Roulette is an iconic gambling game widely played in land-based casino establishments the world over. Most virtual casinos also feature online roulette in various forms. The rules are relatively simple. A single ball is dropped on to a revolving wheel which is fringed by numbered pockets or compartments. Players then bet on the number(s) in which they think the ball will land.
History of Roulette
As is the case with most traditional casino games, roulette has a long and somewhat opaque history which can be traced back hundreds of years. The spinning wheel originated in the 17th century with French mathematician, Blaise Pascal, while the betting table is strongly influenced by the Italian board game, Biribi. The game as we know it today has been played since at least 1796. This is evidenced by a novel called La Roulette, Ou Le Jour, in which the author describes the use of a roulette wheel at the Palais-Royal.
Evolution of the Roulette Wheel
Early roulette wheels used in the Paris casinos of the late 19th century were very similar to those used today. There were 36 numbered compartments alternating between the colours of black and red, with a red single zero and black double zero. However, in order to prevent confusion the colour green was added to single zeros from the 1800s onwards.
This configuration remained in place until around 1843, when French entrepreneurs François and Louis Blanc unveiled a new version. Keen to get an edge over rival establishments in their resort home town of Bad Homburg, the pair introduced a roulette wheel which only included a single zero.
The revised layout is still used with European Roulette to this day. The American version, which was introduced by French colonists in the late 19th century, retains the original, double-zero format with 38 compartments.
The Roulette Wheel Numbers
For European Roulette wheels, the numbers are arranged 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 Roulette wheels consists of the following number 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.
As illustrated above, the roulette wheel numbers are arranged non-sequentially in order to make it difficult to identify relationships between numbers and sectors.
For European and American roulette, both high (19-36) and low (1-18) numbers tend to alternate, while odd and even digits are evenly distributed across the wheel. On European wheels, no more than two odd or even numbers are next to each other. And irrespective of the roulette variant, adjacent pockets are always coloured differently.
Roulette Table Layout
American and European roulette share very similar table layouts. Both feature three columns of numbered betting areas arranged from left to right and labelled: 1 – 34, 2 - 35, 3 - 36. The inclusion of a 00 betting area for American versions is the only major difference. There are nine additional betting areas in which outside bets are made. These are labelled: 1st 12, 2nd 12, 3rd 12, 1 - 18, EVEN, ODD, RED, BLACK, 19-36.
Roulette is a simple game to play. Before the croupier rolls the ball, participants place bets on the numbered pocket in which they think the ball will land by laying down chips in the betting areas explained above. Wagers placed in the numbered columns are known as inside bets. Chips placed in the other areas are called outside bets.
Inside bets are the most common types of wager in roulette. They can be placed on single numbers or on lines between numbers. Here’s a run-down of each one:
Straight-up bets can be wagered on any single number in the range of 0 to 36. The participant places a chip or stack of chips in a numbered box to signify his choice. However, the chip(s) must not touch any of the borders surrounding that number.
This is a combination bet in which chip(s) are placed on the line between any two adjacent numbers. By so doing the player is effectively splitting the chip’s worth between his two chosen numbers.
Street bets can be made on any three-number row on the betting table. The chips must be placed on the outermost line of the first number in the row.
Also known as a square or quarter bet, a corner bet is made by placing chips on the centre intersection of a square block of four numbers.
A five-number bet that relates to American Roulette and applies to the numbers: 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3. Chips should be positioned on the outside corner line between the 0 and 1.
Also known as a line bet or double-street bet, this wager applies to two adjacent rows of three numbers. The chips are placed on the left-most intersection between the two rows.
Outside bets refer to all wagers placed outside the numbered betting field - as with inside bets there are numerous variations.
Red or Black Bets
As the name indicates, Red or black bets relate to the colour on which the ball is predicted to land. For such wagers, the pocket number is irrelevant. Chips are placed in the box underneath the ‘2 and 12’ betting area with the red and black colours usually represented by colour-coded diamonds.
Odd or Even Bets
For odd or even bets, participants try to predict the type of pocket number in which the ball with land. Bets can be placed on either side of the Red/Black betting areas.
