Roulette is one of the most famous casino games out there. Three elements are needed for the game: a roulette table (obviously including a roulette wheel and a ball), a group of enthusiastic players and a croupier. You will come across these three elements when setting foot inside a casino in order to play a roulette game. However, you can also find yourself dealing with a real croupier and other players when you play online roulette. In order to make the roulette gambling experience as realistic and complete as possible, most roulette online casinos offer live roulette. Whether you are opting for live roulette or prefer the regular online roulette version, it always starts by understanding the roulette rules. Let’s find out more in our roulette casino guide.
Roulette Guide: Overview
The roulette table sits in pride of place in most real-life casinos, and the virtual world is no different. The game conjures up a sophisticated and stylish gambling experience, with its brass fitted wheel, green baize and French game calls.
If you want to look for a birthplace for online video slots, you could do worse than look at the roulette table. Though the earliest games based their sets on card hands, the idea of watching a wheel spin and see where it leaves you is straight out of roulette.
Feel the excitement of playing live roulette in the online casino
Roulette, the game
The game, though the playing of it can become very sophisticated, is quite simple in conception.
Players gather around to watch a slotted wheel spin, betting on which of the numbered slots they think a ball tossed into the wheel by a croupier will land.
Bets are placed on a green baize cloth on which – depending on the variation of the game you’re playing – are marked not just the single numbers of the wheel, but also a number of combination bets that players can pick.
Odds are – as usual – slightly less than the actual odds against something happening, giving the house a small “edge” which is where it makes its profit.
In the long run, random chance should deliver a consistent advantage to the casino or site because of the presence of no-score numbers (the zeroes), and the slight underpaying on odds when wins do arrive.
That doesn’t mean that you will not win, quite possibly win big, and even make a long-term profit on your roulette play, but you should be aware that the long-term probabilities and the design of the table and odds are against it.
Make sure you check the theoretical return to player on any game that you play. This figure will show how much of all money staked the casino expects to return to players. This is an expectation, not a measure, and every spin on a roulette wheel should be random.
Roulette probably has roots far deeper in history than its recorded story. That dates back to the 17th century, when the legendary French mathematician, Blaise Pascal, is said to have come up with a type of roulette reel while trying to invent the perpetual motion machine – yeah, nice try Pascal, not even close!
By the 18th century, we start to see reports of the game in France. And by the time of the French Revolution something like the modern roulette reel was spinning in Parisian gambling houses – with death always around the corner, the French Revolution was a boom time for gambling! The zeroes that provide the house edge was in place by this stage.
The single zero was introduced in Germany in 1843, by the Blanc brothers. They saw off the competition and as gambling was outlawed across Europe ended up setting up their game in one its last outposts Monte Carlo.
Meanwhile, Americans had taken up the game, picking up on the double-zero version that was to take hold in Vegas.
With its relative simplicity and similarity to slots, roulette is a natural for online play, as at its heart it’s really just a random number game.
The live-streamed game is also super simple to present online. It’s becoming increasingly sophisticated as technology advances, offering more and more social aspects to the game, and more of an immersive experience.
The main warning that we give players around live roulette games is to be aware of how these games are being sold to you. You’ll see those attractive young dealers are a key part of the appeal of the experience. That’s fine – and good luck to all attractive, young dealers out there! – but please be aware of more than the low-cut dress or the smile of the croupier when you pick a table to play at.
Everything in this article or any other roulette guide will change depending on which variant of roulette you are playing.
There are three variants that are played online today. Remember in a casino, you will probably have to play the local rules, but online you should have a choice.
The three variants are:
The European variant is the original version of the game.
It has 36 numbered slots, usually coloured alternately red and black, and a green zero.
There are two further rules that can be played in games styled as European, or in French roulette games. Both increase the chances of the player winning bigger prizes.
This makes both very good things!
They are called la partage and en prison, which is excitingly cosmopolitan!
La partage pays half of losing bets back to players when the ball lands in zero. Having this on a table sets the house edge down to 1.35%.
En prison puts losing bets on the zero into “prison” and if your number comes up (this only applies to single number bets, which are called “outside” bets) on the next spin then you get your stake back.
We are steadfast in our refusal to make judgements about American society or character based on what they did to roulette. That makes us better people, and we urge you to do the same.
When roulette arrived in America the cunning casino owners – when they weren’t outright fixing the game in wild west casinos – added an extra zero to the game.
This increases the odds against players winning.
Choosing a roulette variation
This is easy. If you get the chance, and all other things being equal, you should never play American roulette when you could be playing European Roulette or French Roulette.
It’s hard to think of a good reason to choose to play roulette and then to pick an American roulette. The reason why it is hard is that there isn’t one.
In a real-world casino, that extra zero in the American roulette wheel gives a 5.26% house edge against a 2.7% on European wheels.
So, just stop doing it, you know?
