Roulette is arguably the penultimate gambling game of all time. Nothing better symbolizes the concept of gambling than that iconic spinning wheel. Online roulette tournaments take that same game but introduce an element of skill by pitting you against other players. Thus, you’re not left at the mercy of the odds but have an actual chance at gaining a leg-up over the competition through skillful play.
In online roulette tournaments, you don’t play to beat the house. You play to accumulate more chips than the other players. This may sound like a minor technical difference, but it has profound impacts on strategy. Wining a roulette tournament requires a combination of both skill and luck.
One of the nice things about roulette tournament sites is that you get to play a lot without risking a lot. After you pay the entry fee, you and the other players receive an equal number of chips that you can use to play the game as much as you want. These additional chips have no monetary value outside the tournament. So, you’re able to play and win real money but you’re not sitting there risking your own money on every spin of the wheel.
The big problem is that it is very difficult to find roulette tournaments on the internet. Online casino sites host roulette but they rarely host actual tournaments. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever even seen an advertisement for an online roulette tournament. The best you can do online is to play regular roulette to get used to the play of the game. That way you’ll be prepared to play in the real world if your local casino ever hosts a tournament.
How Roulette Tournaments Work
Different casinos take different approaches to structuring roulette tournaments but they generally all follow a similar format. You and the other entrants pay a buyin fee and receive an equal number of starting chips. Your objective is to increase your balance and end up with more chips than everyone else at the conclusion of the tournament.
Most tournaments run for a predetermined length of time. During the tournament, you’re free to place wagers however you see fit. You can bet as much or as little as you want with the goal being to increase your balance as much as possible.
At the end of the tournament, each player’s chips are counted. Those who have the largest chip balances win cash payouts. Prizes are awarded so that first place receives the largest payout while other places receive smaller prizes, just like in a poker tournament.
Larger tournaments sometimes progress through rounds of predetermined lengths of time. At the end of each round, the top players at each table progress to the next round. The other players are eliminated from competition. The tournament progresses through rounds in this manner until a final round is played to determine the ultimate winner.
Although roulette tournaments have an element of skill, luck will always play a role in determining how well you do. Every wager in roulette has the same odds of winning and the outcome of every wager is completely random. There’s nothing you can do to increase your odds of winning individual bets and growing your balance.
However, that doesn’t mean strategy is left completely out of the equation. Proper tournament strategy relies on carefully managing your risk of ruin while aggressively accumulating chips. You’ll also need to keep track of what the other players are up to.
Let’s start with risk of ruin. It would not be advisable to begin your tournament by placing everything on a single number. Technically this play yields the same expected value as placing everything on an even-money bet, but it raises your variance through the roof. You’re going to lose almost every tournament doing it this way. And when there aren’t many tournaments to choose from in the first place, it proves to be a losing strategy.
You can manage your risk of ruin by employing a strategy that combines high risk, high reward bets with low risk, low reward bets. Devote your larger wagers to more conservative wagers such as red/black and even/odd. These yield smaller wins but are generally pretty safe bets. Devote smaller wagers to high risk wagers such as split bets (17 to 1 payouts) and straight up bets (35 to 1) payouts. These pay out much less frequently but yield massive payouts when successful.
The goal here is to give yourself opportunities to hit those high paying bets. Use your conservative wagers to stay afloat and hopefully increase your balance. This gives you more room and more opportunities to place smaller wagers that pay more and propel you through the standings.
You’re going to need some luck to do well no matter how you place your bets. If your luck just runs cold, there’s not much you can do. On the other hand, you can gain a lot chips quickly if you’ve got luck on your side. The best case scenario is to go on a hot run with your split bets and straight-up bets and rack up a lot of chips early in the tournament.
If things don’t go your way with those high paying bets, the hope is that your even money bets keep you in the game long enough to eventually hit some of those high risk wagers.
When to Turn up the Aggression
Knowing when to dial up the aggression will serve you well in roulette tournaments. During the early stages, you need to get off to a fast start so you can build the chip stack. This will give you the freedom later to place larger bets and cement you r lead. Smart aggression during the early stages is going to serve you better than playing a conservative game at the beginning.
This doesn’t mean you need to go all-out at the gate. However, you should definitely seek to jump to the front of the pack early. In a multiplayer tournament, the odds are some of those people are going to get lucky, so playing conservative will only keep you running with the middle of the pack. There’s nothing to gain here.
Again, luck is going to have the final say in the matter. Sometimes things just don’t go your way. However, when things do go your way, aggression sets you up with a big chip stack. If you have the lead going into the final stages of the tournament, you can dial it down and play a more conservative game while the other players scramble to catch up.
If you find yourself low on chips late in the tournament, it’s time to get really aggressive. There are no payouts for merely making it to the end with a few chips remaining. You’re only going to get paid if you’re one of the top chip leaders. So if you’re not in the money and time is running out, the only choice you have left is to cross your fingers and take as many high risk bets as you can. Hopefully a couple come through and you jump up through the rankings.
When You’re the Chip Leader
Sometimes things go your way and you find yourself in the lead going into the late stages of the tournament. Here is when it’s best to play a conservative game and stick mostly to safe bets. Let the other players take big risks while you coast into the money.
It is still necessary to keep an eye on the other players. Near the end, some players are going to be throwing Hail Mary bets. Keep in mind that an opponent putting 100 chips on straight up bets could very well hit one of those and jump up by 3500 chips. A couple lucky longshot bets can quickly change the tide.
This is where blocking maneuvers come in handy. If you have the chips to spare, you can match your Hail Mary opposition by placing the same bets as them. Match anyone threatening you with straight up bets by placing similar bets on the same numbers. That way, you prevent them from ever catching up. If one of those bets do come through, you both win and you retain the chip lead.
However, don’t take unnecessary risks. If the guy in 2nd place is throwing out large longshot bets, it may not be worth matching him. You’ll have to determine if it’s worth blocking him or just letting him go broke. It all depends on how much of a lead you have, how many chips he has and how much time remains.