One question about Roulette that we get asked a lot is: when the same colour (for instance black) hits multiple times (for instance 8 times) in a row, what are the odds of hitting red on the next spin?
Are the odds of the Roulette ball landing on red higher or lower than the odds of hitting black? Al lot of people will think that the odds of hitting black for a ninth time are very low. After all, this colour has already hit eight times in a row. So statistically, red has to be due, right? But is that really the case?
Roulette: how to determine the odds of hitting red
To answer this question correctly, we must first calculate the odds of the ball landing on red in one single spin. For argument’s sake, we are going to pick European (also called French) Roulette as the game of choice.
A European Roulette table has one zero (green), 18 red and 18 black slots. In total there are 37 slots for the roulette ball to land on.
The odds that the Roulette ball will land on red is 18/37 = 48.6%.
The odds that the ball will land on red two times in a row is 48.6% x 48.6% = 23.6%.
The odds that the colour red will hit three times in a row is 48.6% x 48.6% x 48.6% = 11.4%. Etcetera etcetera.
De odds that the Roulette ball will hit a red slot 8x in a row is 0.31%. In others words, it is quite rare for this to happen, but it can absolutely happen. Series of 30 times successive hits on the colour Red have been documented.
What are the odds of hitting red after 8 x black?
The odds of hitting red after 8 successive spins on black is exactly 48.6%. A Roulette wheel has no memory and every spin is independent of the one before. A Roulette wheel dus not look at at statistics, nor does it have the ability to determine when a certain result is “due”.
Even if the colour black has been hit 300 times in a row, the odds of it hitting red on the next spin are exactly the same as the odds of the Roulette ball landing on the colour black again.
Long successive patterns of Roulette outcomes say absolutely nothing about the possible outcome of the next spin!
Wait a minute. Then why do casinos always show the latest Roulette results?
A very good question. The reason? It is to fuel a phenomenon that is called the “Gambler’s Fallacy”. A large percentage of gamblers believes that results from the past are somehow a indication of future results. They are looking for patterns or trends, that will help them place winning Roulette bets. Although patterns are undeniably there, they have no influence whatsoever on future outcomes.
Casinos tap into these beliefs by showing the results of past Roulette spins and by doing that, enticing the players to place one more bet. After all, number 11 has to hit soon, hasn’t it? It has not been hit for 200 spins!
Now you know why it does not work this way. By all means, enjoy your game of Roulette. Just don’t go chasing a certain outcome because it is “due”. All spins are random and totally independent of each other. Which is a good thing, by the way. We would never want to play at Roulette wheels that have been tampered with in any way.
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