The second best way to win at roulette is not to play. That way, you stand no risk of losing money, which is a pretty good result against the house. I never gamble. Okay, okay, very occasionally, for social reasons. I’ve played poker twice; one time winning everybody’s money, which felt awful, and another time when I ended up 50 pence up on the night. That was a night when some people lost £40.
Last night, I found myself in Apokerlypse Now, a casino at the Meadowlands Festival. Apokerlypse Now were raising money for Magpie, an excellent cause. I put £1 on the roulette table and with the notion that Magpie would get £1 or I might win enough to buy a beer. Unfortunately, I hadn’t understood the house rules. No money was going to leave the house. The night before they had been awarding drinks as prizes at declared winning thresholds but by last night they had run out of drinks and were awarding Hawaiian shirts instead. Winnings of £5 qualified for a Hawaiian shirt.
Here’s how I won my Hawaiian shirt. I only ever bet on evens. Mostly I put down only 20 pence. When there had been several odd numbers in a row, I put down a bigger bet, still on evens. It was painful being by far the most boring player in the house. At the point when I realised that I wasn’t going to be able to cash in my chips for a beer, I played for the shirt. The call of nature began to press on me most urgently so I played some larger bets. Oscillating between 20 pence left and £4.40 for about 45 minutes, I grew bored but couldn’t see the point of abandoning the exercise, especially after telling my wife that I would get the shirt. Just after an hour at the table, I crossed the £5 threshold and claimed the shirt. I was the only shirt winner on the night. That’s the third best way to win at roulette: walk away when you have winnings.
The best way of all to win at roulette is to play at a charity event. If you win, you win but when you lose, your conscience wins.