The Easy & Ultimate Beginners Guide to Roulette
Understanding the rules, odds, bets, and probabilities of the worlds most famous casino table game.
You do not need to be an experienced and regular gambler to know that Roulette is one of the most popular table games that you will find at a casino. As one of the oldest casino games around, it is often featured in movies so there is a good chance that even those that do not gamble will have heard of the game.
Now while you or anyone else will be able to walk up to a Roulette table in a casino or log into online casinos and play the game, doing so without knowing at least the basics is not going to end well. You should at the very least have an understanding of the rules and the types of bets available to you while a good grasp of the odds and probabilities involved will also stand you in good stead too.
For those reasons, we have put together this extensive guide to roulette that we feel will be of huge benefit to beginners and even more experienced professionals alike. We should also mention that this guide is essentially aimed at beginners and while it may offer some value to more experienced players, if you already have a solid understanding of the basics, you may find that you already know about the things we are talking about.
The Types Of Roulette Tables
Before we get started we thought It should be noted that there are a number of different variations of Roulette that can be played in both an online and offline format. European and American roulette are the most common of these types and while they will be very similar in most aspects, they do have differences.
- European Roulette: This wheel is numbered from 1 to 36 with half of those numbers being red and the other half black. You also have the 0 which is colored green.
- American Roulette: Again, this is numbered between 1 and 36 with half being black and half being red. This time, however, you have a 0 and a 00 which are both green.
So you’re probably thinking that the only real difference is that American roulette wheels have one additional slot with this being the 00 or ‘double zero’. However, this additional slot actually makes quite a substantial difference to the house edge that is held over you by the casino. In fact, it practically doubles meaning that you’ll have a much better chance of beating the casino if you play European Roulette.
Why does the casino have double the edge over you? Well, when you consider the bets that can be placed on any roulette table, the green 0 is usually the killer of most. It is neither red or black, odd or even, and cannot be used in any ‘outside’ bets at the table. The ball landing on the zero will usually only pay out those who have specifically bet on the number. Now add another ‘bet killer’ in the ‘double zero’ and you can easily why the house edge doubles.
- House Edge of European Roulette: 2.7%
- House Edge of American Roulette: 5.26%
That said, at various casinos, you will find that there are certain ‘special rules’ that are used to give players a chance at lowering their chosen games house edge regarding the 0 and 00. There are three that are commonly used but it is important to establish if the casino allows them before playing your chosen variant of roulette.
Used on the French (European) roulette tables is the special rule known as La Partage. With this rule, when the ball lands on the green zero, any player that has placed an evens bet will get half of their initial wager back rather than losing it all. This means any player betting on red, black, odd, even, 1 – 18, or 19 – 36 will at least half their losses.
A player places a $5 chip on the ball landing on a black number. The ball, however, lands on the green 0. Rather than being a losing bet, that player is given back $2.50 from that $5 and thus loses half of his bet instead of all of it.
Again, on some French (European) roulette tables at casinos around the world, the En Prison special rule is a somewhat more complicated version of the La Partage. A losing evens bet due to landing on the green zero will this time be given another chance of winning on the next spin by being marked by the dealer as being ‘in prison’.
The losing evens bets will remain on the table and the dealer will put a marker on each of these bets before preparing the wheel for its next spin. Once the next spin finishes, any bet that this time wins will be paid out while those that do not, will be collected by the house. In the rare occurrence that a green zero lands again, those bets will once again be held ‘En Prison’.
A player lumps a $10 chip on top of ‘Evens’ on the table but the green 0 comes in instead. Rather than take the bet for the house as normal, the dealer will place a marker on top of that chip and prepare for the next spin of the wheel. Should the ball land on an even number, the player wins $20 but if it lands on an odd number, that bet is taken by the house.
Not to be outdone, American Roulette also has its own version of these rules called the Surrender. Again, always check to see if the casino you’re at adopts this rule for their American Roulette tables. This rule is essentially identical to how La Partage works but as there is the 0 and 00 on an American Roulette table, it will give back half of any losing evens wagers on both.
As said previously, these rules will not always be implemented at all roulette tables whether offline or online and you as the player should always check to see if they are before playing.
A player places a $20 chip on the ball landing on a red number. The ball, however, lands on the ‘Double Zero’. Rather than being a losing bet, that player is given back $10 from that $20 and thus loses half of his bet instead of all of it.
The Rules of Roulette
On the face of it and despite looking quite complicated, Roulette is actually a fairly simple game. Essentially, you have a Roulette wheel with numbered and colored slots and a ball is thrown into this wheel as it spins.
