As one of the most popular and simple casino games, roulette is often considered easy even for novices. But to actually win this game, players need to have a deep understanding of its rules, which have evolved and changed over the last few centuries.
Since roulette was first introduced in France in the late 18th century, it has spread to every casino and gambling establishment in the world. Historians believe that it was devised by French mathematician and inventor Blaise Pascal in an attempt to create a perpetual motion machine. In this primitive form, the game was quite different than what we know today. Still, it managed to become the most easily recognized casino game in the world.
Much of its popularity could be contributed to its simplicity and the fact that the outcome of each spin of the roulette wheel is based on pure chance rather than anything else. Players do not need to have any particular skill or use complex strategies in order to win – they simply pick a number, place a bet, and hope that luck will be on their side. Being familiar with the rules of the game, however, may considerably increase one’s chance to win because, in fact, some bets are better than others.
In this article, we will focus on the standard roulette rules that apply to practically all forms of modern-day roulette – whether we play in a brick-and-mortar casino or we prefer the virtual version of roulette found in online casinos.
In land-based casinos, roulette is played on a large wooden table and the seats around it are reserved for players only. A casino employee, known as a croupier, is responsible for announcing the winning numbers, for collecting wagers and paying out winnings. In the most classic form of the game, the croupier tosses a small ball onto a spinning wheel that has colored pockets with the numbers from 0 to 36 – note that there is an additional pocket for 00 (double zero) in American roulette.
Once the wheel stops moving, the croupier announces the number, in whose pocket the ball has fallen into. Everyone who placed a bet on this number (or on the respective color or category of this number) wins a fixed payout, determined by the rules of the game. Bets are placed with casino chips that represent different amounts of money – $1, $5, $10, $50, etc., while the wheel is still spinning. Once it stops or once the croupier announces “No more bets”, all bets placed on the table are final and cannot be moved or taken off.
This takes us to another essential part of the game – the table layout. The gaming table is covered with a green felt cloth (it could be blue, red, or purple, as well), which has a chart with all the numbers from the wheel drawn on it. This is a simple rectangular diagram that shows all possible bets and their respective payouts and chips are placed on top of it. As you can see, the rules of the game are quite straightforward and it normally takes just a few spins of the wheel before they become your second nature. There are, however, a few details players should pay attention to when playing roulette and they include the types of wheels and table layouts.
Roulette Table Layout
The roulette wheel is composed of two main parts – an outer section called a bowl, and an inner section, known as the wheelhead. Depending on the type and manufacturing quality of the gaming table, the construction may differ but usually, the bowl includes a ball track, lower back track, a spindle, and canoe stops. The lower track is where the ball will roll – on it, you can see small diamond-shaped deflectors (also called disruptors, diamonds or canoe stops), which deflect the ball and make it bounce and move irregularly on the wheel.
The inner part contains the pockets for the numbers, as well as the rotor – the main moving part of the roulette wheel, and the turret in the center. There are many more mechanical parts, of course, but what players usually focus on is the section with the pockets. It has black, red, and green pockets with numbers marked on them – 37 pockets for European and French-style games and 38 pockets for American-style roulette. The numbers are arranged randomly (not quite randomly as it seems) and half of them are red, and half are black. The pockets for the single and double zero are in green.
- European/French roulette wheel – 18 red, 18 black, and one green pocket for 0
- American roulette wheel – 18 red, 18 black, and two green pockets for 0 and 00
Players will immediately notice that the numbers are not organized in any particular way except for the fact that red and black pockets alternate completely – whether you play American or European roulette, you will not find a wheel where two adjacent numbers have the same color. That is not all, however – low (1-18) and high (19-36) numbers also alternate as much as possible. Even and odd numbers are also distributed quite evenly. As we can see, the sequence of numbers is not random at all – the purpose of this arrangement is to make the wheel balanced and to make it look as random as possible:
- European/French wheel number 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 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
These sequences may be confusing but players do not need to know them – they simply need to understand the need for distributing the low/high, red/black, and even/odd numbers as evenly as possible on the wheel. Interestingly, the sum of all numbers is exactly 666, which is why the game was once known as the devil’s game. This is just one of the many curiosities of roulette and it only makes it more appealing to players.
