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Free roulette games—what are they good for?

Some gamblers would say that they’re good for nothing, and this camp has a point. The whole idea behind gambling is to risk something in exchange for the possibility of winning something of greater value. A free roulette game, unless it offers a prize of some kind, isn’t really gambling. So what’s the point?


Uses for Free Roulette Games

All online gambling sites offer free versions of their game software. This includes their roulette games. These free versions of their games allow you to play with “fake chips” or “play money” so that you can get a feel for how their software works. Their hope is that you’ll enjoy the software and sign up to play for real money.

So free roulette games have a clear and useful purpose, at least from the perspective of the casino marketing department. But what about for the player? Do these “play money” games offer anything of value to a roulette fan on the Internet?

In fact, they do. It’s in the player’s interest to find software they like, just as much as it is in the casino’s interest. I always advise anyone who’s thinking about making a deposit at an Internet casino to try the games before putting their hard-earned cash into an account. What a disappointment it would be to deposit money in an Internet casino only to find out that you don’t enjoy the software.

Using the free games to try the games before you “buy” them is just good sense. Each online casino software appeals to a different aesthetic sensibility. Some people enjoy the sleek and fast-moving but no-frills RealTime Gaming software, while others prefer the more realistic-looking games from Playtech. Still others think that the cartoonish graphics and sound effects from Microgaming powered casinos are the most attractive.

You’ll never know until you try, so why waste any of your gambling bankroll on a game you might not like?


Entertainment Value

I have a cousin who doesn’t have a lot of money, but she loves playing free casino games for free. Something about the sights and sounds turn her on. It doesn’t make much sense to me, because I like to have some money in action when I gamble, but she loves it.

Who am I to tell her she’s wrong?

I’d rather read a book than play a random game with no chance of winning or losing money, but then again, my dad would rather read a book than play a random game and risk losing any cash on it at all.

The point is that everyone is different. Some people enjoy certain activities, while others enjoy other activities. Just because I don’t like to play roulette in “just for fun” mode doesn’t mean you have to feel bad about it.


Educational Value

The best use of this kind of free casino software is to learn how the game works. Suppose you’re planning your first trip to Vegas, and you’ve never gambled in a casino before. You can use this free software to learn how the action works at the roulette table before you go. You’ll feel more confident about knowing where to place your bets and when than someone who just shows up without any experience at all.

And you can gain this experience absolutely free.

You can also use these free games to test various gambling systems without risking any actual cash. I’m confident that you’ll find that most betting systems are equally worthless, but don’t take my word for it. Test the Martingale System, the Jagger System, or the Fibonacci Sequence out for yourself.

Just be sure to track your records in order to see how well you can expect the system to do under real cash conditions.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that it’s possible that the free versions of the games might be rigged to offer the player a higher chance of winning. This is a paranoid theory, but I’ve heard players say that they won a lot more than they expected to when playing the “play money” roulette games, and then they were disappointed that they didn’t do as well at the real money tables.

Rules, regulations, and laws require Internet casino operators to use random number generators that duplicate the odds you’d find in a live casino, but it’s unclear how that’s enforced on the free games, if at all. In fact, it would seem unlikely that a regulatory body would care how the RNG works on the free games, because there is, by definition, no money on the line.

So if you’re playing roulette for play money, and you’re doing really well using the Martingale, be cautious when deciding to try the Martingale for real money. Smarter minds than ours have looked at systems like this, and somehow all the casinos in the world are still in business.

Surely if a system like the Martingale could ensure winning at roulette, some of these casinos would have been beaten so much by these players that it would have changed the rules for the game or removed it from the casino entirely.


Download versus No Download

At one time, you had to download software in order to play casino games for free online. Now most casinos offer a Flash or Java version of the game you can play for free. Deciding which you prefer is easy enough.

Do you have plenty of memory on your computer? Do you feel safe downloading casino software? If so, then go ahead and download the software. That part is always free, and the sound effects and graphics are far more robust and enjoyable.

On the other hand, if you’re still not sure, look for no download, Flash versions that you can play in your Internet browser. The minor sacrifice in terms of graphics and sound effects are pretty minor when you’re just killing time and having fun playing free roulette games.

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Roulette was the first casino game I ever learned how to play. It’s also one of the most popular casino games in the world, especially in Europe, where the rules variations make it a mathematically gentler game than its American version. The purpose of this page is to explore the history of roulette, explain how to play, and provide some insight into which strategies for winning at roulette actually work, if any.


The History of Roulette

Roulette has a more colorful history than many other casino games. It originated in France, and in fact, the word “roulette” literally translates as “little wheel.” Blaise Pascal invented the first roulette wheel in the 1700s as he was trying to create a perpetual motion machine. The game spread quickly in the 1790s and later, but it really took off in the 19th century, especially in the United States and Europe.

