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Paroli betting system in roulette

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Most roulette betting strategies urge players to chase their losses, which can lead to big deficits in very little time. The Paroli system, on the other hand, is designed of take advantage of winning streaks. But does it work?

Available to residents of United States
Available to residents of United States

About the Paroli strategy

The Paroli strategy originated in 16th-century Italy, where it was commonly used on a card game called ‘basset’. It has since gained popularity as a method for playing for the outside bets in roulette and baccarat, although it can also be used in craps, sic bo, or any other casino game which offers even-money wagers.

Unlike the most common roulette betting systems, the Paroli is a positive progression in which bets are raised after successful wagers. This is in direct contrast to negative progressions, such as the Martingale and D’Alembert systems, which ask you to increase your stake each time you lose.

How to use the Paroli betting system

As with most roulette strategies, the first step of the Paroli method is to pick your wager. Choose one of the even-money bets (red or black, even or odd, etc) and stay with it for the whole session. Remember: betting progressions are based on probability theory, which is all about the likelihood of a particular outcome occurring, so chopping and changing your wager every other spin would render the exercise utterly futile.

Next, you need to identify your standard betting unit. This can be any chip size you want – $1, $10, $100, whatever. Make sure it’s small enough to fit under the table limit three times over (e.g. 3 x $10 is fine if the maximum bet is $100, but 3 x $50 is too high).

Start by betting one unit. If you lose, bet the same again; if you win, up the bet to two units. If that loses, return to one unit; if it wins, double it again. Now, whether you win or lose at four units, the progression is ended and you start again at one on the next spin.

So, to sum up: keep doubling your bet until you win three win a row, then return to the beginning of the progression. Whenever you lose, start again with a one-unit bet.

Here’s an example, using $1 betting units:

Bet $1 – win
Bet $2 – lose
Bet $1 – win
Bet $2 – win
Bet $4 – win

That would leave us with an overall profit of $6 ($1 – $2 + $1 + $2 + $4) from five spins. Because we won the last three bets on the bounce, we would start again at $1 on the following spin.

Pros and cons of the Paroli roulette strategy

All gambling systems are ultimately flawed, and the Paroli technique is no exception. But how does it stack up against other roulette betting progressions?

For starters, it is much safer than the Martingale strategy. You can never bet more than four units at a time with the Paroli system, which means there is no danger of running into the table limit. That’s not the case with the Martingale, where doubling the stake after each loss means a short run of defeats can leave you up against the maximum bet with a big deficit on your hands.

It is also far less complicated than some other methods. The Fibonacci system, for instance, asks you to adjust your wagers according an ancient arithmetical sequence (as featured in The Da Vinci Code, for those playing at home). There’s none of that nonsense here – just double your bet after each win, and return to the start if you lose or if you win three spins on the trot.

Probably the best thing about the Paroli system is the fact it’s a positive progression. Negative progressions require you to lose a significant number of spins in order to make a profit, which often feels counter-intuitive. At face value, it makes much more sense to chase your wins instead.

But some would argue that is also the Paroli’s biggest flaw. The system relies on streaks, as you can only increase your stakes – and, thus, your potential gains – by hitting multiple consecutive winners. And because the probability of winning any even-money roulette bet is actually less than 50 per cent, the odds don’t favour a player seeing more hits than misses.

Furthermore, the fixed nature of the progression makes it quite limiting. The Martingale system, for all its obvious dangers, can result in some huge windfalls when the ball falls your way. However, the best you can do when playing the Paroli pattern is a seven-unit gain over three spins.

Ultimately, like every other roulette betting strategy we know of, the Paroli system does nothing to mitigate the house edge. You might be able to cash in on a lucky streak here and there, but the casino still holds the advantage in the long run.