Roulette rules – learn the rules of the game

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If you are looking for an exciting casino game that is simple to learn, roulette is the perfect place to start. Playing roulette is super straightforward and it does not have as many elements to memorise as other table games like baccarat and blackjack.

Roulette is not a skill-based game however many experienced players become adept at using betting strategies to make the most of the gameplay. In this guide, we will be covering the basic rules of roulette, the phrases you are likely to hear while playing and what they mean.

Read also our guide about learning to play roulette.

Table of Contents:

The roulette wheel

The game of roulette is made up of two parts – the wheel and the table. The wheel is spun and a small white ball is released, which will then bounce around and land in one of the pockets. These pockets are marked with numbers and are either red, black or, for the zero space/s, green.

The wheel in all games of roulette functions the same way i.e. it spins, involves a white ball and numbered pockets. However there are some differences in the number of pockets and the sequence in which the pockets appear.

European wheel sequence

The wheel in a game of European roulette contains 37 pockets in total. These are laid out in the following sequence:

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.

American wheel sequence

Because it has a zero and a double zero pocket, the American roulette wheel has a total of 38 pockets, 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.

The logic behind the wheel layout

Roulette wheels may look completely random but in actual fact, they follow certain rules that keep the game as balanced as possible. Firstly, red and black always alternate. There is never an instance where a red pocket is directly adjacent to another red pocket, and the same goes for black.

Odd and even numbers are equally distributed around the wheel. You will see that there are never more than two odd or two even numbers adjacent to one another. Low (1-18) and high numbers are also spread evenly around the wheel though the European version does a better job of this than the American one.

As you can see from the sequences above, there is no discernible pattern, which makes it very difficult for players to identify a bias. While experienced players may have the sequences memorised, casual players will look at the wheel and see a random set of pockets.

The roulette table

While the roulette wheel determines the winning number, the table is where players make their bets on the outcome of that spin. On the whole, American, French and European roulette tables are very similar. There are some differences in the style of the table, as well as the American version accommodating the additional 00 pocket, but they follow much the same rules.

European roulette table

The European roulette table includes three columns of numbers with a 0 space on one of the shorter ends and spaces to make column bets at the other end. Down the longer side, we can see spaces where players can make their outside bets, so called because these made along the outside of the table. These include bets on red/black, odds/evens, first, second and third groups of 12, and low/high.

European roulette table - roulette rules

American roulette table

The American roulette table is almost identical to the European one, with the most obvious difference being that instead of just the 0 bet at one end, the 0 and 00 bets sit side by side. The outside bet sections are identical to the ones on the European roulette table.

American roulette table - roulette rules

French roulette table

The French roulette table looks similar to the European table, in that it has a single 0 bet space. However, the outside bet spaces are distributed along the top and bottom sides of the table instead of along just the one side. Players will also note the outside bet labels are in French instead of English.

French roulette table - roulette rules

The difference between European and American roulette tables

Fundamentally, the key difference between the two is that European roulette has a single 0 pocket on the wheel, while the American version has both a 0 and a 00 pocket. This means that the table must accommodate that extra space. Of course, the addition of another pocket changes the odds a player faces and we will discuss this later on.

the difference between European and American roulette tables - roulette rules

Basic roulette rules

At its core, roulette has a really simple set of rules. The player makes a bet that one or more numbers or groups of numbers will win and the roulette wheel determines the winning number. Easy! And that’s why roulette is so popular with players.

Although there may not be skill involved in winning roulette, there certainly is skill in working out a strategy. Our beginner’s guide to roulette expands on this topic further.

French roulette has the most additional rules to keep in mind of all three types. We will take a look at those next.

La partage rule

‘Partage’ is the French word for ‘sharing’ and this kind of explains what this rule does. It only applies to outside bets on Evens. Let’s say a player has bet on Evens and the ball lands in the 0 pocket of the wheel. The dealer takes half of the bet for the house and the other half is returned to the player.

