Roulette is a popular casino game, so it’s hardly surprising that a lot of systems and strategies have been devised to help players beat that ever-present house edge. One system that many players use is the Fibonacci strategy – but does it really work? What are the pros and cons? And how exactly do you apply a mathematical sequence to a game of luck?
Cast your mind back to maths at school and you may recall that the Fibonacci sequence is a sequence of numbers in which you simply add the two previous numbers together to get the next one. The sequence starts at 1, and the first part of it looks like this:
1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55…
How does the Fibonacci sequence apply to roulette? You use the sequence to guide your bets, starting by betting 1 unit and then working your way through the sequence, betting more each time. For the sake of simplicity, if 1 unit = $1, you would bet $1, then another $1, then $2, then $3, then $5, then $8. You continue through the sequence, placing a bet to the value of the next number up, every time you lose. If you win, you move back two numbers in the sequence and start working your way up, meaning that you steadily increase your bet when you are losing, and decrease it when you win.
Like most gambling strategies, this one is based on logic but is far from flawless. It should first be noted that like most progressive betting systems, it is designed to be applied to even-money bets in which you have a 50/50 (or very close to 50/50) chance of winning. In roulette, therefore, it can be used when you are betting on black or red, odd or even, and 1-18 or 19-36.
The system is based on increasing bets when you are losing and decreasing them when you are winning, meaning that you travel up and down the sequence, in terms of the amount bet, throughout the game. This means that by the time you cycle back to the beginning of the sequence, you will always be in profit, no matter how many wins and losses you’ve made along the way.
The maths is sound, but having a mathematical concept behind your betting doesn’t actually increase your odds of winning, or protect you from long losing streaks. While the system can guide your betting strategy and help you develop discipline, players can and do lose money when using the Fibonacci strategy. Let’s take a quick look at what works about the system, and also at some of the drawbacks.
As with any betting system, there are pros and cons with the Fibonacci strategy. One of the main advantages is that it is actually a fairly safe system, especially when compared to other progression systems such as the Martingale system. The two systems are similar in that players consistently increase bets after every loss, but in the Fibonacci system, instead of doubling the bet, you simply move up to the next number in the sequence, which will always be less than double the previous number.
This means, of course, that you are increasing your bet at a slower pace, making the Fibonacci system safer than the Martingale. The player will lose less money, even in the event of a long losing streak, as the amount is increasing by less each time. On the flip side of this, as with any type of conservative play, you can expect any winnings to be modest.
Another disadvantage, of course, is that the system does not always work. It is based on the assumption that when playing an even-money game, over time, every player will win as often as they lose. While this is a reasonable assumption grounded in logic, the rules of probability, and good old common sense, it is not, of course, guaranteed.
Long losing streaks do happen, and when they do, increasing your bet with every loss is going to see you running out of money, reaching the game’s betting limit, or both. It’s statistically unlikely that you will lose ten times in a row in a game with a 50/50 chance, but it is possible. Also, no casino game truly carries 50/50 odds. There is always a slight house edge, even in a game such as roulette, making the possibility of a long losing streak a rare but worrying reality.
Should you use the Fibonacci system, or not? That depends. There are a few things to consider when making a decision. You should consider your bankroll carefully. Will a long losing streak put you over your spending limit, meaning that you have to stop playing? Calculate how long it will take you to play through your bankroll, assuming that you get unlucky and lose several times in a row.
Another issue to consider is the betting limit at the casino you are playing at, and at the particular table you’ve chosen (different versions of roulette may have different betting limits, even at the same casino). When using the Fibonacci system, in order for the maths to work, you must stick to the sequence. This can be a problem, especially if the betting limit is a round number such as $100. The closest number to 100 in the Fibonacci sequence is 89. The next bet up from that is $144, so if you lose when wagering $89, you have nowhere left to go.
Ultimately, roulette is a game of luck. Having a betting strategy in place can help you manage your bankroll and limit losses, but there is no magic formula that can guarantee a win.
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Words: Sean McNulty
Images: Shutterstock and Bitcasino