Roulette is one of those games which can be used to ease your way into any casino experience. As one of the simplest casino table games out there, the game of roulette has entertained casino patrons since the 17th century, offering a break from the complexity of blackjack and poker with the simplicity of betting either red or black.
For a game to last hundreds of years and remain popular, it needs slightly more depth than ‘bet everything on red or black’, and as you may expect, this is certainly the case for roulette. While it is fairly basic to start with, the betting structure in roulette is incredibly deep once you start looking into it. We will come to these advanced bets at a later date though – for now we’re going to focus on the basics with our Beginner’s Guide to Roulette!
One thing that you should be aware of before going any further is that unlike blackjack or poker, the simplicity of roulette means that the game has a relatively high house edge. In fact, of all of the casino table games that you’re likely to come across, roulette offers one of the highest house edges around. If you’re willing to sacrifice some of your edge on a game where beginners and seasoned vets have the same chances of winning, read on!
There are three main parts to a game of roulette – the wheel, the chips and the table. Before we start examining each component in turn, let’s take a look at how the game of roulette plays out. In each round the dealer spins the wheel and drops an ivory (or plastic) ball into the wheel, which will eventually settle in a random slot. The aim of the game is to guess where the ball will stop, betting on everything from the actual number or colour on the wheel to where that number sits on the roulette table.
When starting out, you will quickly find that different tables offer different buy-ins. This is important for several reasons, but mostly because your chips have zero value once you step away from the roulette table. If you’re looking to try your luck at roulette, you’ll generally start by checking the buy-in amount, along with the minimum and maximum bets at each table – this can run anywhere from as low as a couple of quid to several thousand pounds. The minimum and maximum bets on each table can even vary depending on the type of bet you’re placing, so for now you should probably stick to simple tables with low buy-ins until you get a feel for the game.
Once you’ve picked a table you’ll start by handing your chips to a dealer, receiving special roulette chips in return. When the next round begins, you can place your chips directly on the table, with the position of each chip signifying which bet you’re placing. We will cover this basic betting structure in roulette towards the end of this guide. Once all bets are placed, the dealer will spin the wheel, the results will be called, and the chips will be collected and passed out as necessary. At this point you can either cash out, turning your roulette chips into casino chips, or you can go again.
What’s in a game (of roulette)?
As previously mentioned, there are three main parts to a game of roulette. The first of these is the roulette wheel, which was designed by the French inventor Blaise Pascal back in the 17th century. Pascal was studying probability while trying to invent a perpetual motion machine, and noticed something fairly interesting. This led to the invention of roulette (literally “little wheel” in French), and one of the most popular casino games of all time. In fact, the roulette wheel grew in popularity so quickly that some say Pascal struck a deal with the Devil. In reality, roulette’s nickname ‘The Devil’s Game’ comes from the fact that the 37 numbers on a roulette wheel (including 0) add up to 666.
The roulette wheel has changed only slightly over the years, with the most notable inclusion being the addition of the 00 slot on the American roulette wheel. This extra slot simply increases the house edge in the game, without adding any real complexity. For the sake of simplicity, we will continue this guide focussing only on the European wheel, with its single 0.
It’s worth noting at this point that the chips you have in roulette are completely different to the chips that you would use in most other casino table games. Unlike poker or blackjack, roulette chips (which should technically called checks, not chips,) have no denominational value. This is why you need to buy specific chips from the dealer when you join a table, and cash out when you leave – getting standard casino chips back in the process. When you buy into a game, you will be given one of the six-to-eight sets of coloured chips the dealer keeps by the wheel; each player has a set colour and the value of each chip is simply the buy-in divided by the number of chips received. The dealer will physically place a token on the dealer’s stack of coloured chips to indicate the value of each chip that player holds. While it’s not uncommon to see couples sharing a colour, it’s usually recommended that you split your colours while learning the game at least.
The roulette table is possibly the most complicated part of the game. The table is a reflection of the possible outcomes of a given spin, and the area where all the players are placing their bets. As you might expect, this can get quite complicated on a busy table with half a dozen other players. The roulette tables all have the same layout – there is a 0 at the top, followed by a 3-column, 12-row table showing the 36 numbers on the wheel in numerical order. Bets on these specific numbers are known as ‘inside bets’; ‘outside bets’ refer to the side bets around these 36 numbers, offering wagers such as 1-12, 1-18, even, odd, black and red. Each of these bets comes with their own odds and payouts, though these payouts are generally the same no matter which casino you visit.
How does betting work in roulette?
Each of the different bets in roulette come with different odds, with the easier bets offering less returns than the more difficult ones. As a general rule of thumb, the inside bets are more difficult to win, and thus pay more than the outside bets. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common bets you can go for in roulette:
- Black / Red – a simple bet on whether or not the ball lands in your choice of a red or a black slot. This isn’t a 50:50 chance, as there is a single green slot for the number 0. (In American roulette there is an additional green slot for 00.)
- Even / Odd – similar to black / red, this bet asks whether the ball will land on an even or odd number. Note: while this may frustrate some mathematicians, 0 is neither even nor odd as far as roulette is concerned.
- Low / High – this bet asks whether the ball will land on 1-18 or 19-36. This pays out at the same rate as the previous two bets.
- Dozen – this bet asks you whether the ball will land on the 1st, 2nd or 3rd dozen set of numbers. These are 1-12, 13 to 18 and 19-36 respectively.
- Column – this asks the player if they think the ball will land inside a given column on the table. Any number inside a given column qualifies a win.
- Double Street – this is a bet on six consecutive numbers across two joined rows of the roulette table. For example, this could be 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12.
- Corner – a bet on any four numbers that meet at their corners. For example, this could be 20, 21, 23 and 24.
- Street – similar to the double street, this is a bet on any three consecutive numbers (on a single row of the roulette table).
- Split – a bet split on two adjacent numbers, either horizontally or vertically. For example, 1 and 2 or 1 and 4.
- Straight up – a simple bet on the exact number you think the ball will land on.
For the sake of ease, we’ve put together a handy table showing you how each or these bets are ranked in terms of payouts and the probability of you choosing a winning bet.
|Low / High||1:1||48.65%|
5 more things to keep in mind
As with all games, studying a beginner’s guide will only get you so far. If you want to learn roulette, the only way you’re going to get any better is heading to your local casino and practicing. Depending on where you are, your local casino could only be as far as your phone or desktop – if you’re looking for the casinos offering the best deals for players playing roulette, you can find them here at Best Deal Casinos today. Either way, here are 5 more things to keep in mind as you step into your first game of roulette. Good luck
- While outside bets pay less, they are far easier to win, and should be where you focus your attention.
- If given the choice between an American and a European roulette wheel, always pick the European one. The extra 00 is simply there to make you lose more often – it doesn’t add anything to the game.
- Each wheel will show the last few winning spins. Some players like to use these numbers to decide on the numbers they want to bet on, looking for patterns and biases. In reality, the numbers should be entirely random with each spin.
- Being en prison is a good thing – this is a safety net for people betting on odds and evens, saving them from a loss when the ball lands on 0. Bets are simply carried over to the next spin.
- Practice makes perfect!