Why Volatility Matters in Roulette

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The game of roulette is quite simple and enables us to easily demonstrate why volatility matters.

Volatility (variance) is used to describe how often you tend to win in a game of chance, and how big the individual wins are.

High volatility means that you will not win very often, but the individual wins will be larger in order to compensate for this.

Low volatility means the opposite. You will win quite often, but the individual wins will generally be small.

Medium volatility is somewhere in between.

The most volatile bet you can place on roulette is a bet on a single number (Straight up). It has a payout ratio of 36-times your bet and you statistically will only win once every 37 spins (on a single-zero roulette wheel). Actually, this isn’t that volatile. Slots, for example, can be much more volatile than this. In terms of roulette, however, this can be classified as "high volatility", or at least the highest you can get for a single spin.

In terms of low volatility, the least volatile standard bets are known as even chance bets that pay 2-times your original bet and have an 18:37 chance of winning. These are bets placed on red/black, even/odd, high/low. Technically, you can achieve less volatility by covering a substantial part of roulette table with chips, but let’s stick with this bet for now as an example of low volatility.

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