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.
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.
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.
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Does the number of pockets on the roulette wheel always affect the house edge of the game?
Yes, but there are other factors to consider as well. While there are many things that will have an effect on the house edge of the roulette game you are betting on, one of the most important rules that will affect the casino’s advantage over the player is the number of pockets on the roulette wheel.
The easiest way to explain this is to compare the European wheel and the American wheel. With just one 0-pocket on the wheel, the total number of pockets on the European wheel is 37. Add another double-zero pocket to the wheel and you will get the American wheel with 38 pockets. The house edge of European roulette is 2.7%, while American roulette increases the risk with an additional number on the wheel, raising the house edge to 5.26%.
If you play online, you may come across wheels with even more numbers like Roulette Diamond by 1×2 Gaming. In that case, however, the higher payouts for certain bets offset the heightened risk of getting more numbers on the wheel, making the house edge 2.44%.
Is playing regular European roulette and progressive European roulette the same?
It depends on the way you play both games. While both the non-progressive and progressive European roulette variants will have the same wheel, bet types, and payouts, the non-progressive variant will have a lower house edge. The reason for that is the additional progressive jackpot side bet that players may place if they wish to play for the chance to win the constantly increasing special prize of the game. That said, if players decide to play the progressive version of European roulette without making the special side bet, there will be no difference between the two variants of the game.
Can I play other roulette variations if I am only familiar with the rules of European roulette?
Generally speaking, yes. If you are only aware of the rules of European roulette, you can also play other variations of the game as all roulette options share a lot of similarities. That is most true, however, if you are a recreational player and you mostly care about the entertainment element rather than playing with the most beneficial rules in the long run. If you, however, wish to always play a game that has the best potential for a long-term return, we suggest learning the rules of every roulette version before you start playing for real money. The good news is that there are not so many differences between all variants of the casino classic and you can easily learn how to spot the best roulette game to play.
Is the difference between playing European roulette and French roulette huge?
Yet again, it depends on what you expect from your online roulette gaming sessions. If you are simply playing for fun, you will not spot a huge difference between the two games other than the design of the French table, with bet types written in French instead of English. The roulette wheel will still have a single zero and the payouts for bet types will be identical. However, if you are considering playing with a bigger advantage, French roulette will offer you a slight tilt of the scales in your favor. Thanks to the “la partage” rule included in French roulette, players are given the opportunity to receive half of their bet if the ball lands on 0. In that case, the house edge is reduced to 1.35%, which is definitely something to consider when choosing which version of roulette to play.
Does it matter if the “en prison” rule is available in French roulette?
While the “en prison” rule is very similar to the “la partage” advantage, there is a slight difference between the two options. If you play with the “la partage” rule, it is automatically applied to your even-money outside bets whenever the ball lands on 0. Then, the house edge is reduced and you are given half of your bet. If you play with the “en prison” rule, you are given the choice of whether to make use of that type of advantage when the ball lands on 0. That means that you can choose to either receive half of your even-money bet or you can choose to keep it “imprisoned” for the next spin of the wheel. The second option will keep your bet on the same number and will allow you to get your win if your guess was correct. If the ball lands on another number, however, you lose your entire “imprisoned” bet. As you can see, the difference between the two rules is that the “en prison” option allows you to decide whether to reduce the house edge to 1.35% yet again and minimize your losses or play riskier for a higher potential payout on the next spin.