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Roulette systems are harmless … if you stay in your bet range

Roulette systems are harmless … if you stay in your bet range

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Roulette players love systems play. That shows up in my inbox, where I see half a dozen or more systems from readers each year.

I try to send a consistent message: If a system causes you to raise wagers outside your comfort zone, it increases losses and should be avoided. If the system just involves betting number combinations and you can stay within your normal bet size, it’s harmless and can be fun to play.

Toward the end of summer, a reader emailed me a low-cost system called the 3-2. It brings more winning spins than losses and can lead to frequent winning sessions. The downside, as is common in roulette systems, is that losses are bigger than wins and the house maintains its usual 5.26 percent edge on double-zero wheels and 2.7 percent with one zero.

Still, the frequency of small wins makes the 3-2 system attractive for those hoping to string together enough small wins for a nice winning session.

Here’s how it works.

Think of bet sizes in terms of units. The 3-2 calls for you to make a three-unit bet and a two-unit bet. You can take that as three chips and two chips so that if your roulette chips are worth $1 each, you could betting $3 and $2. If you have 50-cent chips, you could bet $1.50 and $1, or with $5 chips you could bet $15 and $10.

You have two options. Either bet three units on red and two units on the middle 12-number column, or three units on black and two units on the third column.

Those color-column combinations are chosen to maximize the numbers covered. The second column has eight black numbers and four reds, the third has eight reds and four blacks. So if you bet red, you cover the 18 red numbers, double-covering four of them, along with eight blacks. You cover a total of 26 numbers. When you bet black plus the third column, you also cover 26 numbers.

If the ball lands on any of your 26 numbers, you win money. Assume you’re betting on red plus the second column with a total bet of five units. Red or black pays even money, so If the ball lands on one of the 14 red numbers not also in the column, you win three units and keep the three units you bet for a total of six units. That’s a one-unit profit.

If the ball lands on one of the four red numbers in the second column, you’re paid even money on red and 2-1 on the column, and you keep all five units wagered. You win three units on red, four on the column, keep your bets and show a profit of seven units.

If the ball lands on one of the black numbers in the column, the 2-1 payoff is four units and you keep the two-unit bet for a total of six units. Your profit is one unit.

Twenty-two winners bring one unit each in profit. Four winners each bring seven units, bringing the total profit on winners to 50 units.

Problem is, you lose your full five units in wagers on the 11 losses on a single-zero wheel and the 12 losses on a double-zero wheel. The average of $55 in losses per 37 spins with one zero or the $60 with 0 and 00 outweigh the $50 in wins and give the house its edge.

Still, you win on 70.3 percent of spins with one zero and 68.4 percent with 0 and 00. Wins are frequent, and that can be fun. Just don’t expect bankroll miracles.

Look for John Grochowski

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