How to play roulette
Roulette is a gambling game. And it is a game of chance. There is no skill that can tell you which slot that ball is going to land in.
In a real-world casino, there is a tiny, infinitesimal chance that you could develop – after many years – a skill at spotting the action of a croupier and a wheel and have an infinitesimally small increase in your chances of getting the number right.
Online you don’t even have that.
So play roulette for fun more than anything. Pick lucky numbers, pick your birthday, pick anything you want, because no system, no timing trick and no nothing else is going to make you more likely to win.
You’re still likely to want to lay roulette for money though. That’s the thrill of the game. Again, we would recommend against any strategy in gambling that isn’t simply, betting small amounts to keep your chips safe as long as you can.
You should certainly become an expert in roulette gambling practice though.
This is how it works.
The table is marked with the possible bets you can make.
You can find roulette odds calculators online, and maybe even at the site that you are using. Some bets may be presented slightly differently on different branded games, and there is no way to cover every possible variation of the game, so – as always – make sure you fully read the rules of the table you are actually playing at.
Bets are usually divided into inside bets and outside bets.
This is a little misleading, because it refers to the position used to mark the bets on the table rather than their chances. In fact, rather than being an “outside chance” the inside bets in roulettes are longer odds shots than outside bets.
The numbers on the table are marked out in a grid of three columns, with the numbers reading across in rows from left to right like written language, so the first row is 1, 2, 3, and so on. The numbers are coloured alternately red and black, with 1 (and all subsequent odd numbers) being red.
Inside bets are those that can be marked with chips inside this grid.
- Straight-up: Simply pick a number and plop your chips on the square.
- Split bet: Pick any two adjacent numbers.
- Street: Bet on a full row of numbers, three of them, by placing your chip at the edge.
- Corner: Select four numbers by putting your chip on the central junction of their squares.
- Six line: Two rows, ie six numbers, picked by putting your chip on the dividing line between them.
The outside bets are made on marked boxes outside the main number grid.
- Low: Bet on the bottom half of the number sequence from 1 to 18.
- High: The top half, 19 to 36.
- Red or Black: Pick a colour!
- Odd or even: Same bet different name.
- Dozens: Pick one of the four dozens in numerical order.
- Columns: Pick one of the columns of numbers. These aren’t straight numberical sequences.
These are the standard bets that you should see on every roulette table.
On some American roulette tables, it is possible to also make bets that include the 0 and 00 slot.
Trio: The first three numbers including one of the zeros, so 0, 1 and 2, or 00, 1 and 2.
Five number: Simple a run of 0, 00, 1, 2, and 3.
Euoprean and French roulette tables sometimes include a set of wagers called “call bets”.
They are marked seperately on the table and traditionally are shouted out in French. They relate to the numbers as they appear on the wheel rather than on the printed grid. They are called “call bets” because – in technical gambling terms – they are bloody complicated to put on the table, and you might need the help of a croupier – for example, the first one needs nine chips to mark on the grid.
Voisins du zero: (neighbours of zero) is the run from 22 to 25 on the wheel, which takes in: 22, 18, 29, ,7, 28, 12, 35, 3, 26, 0, 32, 15, ,19, 4, ,21, 2, 25.
Tiers: (a third) the run from 27 to 33: 27, 13, 36, 11, 30, 8, 23, 10, 5, 24, 16, 33.
Orphelins: (orpahns) the final, parentless run, completes the wheel from 17 to 9: 17, 34, 6, 1, 20, 14, 31, 9.
Players can also call for a number and its neighbours to be bet, for example, 30 and its neighbours would bet on 11, 30, and 8.
Finals: Allows players to bet on numbers that end with the same digit, it is split into:
Finales en Plein (complete finals) and Finales a Cheval (knighted finals). En plein just means a single number, ie, 1 to bet on 1, 11, 21, and 31. En Cheval allows a player to pick two final digits, for example, 2 and 4 to bet on 2, 4, 12, 14, 22, 24, 32, and 34.
Roulette Odds Calculator & Roulette Pay-outs
As we’ve seen the house edge comes in with the addition of a zero or two zeros to the wheel.
Without this zero odds and pay-outs would be easy to calculate, each number would have a 1 in 36 chance of paying out, a pair 1 in 18 and so on.
The edge is delivered because the pay-out for these bets is generally (check the table you are on!) delivered as if there were no zero, and then reduces the ration on the pay-out by another digit! So, while the odds against a number landing have been increased by the zero, the pay-out goes down.