Bets are placed before the ball is thrown into the wheel (and sometimes for a small amount of time even while the ball is spinning around the wheel) in order to gamble on where that ball lands.
We will talk about the specific bets that can be placed more in-depth later but in general, players will have the ability to bet on certain numbers, colors, groups of numbers, or even if the number will be odd or even. The odds of winning each bet will be dependent on the probability of those bets coming in.
As an example, you’re going to win a lot more if you win by betting on a single number than you are by betting if the number will be odd or even. This is simply because the odds of it happening are far greater than what they are for a bet that is close to a 50/50 chance of coming in.
The Betting Table
The other important part of Roulette is that of the betting table which might look a little confusing at first. This is a layout where players will place their bets before each spin using casino chips of varying values. The dealer or more commonly known as the croupier (simply because he does not ‘deal’ cards) will also use this table to payout wins or rake in the player losses for the house.
This table is usually separated into the area with the specific numbers (known to be the place where inside bets are placed) and an outside area (where group bets otherwise known as ‘outside’ bets can be placed).
The Process of a Spin of Roulette
If you have never played roulette before, you might want to understand the full process of how a single spin is played out at the tables in your casino. Below are the three general steps that will occur for each spin of the roulette wheel:
- Players Place Their Bets
The dealer will shout “Place your bets” which signifies the start of a set period of time that players are given to place their chips on the particular bets they are interested in on the roulette table. This could be inside bets betting on particular numbers, streets, split bets, or the various other bets (more on these later), or it could be the many outside bets such as odds/evens or black/red.
- Dealer (croupier) Spins the Roulette Wheel
Bets are allowed to be placed right up until the dealer then shouts “no more bets” which in many cases is when the wheel has already been spun and the ball is thrown into the roulette wheel.
The small metal ball then spins around the edges of the wheel in the opposite direction that the wheel is spinning. Eventually, both the ball and the wheel slow down and the ball falls into one of the slots on the wheel to determine the winning number.
- Dealer Pays Out Any Winning Bets
Once the spin has finished and the winning number has been revealed, the dealer will first remove all losing chips from the table. All winning bets will remain on the table while the dealer goes through each of them and pays out the correct winnings for each bet. Once all bets are paid out, the dealer prepares for the next spin of the wheel by allowing players to start placing their new bets.
*Tip for Players
All casinos will keep a record of at least the previous ten winning numbers that have occurred on their roulette wheel. In a landbased casino, this is usually a history display located close to the table. While any roulette spin is quite random, many players use these history displays as part of their decision process when placing bets.
A good example would be if the last six winning numbers were all black, as this would represent a good time to perhaps start betting on red to win – it has to come in sometime right?
Roulette Bets, Payouts, and Odds
Now that you have a good understanding of how each bet works and the whole processing of playing a spin at a roulette table, you’re now ready to start understanding the bets that can be placed. There are generally three categories of bets at a roulette table and these are:
- Inside Bets
- Outside Bets
- Announced Bets
The more common and easier to understand of these is both the inside and outside bets and these are the ones we feel that beginners should learn first. These will be available to be placed at all casinos with this not always being the case with the more advanced and complicated announced bets.
The first type of bets that can be placed on a roulette table is that of inside bets. These are the bets on the ‘numbered’ part of the table layout. These bets will all payout better than outside bets but for a reason, they are not as easy to win.
- Straight bets which payout at 36:1 odds
This is the bet on roulette that will reward the best payouts but will require quite a bit of luck to land. Here you’re essentially betting on the ball landing on a single number but when you do, you’re looking at being paid out 36 chips to your 1 wagered.
- Split bets which payout at 18:1 odds
A split bet gives you a slightly better chance of winning as you’re betting on two different numbers that are next to each other on the board. Simply place your bet on the line between two numbers and you could get yourself 18 chips for your 1 if you were to win.
- Street bets which payout at 12:1 odds
With a street bet, you will be covering three numbers in a horizontal line on the table. You will have a 1 in 12 chance of your betting coming good which is quite small but more than achievable if you get lucky enough.
- Six line bets which payout at 6:1 odds
If you wanted to cover two adjourning rows of three numbers on the board, you could go for a six line bet. This covers six numbers in total and will give you odds of 6 to 1 if you were to be fortunate enough to win.
- Corner bets which payout at 9:1 odds
If you see a block of four numbers on the betting table that you feel would be good to wager on, simply place your chip in the middle of the four so they it touches all of them. This is called a corner bet and will pay out 9 to 1 on your original bet.
- Trio bets which payout at 12:1 odds
A trio bet is when you cover either 0, 1, and 2 or 0, 2, and 3. This is done by placing the chip on the line that connects all three of the numbers you wish to cover. This bet is only available on European roulette and will payout odds of 12 to 1.
