Today we are going to Muse about gambling and most particularly about Roulette.  If this is your first visit, welcome to Musings. If you have been here before, welcome back. Over time we are going to talk about many things: the past, the present, perhaps the future, travel, art, society and more. Wherever my musing takes me. I hope you will come along with me.

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Are you a gambler?  If not actually a gambler, I’ll bet you have used a lot of gambling terminology over the years.  I mean odds are there have been times you thought you had the situation made because you had an Ace in the hole.  Other times things were not going your way and you felt like you were playing with a cold deck.

There have been times you were on top of the world, a high roller.  That was especially rewarding if you were the underdog.  But there have been times when you came in second, sort of an also ran.  Maybe you were dealt a bad hand.  Betcha!

So I thought we could talk today about gambling and more specifically roulette.  I’m not much more than an amateur player but it is “my game”.

Playing the Game

Playing the Game

Years ago I got introduced to roulette in Las Vegas.  It appealed to me on several levels, physical, mental and financial.


Not many people understand roulette so the tables are rarely crowded.  There are seats for only seven players, although others can crowd in by standing.  But it never gets crowded and pushy like craps.  So, that is a plus.  It is not crowded and there are seats.  And, they used to bring you free drinks.  If you are losing enough, they still will.


There are all sorts of betting combinations one can use.  I’ll talk about this more later, but once you understand them you can greatly change you odds.


I can blow through a lot of money in a short time with most games.  When I am in a casino my goal is to entertain myself.  The lure of the big score doesn’t draw me.  I want to play with a reasonable chance to win a little and not much of a chance to lose a lot over a time.  I don’t want to be on a three-day weekend and busted the first day.  I’ve done that before.  Boring!  Roulette, the way I play it, can last a long time.   No guarantees though!

roulette table

roulette table

So lets look at the roulette table.  As you can see, it has 36 alternating red and black  numbers and two green numbers.  The green numbers give the edge to the house.  If you bet a chip on a number and, when the wheel is spun, the number is selected, you will be paid 35 chips.  The payoff is 35 to 1, but the odds are really 37 to 1 because of the two green numbers, zero and double zero.   That is the house advantage.

On “the outside” there are six areas in which to place a bet:  1 to 18, Even, Red, Black, Odd, and 19 to 36.  A bet placed in any of these areas will pay 1 to 1.

There is a 50/50 chance the number will be red or black, odd or even, or in the upper 18 or the lower 18 numbers.  A 50/50 chance?  No, not really.  Remember there are two  green numbers.  House advantage.

roulette table

roulette table

Next in “on the outside” are three areas, 1st. 12, 2nd. 12, and 3rd. 12.  A bet in one of these areas is betting a third of the board (except for zero and double zero) and pays 2 chips for every one bet.  2 to 1.

At the end of each column of numbers there is a betting area marked “2 to 1”.  A bet there is betting all the numbers in the column, betting a third of the board (except for zero and double zero).  It also pays 2 chips for every one bet.  2 to 1.

This is pretty straight forward.  It is betting the inside numbers that becomes interesting.

Bet a chip on a number and, if it wins, the payoff is 35 to 1.

Bet single number pays 35 to 1

Bet single number pays 35 to 1

But if you bet a chip on the border between two numbers, you are betting half a chip on each and if either number wins you will be paid 17 to 1.

Bet line between number pays 17 to 1

Bet line between number pays 17 to 1

Similarly, a chip placed on the corner connecting four numbers is a bet on all four numbers.  It will pay 8 to 1 if any of the numbers wins.

Bet corners connecting pays 8 to 1

Bet corners connecting pays 8 to 1

A chip placed on the line is betting all three numbers in the row.  It pays 11 to 1.

Bet line, bets three numbers, pays 11 to 1

Bet line, bets three numbers, pays 11 to 1

And a chip placed on the line over the corner between two numbers is betting both rows, six numbers and pays 5 to 1.By using combinations of bets you can greatly change your chance of winning.  Over time I have tried a number of combinations.  Below in yellow is a nine chip play I like.  With the nine chips I cover a third of the board (except for zero and double zero).  So on any spin I have roughly a 33% chance of getting some piece of the action.  But look how it might play out.

pattern play

pattern play

If numbers 25, 27, 34 or 36 come up I will be paid 8 to 1 because I have 1/4th of a chip bet on them.  The dealer will remove the other eight chips.  In effect I will have had a free play.  Lose eight; win eight.  Net  Free play

If number 30, 33, 35, 31 or 28 come up I will be paid 16 chips because I have two 1/4th chip bets on them.  The two winning chips will remain and the dealer will take away seven.  I will have bet 9, won 16 and lost 7.  Net 18 chips.

If number 26 comes up I’m feeling good.  I have two 1/4th chip bets, which pay 16,  plus one  full chip bet,which pays 35, for a total payout of 51 chips.  I bet 9, won 51 and lost 6.  Net 54 chips.

Even better than good is how I feel if 29 or 32 come up.  Four 1/4th chip bets and one full chip bet pay a total of 67 chips and I keep five of the nine bet.  I bet nine, won 67 and lost 4.  Net 72 chips.

You can see how by making a series of bets it is possible to cover more or less of the board, thereby increasing or decreasing your chances of hitting on any particular spin of the wheel.

pattern play

pattern play

Did you notice the purple chip in the illustration above?  You may find as many as seven different colors of chips in play.  Each player has his or her own color to play with.  That is how the dealer knows who to pay.

The purple bet is an oddity.  It is actually a bet on the line connecting the zero and double zero, i.e. a 1/2 chip bet on each.  Yes, it is possible to bet on those numbers.  Because the table is long, it is very difficult for a player at the end to reach the zero or double zero.  So as an accommodation the “zero, double zero split”  bet has evolved using the line connecting  the 2nd. 12 and the 3rd. 12.

Watching the Wheel

Watching the Wheel

Another thing that is not obvious is how much the people are betting.  One person may be playing chips that are $1 each and a second person may be playing chips that are $5 or $20 each.  Each game will have a minimum for the chips, but if you wish to play some other amount, tell the dealer and he will mark the wheel.  Sometimes you will see on the rim of the wheel colored chips with some amount of money under them.  This is marking the price of the chip.

When you play you will notice other things.  For example, more than one person can bet on any particular number.  Since each player has different colored chips the dealer can keep track of the bets.  And you can bet multiple chips on any particular number.  Often a player will put two, five , ten or more chips on a number.  If he wins this just multiplies the size of the payout.

You will also notice that over time the house tends to win.  The odds are against you.

That is why I play a pattern.  I have found over time I will ebb down and I will ebb up.  There are periods in which I do very well and should walk away, but like most people at a casino I tend to keep gambling.  Usually I give most or all of it back and then some, but it takes time and I enjoy myself in the process.

Let me know how you do.

More to come

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Fields Oil on Canvas 48 x 24″
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Heartland Oil on canvas 48″ x 36


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Montana Oil on canvas 60″ x 30″  SOLD



About Thomas L. Tribby

Professional artist: painter, sculptor, print maker. Maintains a studio in West Palm Beach, Florida
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2 Responses to Roulette

  1. Good attitude to gambling and an interesting post. Never got into roulette myself. Dostoevsky’s The Gambler put me right off. Poker is my gambling game of choice.

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