse. Unless players are being bankrolled by the Crown, we suggest steering clear.

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Our take

At the end of the day, no betting system will guarantee success… especially over the long term.

Casinos offer roulette because they expect to turn a profit on it, and there’s no reliable way to neutralize the house edge.

With that said, gaming is supposed to be fun! And all of these systems would be fun to explore, providing structure to what can otherwise seem a somewhat daunting game.

And for those few players who want a system to give them the best chance of success over the short time (say, a big weekend in Vegas), Oscar’s Grind may well be the best bet. Literally.

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