Roulette is a popular casino game believed to have
originated in 18th century France. In French, ‘roulette’ means ‘little wheel’.
The game set-up consists of a concave wheel divided into 37 or 38 numbered pockets. The dealer spins the wheel in one direction and releases a ball in the opposite direction. The player bets on where the ball will land.
Is roulette a game of chance or skill?
Each spin of the roulette wheel is random and all spins are independent of each other. This makes roulette is a game of pure chance. There are multiple variants of the game and one may offer better odds than the other. There are opinions and research on what numbers hits the most in roulette. You will also find roulette winning strategies and betting systems online. However, no roulette strategy is fool-proof, so if you win several times consecutively it means you’re having a lucky day.
The roulette table layout
The numbers on a roulette wheel are placed randomly. The numbers correspond to either a red or black color, except the ‘0’, which is green. The betting layout also has an outer section comprising a grid of 12 columns with black, red and green numbers. The roulette wheel can differ between the American and European variants of the game.
American roulette table
The American roulette wheel has 38 pockets ranging from 0 to 36, as well as the 00 number. The 0 and 00 numbers are at the opposite sides of the wheel. Of these pockets, 18 are black and 18 red, while the 0 and 00 slots are green.
The sequence followed is 0, 28, 9, 26, 30, 11, 7, 20, 32, 17, 5, 22, 34, 15, 3, 24, 36, 13, 1, 24, 10, 25, 29, 12, 8, 19, 31, 18, 6, 21, 33, 16, 4, 23, 35, 14, and 2. All the numbers add up to 666.
European roulette table
European roulette wheel has a single zero, which reduces some variance, thereby also lowering the house edge. This is the major difference between the European and American variations. French roulette also uses the same layout as its European counterpart.
The sequence followed is 0, 32, 15, 19, 4, 21, 2, 25, 17, 34, 6, 27, 13, 36, 11, 30, 8, 23, 10,5, 24, 16, 33, 1, 20, 14, 31, 9, 22, 18, 29, 7, 28, 12, 35, 3, 26.
What is the rationale behind the wheel layout?
The sequence of numbers on the roulette wheel is often difficult to mentally picture for beginner players. Some parts of a roulette wheel are also designed to add to players’ confusion. For instance, the diamonds, which are the metal deflectors located in different sections around the wheel, drop the ball at a specific point around the wheel. Some diamonds are more involved in deflecting the ball, and are therefore called dominant diamonds. Professional players use dominant diamonds to predict where the ball might land.
That said, online or live casino players trying roulette for the first time are more likely to be confused by the pattern of numbers and colors more than anything else. This can affect how they bet, at least during the first couple of times. With experience, players are better able to visualize the roulette table layout.
Bets located on the inside section of the table layout are inside bets while bets on the outer section are outside bets.
Inside bets in roulette
You can place a variety of bets on the field of numbers in the inside section.
Straight up: You bet on a single number, making it a high-risk bet with a payout of 35:1. You win if the ball lands on your chosen number, and lose if it doesn’t.
Split: Rather than betting on a single number, you place a bet on the line separating two numbers. If the ball rests on either of the two numbers you win.
Street: You bet on a row of three numbers, such as 1,2,3 or 4,5,6 and so on. If the ball lands on any of those three numbers, you win. This three-number bet has a payout of 11:1.
Corner: You bet on four numbers that meet at one corner, such as 10-11-13-14. If one of these numbers gets hits, you get paid 8:1.
Line: The line bet is based on two rows of three numbers, such as 1-6, 4-9, 7-12 and so on. It is also known as a six-number bet and pays 5:1.
Five-number bet: You bet on five consecutive numbers 0, 11, 1, 2 and 3. Only this number combination is allowed. The odds of winning are low and payout is 6:1.
Basket: You bet on the number combination 0-1-2-3 and get paid 6:1.
Snake bet: You make an S-shaped line of bets comprising 12 straight numbers 1, 5, 9, 12, 14, 16, 19, 23, 27, 30, 32 and 34. It has a payout of 2:1.
Outside bets in roulette
Wagers involving the numbered boxes are on colors or groups of numbers. They have better odds and lower payouts.
Odd/Even: You bet on whether an even or odd number will win. The box next to ‘1-18’ is ‘Even’ while the box next to 19-38 is ‘Odd’. This is an even money bet where your winnings match the stake you’ve placed.
Red/Black: You bet on a red or black number coming up. However, as the wheel has a 0 or 00, which are of a different color, the odds of winnings are less than 50:50.
High/Low: You bet that a ‘low’ number between 1-18 or a ‘high’ number between 19-36 will win. This is also an even money bet.
