Roll Out: Getting an Edge in Online Roulette Part 1

Most people think roulette is as simple as simple gets: The wheel spins, the ball spins, the ball lands in a numbered pocket, voila; whether you’re playing online or in a brick-and-mortar casino, it all seems very straightforward. But Joseph Jagger’s story paints a different picture. As an example of one of history’s greatest triumphs over roulette, it can help any budding player grasp the real nature of the game – as well as teach us all a little about how to approach beating it.

Jagger is one of a select few to earn the coveted title “the man who broke the bank in Monte Carlo.” His story begins in 1875 when he was an English engineer and decided to use his knowledge of mechanics and statistics for the best possible cause: making cold, hard cash at the popular European Roulette tables of Monte Carlo. He hired six men to record the outcome of six wheels at the famous Beaux-Arts casino. What Jagger was looking for was a bias in the wheels, and that’s exactly what he found. After two years of careful monitoring, Jagger’s team learned that one wheel’s ball landed in nine of the 37 numbered pockets more frequently than was statistically probable.

Jagger placed his bets accordingly and won £14,000 the very first day (around £750,000 nowadays). But that wasn’t the end of it. Over the next three days, he continued to cash in, winning a total of £60,000. Other gamblers in town started copying him, and the casino was hit so hard it had to completely rearrange its roulette wheels. Jagger took his earnings – around £3 million in today’s money – and left Monte Carlo never to return.

Many years have passed, and today there are still several ways to improve your odds at the roulette table just like Jagger did. The bad news is that modern casinos frequently test their wheels for biases, and rarely will you be able to follow Jagger’s plan step by step. The good news is that you won’t need to hire six tight-lipped clerks or wait two years to gain an edge. After you’ve chosen your preferred online roulette destination, the first way to gain an edge is to simply choose the right wheel.

American Roulette vs. European Roulette

Always ask yourself, “What would Joseph Jagger do?” Our first tip is to only play the online roulette table that gives you the best odds of winning. Some basic differences exist between American and European Roulette (i.e., French Roulette). The American wheel comes with 38 pockets, including a 00 slot which improves the house odds. A European wheel, which was invented later by the Monte Carlo Casino’s first owners, François and Louis Blanc, has 37 slots numbered 0-36. A European table gives the house a 2.7 percent edge, while casinos using American wheels have a 5.26 percent edge – almost twice the vigorish. Clearly, you should always play European Roulette whenever possible.

This is the main reason why playing roulette online is better than playing offline. Imagine making your way to a casino only to find out after you get there that they exclusively stock the floor with American Roulette tables. Of course, you’ll probably sit and spin a few rounds anyway, but the likelihood that you’ll win anything is next to nil. On the Internet, on the other hand, the variety of wheels is so vast that you’ll never have to settle for an American Roulette table and will always be able to find a European game to join.