How To Play Roulette

Amidst the popular Blackjack and the in-depth strategy of Poker, sometimes it’s nice to play something a little more simple and leisurely. If there’s one casino game that anyone can enjoy, it’s Roulette.

Roulette is an ideal choice for casino players who are searching for an easy-to-understand, straightforward and exhilarating game. There are no overly complex strategies to memorise or fret about: the random spin of the wheel means this is a game based solely on chance and luck, not individual player skill.

Roulette is thoroughly enjoyable with a variety of betting options available, but it’s important to note the house advantage is higher than in other casino games. For this reason, it’s handy to brush up on the finer details – including the key differences between American and European Roulette – and learn a thing or two for when you’re next trying your luck at the iconic little wheel.

The Basics

Roulette is a casino game represented by a table and wheel. The table’s layout is divided in to ‘pockets’ (each with a separate number) and other betting areas. Players place bets on their desired numbers and betting zones, and then watch the wheel spin. If the ball lands on a number which covers the area you bet, you win; if not, you lose. It can’t get much simpler than that.

There are two distinct variations of roulette: American and European (also known as English or French) roulette. I know what you’re thinking; the Americans just had to change the rules again to be different. So individualistic! But don’t worry; both models of the game are fairly similar and easy to understand. French roulette is ultimately the same as European roulette with the same house edge, it just has a slightly different layout and some additional bets, as explained in our odds and probability page.

Despite their origins, both variations of American and European Roulette are common in many offline and online gambling sites. Australian online casinos provide both variants, so it’s not hard to find your preference.

Roulette Terminology

As one of the most popular and widely played casino game worldwide, Roulette has its fair share of slang and jargon.

As either a newbie to the game or an experienced player, it’s always helpful to recognise the most common phrases used at the Roulette table in order to become a more knowledgeable online and offline player, and to accurately understand each move.

Column Bet – A bet on one of the three columns of 12 single numbers with a payout of 2:1.

Croupier – The dealer in a game of Roulette.

Double-Zero Roulette – Used as another name for European roulette, which incorporates a zero and double-zero pocket which has less favourable house edge of 5.26%.

Dozen Bet – A bet on one of the three dozens of the 36 single numbers with a payout of 2:1.

Even or Odd – An even-money outside bet on either the 18 even or 18 odd numbers.

Inside Bet – Bets placed on the numbered portion of the betting surface, which have less likely odds but a bigger payout.

High-Low – An even-money outside bet on either 1-18 or 19-36.

House – The Casino.

House Edge – The advantage the Casino has over a player in any casino game.

Minimum – The bare minimum you need to bet on the chosen Roulette table.

Maximum – The maximum amount you can bet on the chosen Roulette table.

Outside Bet – Bets placed outside the numbered portion of the betting surface, which have better odds but a smaller payout.

Single-Zero Roulette – Used as another name for European roulette, which incorporates only one zero pocket and has a more favourable house edge of 2.7%.

Red or Black – An even-money bet outside bet on either the 18 black or 18 red numbers.

La Partage: A rule for French roulette which applies to even-money wagers (ex: red-black, high-low and odd-even). It takes the house edge down to 1.35 per cent. For instance, you bet $10 on evens and the ball lands on zero: half of your original wager is returned to you.

En prison: This is a variant of the la partage rule and also only applies to even-money wagers. If you place a $10 wager on red and the ball lands on zero, your bet is imprisoned for one more spin and if that next spin lands on red, the house returns your original bet of $10, but without any winnings. However, if that next spin lands on black, you lose the $10. Where the la partage rule is customary, en prison is usually an option too. Different casinos embrace different rules if a zero comes up on that second spin. The bet may be treated as a win, loss, la partage or en prison.

House and House Edge Explained

House and House Edge are terms used to describe the entity which sets the rules and controls the play of Roulette and other casino games. The house/casino will always have an edge in order to turn a profit. In Roulette’s case, the zero and double zero pockets allow this. The presences of these additional numbers mean even-money wagers don’t actually offer 50/50 odds.

A higher house edge and we have less chance of winning; a lower house edge and we have better odds. The European version of Roulette, which has a lower house edge, is ideal for beginners.

The Set-Up Of The Table

The table is set up in three columns with 12 numbers in each column (split evenly in red and black colours), either one or two green pockets with numbers 0 and 00 at the top of the table, and a range of other betting areas outside the columns including: first, second and third column, first 12, second 12 and third 12, Red-Black, Even-Odd and High-Low (1-18 and 19-36).

Once your bets are placed, the wheel will be spun in one direction and the small white ball will move in the other across numbers alternately laid out between odd and even, black and red, 0, and possibly 00.