Hi or Low Bets
Hi or low bets can be made on number ranges, 1-18 (low) and 19-36 (high) respectively. To place a bet, chips are placed in their corresponding betting areas which are usually marked ‘1-18’ and ’19-36’. These wagers feature even money pay-outs with all bets lost if the ball falls in a 0 or 00.
These bets can be placed on the three columns representing the pocket numbers. Chips are placed in the betting areas located at the base of each column.
Snake bets can be placed on the following numbers: 1, 5, 9, 12, 14, 16, 19, 23, 27, 30, 32 and 34. Like column bets, they offer a 2 to 1 payout. To make such a wager, the chips are placed on the corner of the number 34 box which adjoins the 19-36 betting area.
Dozen bets can be made on the number groups: 1 – 12, 13-24 and 25-36. The chips are placed within the 1st 12, 2nd 12 and 3rd 12 betting areas.
House Advantage and Payouts
Given the variations between roulette the two main roulette variants, the house advantage varies quite significantly. Because the American Roulette wheel comprises a zero and double zero, it features a 5.26% edge.
However, European roulette offers a much more favourable edge of 2.70%. So it follows that the latter game features a higher payout rate of 97.3% compared to 94.74%.
Roulette Betting and Strategies
Despite the seemingly random nature of roulette, there are a few tried and trusted strategies that can improve your chances of winning.
To begin with, it’s worth trying to work out if a dealer has a signature. That is, does he/she ‘aim’ the ball before releasing so that it finds its way to a similar wheel segment each time? Little giveaways like this will allow you to place bets accordingly and put you in a better position to beat the house.
The Martingale Roulette Strategy
This is one of the most common roulette strategies and its implementation is fairly straightforward. You increase the bet after every loss with the idea being that when you eventually win, you’ll get your money back. The best way to use this strategy is to restrict your bet to even-money, outside wagers which offer the maximum odds of winning.
The Labouchere Strategy
The Labouchere Strategy is a little more complicated to master. Also known as the Split Martingale or the Cancellation System, it involves raising the stakes after losing a bet. Although similar to the Martingale in approach, the primary goal is to recover your losses with a series of wins instead of just one. Like the Martingale tactic, the Labouchere approach is a negative progression system.
The D'Alembert Strategy
The D’Alembert method is considered to be safer than the more illustrious Martingale strategy. Stakes are gradually increased following losses which help to ensure that they don’t get out of hand. While the chances of losing money are actually greater, the extent of your losses won’t be as bad should you endure a run of bad luck.
The Fibonacci Strategy
The Fibonacci Strategy is another low-risk system which should only be used for even-money outside bets. The tactic is based on cumulative sequential mathematics in which the next number is equal to the sum of two previous numbers. Its application in roulette requires you to move on to the next number in the sequence after losing and move back two numbers following a win. It’s often helpful to use a pen and paper to keep track.
The Paroli Strategy
The Paroli strategy is essentially the opposite of the Martingale System. So instead of increasing the stake after losing, you double your bet following a win. This approach is well-suited to newbies and those who want to learn to play roulette with a solid strategy. However, its use should be restricted to outside bets offering kinder odds.
Other Types of Roulette Games
American and European roulette remain the most popular game variants in bricks and mortar establishments. However the continued development of live roulette has seen the emergence of even more versions.
French roulette bears a very close resemblance to its European counterpart. The only major differences relate to the betting board layout and the ‘La Partage’ rule. This stipulates that a player that makes an even-money bet receives back half of the stake if the spin results in a zero.
Despite shaky beginnings, online casino roulette has become hugely popular amongst gamblers and gamers. Thanks to today’s technologies, player experience is constantly being enhanced. Evolution’s Immersive Roulette platform, with its HD quality streaming and multiple camera angles, is a case in point. This constant development has spawned numerous roulette variations. Some of these are listed below.
People who like to play roulette online will likely have encountered this particular variant although its appearance in land-based establishments is rare. Essentially, mini roulette is a simplified version that comprises less numbers and betting options. However, the basic rules and principles remain the same.