Here is a typical example of roulette odds, that you should see in play:
First on a European table:
- Straight-up number: 37/1 chance, 2.7% probability, pay-out 35/1
- Split: 35/2 chance, 5.4% probability, pay-out 17/1
- Street: 11.3/1 chance, 9.3% probability, pay-out 11/1
- Corner: 37/4 chance, 10.81% probability, pay-out 8/1
- Six Line: 6.2/1 chance, 16.22% probability, pay-out 5/1
- Columns: 3.1/1 chance, 32.43% probabaility, pay-out 2/1
- Red/black, odd/even or high/low: 2.06/1 chance, probabililty, pay-out 2/1
And on an American table:
- Straight-up: 38/1 chance, 2.63% probability, pay-out 35/1
- Split: 19/1 chance, 5.26% probability, pay-out 17/1
- Street: 12.6/1 chance, probability 7.89%, pay-out 11/1
- Corner: 19/2 chance, 10.53% probability, pay-out 8/1
- Six Line: 6.3/1 chance, 15.79% probability, 5/1 pay-out
- Columns: 3.2/1, 31.58% probability, 2/1 pay-out
- Red/black, even/odd, or high low: 2.1/1 chance, 47.37% probability, pay-out 2/1
Strategy in gambling is a fraught issue.
The truth of the matter, and what we always tell players is that most strategies are fool’s gold. All gambling games are random, and almost all casinos (the ones run by Donald Trump for some strange reason are an exception) make a profit because the house edge is a reliable provider of funds.
So the player’s best strategy is to remember that and to enjoy the game in the knowledge that while there is every chance that you will win big and win consistently, it is most likely that you won’t.
There are some bets that are better value than others, so are likely to provide a minor edge. You can see those on the table above.
The best betting strategy for roulette is probably this:
- Play on European or French tables only.
- Limit your stakes per game and per session and per day.
- Take your winnings off the table as you score them.
- Outside bets are more likely to win so make them your go-to.
- The worst bet value is the five-number bet on the American table. Leave it alone!
- As to roulette tricks and roulette secrets. There are none.
Play sensibly and safely and you should have a great time. Learn your way around the game, using free roulette games wherever you can so that you know what you’re doing when you play for real.
Learn which bets are the best value and stick to those.
We will mention one strategy because it’s so popular. And there is one sense in which it works.
However, that’s a very limited sense.
Martingale betting is based on a simple idea. Every time you lose a bet, you repeat it, but double your stake.
If you’ve spotted the problem with this strategy then congratulations! You need very deep pockets to play Martingale successfully, but it will mean – if you follow through all the way to the bitter end – that you might be able to cover your losses.
No roulette strategy, no roulette secret, and no roulette tip will guarantee the result or guarantee your cash.
There are a number of other gambling strategies that have popular followings, and they all follow similar thinking. The best roulette gambling strategy we have you for you is to never pay anyone who tries to sell you a roulette gambling system. All this information is available for free and has very severe limits on its usefulness in any case.
Play Roulette for Fun, Play Roulette for Free
The best way to not lose at gambling is not to gamble. We know that this is an unusual line for a gambling site to take, but it’s one we’re proud to push.
Gambling can be great fun. But it is an entertainment rather than a profession. There is every chance that you will win money while gambling, but you should never expect that, rely on that, or put yourself in a position where you need to win.
Play roulette for fun and play safely. The best way to do that is to enjoy some of the many free roulette games out there. If casino sites want you to risk your money on their tables then they should offer you the chance to try out their game first.
Playing for free is vital with all gambling games. Most gambling games have a simple base game that is overlaid with decades – or even centuries – of gambling lore and casino magic to produce something that has some style and sophistication to it.
If you know a game inside out you are much less likely to put yourself under pressure, and you are much less likely to make mistakes.
Breaking the Bank at Roulette
Having told you that there is no way to beat the wheel, we’ll leave you with a few examples of people you have.
And we hope this list will stay with you as a reminder that these people did not beat machine wheels. They beat real-life wheels by using observation and skill.
In 1986 a team of gamblers in Atlantic City found a wheel that predated changes that had been made to wheels after casino owners found out it was possible to observe where the ball would end up. They cashed in to the extent of $3.8 million, and the whole world invested in new “low-profile” wheels that addressed the issue.
A Spanish gambler called Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo thought that wheels were not random and he set out to prove it. He observed thousands of spins and analysed the results by a computer to come up with a prediction for a particular wheel. He tried it out and won €600,000. The casino tried to sue him – this happens a lot – but didn’t win.
A team of gamblers at the Ritz in London also won in court after they used a laser scanner in a phone to help them predict where the ball would land. They won £1.3m before they were stopped.
Playing Roulette with Safe Gambling Rules
The defining characteristic of most professional gamblers is not skill or nerve, it’s that they start out with a lot of money.
This is true of the players who beat the system in our previous section.
So we reccomend you follow the best safe gambling rules you can find. You should always make sure you are playing at a legitimate, licensed site first.
And you should also check yourself when you play roulette for money.
Make sure you know how much you can afford to play. Play to enjoy yourself. Stop when you reach your limit. Accept the randomness of the game! Don’t play when you’re distressed or to try to alter your mood. Don’t play when intoxicated. Don’t gamble on credit or with borrowed money.
And enjoy playing roulette!