Master the wheel with our expertly-written roulette guide.
Roulette is one of the most popular and iconic casino games in the world – and it’s barely changed in hundreds of years. Our roulette guide provides a straightforward, step-by-step introduction to the game, steering you through the rules, odds and variations through to incredible new ways of playing.
By the time you finish the last lesson, you’ll know how to handle the wheel like a pro!
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Novices should start from the beginning, but feel free to jump in to any of our lessons.
Learn the rules of play, in addition to betting odds & pay-outs.
Find out why smart gamblers always go for European roulette..
We don’t publish roulette strategies. In this lesson, you will learn why..
Learn how to play roulette online with real live dealers!
Find out how to access roulette on the go via your mobile platform.
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Roulette is a very simple gambling game that relies purely on luck. When you play roulette at a casino, a croupier is in charge of the gaming table, which consists of the playing area where the players make their bets and the roulette wheel itself.
The playing area is a grid-like pattern divided into lots of squares. The main playing area is a 3×12 grid containing thirty-six numbers. There are additional areas where you can place bets on ‘black or red’ or ‘odd or even’ and other collective bets.
The players make bets by placing chips on the playing area. You can bet on a single numbers by placing your chips in their respective squares. You can also bet on groups of numbers by placing your chips on the intersections of lines. If, for example, you place a chip or stack of chips at the point where the corners of four numbers meet, you are betting on all four numbers at the same time.
After a short period of time the croupier will announce ‘no more bets’, meaning that no more bets can be placed. They will then spin the roulette wheel (in modern casinos the roulette wheel is motorised and spins continuously at a set velocity) in one direction and a small metal ball around the wheel in the other. Within the roulette wheel are a number of different numbered slots in which the ball can land. Half of these slots are coloured red, and the other half black (aside from ‘0’ and ’00’, both coloured green). When the ball has landed in one of the slots the croupier will announce the winning number.
A small weight is then placed on the playing area to indicate where the ball ended up. All losing chips are cleared off the table, and all winning bets are paid. The croupier will announce ‘place your bets’, and the whole cycle begins again.
The history of roulette
Roulette was invented in France (‘Roulette’ is French for ‘little wheel’) as a combination of several other similar games that were played at the time. There are historical literal references to roulette as early as 1758.
Originally, the French roulette wheel had thirty-six numbers, a zero and a double-zero. The zero was coloured red and the double-zero black, but eventually both numbers came to be coloured green.
In 1843 a pair of French brothers named François and Louis Blanc introduced a new roulette wheel to a casino in the German spa town of Bad Homburg that dropped the double-zero. This increased the chances of players winning and this new wheel swiftly became the most popular type of wheel used across nearly all casinos in Europe.
When roulette reached America via New Orleans and the Mississippi, the original double-zero wheel was chosen. Casinos in the US and indeed all over the Americas still prefer to use the double-zero version of the roulette wheel to this day.
Roulette – the casino version
Roulette is a very profitable game for casinos, as the odds are weighted slightly in the casino’s favour. The probability of correctly guessing the winning number are 36-1 (or 37-1 in the American version), yet the casino only pays back 35-1. The casino’s advantage is 2.70 percent in the French or European version of the game, and 5.26 percent in the American.
The range of possible bets in roulette are as follow:
|Straight up||Any single number||36-1||37-1||35-1|
|Row||0 and 00||–||18-1||17-1|
|Split||any two adjacent numbers||35-2||18-1||17-1|
|Basket||0, 1 & 2 (or 00, 2 & 3 or 0, 00 & 2 in US)||34-3||35-3||11-1|
|Street||any three numbers in a single row||11-1||34-3||35-3|
|Corner||any four numbers in a block||33-4||17-2||8-1|
|Top line||0, 00, 1, 2 and 3||–||33-5||6-1|
|Six line||any six numbers in two horizontal rows||31-6||16-3||5-1|
|Column||any one of the three columns of numbers||25-12||13-6||2-1|
|Dozens||any of the three sequential groups of numbers||25-12||13-6||2-1|
|Odd or even||19-18||10-9||1-1|
|Red or black||19-18||10-9||1-1|
|High or low||either 1 to 18 or 19 to 36||19-18||10-9||1-1|
In French or European roulette there is often a secondary betting table where players can place bets based on the sequence of numbers around the roulette wheel itself, as opposed to their numerical sequence. These are typically known as ‘French Bets’, and are explained below:
- Voisins du zéro – this is a bet on seventeen numbers: zero, plus the seven numbers to the right of zero on the wheel, and the nine numbers to the left. This bet takes nine chips – two on 0/2/3, one apiece on 4/7, 12/5, 18/21, 19/22 and 32/35, and two on 25/26/28/29.
- Jeu zéro – also known as zero spiel. This is a bet on zero, the four numbers to the left of zero on the wheel and the two to the right. The bet takes four chips – one on 26 and one apiece on 0/3, 1/15 and 32/35. Some casinos offer ‘zero spiel naca’ which adds an extra straight up bet on 19.
- Le tiers du cylindre – this bet involves twelve numbers on the opposite side of the wheel to zero and involves six chips, each bet on splits 5/8, 10/11, 13/16, 23/24, 27/30 and 33/36. There are two associated bets: ‘Tier 5, 8, 10, 11’ which adds four straight up bets on those numbers, and ‘Giocco Ferrari’ which adds straight up bets on 8, 11, 23 and 30.
- Orphelins – this is a bet on the eight numbers not included in either voisins du zéro or le tiers du cylindre. It involves a straight up bet on 1 and splits 6/9, 14/7, 17/20 and 31/34, for a total of five chips.
- … and the neighbours – you can bet five chips on any number plus the two numbers to the left of it on the wheel, and the two numbers to the right. For example ‘1 and the neighbours’ would be a five chip bet on 16, 33, 1, 20 and 14.
- Finaal – a bet on all numbers that end in the same digit. A finaal bet on 6 would cover 6, 16, 26 and 36. Finaal bets on 7, 8 and 9 only cover three numbers.
- Split Finaal – a bet on all splits based on two numbers. For example a ‘2/5 split finaal’ covers 2/5, 12/15, 22/25 and 32/35.
- Complete – a bet which covers ALL inside bets (i.e. straight up, splits, streets, corners and six lines) that involve a specific number.
Roulette in popular culture
Roulette has been used in movies and TV shows countless times, and some famous examples are given here.
- In the classic movie Casablanca, a young Bulgaria refugee couple lose all their money playing roulette at Rick’s café. Rick – played by Humphrey Bogart – takes pity on them as they need the cash for a bribe and tells the male half of the couple to bet on 22 and let it ride. The number comes up twice in a row, and the newly-happy couple make their exit.
- In 2009 UK illusionist Derren Brown persuaded a member of the public to bet £5,000 on 22 while playing roulette. Brown predicted he could use the laws of physics to estimate where the ball would land. In the end the ball landed on 8… right next to 22.
- In the 1998 German crime thriller Run, Lola, Run, the heroine has to make 100,000 German marks in 20 minutes else her boyfriend dies. She manages to persuade a member of staff at a casino to give her a 100 mark chip, which she places on 20. She wins and lets it ride. She wins again, and now has 129,600 marks – enough to save her boyfriend’s life and treat him to a celebratory dinner too.
Roulette at online casinos
Virtually every online casino offers at least one form of roulette, and most of them offer several. Some even offer live varieties where you can play with a live croupier at an authentic casino table – the actions is fed to you via a live video stream.
One thing to note when choosing a version of online roulette to play is that you should always choose European or French roulette over American. The house edge is twice as great with American roulette because of the use of the ’00’.