Inside and Outside Bets

If you’ve played Roulette before, chances are you’ve heard the terms ‘outside bets’ and ‘inside bets’. The table layout, as explained above, makes it easy to identify which areas comprise the outside bets (the boxes located outside of the individual number ‘pockets’).

Types of Outside Bets

  • Red/Black: Also known as a colour bet, this wager is a bet made on the outcome of the colour of the number the ball lands on.
  • Odd/Even: A bet placed on whether the winning number will be odd or even.
  • Low/High: A wager placed on the numbers ranging from 1-18 or 19 through to 36.
  • Column Bet: Because the betting surface is divided into three columns with 12 numbers in each, we can make bets on whether the winning number will be in one of those columns.
  • First 12, Second 12 and Third 12 Bets: With three columns of 12 numbers in each, it works out there are 12 rows with three numbers in each. These 12 rows are divided into three additional sections with the numbers ranging from 1-12 in the first section, 13-24 in section two, and 25-36 in section three. We can place a wager in any one of those three sections.

Types of Inside Bets

Inside bets have significantly higher payouts than outside bets to make up for the lower chances of winning and higher risk they offer. The inside betting area covers the individual pockets for numbers 0-36. There are several different types of inside bets to experiment with and it’s handy to familiarise yourselves with each one.

  • The Straight-Up/Single bet holds the lowest probability of occurring but is the most profitable in payout. Bet on any single number (1-36). If you bet on 7 and the balls lands on that number, you win.
  • The Zero wager (and Double Zero wager) are considered separate to straight-up bets, although are exactly the same in effect (same payout and same chance of winning). Place you chip/s on the zero (or double zero).
  • The Split wager is when you place a bet on two adjoining numbers. For example, 23 and 24 or 8 and 11. If playing on the American variant, you have the option of placing a split bet on the intersecting 0 and 00, too.
  • Street and Corner sound like gritty prime-time crime shows, but the names are fairly accurate as far as conveying risk. Betting on three numbers in a horizontal line constitutes a Street bet (for ex: 25, 26, 27), while betting on four numbers in a square layout represents a Corner bet (ie: 2, 3, 5, 6).
  • The Six Line bet is an extension of a Street bet, but utilises six numbers rather than three: you putting down chips on any six numbers from two horizontal rows (10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15).
  • The Trio bet is similar to a Street bet but involves the zero: place a wager on the intersecting point between 0, 1 and 2, or 0, 2 and 3 (for single-zero lay-outs only).
  • The Basket bet on the American version: a bet on 0, 1, 2 or 00, 2, 3 or 0, 00, 2. The chip/s is/are placed at the intersection of the three desired numbers. The Basket bet for the European version is simply a bet on 0, 1, 2, and 3.
  • The Top Line wager (available for roulette with a double zero only): 0, 00, 1, 2, 3.

Minimum and Maximum Requirements

All Roulette tables have a minimum and maximum betting limit. If the table’s maximum is $100 for instance, you can (if you wish) spend a total of $100 across the table or on one single bet. The minimum bet dictates the least amount of money you are required to bet to be able to play.

Beginner’s Tips

If you’re new to Roulette and wondering if spreading chips across the board like generous pizza toppings is the way to go, step back for a moment and remember: choose your moves wisely in close relation to how much you are willing to spend. It’s certainly fun to cover random numbers all over the table, but it’s also very easy to lose all your chips doing so. There are plenty of different strategies players employ for Roulette but all in all, there aren’t any correct approaches when placing bets. Just don’t bet on both Red and Black.

That said, here are a few plans of attack for beginners:

Adhere to the table minimum: If you’re still learning the tricks of the trade, play to the table’s minimum and just bet the required amount to get a feel for the game.

Stick to outside bets: Red or Black, Odd or Even and 1-18 or 19-36 are safe, easy to understand bets which cover 18 of the 37 or 38 possible numbers (depending on which style you’re playing). With a 1:1 payout, it’s the ideal choice if you’re not comfortable with handling more than one or two bets at a time.

Try two bets of equal amounts on two different outside bets: For instance, place one bet on Red or Black and another wager on a dozen section or column (which pays 2:1. You increase your odds of winning, as one wager on Red and one on the first column covers a total of 24 numbers on the board, and six of those 24 numbers could win you both bets. Placing a bet on Black and another wager on the second column covers 26 numbers in total with eight possible outcomes resulting in you winning both bets.

The Most Important Tip

As a beginner or experienced player, there are no magic tricks to winning. There are some strategies you can employ to increase your chances, but always have fun, first and foremost. Enjoy the game, play at your own pace and with however much money you are prepared to part ways with. Be informed, wisely hedge your bets. Good luck on the tables.