This impacts the house edge significantly, bringing it down from 2.7% to 1.35%. La Partage rules only apply to even bets, so column, section and straight bets are automatically lost if the outcome of the spin is zero.

En prison rule

This is a variation on the La Partage rule and it too only covers even money bets. As you might have surmised, ‘en prison’ means ‘imprisoned’ in French and this is what happens to the bet when the ball lands on zero.

When a player places an even money bet and the winning number is zero, the dealer places a marker near the best to indicate that is it ‘en prison’. This keeps the bet where it is for the next spin. If the next spin results in an even number, the player takes back their full bet. If an odd number follows the zero, the player loses the full amount of their bet.

Casinos that employ the La Partage rule on their French roulette tables by default employ the En Prison rule. A player can then choose how he wishes to proceed. If zero lands and the bet is placed on evens, he can either take half his bet back through the La Partage or keep his original bet En Prison for the next spin.

Different types of bets

When you read up about roulette, you will come across all kinds of names and phrases, which can seem a bit confusing. Here is a list of the bets that can be made during a game of roulette.

Roulette cheat sheet - different types of bets - roulette rules

Inside bets

These are simply bets that are placed on the numbers within the main part of the table, hence the name ‘inside bets’.

Straight/Single

This is a bet on a single number on the table. Players can make more than one straight bet per round if they like.

Split

This bet is placed on two numbers which are adjacent on the table. The betting chip is placed on the line that separates the two numbers.

Street

This bet covers three consecutive numbers on the table and the chip is placed on the outermost corner of the row.

Corner/Square

The player bets on a 2×2 square of four numbers, with the chip placed in the corner that all four spaces share.

Six line/Double street

This bet on two adjacent lines of numbers, which includes 6 in total, is made by placing the chip on the outer corner shared by the two lines.

Trio

This bet involves the 0 space and two other numbers, which can be the double zero in the American version of the game. The chip is placed on the line shared between the zero and the other two numbers.

Basket

The player bets on 0, 1, 2 and 3 by placing a chip on the corner shared by the first line and the zero space. This bet includes the double zero in American roulette.

First Four

Also known as a basket bet, this bet covers four numbers – 0, 1, 2 and 3 – in one go.

Outside bets

These bets are so called because they are made outside the part of the table that contains the numbered spaces. Players will note special areas around the outside perimeter of the table that indicate where to place outside bets.

1 to 18 / 19 to 36

Also called Lows and Highs, the player bets on the winning number being between 1-18 and 19-36, respectively.

Red or black

The player bets on the winning number being either Red or Black by placing their chip in the corresponding space.

Even or odd

This is a bet on whether the winning number will be odd or even.

Dozen bet

The table is split into three sections, each containing 12 numbers. The player can make a bet on any one of these three sections containing the winning number.

Column bet

The numbers on the table are organised into three columns and the player can bet on which column the winning number will be in.

Snake bet

This somewhat exotic betting pattern includes 12 numbers in total. Imagine a line is drawn, starting from one corner of the table and going diagonally before it meets the edge of the table and then turns downward again, and repeating the process. This bet covers 1, 5, 9, 12, 14, 16, 19, 23, 27, 30, 32, 34.

Announced bets

Announced bets are used in French and European roulette. These special betting combinations are not visible on the table itself, like the outside bets, which is why they need to be ‘announced’. We talk about these more below and include the English translation to make them easier to remember.

Voisins du zéro (neighbors of zero)

This bet covers 15 numbers in total – the zero and the 7 numbers on either side of it. It is made up of nine chips in a combination of one corner, five splits and a trio.

Jeu zéro (zero game)

This bet covers 7 numbers, which are the zero and its three neighbours on either side. It is built on four bets, which are one straight and three splits.

Le tiers du cylindre (one-third of the wheel)

This bet covers the side of the wheel that is opposite to the one occupied by a Voisins du Zero bet. It literally covers a third of the wheel i.e. 12 numbers, which is where its name comes from. It covers 27, 13, 36, 11, 30, 8, 23,10, 5, 24, 16 and 33, in a series of six split bets.