Roulette Table Layout
As mentioned above, along with the wheel, the table layout is the other fundamental part of the game of roulette. Also called a betting layout or simply a layout, it includes all numbers from the roulette wheel (0-36). However, it was deliberately designed to differ completely from the arrangement we can see on the wheel. Here, the numbers are arranged consecutively in contrast to the roulette wheel, where they appear random, although, as we have shown, this is not the case at all.
The main section of the layout consists of the numbered grid, which is rectangular and has 3 columns and 12 rows for the numbers from 1 to 36. The 0 and 00 can be found on top of this main grid. On the bottom, there are 3 squares below each of the three columns. There are also several betting areas beside the main grid – there, we can see sections for the low and high numbers, for red and black numbers, as well for odd and even numbers. Additionally, there are three areas for the first (1-12), second (13-24), and third (25-36) dozens of numbers.
Many players structure their bets based on this table layout – for instance, they bet on the numbers 1 and 2, which are neighboring numbers on this grid. In reality, they are on opposite sides of the wheel. While this does not matter when playing virtual roulette in an online casino, it is an essential part of the playing strategy in a physical roulette game.
Those who wish to place their bets based on the number arrangement on the wheel can do so using the so-called racetrack layout. It is an addition to the main table layout and is not found in all variations of roulette. Its name derives from its oval, stadium-like shape. The interesting thing is that the racetrack is a graphical representation of the number arrangement on the wheel so players can bet on actual sections of the wheel rather than on a group of numbers that are not placed close to each other on the wheel.
Similarly to the main betting layout, the racetrack is divided into several sections, each corresponding to a specific type of bet. These include the Voisins du zéro, Le tiers du cylindre, Jeu zéro, and Orphelins, four types of bets that are usually found in French or European roulette. We will discuss them, however, in one of the following sections of this article.
Object and Rules of the Game
The object of the game is really simple and straightforward – to correctly predict where the ball will land after the wheel stops turning. As you can imagine, this is easier said than done, especially when we play virtual roulette. In comparison, when playing the physical, real-life game, professional gamblers can spot different irregularities in the wheel due to wear and tear. Based on them, they can see how and whether the wheel is biased in any way and whether some sections and numbers are actually more likely to be hit.
When it comes to virtual online roulette, however, the outcome of every spin is random and cannot be predicted as guaranteed by the use of a special piece of software called Random Number Generator (RNG). Once players place their chips on the table, they need to press the Spin button and the computer will determine the winning number. The outcome is not influenced by the past or future spins – every time, players get 1 winning number and 36 losing numbers (or 37 losing numbers in American, double-zero roulette).
If players have successfully guessed the winning number or groups of numbers, they win and receive a payout that is a multiple of their original stake. Each type of bet has a different payout but the general rule is that bets, which are more likely to win, come with a lower payout. The more unlikely an outcome, the higher the potential reward.
For instance, the Red sector on the betting layout pays evenly – 1 to 1, which is sometimes displayed as 1:1 or even 2:1 since we receive our original bet plus 1 unit. At the same time, this bet is very likely to win since there are 18 red numbers on the wheel. The chances for hitting the number 5 are much lower – 1 out of 37, which is why the payout is much more attractive at 35:1
Bets and Payouts
One of the most important aspects of roulette play is betting and the reason for this is quite simple – choosing the right type of bet may increase your chances of winning the game. As we have demonstrated in the example above, some bets have a higher probability of winning than others. This is why players should learn the basic types of bets before they start playing roulette for real money.
