Roulette Betting Systems
Roulette is, at its heart, a very simple game. You choose a number, a set of numbers, or a proposition to bet on, the wheel gets spun, and you hope you’ve gotten the winning number. It’s more like slots in that it’s based purely on chance, rather than poker or blackjack, which require a bit more thought to play successfully.
This fact has made the game very approachable, attracting new gamblers and veteran gamers alike.
However, this also means that some folks try to make it a bit more challenging, bringing betting systems into play to try to increase their chances of coming away from the table with some profit.
Each betting system comes with its own flaws, however, so you need to remember that you’re playing at your own risk. You won’t be able to magically “beat” roulette — it’s pretty mathematically impossible. But in case you do want to try out some betting systems and see which method you’re most comfortable with, here’s an exhaustive list of the different betting systems people can try on roulette.
- Negative vs. Positive
- Flat Betting Systems
- Martingale – Negative Progression
- Grand Martingale – Negative Progression
- Labouchère – Negative Progression
- Fibonacci – Negative Progression
- D’Alembert System – Negative Progression
- Reverse Martingale/Paroli – Positive Progression
- Reverse Labouchère – Positive Progression
- Reverse D’Alembert – Positive Progression
- The James Bond – Flat Bet
- Andrucci – Flat Bet
- Playing the Numbers – Flat Bet
A Warning About Betting Systems in Roulette
Players can use progressive betting systems to win some money in the short term, but these systems don’t do anything to help your chances in the long run.
If you still want to try a betting system to see how it affects your winnings, try out these systems on even-money bets only. You get even money from the outside bets on:
- Red or black
- Odd or even
- High or low
You should be using these strategies on only even-money bets because the risk is so low. If you try these wagering progressions on 2-1 or even riskier bets, you’ll fall into a hole far too quickly if you don’t immediately get a winning streak.
Basically, tread carefully.
Progressive Betting Systems: Negative vs. Positive
Progressive betting systems are quite popular with gamblers. Part of this is because their concept is simple and straightforward, and part of it is because people believe these systems will guarantee big winnings.
The basic practice of progressive betting systems is about adjusting the size of your stake based on whether or not your previous bet won. How you adjust those stakes depends on the systems you’re using as well as whether it’s a positive progression or a negative progression.
Negative Progression Betting
In a negative progression betting system, you follow two main rules:
- Decrease the stakes when you win.
- Increase the stakes when you lose.
The theory behind negative progression bets is that you’ll get to a win eventually and that all your wins will come at higher stakes than your losses. The belief here is that it’ll result in making more profits overall.
The danger lies in the fact that you never know when a losing streak will end and you could lose huge sums of money fast. Be sure you’re keeping an eye on what you can afford and how close you’re getting to the table’s maximum bet.
Positive Progression Betting
In a positive progression betting system, you follow two main rules:
- Increase the stakes when you win.
- Decrease the stakes when you lose.
The theory behind positive progression bets is that they’ll help you maximize your profits if you find yourself on a winning streak and they’ll keep your bankroll from getting wiped out if you’re on a losing streak.
Positive progression systems don’t do anything to affect your overall chances of winning or losing a bet, of course, but they aren’t as potentially damaging as negative progression systems.
Flat Betting Systems
Also called nonprogressive betting systems, flat bets are when you don’t follow any particular positive or negative progression. Here, you’re establishing what amount you want to bet before you start, and this will be the amount you’ll be betting with on every single play. This is a popular approach and stands out because of its ease of use.
Let’s say you have a $100 bankroll and you choose to bet 5% on each wager. This means you’d be betting $5 on each round. With this, you have a much lower risk of losing your entire bankroll.
Martingale – Negative Progression
A negative progression system, the Martingale is the most popular betting strategy for roulette. You start at your minimum bet (maybe $1). After every loss, you double your bet. So, if you originally bet $1, then you’d bet $2, then $4, then $8, etc. If you do win a round, you restart the whole process and bet that $1 minimum amount on the next spin.
The idea behind this is that, when you eventually win, you get back your lost money and make some profit, as well. While you can make some profits this way, they’re rather small and you still run the risk of bumping up against the table’s maximum bet allotment if you hit a losing streak.
Essentially, with this system and others like it, you are betting big to win small.
Grand Martingale – Negative Progression
This system comes from the Martingale but adds one more step. Just like in the Martingale, if you lose a round, then you double your bet. But you’ll add one more chip to that wager.