This is another variant which should be familiar to those who play live roulette on a regular basis. As the name indicates, the only difference between this version and the original game is the number of wheels in play. This can vary from 2 to 8 although players are allowed to choose how many they’d like to bet on.
- Backtrack –roulette wheel outer rim
- Basket Bet – five number bet made with one chip
- Bet on the Layout – bet placed on any number
- Biased Numbers – numbers that hit more often than others
- Black Bet – bet placed on black number
- Bottom Track – roulette wheel inner rim
- Carre – French for ‘corner bet’
- Chameleon – player who copies other people’s strategies
- Check Rack – tray where chips are stored
- Combination Bet - bet on two or more numbers
- Corner Bet – inside bet on four numbers
- Double Zero – roulette wheel pocket labelled “00”
- Double-Up – increasing one’s bet by two after loss
- Dozen Bet – bet placed on the three groups: 1 - 12, 13 - 24, 25 - 36
- En Plein – French for ‘straight bet’
- Even Money – bet that pays 1 to 1
- High Bet – bet on numbers from 19 to 36
- Inside Bet – bet placed on number layout
- Line Bet – bet placed on six numbers in two rows of three
- Low Bet – bet placed on numbers from 1 to 18
- Marker/Dolly – apparatus used to mark a winning number
- No Action – term to signify that all bets are cancelled
- Orphans – European term for bets made on neighbouring numbers: 6, 34 and 17
- Outside Bet – bet made outside of number layout
- Parlay – doubling one’s bet following a win
- Pockets – numbered spaces on roulette wheel
- Red Bet – bet on next number being red
- Split Bet – bet on two adjacent numbers
- Straight-Up Bet – bet on one number
- Street Bet/Transversale – bet on three consecutive numbers on the same line
- Trio Bet – bet placed on three numbers that include the zero or zeros
- Voisins du Zero – French for bets on a group of numbers adjacent to the zero
- Zero –pocket on roulette wheel labelled with a 0
American Roulette Bets
- Bet on Even Number: Odds = 46.37%, Payout = 1:1
- Bet on Odd Number: Odds = 46.37%, Payout = 1:1
- Bet on Red: Odds = 46.37%, Payout = 1:1
- Bet on Black: Odds = 46.37%, Payout = 1:1
- Low Bet (1-18): Odds = 46.37%, Payout = 1:1
- High Bet (19-36): Odds = 46.37%, Payout = 1:1
- Dozen Bet: (1-12): Odds = 31.58%, Payout = 2:1
- Dozen Bet: (13-24): Odds = 31.58%, Payout = 2:1
- Dozen Bet: (25-36): Odds = 31.58%, Payout = 2:1
- Single Number Bet: Odds = 2.63%, Payout = 35:1
- 2 Numbers: Odds = 5.26%, Payout = 17:1
- 3 Numbers: Odds = 7.89%, Payout = 11:1
- 4 Numbers: Odds = 10.53%, Payout = 8:1
- 6 Numbers: Odds = 15.79%, Payout = 5:1
- Combination of 0, 00, 1, 2, 3: Odds = 13.16%, Payout = 6:1
European Roulette Bets
- Bet on Even Number: Odds = 48.6%, Payout = 1:1
- Bet on Odd Number: Odds = 48.6%, Payout = 1:1
- Bet on Red: Odds = 48.6%, Payout = 1:1
- Bet on Black: Odds = 48.6%, Payout = 1:1
- Low Bet (1-18): Odds = 48.6%, Payout = 1:1
- High Bet (19-36): Odds = 48.6%, Payout = 1:1
- Dozen Bet: (1-12): Odds = 32.4%, Payout = 2:1
- Dozen Bet: (13-24): Odds = 32.4%, Payout = 2:1
- Dozen Bet: (25-36): Odds = 32.4%, Payout = 2:1
- Single Number Bet: Odds = 2.7%, Payout = 35:1
- 2 Numbers: Odds = 5.4%, Payout = 17:1
- 3 Numbers: Odds = 8.1%, Payout = 11:1
- 4 Numbers: Odds = 10.8%, Payout = 8:1
- 6 Numbers: Odds = 16.2%, Payout = 5:1