- Basket bets which payout at 9:1 odds
Another better that is only available on the European version of roulette is that of the basket bet. This is similar to the trio bet but it allows you to cover all of 0, 1, 2, and 3 at the same time for odds of 9 to 1.
- Top line bets which payout at 7:1 odds
If you prefer to play American roulette, there is a similar bet to that of the trio and baskets bets that can be placed on European roulette. It is called the top line bet and it will stake your wager on the 0, 00, 1, 2, and 3 for some decent odds of 7 to 1.
As for outside bets, these are bets that are placed on the outside of the betting layout. These bets are all indirect bets in the sense that you’re not ever going to be betting on a direct number. Instead, you will be betting on a portion of numbers which will bring the odds and probability of you winning a bet but thus paying out less.
You are only going to be able to win two different sets of odds when using outside bets depending on the particular bets that you choose.
- 1 to 1 odds
With these odds, you’re simply going to get back one chip for every chip you wagered should you win. Lay down a $5 chip at these odds and win and you’ll be given your original $5 chip back and another $5 dollar chip as your winnings.
- 2 to 1 odds
As you can imagine, odds of 2 to 1 are even better as you will be given two chips of the same value as the one you wagered. Place a $10 bet here and win and you’ll be given your original $10 back plus another two $10 chips as your winnings/profit. The catch is that your chances of winning are not as great.
There are various types of outside bets and they will fall into the following categories:
- Color bets which payout at 1:1 odds
With this bet, you can wager on whether the ball will land on a red or black number. Since the board is split pretty much in half in terms of red and black numbers (apart from the green), your odds of winning will be 1.056 to 1.
- Odd/even bets which payout at 1:1 odds
In a similar way, the numbers on the roulette wheel are split evenly (apart from the green zero) with regards to being even or odd. Thus you will have the same odds of winning of 1.056 to 1 if you were to bet on either.
- High/Low bets which payout at 1:1 odds
Again, this type of bet has odds of 1 to 1 and you’re essentially placing your bet on whether the ball will land on a number between 1-18 (low) or 19-36 (high). Odds of 1.056 to 1 are once again what you’re looking at here.
- Column bets which payout at 2:1 odds
The first of the outside bets that will payout 2 for 1 is that of the column bet. Here, rather than betting on a 50/50 split of the board, you’re betting on 1/3rd of the board via one of the columns of numbers. You will win as long as the ball lands on one of the 12 numbers in the column you wagered on. The actual odds of winning are 2.083 to 1.
- Dozen bets which payout at 2:1 odds
Dozen bets are very similar in that they cover 1/3rd of the betting layout. However, this time you’re going to be betting on the ball landing on numbers between 1 to 12, 13 to 24, or 25 to 36. Your odds are again going to be 2.083 to 1.
- Snake bets which payout at 2 to 1 odds
Snake bets are not always available at roulette tables at many casinos but some do accept them. This bet covers 1, 5, 9, 12, 14, 16, 19, 23, 27, 30, 32, and 34 which are numbers that move up and down the board in a snake-like fashion. Placing this bet involves putting the chip on the lower corner of the number 34. Once again the actual odds of winning this bet are 2.083 to 1.
We touched on announced bets a little earlier and how they are for the more advanced player. You will not need to know about announced bets to be able to play roulette but should you start to take the game more seriously, you might want to take the time to learn about them.
We’re not going to go into too much detail about this kind of bets simply because this guide is aimed at beginners. Essentially though, an announced bet can only be used on the French version of roulette if the casino allows it, and are bets that are either placed verbally or on a special rail around the edge of the roulette betting table.
An example of some of the bets that are known as announced bets includes ‘final bets’ which cover all numbers ending in the same digit or the ‘zero game’ which covers the 0 and 12, 35, 3, 26, 32, and 15.
Online vs Offline Roulette
While we have been specifically talking about land-based casinos and actual physical roulette wheels and tables, you’ll probably already know that you can play the game online as well. Our guide will certainly pertain to most variations of roulette that you will play online as well as those at your land-based casino but there are some differences that you should know about.
For one, in an online casino, your results will generally be decided by software called RNG. This is a random number generator that is usually regulated by online gambling authorities to ensure that they are fair and just. The only exception will be if you play a LIVE casino version of roulette at your online casino which is essentially just broadcasting a LIVE roulette wheel for you to bet on.
Other obvious differences will be that the action will normally be a lot quicker online. This is simply because you’re not going to be handling and moving your own chips physically. Players will be aided by their computer or devices to quickly place chips while results will be dealt with far quicker than any live croupier will be able to.