Moreover, many roulette players prefer combining several bets to ensure more coverage of the betting layout. Even the best betting strategy, however, cannot change the odds of the game. In other words, it is impossible to gain an advantage over the casino. Understanding the types of bets and their respective payouts, on the other hand, is fundamental for assessing the value of each bet and its expected return.
Outside bets are probably the most popular bets in the game since they bring lower risk. Typically, they have better odds at winning but their payouts are low. To place any of these bets, players need to put their chips in the areas outside of the main numbered grid on the table, hence the name “outside” bets.
Although these wagers include large groups of numbers, they all lose if the ball lands on 0 or 00. The zeros are neither red, nor black, neither low nor high, neither even nor odd, and they do not fall under any of the 3 dozens or 3 columns of numbers. For this reason, they are known as casino numbers, the numbers that provide the casino with an edge over its patrons.
- Red/Black – Each of these two bets covers 18 numbers and pays 1:1.
- Low/High – Once again, there are 18 low and 18 high numbers – from 1 to 18 and from 19 to 36, respectively. The payout is 1:1.
- Even/Odd – Players may also choose to bet on all even (2, 4, 6…) or all odd (1, 3, 5…) numbers. Each bet includes 18 numbers and pays 1:1.
- Dozens – There are 3 dozens numbers and players can bet on the first (1-12), second (13-24) or third (25-36) 12 numbers on the layout. The payout is 2:1.
- Columns – There are also 3 betting areas for the 3 columns of numbers on the layout. Each bet pays 2:1.
Inside bets are those bets placed inside the numbered grid on the table layout. They cover fewer numbers, which is why their odds of winning are lower and the payouts – higher. While with outside bets, we put the chips in the corresponding squares on the layout, the chips here can be placed in the middle of two or more betting areas.
- Straight – This is a bet on a single number and it pays 35:1.
- Split – The split is a bet on 2 adjacent numbers on the main layout – for instance, we can bet on 1 and 2 or 1 and 4. The payout is 17:1.
- Street – The bet covers any 3 numbers in a row and pays 11:1.
- Square (Corner) – With this bet, we wager on any 4 neighboring numbers make a square. The payout is 8:1.
- Six Line (Double Street) – The line bet is also known as a double street because it covers two street bets, i.e. two rows of 6 numbers in total. It pays 5:1.
- Top Line (Basket) – This is a bet that involves the first 4 or 5 numbers from the layout, depending on whether we play American or European roulette. In single-zero games, it covers 0-1-2-3 and pays 8:1, while in double-zero versions, it is a bet on 0-00-1-2-3 and pays 6:1
The other category of bets is the so-called Called or Announced Bets. Although technically, there is a difference between the two terms, they are used as synonyms in online roulette, as well as in many land-based casinos. Often, these bets are also known as French bets since their names are usually displayed in French and are typical for European and French-style roulette. Many virtual American roulette variations would also allow Announced Bets.
The most important thing about these wagers is that unlike standard inside and outside bets, they are not placed on the main table layout but the racetrack. Furthermore, they allow players to bet on sections of the wheel rather than on numbers that are in numerical order. The French bets also give players a great opportunity to cover many numbers with just one bet – this way, they increase their odds of winning without having to invest too much.
Note that we are focusing on Announced bets in single-zero roulette. When it comes to American roulette, the bets, as well as their payouts differ. There is an additional rule for the minimum stake that can be wagered on these bets – usually, players will need to put at least 3 or 4 chips on the table to make these bets. It is important to remember that typically, these are combination bets and the casino pays only for the winning bet, not for the combination itself.
- Voisins du zéro – This bet translates as the “neighbors of zero” and this is practically what it is – the 17 numbers around the zero on the wheel, including the zero itself. The minimum wager is 9 chips – 2 chips on 0-2-3; 1 chip on each of the splits 4-7, 12-15, 18-21, 19-22, and 32-35; and 2 chips on the corner 25-26-28-29.
