Roulette Strategies & Systems

As a game with a long history, roulette players have naturally over the years developed a number of systems and strategies designed to try and tip the odds in their favour. Although systems come and go, the most enduring and popular — such as the Martingale System, Fibonacci System, Labouchère System and d’Alembert system — have been around for a long time and have their adherents and opponents in equal measure. Although different, each has a similar goal, which is essentially to help players have a clear strategy for wagering that brings consistency and reduces risk.

Martingale System

Perhaps the best-known and most widely used roulette wagering strategy is the Martingale System. This is a system based on the idea of increasing and reducing the size of your bets based on the outcome of the preceding spin. The Martingale System is premised on players only making even money outside bets, and requires you to double the size of your stake after a losing spin, and continuing to do so after each subsequent losing spin until you win. When you do land a win, you then return to your original stake size.

If you decide to use this system, it’s important to bear in mind that it doesn’t take long for the stakes to become quite high if they are doubled for several spins in a row. Therefore, you need to choose a table with a minimum stake size where you can afford to continue doubling over a sequence of losing spins, but there also needs to be a large enough maximum bet size to accommodate this as well, as if the max bet is too low you mightn’t be able to double the stake often enough and to a high enough level to make the system fully workable.

Fibonacci System

The Fibonacci System is based on the sequence of numbers of the same name, where each number in the sequence is the sum of the previous two numbers that preceded it e.g., 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, etc., and players using the Fibonacci System to bet on roulette use this sequence of numbers to determine the size of their wagers.

The idea is that after a losing spin, your wager should increase to the next number in the sequence, while after a win, you should decrease your bet by two numbers. Like most roulette betting strategies, the Fibonacci System is premised on making even money outside bets.

For example, if you are playing for £1 per spin, your first wager would be £1. If that loses, you move to the next number in the sequence, and so your wager would again be £1. If that spin is also a loss, you progress along the sequence, so the next wager would be £2. After another losing spin, your next wager would be £3, and then if you were to lose again, the system dictates that your next wager should be £5. A further loss would mean your wager would now rise to £8, and then if you were to lose again, it would rise to £13.

However, when you have a win, your wager reduces by two numbers in the sequence, so if you were to win when your wager has risen to £13, for your next spin it would be back down to £5.

Again, the size of the wagers required can rise quite steeply in the Fibonacci System, so its important to make sure that you can be accommodated by the table limits and that you have a sufficiently large bankroll to be able to see it through.

Labouchère System

In order to successfully implement the Labouchère System, players need to establish in advance an amount of profit that they are attempting to win in a particular gaming session, and then wagers are made on even money outside bets in order to attempt to achieve this sum.

For example, let’s say that you have decided to attempt to make a £30 profit from your next gaming session. You should then produce a sequence of numbers that in total add up to 30 e.g., 1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 (you can choose as many or as few as you like).

Working on the basis of 1 unit = £1, your first bet should be the total of the first and last numbers on the list i.e., 1 + 8 = £9. If this bet wins, you then cross these numbers off of your list, so now the remaining numbers would be 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6; however, if the bet loses you have to add the amount of that wager to your list, so that the sequence of numbers you would now have is 1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9.

This process is repeated, so that in the first example cited above the next bet would be 1 + 6 = £7, while in the second example above the next bet would need to be 1 + 9 = £10. Each time you land a bet, you cross off the first and last numbers on the list, while each time you lose, you add that wager to the end of the list.

This form of cancelling bet system does mean that even a relatively minor losing streak can mean that the size of the bets you need to make can rise quite substantially, and it can be hard to keep the system going if you have a particularly unlucky run at the outset of your session.

d‘Alembert System

Like all of the other roulette systems described here, the d’Alembert System is based on making only even money outside bets. The idea behind this roulette betting strategy (sometimes referred to as a pyramid system) is to diminish the likelihood of sudden, heavy losses and to impart a form of wagering discipline that also prevents you from chasing your losses.

The d’Alembert System requires you to either increase or reduce the size of your wagers depending on the outcome of the previous spin — you increase your bet size by 1 unit after a loss, and decrease it by 1 unit after a win. Betting £1 a spin, a bet sequence might go something like this:

  • 1st bet — wager £1 result: loss (down £1 overall)
  • 2nd bet — wager £2 result: loss (down £3 overall)
  • 3rd bet — wager £3 result: win (even overall)
  • 4th bet — wager £2 result: win (up £2 overall)
  • 5th bet — wager £1 result: loss (up £1 overall)
  • 6th bet — wager £2 result: loss (down £1 overall)
  • 7th bet — wager £3 result: win (up £2 overall)
  • 8th bet — wager £2 result: win (up £4 overall)

As can be seen from this example, using the d’Alembert System means that, provided your alternate wins and losses fairly regularly, your bankroll remains relatively steady and you are not subject to sudden plunges — but nor do you land any huge wins either. However, like any roulette system, a longer-than-average series of losing spins can mean that the stake required rises quite rapidly, so you should make sure that your bankroll and the table limits are suited to using this strategy. 

Conclusion

As can be seen from all of the above systems, roulette betting strategies are designed to help you manage your wagering and bankroll — they are not systems that enable you to influence or predict what number is going to be hit next. Despite the Gambler’s Fallacy and the belief that what has happened previously in a game of chance like roulette can influence what is to happen in the future (e.g., a run of three red numbers means the next one must be black), the probability of any number being hit in a game of roulette is exactly the same for each and every spin, and no system ever devised can change that.

Therefore, it’s important to remember that strategies and systems are about managing your bankroll, making bets in a systematic way, and avoiding catastrophic losses as a result of impulse decisions — they are not about coming up with ways to beat the casino!