Beginner’s Guide to Roulette

Learn how to play the classic casino game

Whether you plan on playing roulette at your local casino, on your computer, or using your smartphone, it won’t take you long to master the game.

Unlike other popular casino games such as blackjack, you won’t have to worry about complicated rules, in-game decisions, or confusing strategies at the roulette table. Playing roulette is as easy as deciding which numbers to bet on and how much you want to bet. Keep reading and we’ll get you fully acquainted with the gameplay and available bets.

Roulette Basics

Roulette is a game of chance that revolves around a wheel. The European version of the game uses a wheel with 37 numbered pockets, ranging between 0 and 36. With the exception of the 0, which is green, half the numbers are black and the other half are red.

When you play roulette at your local casino or take advantage of live dealer games online, a croupier will spin the wheel in one direction and spin a tiny ball around the edge of the wheel in the opposite direction.

The object of the game is to predict where the ball will ultimately land. In other words, you’ll need to bet on the correct numbered pocket, although you can win by wagering on combinations, red, black, even, or odd.

When playing live, you’ll need to get your bets in before the dealer announces “no more bets”. Many roulette variants on the internet don’t use a croupier or dealer at all. Instead, you’ll be able to spin the wheel yourself, which gives you the power to play at your own pace.

Placing Your Bets

Betting is as easy as placing your chips on the table in the corresponding area. Although the numbers are arranged sequentially on the table’s surface, the wheel’s arrangement is different. There are standard wheel configurations for American, European, and French roulette.

We’ll get into all the different types of bets you can make below, but it’s important to know that you will have the opportunity to wager on individual numbers, adjacent numbers, and combinations. Whether you play live or online, you’ll want to get familiar with the table minimums and maximums, which are usually posted on the table.

Before we run down all the ways to wager, you should know that bets are often described as either inside or outside bets. Inside bets are simply the wagers placed within or on the edge of the numbered grid. Meanwhile, outside bets are the wagers placed in the areas around this numbered grid. Inside bets are more difficult to win, but have bigger payouts than outside bets.

Inside Bets

  • Straight Up - Also known as a single number bet, this wager pays 35 to 1.
  • Split - You can bet on two adjacent numbers by placing your chip on the line they share. If one of your numbers comes up, you’ll be paid 17 to 1.
  • Street - Place your bet on the line outside any three-number row to wager on the whole street. This bet pays 11 to 1.
  • Corner - Occasionally called a quarter or square bet, you’ll need to put your chips on the corner where four numbers intersect to bet on them all. This bet pays 8 to 1.
  • Top Line (five number) - This bet is only available in American roulette and covers 0, 00, 1, 2, and 3. You’ll be paid 6 to 1 if you win.
  • Line - You can bet on two adjoining rows or six numbers in total for a 5 to 1 payout.

Outside Bets

  • Column - Bet on one of the three vertical columns for a potential 2 to 1 payout.
  • Dozen - Wager on 1-12, 13-24, or 25-36 for a 2 to 1 payout.
  • Black - Win even money by betting that the number will be black in colour.
  • Red - Bet that the ball will land on a red number for a 1 to 1 payout.
  • Odd - Wager that the number will be odd for an even money payout.
  • Even - Bet that the number will be even and receive a 1 to 1 payout if you’re correct.
  • 1 to 18 - Also known as low, this bet pays even money.
  • 19 to 36 - Commonly referred to as a high bet, bets on 19 to 36 pay 1 to 1.

Getting to Know Roulette Variants

Did you know there’s more than one way to play roulette?

If you visit a live casino in the UK, you can often choose between American and European roulette. The main difference between these two games is that the American version features an extra 00 pocket on the wheel.

As you might expect, the presence of an extra pocket decreases your odds of winning. In fact, it’s worse than you think. American roulette has a whopping 5.26% house edge, while its European counterpart has a house edge of just 2.70%.

Given a choice, it’s always wise to play the European version.

If you travel to France or play online, you’ll also encounter French roulette. This version is similar to European roulette, although you will notice an altered layout with French writing.

More importantly, the game uses special rules that can reduce the house edge to just 1.35% on even money bets. At casinos that use la partage rule, you’ll receive half your even money bets back whenever the ball lands on zero. When the en prison rule is in effect, your even money bets will remain on the table during the next spin if the ball lands on zero. You’ll need to refer to the house rules to determine which rule is used.

Either way, we highly recommend you get over the language barrier and play French roulette whenever possible.

How to advance from a beginner to a pro

Although roulette is a game of pure chance that mathematically favours the house, it is immensely popular with professional players. Once you factor in variance as well as the elegance and history of the game, it’s not hard to understand why roulette attracts high rollers too.

If you have already mastered the rules and are hoping to become a pro, it’s important to understand that playing professionally takes more than just raising the stakes and playing regularly. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Practice - While it only takes a few spins of the wheel to master the game of roulette, it’s not wise to just declare yourself a professional. It’s a good idea to play frequently so you can get accustomed to winning and losing. It’s always wise to know your risk tolerance, especially if you are playing for more than just entertainment.
  • Get some money - The old cliché that it takes money to make money applies to gambling, especially since you have to account for the house edge. You’ll need to grow your bankroll before you can legitimately consider yourself to be a pro.
  • Choose the right game - Not all roulette variants give you the same chance to win. Always choose European over American roulette. If possible, choose European roulette, which has an even lower house edge.
  • Don’t get emotional - The biggest mistake that beginners make is allowing their emotions to influence how they bet. Pros are more measured and won’t fall into the trap of throwing good money after bad.
  • Manage your bankroll effectively - While many pros do rely on popular betting systems, it’s critical to understand that all these strategies have limitations. Yet they can help you be a more disciplined player. In fact, the one thing all successful bettors have in common is that they place bets in line with their budget.