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Getting the Edge at Roulette: Part One21 June 2007
Dice is probably the oldest form of gambling. Dice could be made from animal bones decorated with symbols and, yes, that's why we call dice "bones" to this day, even though today's dice are made from Cellulose Acetate.
Primitive man used those dice extensively and some of the dicers were even buried with them. You could ask the gods what you wanted, roll dem bones, and the gods would tell you whether this was the fortuitous time to attack your neighbors over the hill and lay waste their village or, earlier in time, their caves.
But following right up on dice is the wheel, which took a little longer to invent then simply taking the bones from sheep or relative. Although roulette as a "casino" game started in the 17th century, we know that those wily Roman soldiers played a wheel game with their shields - even their oval ones. Spin the shield; ask the gods a question, and how the shield stopped gave you your answer. For the ancient Romans most of the answers were usually consistent: "Yes, Augophilium, invade immediately. Wipe out yon village."
We certainly know that pure gambling goes way back in time. If we define "pure" as gambling strictly for financial or material gain as opposed to something to do with the gods' will in human affairs, we have examples of such pure gambling even in the Bible. The Roman soldiers played a game for Christ's robes and in the movie The Ten Commandments we have Moses' erstwhile love, Neferteri, playing a gambling game called "hounds and jackals."
Roulette was a favorite game of the British and French nobles until about 100 years ago when they woke up - those who still had beds to wake up in - and said, "We keep playing this game for large stakes, we'll go broke!" Sadly, many a nobleman became a peasant because of roulette as all of them tried to come up with ways to beat this seemingly unbeatable game.
As most casino gamblers know, there are two types of roulette wheels in today's casinos: the American Wheel which has red and black pockets numbered 1 through 36 and two other green pockets numbered 0 and 00. Then there is the European Wheel or French Wheel with red and black pockets also numbered 1 through 36 and one green pocket labeled 0. Thus, there are 38 pockets in the American Wheel and 37 pockets in the European or French Wheel. In a strictly random game, the French wheel (which was, strangely, developed in America) is better than the American Wheel (which was, stranger still, developed in France).
Since a direct hit on a number pays $35 to $1, you are only losing $1 per win on the French Wheel (the real odds are 36 to one but it pays 35) while you lose $2 per win on the American Wheel (the real odds are 37 to 1 but it pays 35). The house edge on the American Wheel is 5.26 percent, which means you will lose $5.36 for every $100 you bet in the long run. On the French Wheel, the house edge is 2.7 percent or $2.70 per $100 wagered.
The Classic Betting Systems
Roulette is the game that helped to create most of the classic betting systems you read about in books and articles on casino gambling. Unfortunately all these betting systems, however clever they seem, ultimately fail to beat the game as no betting system can overcome a negative edge.
The first - and most frequently discovered betting system by novices - is called the Martingale. While the origin of this system of betting is not clearly known, what is known is that the Martingale has a certain compelling logic to it; quite simply, you double up after every bet you lose. This is to be used against the even-money bets of red/black, odd/even, and big/little. If you bet $10, lose that bet, your next bet is $20; if you lose that, you bet $40 and so on.
The inherent logic of the system is that you must win one bet. If you do win one bet, you get all the money you wagered back, plus a win on the first amount wagered. Most Martingale players win most of their sequences but when they finally do lose, as I did way back at the start of my gambling career in the mid 1980s, the loss is devastating because you are betting a lot of money and losing a lot of money: $10, $20, $40, $80, $160, $320, $640 and you usually can't make the next bet of the series because you have hit the house limit. Your loss is a staggering $1270 in your pursuit of a $10 win.
The Labouchere System was named after Henry Labouchere who lifted the idea of the system from a French mathematician, the Marquis de Cordorcet. It is a cancellation system. If you are betting this sequence 1-2-3-4-5, you wager $6 - the 1 and 5 combined. If you lose that, you add a 6 to the sequence and keep doing this until you ultimately win. Like the Martingale system, you will have a lot of little wins and then that one devastating session where you get blasted and hit the house limit for bets.
The d'Alembert system is a favorite among gamblers because it sounds right and is right…kind of. It postulates that if events have an equal likelihood of happening, given enough time, they will happen equally. A coin flip is a 50-50 proposition. Therefore, given enough time, you will get 50 percent heads and 50 percent tails. This is simultaneously true and not true. Theoretically, you can have as much time as you need to get that 50-50 proposition to come out even, but in the real world, and the real universe, there probably isn't enough time for that to happen - and even if there were, our gambler isn't going to be around to see it! So betting either side of a 50-50 proposition, where the house takes a cut of all your wins, is - you guessed it, a losing proposition.
The most frequently used system by roulette players, after they have exhausted large parts of their bankrolls on birthday dates, anniversary dates, favorite numbers, mystic visualizations and the like, are trend-finding or trend-opposing systems. You see red come up four times in a row and you figure that black is coming up so you bet black, or you figure red is hot and will continue to come up so you bet red. Doesn't really matter what you do; the sad fact is that the house edge will take your gold.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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