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RTP of Roulette Compared to Other Casino Games
At the very beginning of the article, we touched on the house edge that a casino has over you when you play roulette. European roulette gives the casino a 2.7% house edge while American roulette gives them essentially double that at 5.26%. This basically means that over a long period of time, the casino should expect to take 2.7% or 5.26% of all money bet at their roulette tables.
RTP (return to player) on the other hand, is the reverse of house edge. When playing European roulette, the game has a 97.3% RTP and when playing American roulette, the game has a 94.74% RTP. This is the average amount of money wagered that should go back into the hands of the players over a long period of time playing the game.
It is important to remember that this is for the entire player base combined and not just a single player. As gambling int his form is random, one player could place 100 bets and lose them all, another could place 100 bets and win them all while everybody else will fall somewhere in the middle. Some players will get luckier while others will lose a lot of their money.
So how does roulette compare with others games at the casino with regards to house edge and RTP?
- Blackjack has a 0.5% house edge
- Slot machines average a house edge of about 4%
- Baccarat has a house edge of 1%
- Video poker has a house edge of 0.5%
As you can see, apart from some slot machines, roulette is the most profitable game for any casino – especially American roulette. Almost every other type of game will give you a better chance of holding onto your money. At the same time though, not many of the above can compete in terms of entertainment value when compared to roulette.
Besides that fact, winning consistently at any casino game is going to be tough no matter how small the house edge. This is why the casino always wins out in the long run. We say, if we’re all doomed to lose in the end, why not have the best fun along the way and hopefully enjoy a few fleeting but lucrative wins?
Etiquette at a Roulette Table
So, you now have a good idea of how to play the game of Roulette and have a better understanding of the rules, bets, odds, and probabilities and are pretty much set to go and enjoy your first session at the casino. However, before you go, there are some things that you will need to understand about etiquette.
If you’re only going to play roulette online you might as well go and get started now but if you’re playing in a land-based casino, take heed of these unwritten rules that should be adhered to at a roulette table. Now, these are not firm rules and you’re unlikely to be punished for breaking them by the casino but you may be looked down upon by staff and other players if you do.
- Don’t Try to Bet Outside of Betting Window
Your bets will not stand if you try and place them too late for a current spin of the wheel or too early for a new one. All you will do is annoy the dealer and other players at the table. Only place bets when the dealer says ‘place your bets” and stop when he says ‘all bets are off’ or something of the same meaning.
- Don’t Touch Other Players Chips
Each player at a roulette table will be given their own specific chips so that they can be easily distinguished from those of other players. This is usually done by color so only touch your own chips of your own color unless asked to by another player. Be careful not to knock another players chips off their bet too as this can be irritating for that player.
- Win and Lose with Dignity
Nobody likes a showoff at the tables and nobody likes a sore loser either. Act with dignity at the tables at all times whether you win or lose and you will not get on anybody else’s nerves. In fact, your general behavior at all times in a casino should be well behaved unless you want to find yourself kicked out into the street.
- Be Helpful When Asked
While touching other peoples chips is usually seen as something to be avoided, on some occasions, it is nice to help others when they need it. Depending on where somebody is sat/standing, they may not be able to reach the bets they wish to place. In instances like this, it is nice to offer a helping hand if you’re a bit closer. You should also accept help from others if you’re in a similar situation.
- Try to Avoid Getting Drunk
While drinking is seen as part of the night out at a casino, you should be careful not to overdo it. Not only will you run the risk of annoying other players, staff, and security, you’ll also start making poorer decisions at the table and thus have a stronger chance of losing all of your money. Having a number of drinks is fine but always stop yourself from having one too many.
- Only Tip if Allowed
You should discover as early as possible when you walk into a casino if you’re allowed to tip the dealers/croupiers at the tables. Not all casinos will allow it because this kind of behavior could be deemed as asking for special treatment, but some will. Just make sure you check to see if you’re allowed to reward a dealer should your big win come in at the roulette table before giving one.
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Roulette might not give you the best odds of beating the casino compared to various other games but you can bet that it is definitely one of the most exciting to play. It is also a game that attracts a lively and sociable atmosphere which makes for a great night out when visiting a casino.
Additionally, roulette appeals to players as it is actually quite simple to play once you know the basics. ,This is the core reason why we wrote you this in-depth beginners guide simply because once you have read through it, you will have no trouble enjoying yourself at a roulette table in your local casino. Sure, there are some advanced aspects of the game and various strategies that players use but you will be able to pick these up the longer you play for yourself.
We do hope that you have found our guide helpful and that you have gained a lot of value out of it – we also hope that you enjoy your future sessions at the roulette tables. Good luck!