So if your initial minimum bet was $1 and you lost that round, you’d double that amount to $2 and then add one more, so you’d be betting $3 on your second round. It could go up like this:
- $1 x 2 = $2 | $2 +1 = $3
- $2 x 2 = $4 | $4 + 1 = $5
- $4 x 2 = $8 | $8 + 1 = $9
Just like with the standard Martingale, if you do win a round, you go back to your original minimum bet and start again at $1.
Labouchère – Negative Progression
Also known as the Split Martingale or the Cancellation system, this is another negative progression system. It’s not as potentially dangerous to your bankroll as the previous two Martingales, but it still comes with its risks.
First, you calculate how much you want to win in overall profits. Maybe you’re starting yourself off small and want to go for just $10 in profits. You would break this amount down into betting units and work toward winning 10 units. Be sure to bring along a pencil and paper, because you’ll be writing out those 10 units to keep track of them. For example:
On your first bet, you’d add together the two numbers at either end of the line. So with this example, you first bet would be two units. If that bet wins, you’ll cross off both those first and last numbers. Now, your list would look like this:
If that bet loses, however, you’d add a number at the end of your list that’s equal in size to the amount of your last bet. So, since you had just bet two units, your list would look like so:
You continue on this way, crossing out numbers at either end of your list if you win and adding a number to the end if you lose. The goal here is to clear all the numbers, and when you’ve done this, you’ve won your set goal amount from the beginning.
How you set up your sequence is entirely up to you. Maybe you’d still like to make $10 profit but would rather set it up this way:
Your first bet would still be $2, as you’re taking 1 from each end of the line and adding them together to be your wager. If you win, your list would then be:
If you lose, then your list would become:
And so on. You’re the one who determines the amount of money you want to eventually win and split it up how you like.
Fibonacci – Negative Progression
Yet another negative progression system, the Fibonacci system comes from the mathematical Fibonacci sequence. In it, you start with 0 and 1, and to progress, you always add the sum of the previous two numbers. Like so:
0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21…
When it comes to betting in the Fibonacci style, you start with your first bet of one chip. If you win straight away, you can walk away with one chip as your profit. But for every time you lose, you bet the number of chips that’s next in the sequence. If your first bet is 1, then your second bet is 1, your third is 2, then 3, then 5, etc. As you progress, every time you do win a bet, you move backward by two numbers in the sequence. If you won with a wager of 21, your next bet would be 8.
This is another system where, if you find yourself on a losing streak, things can get expensive fast. If you’re on your ninth bet, you’re going to wager 34 chips while already being down by 54. Again, you should use this system very carefully.
D’Alembert System – Negative Progression
Of all the negative progression betting systems out there, this is probably the safest one to try. It’s a flatter progression, in which you start by wagering your chosen amount. If you win right then and there, you’ve made one net profit — you can walk away now.
Clearly, you might not win on your first bet, and you’ll encounter some losses. If you do, you follow these steps:
- For every time your bet loses, increase your wager by one unit.
- For every time your bet wins, decrease your wager by one unit.
- Once you’ve profited, the system is complete.
In the D’Alembert, it’s less likely for the stakes to get outrageously high and you most likely won’t have to ever worry about approaching the table’s maximum bet threshold. But, it does also mean that you recover your losses more slowly.
Reverse Martingale/Paroli – Positive Progression
Now, we’re getting into positive progression betting systems. Remember that they differ from negative progressions in that you only increase your bet if you win rather than if you lose.
This system is called the Reverse Martingale for a reason: The original Martingale has you double your wager after every loss, while this system has you double your bet after every win. Here’s how it looks:
- Start by wagering the lowest amount possible. Keep flat betting on the same amount until you win a round.
- If you’ve won, double your wager on the next spin.
- If you’re on a winning streak, stop raising your bets after three consecutive wins. Go back to the original smallest bet amount.
- When you lose a round, you restart the system and bet the smallest possible amount again.
This strategy works along the premise that wins and losses tend to happen in streaks and that you can maximize your profits by betting more during winning streaks and less during losing streaks. Its main purpose is to help you generate small wins consistently. It also doesn’t require a huge bankroll, and losses aren’t going to leave you destitute in a matter of minutes. But do remember that it still doesn’t guarantee that you’ll turn a profit by using this system — you just won’t fall into a huge hole if you do hit a losing streak.
Reverse Labouchère – Positive Progression
This is another positive progression system that brings a little more complexity to the process. First, you decide on a sequence of numbers to base your system on. You can choose anything you like, but for this example, let’s use the simple 1-2-3-4. (Be sure to write your sequence down on a piece of paper.)
