How to play roulette – A beginner’s guide

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Roulette is one of those casino games that even non-players will be familiar with. It’s seen in films and on TV whenever the inside of a casino is shown on screen, probably because it is such an exciting game, even as a spectator.

Online roulette may be a more solitary pursuit but it continues to be a fan favourite, even at a time when hundreds of new games are vying for our attention. In this guide, we will talk you through what roulette is all about, including how the wheel and board are laid out, making bets, different variations of the game and more.

Table of contents:

Understanding the roulette wheel

There are two parts to the game of roulette. One is the roulette board, which we will discuss in the next section of this guide, and the other is the wheel.

This is comprised of a spinning circular area with evenly sized spaces in it. Each space has a number between 1 and 36, and a colour. The wheel will then also have either one or two green spaces, depending on the type of roulette being played.

The sequence of adjacent numbers on the wheel differs, again depending on the type of roulette being played, but on all wheels, red and black always alternate i.e. you will not see two adjacent spaces in the same colour.

When the croupier spins the wheel, a white ball is released into it and will bounce around until it settles in one of the spaces. This, in conjunction with the roulette table, determines the winning number.

Understanding the roulette tables

The roulette table is usually found right beside the wheel and this is where players can place their bets on the numbers and colours they think will win. Roulette tables are very similar, with American roulette tables having an additional space for the green 00 bet and the French roulette tables having the bet names written in French.

The roulette table displays not just the range of numbers that can be bet on but also broader bet categories. These include the range between 1-18 (the Lows), 19-36 (the Highs), Red, Black, Odd and Even. This allows players to place bets on the ball landing in a range of spaces instead of making individual bets on each number/colour.

Understanding the roulette bets

The player can choose to bet on a single number or on a group of numbers. There are several betting combinations that can slightly alter the odds for winning and affect the payout too.

The math here is simple – the more numbers you bet on, the higher the likelihood of the ball landing in those spaces. This means your chances of winning are bigger but the payout will be lower too. There are three types of bets you can make: inside, outside, and announced bets.

Understanding roulette bets

Inside Bets

These are bets placed on the inside part of the roulette table i.e. the main part with the coloured numbers organised into three columns. There are seven types of inside bets possible. Let’s take a look at them below.

  • Straight bet: This is the simplest bet as it is just a single bet on a single number. The chip is placed on top of the number of choice
  • Split bet: When a player wants to make a split bet, they will put the chip down on top of the line that separates one space and another. This means they are betting on both of those numbers.
  • Street bet: This is a bet on three numbers located next to one another on the same line. The street bet is placed by putting the chip on the outermost corner of the row.
  • Six line bet: This bet covers two adjacent lines at once, with a chip placed on the outer corner.
  • Corner bet: To cover a 2×2 set of numbers, the player can make a corner bet by placing the chip on the corner that all number spaces share
  • Trio bet: This bet covers three numbers and includes the 0 or 00 spaces. The chip is placed on the line between the zero/s and the other number/s.
  • Basket bet: This is a bet on 1, 2, 3 and 0, with the chip placed in the corner between the first line and the zero space. This includes the 00 space in American roulette.

Outside Bets

These bets are made on predefined groups of numbers as indicated by the named sections along the sides of the roulette table. There are eight kinds of outside bets:

  • Red or Black: This is a bet on the colour of the winning number
  • Odd or Even: A bet on whether the winning number will be odd or even
  • 1 to 18 or 19 to 36: A bet on the number being either lower than 19  or higher
  • Dozens: A bet on a group of 12 numbers. There are three dozens to choose from
  • Columns: A bet on one of the three columns of numbers

Announced Bets

Most commonly seen in French roulette, these announced bets are specific combinations of bets and each has its own name in French. Let’s take a look at the most popular ones and what they mean for players.

  • Voisins du Zéro or the Neighbours of Zero: This bet covers 15 numbers, which are the zero and the 7 numbers on either side of the zero. If we had to break it down, this bet would be a combination of a trio, five split bets and one corner bet.
  • Le Tiers Du Cylindre: Meaning ‘one third of the wheel’, this bet covers 12 numbers and its numbers are the ones on the opposite side of the wheel to the Neighbours of Zero, in a series of 6 split bets.
  • Orphelins: These ‘orphans’ are the numbers that are not covered when combining the two previous types of bets above. This bet covers 8 numbers through one straight bet and four splits.
  • Jeu Zéro or Zero Game: Comprised of three split bets and one straight, this bet covers the three spaces neighbouring the zero, on either side.

These are perhaps the most well known announced bets. In online roulette games, the magic of software allows any number of specific bet combinations to be placed, which can vary between games and providers.

How to choose which bet to make?

For new or simply curious players, roulette betting can just be a matter of picking their lucky number/s or experimenting with different combinations of bets, which is perfectly fine. Roulette is about having fun after all.

More experienced players may want a cohesive plan when it comes to making their bets and this can be done through the right roulette strategy.