Columns: There are three columns alongside the three dozens. Each column comprises 12 numbers as follows:
First column: 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31, 34
Second column: 2, 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29, 32, 35
Third columns: 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, 36
You bet on a number falling within one of these three columns. The 0 and 00 are not featured on the column, so if either of these two numbers wins, you will be on the losing side. The payout is 2:1.
Dozens: This outside bet focuses on three sections, each covering 12 numbers: 1-12 13-24 and 25-36. Here too, you can lose if 0 and 00 turn out to be profitable. A dozens bet has odds of 2:1.
You place your bet, the dealer starts the game, and at this point no more bets are taken. American roulette has just one rule: all outside bets are lost if the ball lands on a 0 or 00. In European roulette, two rules apply on even money bets. One is La Partage (“the divide” in French), in which you lose half your bet if a zero comes up. Its variation is En Prison, where your bet stays (‘’in prison’’) for the next spin. If the bet wins on the next spin, your get back your stake. If it loses, you forfeit.
American and European casinos have their own bet maximums and minimums. Understand the wagering limits at the table before you start playing.
House edge in roulette
European style roulette has an RTP of 97.3% and a house edge of 2.7%. American roulette has a payout of 94.7% and a house edge of 5.3%.
The house edge impacts your bankroll. If you wagered $1,000 on European roulette, you should be prepared to lose $27 and have $973 at the end of your session. The alternative variant can leave you with $947.
The returns from easier gambling games are lesser than those that require some amount of skill, such as blackjack. Still, online casinos offer a higher RTP compared to many other games. To increase the odds of winning, you can choose European online roulette over the American version.
Roulette betting systems
Mathematicians have created betting systems to help players beat the casino, but there’s no consensus on whether these systems actually work. The systems propose strategies based on patterns and trends. Luck can run in streaks, giving players the opportunity to go with the flow or take a contrarian view.
One strategy is to bet on the opposite of any result that is on a hot streak, such as the roulette wheel coming up black five times in a row. The Martingale strategy involves doubling your bets after suffering a loss, with the objective of recouping all previous losses as well as making a small profit.
- Choose a table with a small minimum bet and a high maximum bet.
- Bet on red/black, odd/even, 1-18 or 19-36.
- If you win, you can either walk away or pocket the win and bet a small amount again.
- In case of a loss, double your original bet and make the same bet again. So, if you lose $2 on black, wager $4 on black again.
- If you win your second bet, wager the original bet. You’ve won back what you lost and can continue betting small.
- If you lose again, double your wager and follow the same tactic
- Repeat until you reach the maximum bet or run out of money.
In the Reverse Martingale system, you double a bet after every win. You keep betting all your winnings until you stop playing or lose all of it.
The D’Alembert strategy is a safer strategy that doesn’t involve raising your bet. Here’s the strategy in action:
- Place a small initial bet on a red/black, odd/even, 1-18 or 19-36.
- After a loss, raise you wager by one. Following a win, decrease your wager by one.
- When you’ve had at least as many wins as losses, retire from the game.
There are multiple roulette strategies but as said previously, they’re not fool-proof and cannot guarantee a favorable outcome for the player every time.
How to avoid losing your bankroll at roulette
- Online roulette strategies require you to change the size of your bet. As a general rule, never wager what you cannot afford to lose.
- Try to minimize your losses. Think carefully about using roulette systems that suggest raising your bet when you’re losing.
- Keep the house advantage in mind. If you play too long at the casino, player disadvantage takes over and you no longer remain in profit.
- The en prison rule on even-money bets in European roulette assures that you will lose only half your bet. A low house edge of 1.35% on this bet also works in your favor.
- Avoid risky wagers. Single number bets are obviously risky. Bets with lower odds, such as guessing red or black can give you a 50% chance of winning minus the house edge. Beginners especially should focus on outside bets to increase their bankroll and ease into the game.
- Practice playing different variants of roulette at low limits or for free. Give both live and automated roulette a shot to understand where you might want to spend more time.
- There is no such thing as a sure-shot or winning roulette strategy. Watching experienced players in action online may give you cues but always remember that losses are a part of playing this game.
Start playing at a real money online casino offering roulette
Read our reviews of US-friendly online casino websites to decide where you’d like to indulge in a game of online roulette. For a thrilling experience next only to playing at a land-based casino, choose the live version of the game where an actual croupier manages the roulette table, and is available to take your bets and answer your questions via live chat.
Our reviews cover the different roulette versions, house edge and payout, and types of bets. We recommend only licensed and regulated casinos that pass all our trust markers. Roulette is already a game of chance; you don’t want to sign up with a casino that doesn’t release your winnings or rigs the game and puts you at a disadvantage from the beginning.