Over time, two distinct forms of roulette became popular—American roulette and European roulette. The only difference between the two games is the number of zeros on the wheel. American roulette has a 0 and a 00, while European roulette only has a 0. This seemingly small difference makes a major difference in the mathematical advantage of the game. A single zero roulette game offers the house and edge of 2.7%, but a double zero roulette game offers the house an edge of 5.26%.

The house edge is the percentage of each bet that the casino expects to win based on the math of the game. If you’re betting $100 per spin, over the long run (which is thousands of spins), you’ll lose close to the house edge of $2.70 per bet on a European table, but you’ll lose $5.26 per bet on an American-style table. That’s almost twice as much for the same game.


How to Play Roulette

One of the reasons for the perpetual popularity of roulette is the simplicity of the game. The wheel has a number of pockets in it—38 on an American wheel, and 37 on a European wheel. The 0s are green in color, while half of the other numbers are black and the other half red.

The player bets on where the ball lands. The most basic bet is on a single number—for example, if you bet that the ball will land in the pocket with the 38 in it, you’ll win if that’s where it lands, and you’ll lose if it doesn’t. You can also bet on whether or not the ball will land on a particular color, whether or not the ball will land on an even number, and so on.

The harder it is to win, the more the bet pays off. On a single number bet, you’ll win 35 units for every unit you bet if you hit, but the chances of winning are 37 to 1 against you (36 to 1 on a European wheel.) On a black or red bet, you win even money, but the odds are slightly against you because of the green zeros on the wheel.

Almost all casinos offer classes on how to play the various casino games, including roulette. These can be worth the time, but in the case of roulette, the game is so simple that anyone can catch on very quickly.

Roulette appeals to players who are looking for a slower-paced game where they can socialize with the other players at the table. The game moves slowly, but it’s still a lot of fun. People who want to make decisions that affect their chances of winning will find little appealing about roulette, as it’s a complete guessing game. No decision made by the player can make a difference in terms of the odds except for one—the decision about whether to play an American roulette game or a European roulette game.

In the movie Havana, the Robert Redford character helps Lena Olin at the roulette table—he moves her bet to one of the even money bets. She asks him if that will help her to win, and he explains, “No, you’ll still lose. You’ll just lose more slowly now.”

That scene sums up roulette pretty well.


Winning Strategies for Roulette

Many people shill various “winning strategies” for roulette on the Internet. The math behind all of these winning strategies is bogus. The only winning strategy for roulette that actually works is crossing your fingers and hoping to get lucky.

The most popular of these flawed strategies is the Martingale System, which has a seemingly endless number of variations. The idea behind the Martingale is to always bet on an even money bet, and double your bet after each loss. When you eventually win, you’ll be ahead by one unit.

For example, suppose you’re playing roulette using the Martingale System, and you bet $5 on black. You lose, so on your next bet, you play $10. If you win, you’ve won back the $5 you lost on the previous bet, plus you’re ahead by $5.

Seems foolproof at first, doesn’t it?

The problem is that players underestimate a couple of things. They underestimate the dramatic effect on the size of their bets that doubling after each loss has. And they also underestimate the likelihood of a bad streak.

All casinos have a maximum betting limit. At that $5 roulette table we talked about earlier, the maximum bet is probably $500. How many times in a row would you have to lose before your next bet would be greater than the table limit? Let’s look:

The first bet is $5. The second bet is $10. The third bet is $20. The fourth bet is $40. The fifth bet is $80. The sixth bet is $160. The seventh bet is $320. The eighth bet is $640.

So if you lose seven times in a row, the system breaks, because you can’t place a bet large enough to recoup your losses.

Keep in mind, too, that the Martingale System forces you to risk large amounts of money to win an eventual payoff of only a single unit. If you win that seventh bet of $320, you’re only going to be up $5 for the whole session. Anyone who’s willing to bet $320 to net a win of $5 is delusional.

The probability of losing eight bets in a row is 1 in 207. So it’s possible that if you have a large enough bankroll, you could play the Martingale System for a long time without losing much money, but you won’t book much of a profit during your winning streak, either. And if you play any negative expectation game long enough, you’ll eventually lose your entire bankroll.

This isn’t to say you should avoid roulette. If you enjoy the game, by all means, play. I play roulette all the time, and I’m a bit of an expert on casino math. Just don’t think that some bogus betting scheme is going to tilt the odds in your favor, because that won’t ever happen. Enjoy it when you get lucky, and accept that the losses are just part of the game when you lose—that’s a way to guarantee that you’re winning even when you’re losing.