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Roulette: A Game of Luck or Skill?

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Roulette is a game of pure chance right? There is absolutely no skill involved, correct? Well, in the main – yes, just like a slot game such as the Lucky Leprechaun´s Slot. Of course, predicting where the ball is going to land is never going to be something that you’re going to work out with your calculator (although quite a few people have figured out hot zones in biased wheels in the past- but the casinos fixed the wheels pretty quickly as soon as they found out).

And there’s no doubt that some people have just got roulette luck in spades. The Sean Connery roulette bets in Italy where he put money down on the number 17 five times and won 3 times in a row is a case in point.

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What does require skill , and this applies to roulette as well as trading stocks on the market- is a good money management technique and a logical, non-emotive approach to play.

Throughout the history of gambling, players, experts and critics have argued with regards to the relative merits of various casino games. More specifically, they have debated games such as poker, blackjack and poker, and whether or not their outcomes rely primarily on chance or skill.

While some maintain that these games are determined almost entirely by the hands that players are dealt or the spin of a roulette wheel, others insist that skill, experience and aptitude can be used to influence the course of a session or tournament. Some people, like Gonzalo Garcia, have even proved it by spotting biased wheels and managing to achieve a player advantage of 15%.

Other teams have used electronic cheating devices (roulette computers) to help give them that edge.

The Truth between Two Extremes

As ever, both of these assumptions are somewhat wide of the mark and the truth exists somewhere in-between the two.

While it is true that these games are all about chance (some less so, like poker, some more so like roulette), players can also have an effect on the state of their bankroll with skill, strategy and most importantly (in the case of roulette), money management techniques.

The key is to establish a balance in your play- once you understand how much influence you can have on a particular game, and how much is completely outside of your control, you can begin to tailor the way you play.

Of course, this will vary according to the rules of each individual game, so let’s look at roulette as an example.

Clearly, the game is random- each spin of the wheel will result in an outcome that is impossible to predict (unless the wheel is faulty). So what aspects of roulette strategy can you control? Well, you can at least weight your bets to the lower risk bets that cover more of the table. This is especially important if you have a smaller bankroll (in which case you won’t have deep enough pockets to ride out lean periods.

You can make sure that you play European Roulette rather than American, or even better opt to play French Roulette that offers La Partage or En Prison. This will minimise the house edge.

And you can also avoid playing the five number bet in roulette.

The most important thing to have at the back of your mind is the so-called ‘gamblers fallacy’- the belief that you can somehow predict future outcomes on past results (trends, believing the ball is more likely to land in the red if it has hit black 10 times etc). Just remember, that every spin of the wheel is a mutually exclusive event.

One of the most useful roulette tips we have heard is to have a clear target of the money you would like to make before leaving the table (if this is zero, and you just want to entertain yourself for half an hour, this is fine too, just have a figure).. Also have a figure firmly in your mind of the maximum amount you can lose. When you hit your limits, walk away.

The skill in roulette, is to manage your money and your emotions at the table. Play with your head not your heart. Just remember, that high rollers, if they win big early, stop and leave the table immediately. The longer you stay betting, the longer the casino has to try and claw your money back off you. They can’t get it if you aren’t betting!

I once hear a story about a guy who won a multi-million dollar jackpot at an online casino. The thing he reckons made him the most money that day was when he threw his laptop out of the window so that he couldn’t play the slot anymore. Now obviously he could afford to buy a shiny new laptop with 4 times the amount of memory, but the point is, he stopped playing after the big win and cashed out.

It’s called the Hit and Run strategy. Go in. Win Big. Get out. That’s the way to come out ahead.