Just like in the regular Labouchère, your first wager is the sum of the first and last numbers in your sequence. So with this example, your first wager would be $5 (1+4).
If you win on this first round, you add the amount you’d staked to the end of your sequence. Then it would look like this:
If you lose on this round, you remove the first and last numbers from your sequence:
You keep going, either adding on or subtracting numbers from your sequence. If you have only one number left, then your wager should be only that amount. The cycle ends when you remove all the numbers from your sequence. You can start again with a new sequence or move on and try something else.
With Reverse Labouchère, you’ll lose small amounts frequently, but you’ll have a chance of making a good profit if you find yourself on a winning streak — but this strategy is heavily reliant on having those winning streaks to make a profit.
Reverse D’Alembert – Positive Progression
Just like the other reverse systems above, this takes its parent strategy and inverts it into a positive progression. First, you have to decide on your base stake unit. Generally, you should use 2% to 5% of your bankroll that you’re prepared to lose.
You start betting using one base unit first. If you use $1 as your base amount, that’s your first wager. If you win, then you add a unit to your next wager ($2). Then, if you’re on a winning streak, you increase by another unit to $3, and so on.
If you lose a round, you decrease your bet by one unit. If you lose again and you’re back at your base unit, keep betting that single base amount until you win again.
This is another betting strategy that is easy to play and far less aggressive than other approaches. But you won’t win all the time, so you need to be disciplined regarding when to pull yourself out so you don’t wipe out your profits from the previous win.
The James Bond – Flat Bet (Sort Of)
Now we’re getting into flat betting systems and away from progressions. And yes, this system is named for the famous spy from Ian Fleming’s novels. And just like he would, make sure you’re playing on a European/French roulette wheel with a single zero.
For this rather simple strategy, you’ll need to start with $200 and distribute your wager like this:
- $140 on high numbers (19-36)
- $50 as a line bet on the six numbers 13-18
- $10 on zero as your insurance
How this might pay out:
- If you win on one of the high numbers, you’ll make a profit of $80.
- If you win on one of the numbers from your sixline bet, you’ll make a profit of $100.
- If the zero comes up, you’ll make $160 profit.
Because you can’t cover the entire layout in wagers, there are some numbers that you haven’t bet on that could win instead. If this happens, for the next round, you double your bet like you would with the Martingale. This is when the strategy breaks from being a straightforward flat bet.
The advantage to this system is that you can accumulate some quick earnings with it, but you need to have a large bankroll to cover yourself if you lose a couple times in a row.
Andrucci – Flat Bet
This system is based on the idea of chaos theory — that seemingly random and chaotic events can actually have underlying patterns. Players who use Andrucci believe that some roulette tables may have exploitable patterns.
Watch the wheel for 30-37 spins, taking note of which number(s) win the most. Then, make a single-number bet on the winningest number(s). Continue betting on this number for 10-35 spins or until you win.
The idea here is that a wheel might be slightly biassed, and some numbers might come up more often than others because of this. This might be hard to try out, though, because brick-and-mortar casinos regularly check their wheels for any bias and remove faulty tables from the floor to avoid this problem. If you’re trying this in an online casino, it won’t work at all because you’re dealing with digitally randomized numbers.
Playing the Numbers – Flat Bet
This one is a flip of the Andrucci method: Instead of betting on hot numbers that have come up repeatedly, you bet on single numbers that haven’t made an appearance in a while.
This is based on the flawed belief that if some numbers haven’t come up in a while, they’re “overdue” and are more likely to win. This is a poor system to follow in both real-world casinos and in online casinos. First, if you are dealing with a biased wheel in a physical casino, then you’re setting yourself up for failure by choosing a number that won’t come up. If you’re playing online, then the randomly generated numbers will reset any “pattern.”
An Overall Look at Betting Systems
No matter which betting system you use in roulette, plan carefully. Make sure that the bankroll you’ve set aside for yourself is realistic and one that you can stick to.
Except for the James Bond, Andrucci, and Playing the Numbers systems, you should also be making these wagers only on even-money bets to keep yourself from falling too far into a hole.
If you’d still like to make roulette more exciting by trying one or more of these systems, your best bet is to try them while playing online roulette. This way, you can go at your own pace and don’t have to worry about looking like a weirdo with your pencil and paper at the table.
Betting systems, whether they’re negative or positive progressions, can add an extra-intense thrill for roulette enthusiasts. Maybe with the help of this list, you’ll find your favorite.