- Le tiers du cylindre – The name of this bet refers to one third of the wheel and the wager covers the sector just opposite to the Voisins. It includes 12 numbers and requires 6 chips to be wagered on the following numbers – 27-13-36-11-30-8-23-10-5-24-16-33.
- Orphelins – The name of this bet translates as “the orphans” and covers the two small sectors of the wheel that have not been included in the Voisins and the Tiers bets. The Orphelins covers 8 numbers and can be made by placing 5 chips on the following bets – 1 chip straight-up on 1, as well as 1 chip of each of the splits 6-9, 14-17, 17-20, and 31-34.
- Jeu zéro – The zero game, as this bet means in English, is a bet on 5 numbers – the 0 and the four numbers located around it on the wheel. In total, the bet covers 12-35-3-26-0-32-15 and requires 4 chips to be placed on the table.
- Final Bets – Final bets are bets on numbers that have the same final digit – final 0 is a 4-chip bet on 0-10-20-30; final 1 is also a 4-chip bet on 1-11-21-31. Some casinos offer two types of finals – these, referred to as Finales en Plein, as well as Finales a Cheval, which combine two final digits. An example would be Finales a Cheval on 7 and 8, which is a bet on 7-8-17-18-27-28
- Neighbors – Neighbors are 5-chip bets on any particular number and the four neighboring numbers on the wheel such as 19 and its neighbors 4, 15, 21, and 32.
Before starting a real-money game, casino patrons should always take the betting limits into account. Depending on the type of casino, the variation of roulette, and sometimes, even the VIP status of the player, the minimum and maximum stakes will differ. This is extremely important since players with a bankroll of $100 would not be able to play even a few spins if the table minimum is $50. It is recommended to bet a maximum of 1%-2% of your bankroll on a single round. So, those with a bankroll of only $100 should not wager more than $2 per spin.
Many online casinos offer their patrons minimum stakes of $1 but the limits will vary from one casino to the next. There are also low-limit tables with bets from $1 to $10 per spin and high-limit tables with stakes from $50 to $500 per spin. Most casinos use a progressive model to determine the maximum bet amounts for each type of bet. If, for example, the casino accepts straight bets up to $250, the maximum stake on splits would be $500 (2x). The max bet allowed on a street will be $750 (3x), on a corner bet – $1,000 (4x), on a six line – $1,500 (6x), on dozens and columns – $1,750 (7x), and on low/high, even/odd, and red-black – $2,000 (8x).
Additional Roulette Rules
There are several additional rules that can be found in some variations of roulette. Three of them, called Surrender, En Prison, and La Partage, are specifically tied to situations when the 0 or 00 wins. However, these rules are not always offered by casinos – they are especially rare in online versions of roulette. Since they reduce the house edge, they are quite popular among professional and advantage players.
||Probabilities of Winning
||Probabilities of Losing
||Probabilities of Push
“La Partage” Rule
“En Prison” Rule
The Surrender rule can be found in American-style roulette games and it triggers when the ball lands on 0 or 00. Players who have placed the so-called “even-money” outside bets (red/black, low/high, even/odd) will lose only half their stake. The mathematical advantage of the casino, or the house edge, is cut from 5.26% to 2.63%.
“La Partage” Rule
Le Partage is practically the same rule as Surrender but it applies to European roulette and mostly, to games in UK casinos. The rule triggers automatically when the ball falls on 0 and it reduces the house edge from 2.70% to 1.35% for all even-money outside bets.
“En Prison” Rule
The En Prison is a variation of the La Partage rule and it can be found in some French-style roulette games. Once again, the rule applies when a player has placed an even-money bet but the ball lands on 0. In this case, the player has two options – to surrender half of the bet as in the other rules explained above or to let the entire bet “be imprisoned” for the next spin of the wheel.
The second option is interesting – the chips remain on the same square and if the bet wins in the second spin, the player is allowed to collect his or her winnings. If the bet loses, however, its entire amount is surrendered to the casino. Once again, games that apply the En Prison rule have a lower house edge at 1.35%.