Choosing a roulette strategy

First off, it should be noted that no strategy guarantees a win. There is always a house edge and even executing a strategy flawlessly does not mean you will definitely be taking home any money at all.

That said, there are some popular strategies among players, which can be split into progressive and non-progressive strategies.

Progressive strategies, as the name implies, are built on the concept of increasing the bet size depending on the outcome of the previous round. One of the most popular (and easy to understand) is the Martingale strategy. It’s simple – the player doubles their bet after every loss. Straightforward as it might be, it is a very risky strategy and most experienced players will not use this often or at all.

The Reverse Martingale or the Paroli strategy is basically the opposite – the player doubles their bet after every win. This makes it slightly safer than the Martingale, in that it will feel like the casino’s money is being used and not the player’s, but it does have its own risks too.

The Paroli and Martingale strategies are considered steep progressions, which means they work well when the probability of a win is close to 50%, making them suited to outside bets. But these strategies run the risk of reaching the bottom of the player’s bankroll before they have a chance to recoup any losses.

For inside bets, strategies with a flat progression are more appropriate. Wins may not be as frequent but when they do happen, they will likely be more significant. The D’Alembert system is a good example of a strategy with a less steep progression than the Martingale or Paroli.

This involves changing the bet depending on the outcome of the previous spin but doing so gradually and in much smaller increments. This low-risk strategy works well even with small bankrolls and doesn’t risk hitting the table limit as much as the others do. That said, the risk is low, which means the rewards stand to be low too.

Roulette cheat sheet

Have you read all that? We get that it’s a lot to remember, especially if you are only just getting into playing roulette. Here is our handy cheat sheet to help you keep the most important roulette terms in mind.

Roulette cheat sheet

The different variations of Roulette

Table games often come in many variations. Just look at poker! Roulette also has its own variations but luckily, they do not differ from one another all that much.

Every game involves a table and a wheel, with a few minor differences between them. If you have the basics down, you can play any type with confidence. Learning more about the different varieties available can help you make an educated decision on which you want to play.

European Roulette

This type of roulette is played on a wheel with 37 pockets – 1 to 36 numbered pockets and one Zero numbered pocket. European roulette is also referred to as single-zero roulette, for obvious reasons, although French roulette can also be called single-zero.

The sequence of numbers on the roulette wheel follow this pattern: 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.

European online casino

American Roulette

The American roulette wheel has 38 pockets, which include 1 to 36 numbered pockets, one Zero pocket and one Double Zero ‘00’ pocket. It is also known as Double Zero roulette.

The numbers on the wheel are laid out in the following sequence: 0, 28, 9, 26, 30, 11, 7, 20, 32, 17, 5, 22, 34, 15, 3, 24, 36, 13, 1, 00, 27, 10, 25, 29, 12, 8, 19, 31, 18, 6, 21, 33, 16, 4, 23, 35, 14, 2.

American online roulette

French Roulette

French roulette most closely resembles European roulette in its appearance, with the main differences being the use of French phrases to describe the outside bets and announced bets, and the table looking more stylised than the European table. It is a single-zero form of roulette.

French online roulette

Royale Roulette

This variation of European roulette includes a jackpot element. Otherwise identical in appearance, Royale Roulette includes a mandatory bet of a single credit in addition to the regular bets. Players will receive payouts when specific criteria are met like hitting the same number on consecutive spins. When this happens on five consecutive spins, the Royal roulette jackpot is awarded.

Royale roulette online

No Zero Roulette

The presence of the zero and double zero pockets determines the house edge by changing the probability of a player winning. In No Zero Roulette, the player’s chances of winning are improved because there are fewer pockets and outside bets have a 50% chance of success.

No zero roulette

Low-stakes vs high-stakes online roulettes

Roulette games, no matter the type, will have a table limit in place. This determines the maximum a player can bet at any one go, though the table limit can refer to different bets in different games.

Low stakes roulette games will have a lower table limit, up to £1,000 for example. High stakes roulette games can have table limits upwards of £10,000.

The difference between European and American roulette

At first glance, European and American roulette look fairly similar. Eagle-eyed observers will note two small differences in the wheel – the numbers are in a different sequence and there is an additional 00 pocket in the American version. These changes may be small but they do have a significant impact on gameplay.

Difference betwween European and American roulette wheel

Differences between the roulette tables

Because there is an additional pocket, the American roulette table has an additional space on the table for bets on 00. Other than that, the European and American tables look pretty much the same, with the same number of columns and outside bets.

Differences between odds and payout

One extra pocket alters the odds and payout between European and American roulette. The odds of a win on European roulette is 1 to 37, while it is 1 to 38 on American roulette. Both versions pay out at 35 to 1, though the American version pays out less frequently.

What difference does an additional pocket make?

The answer to that question is ‘quite a bit, actually’. To give you a better idea of how the two game variants differ between the two, we have created the below table which highlights the odds, the types of bets as well as the payouts for roulette.

