If you've been playing roulette for a while now, you must know that it comes with a house edge. This will vary by game and in some instances by the type of bet you make, but whatever game you are playing (unless the wheel is missing it's zero or zeros), there'll be a house edge.
OK, so now that we have got that straight, the next logical question you should be asking is the following:
"Can you beat the house edge at roulette?" That's a good question, let's take a look shall we?
You can increase your frequency of wins by how you bet (and often this goes hand in hand with the pay-off reducing), but can you reduce the house edge?
When you load more chips onto the table on the single number bets, or you cover more of the table on the outside bets like red and black, you are going to be increasing the frequency of your wins. But the amount the casino will hold back to run its business (the house edge) will remain the same for any given table and wheel.
Many players develop all sorts of number combinations that they think will somehow crack this fundamental behaviour of the wheel but I am sorry to tell you, whatever you bet, the edge remains constant (the only exception to this is if you play the 5 Number Bet on 0, 00, 1, 2, 3 on a double zero wheel, and in that case the edge is increased.
When you cover more table, you increase the frequency of your wins. What you are doing is bringing down the volatility of the game rather than affecting the house advantage.
Think of it this way: if you bet a few numbers, it's like playing a high variance slot that is a bit stingy with the wins, but when it does pay out, you win big. It's a hairy ride though, as you can eat through your bankroll pretty quickly if the luck is not with you, but if you get lucky and you hit a win early on, the chances are that you'll be substantially up. The smart thing to do in this instance is to walk away from the table.
Big vs Small
Now let's say you are covering a bigger area on the table, say a couple of columns or dozens and even a cheeky bet on the 0 to insure yourself on the ball dropping in on the zero. Well, in this scenario, it's like playing on a low variance slot with lots of ways to win, or the maximum number of pay-lines in play. You are going to enjoy substantially more wins, but they won't be giving you as much return on your individual bets.
Your frequency of wins heads up, but the house edge remains the same.
That doesn’t mean that this strategy is not a valid one. If you are looking to extend your time at the table, this is a valid way of going about it. If you would rather play fast and loose and go for a big win with the risk of burning through your bankroll faster, then cover less table with single bets or some of the smaller combinations like Street Bets and so on.
So is there any way of reducing the house edge? Yes, there is actually. Notice at the beginning we said "the amount the casino will hold back to run its business (the house edge) will remain the same for any given table and wheel".
The way to reduce the house edge is to pick the best wheel. American Roulette has an edge of 5.26% and European Roulette has an edge of 2.6%. That extra zero makes all the difference, and that's what gives the American wheels those fatter profits.
And if you can find a French wheel that plays La Partage (you get half your bet back on an even money bet if the zero comes in), you can squeeze that edge down to 1.3% if you play those bets. Now we are talking a house edge that is getting down to blackjack and baccarat levels, which are 2 games that are loved by high rollers specifically because of their low house edge.