Orphelins (orphans)

What’s left once the Voisins and the Tiers have claimed their numbers? A group of orphans, of course! This bet covered 8 numbers – 1, 6, 9, 14, 17, 20, 31 and 34 – through a combination of one straight and four split bets.

Neighbours

This is not a fixed range of bets but rather a pattern that can be applied to any number. It includes a specific number and its two neighbours on either side, for a total of 5 numbers. Placing this bet is dependent on the table having a special racetrack section, which keeps track of bets that cannot be represented clearly inside the table itself.

Final bets

This is a bet on the final digit of the winning number. For example, a player can make a final bet on 3. The numbers 3, 13, 23 and 33 will all be considered a win in this case.

Full completes/maximums

This bet is really a combination of bets. Indeed, it is all of the inside bets on a specific number. For example, a full complete bet on number 17 would include a straight, four splits, a street, four corners and two six-lines.

Bets in European roulette

A player can make all of the bets mentioned above during a game of French roulette and many instances of European roulette as well. This holds true for both live dealer and table game versions.

Bets in American roulette

Players can make inside bets and outside bets on American roulette but the announced bets are generally only used in other versions of this game.

Bets in European and American roulette tables - roulette rules

Bet odds in roulette

Roulette odds depend on the number of pockets the wheel has. With European roulette, that number is 37, and 38 on American roulette. This impacts the probability of a win as well as the house edge, both factors that players keep in mind when deciding which type of roulette to play at their online casino of choice. If you place a bet on a single number, the odds and payouts work as follows:

European roulette
The odds of winning stand at 1 in 37, since there are 37 pockets. The payout for wins stands at 35 to one, meaning you get paid 35+ on your initial bet.

American roulette
The odds of winning stand at 1 in 38, since there are 38 pockets. The payout for wins stands at 35 to 1, meaning you get paid 35+ on your initial bet.

For both variants, you get paid 35:1 on a win. The key difference is that with American roulette, winning occurs less frequently.

The payout also varies between the two types.

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%

The house edge

The house edge is the percentage of each wager that is expected to go to the online casino. The higher the house edge, the less advantageous it is for the player of the game. It is not always straightforward to calculate the house edge of some online casino games. However, when it comes to online roulette, it is fairly easy to calculate the house edge.

The mathematics behind the house edge

One of the simplest bets one can place in this game is the single bet which allows you to place a bet on any number between 1 and 36 as well as the single zero. A player who places a simple bet of £1 can expect a £35 win and a £1 which is forfeited if he loses to the casino.

Out of 37 possible outcomes, the player can win on only one outcome so the chances of winning stands at 1:37 or 0.027. At the same time, out of 37 possible outcomes, there is a probability of losing 36:37 or 0.973.

How the house edge is calculated

If the player is placing a £1 bet, it is calculated as (35 x 0.027) – (1 x 0.973) = – 0.027. Therefore, for every £1 bet on any single number, the player is expected to lose £0.027 or if you want to look at it from a casino’s perspective. The house is expected to retain £0.027. In terms of percentages, it totals to 2.7%.

What if you decide to go with a corner bet? A corner bet wins an 8x payout, a total of 4 out of 37 times, and loses 1x bet 33:37. The percentage comes to 2.7%. If you repeat the same process with other bets, you will get the same percentage loss which acts as the house advantage regardless of how you bet in the game.

One of the best things about the game of European roulette is that the house advantage tends to stay quite stable, regardless of how you bet, so the risk and reward ratio evens out to give you essentially the same payout rate. Therefore, if you place a bet on one number for a while then alter the betting to three, the payout rate will automatically adjust itself to keep the payout rate the same.

You can develop quite complex strategies based on this information without you having to worry about the repercussions on the overall house advantage.

Summary

Compared to some other table games, roulette has fewer rules to keep in mind and the fact that the roulette table is clearly labelled takes the difficulty out of making the desired bet.

That said, there is plenty of opportunity to develop strategy skills when it comes to roulette, something that offers experienced players a challenge and keeps the game interesting.

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