BetPayoutEuropean Roulette OddsAmerican Roulette Odds
Reds / Black1:148.65%47.37%
Evens / Odds1:148.65%47.37%
Lows / Highs1:148.65%47.37%
Dozens2:132.43%31.58%
Columns2:132.43%31.58%
6 numbers5:116.22%15.79%
5 numbers6:113.16%
4 numbers8:110.81%10.53%
3 numbers11:18.11%7.89%
2 numbers17:15.41%5.26%
1 number35:12.70%2.63%

By a 1:1 payout, it means that you receive an additional chip plus your original bet. Similarly, a 6:1 means that you receive 5 extra chips on top of your initial bet.

Just remember that roulette is a game of chance and you can easily win a fortune if luck is on your side. Apply your own strategy and follow the rules of the game to make sure that you fully comprehend the game.

Don’t get discouraged if you lose money when you first start out. The more you play, the more you are likely to win.

How to play European roulette

Among all the variations of online roulette that exist, European roulette is definitely the preferred option amongst the majority of the players, thanks to higher winning probability and low house advantage.

The basics of European roulette

The European roulette wheel has 37 pockets, including numbers from 1 to 36 and a single 0 pocket. The numbers between 1 and 36 alternate between red and black, while the single 0 is green.

The main aim of this game is for you to predict the numbered pocket the roulette ball is going to fall into. To do this, you must place a bet on a specific number, after which the dealer spins the roulette wheel in one direction and the roulette ball in the opposite. Wherever the ball lands, is declared the winner.

Placing bets in European roulette

Once you are ready to play, you can place bets either on a single bet or on a combination of bets. When all bets have been placed, the dealer spins the roulette wheel.  It should also be pointed out, that bets can still be placed, altered, or removed once the wheel is spun. No bets can be placed once the dealer calls out ‘no more bets’.

Calculating your odds in European roulette

Having a good head for numbers is useful when it comes to calculating the odds. If you’re not a math whizz, the next tables will be handy for you.

Inside BetsPayoutWinning Odds
StraightBet on a single number35:12.70%
SplitBet on two numbers17:15.41%
StreetBet on a row of three numbers11:18.11%
CornerBet on 4 numbers that form a square8:110.81%
Five LineBet on 5 numbers6:1
LineBet on 2 gathering streets5:116.22%

 

Outside BetsPayoutWinning Odds
ColumnBet on all 12 numbers in the left/middle/right section2:132.43%
DozenBet on 12 numbers in 3 consecutive rows2:132.43%
Bet on Low/HighBet on numbers 1 – 18 or 19 – 361:148.65%
Bet on ColourBet on all red or black numbers1:148.65%
Odd or EvenBet on all odd or even numbers1:148.65%

How to play American roulette

American roulette is one of those table games, that enjoys great popularity in casinos across the United States, Asia as well as the United Kingdom. Somehow, it is mostly avoided by European players, since they favour the European version of roulette.

The basics of American roulette

The American roulette wheel has 38 pockets, including numbers from 1 to 36, 0 and 00 pockets. The numbers between 1 and 36 alternate between red and black, while both the 0 and double 00 pockets are green.

The main aim of this game is to predict the precise numbered pocket, the roulette ball will fall in. In order to do this, players must place bets on a number of their choice, after which the dealer spins the roulette wheel in one direction and the ball in the opposite. Wherever the ball lands, it is declared winner.

Placing bets in American roulette

Once you are ready to play, you can place bets either on a single bet, or on a combination of bets. When this has been done, the dealer goes ahead to spin the roulette wheel.  It should also be pointed out, that bets can still be placed, altered, or removed once the wheel is spun. No bets can be placed once the dealer calls out ‘no more bets’.

Calculating your odds in American roulette

Here are two tables that can help players calculate their odds of winning a game of American roulette.

Inside BetsPayoutWinning Odds
StraightBet on a single number35:12.63%
SplitBet on two numbers17:15.26%
StreetBet on a row of three numbers11:17.89%
CornerBet on 4 numbers that form a square8:110.53%
Five LineBet on 5 numbers6:113.16%
LineBet on 2 gathering streets5:115.79%

 

Outside BetsPayoutWinning Odds
ColumnBet on all 12 numbers in the left/middle/right section2:131.58%
DozenBet on 12 numbers in 3 consecutive rows2:131.58%
Bet on Low/HighBet on numbers 1 – 18 or 19 – 361:147.37%
Bet on ColourBet on all red or black numbers1:147.37%
Odd or EvenBet on all odd or even numbers1:147.37%

Where to play online roulette?

A vast number of UK casinos offer roulette, both as a table game and in a live dealer format. Indeed, it is one of the more popular titles so even casinos with a smaller games library will likely offer one or more types of roulette.

Here are a few of our favourite online casinos, which you can explore with confidence now that you know how to play roulette!

Summary

Roulette is a highly popular game, beloved by newbies for its simple rules and by experienced players who enjoy a game that challenges their strategy. With this guide, players will be equipped with all the basic knowledge needed to have a good time at the roulette table.