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Roulette is one of the oldest and most popular games to ever appear on a casino floor. The spinning wheel and the little white ball have been dancing together for centuries and continue to dominate even at the virtual tables of modern online casinos. In fact, modern technology has allowed the game to evolve in ways that couldn’t be imagined just 15 or 20 years ago. As the most popular “live dealer” online casino game, people from all over the world can now play alongside one another at the same virtual table, enjoying the thrills and excitement of this classic and elegant game of chance.
If you’ve never experienced roulette, it can seem complicated and intimidating, but the truth is that it’s an easy game to learn. What’s more, with both single-player and live multiplayer games running 24 hours a day online, it’s never been easier to learn and play roulette. You can play whenever you like, from wherever you like, even on mobile devices like your phone. Online roulette games also have the added benefit of letting you play for much lower minimum bets — or even for free — so that you don’t have to risk much while you’re learning how everything works.
So if you’ve been thinking about playing roulette, online or off, let us show you the basics — and even some of the not-so-basics — so that you can make the most of your time at the roulette table. From etiquette at the table to an explanation of what you can bet on and how to do it, and even some simple strategies, we’ll show you what the game of roulette is all about.
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European And American Roulette Wheels
The most basic thing you need to understand about roulette is that there are two different types of wheels used. You may see only one in a particular casino or you may see a mix of both. One type is called a European or French wheel, the other is called an American wheel.
There is a very subtle but important difference between the two wheels. Both wheels have 36 numbers coloured red and black plus a green zero. On the American wheel, however, there is an additional green space numbered with a double zero.
The presence of the double zero space on the American wheel nearly doubles the house edge on roulette. Playing on a European wheel the house edge is 2.63%. With the double zero on the American wheel, the house edge jumps to 5.26%.
The point we’re trying to make here, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, is that you should always play on a European roulette wheel if at all possible. You’ll be able to identify an American table easily in a live environment by the presence of two green spaces on the wheel. When playing online, any roulette game should clearly state whether it uses the European or American version of the wheel.
The Roulette Table Layout
All roulette tables are laid out the same way. The betting surface contains a grid consisting of all the numbers on the wheel. The numbers are arranged in three columns with 12 numbers in each with the 0 and 00 placed at the top (or bottom depending on how you look at it) of the columns. All wagers placed on this portion of the table are called “inside bets”.
To the side of the numbered grid, there are several different boxes that allow you to bet on the more general characteristics of the wheel such as black or red, odd or even, or even groups of numbers like the first, second, and third dozen. All of these wagers are referred to as “outside bets”.
Chips At The Roulette Table
Some parts of this section don’t really apply to playing roulette online since everything is automatically handled for you, but if you ever plan to play in a brick and mortar casino, you’ll need to know how to handle your chips.
The roulette table always uses its own chips, and each player at the table will get his or her own coloured chips. To be clear, this means that you won’t be able to play roulette with the regular casino chips you use at other games. You’ll need to exchange them for roulette chips with the croupier at the table and then exchange your chips again when you’re done playing.
To avoid confusion, each player receives chips with a unique colour. This allows different players to place the same bets without making things difficult to keep track of. In fact, if several people all want to bet on a small space, like a single number, for example, it’s perfectly fine to place your chips right on top of someone else’s to make your bet.
Minimum bets also work a bit different than you might expect at a roulette table. At most casinos when placing an outside bet, your bet must meet the table minimum, but when placing inside bets, only your total bets must meet the minimum. For example, if you were betting on black (an outside bet) at a table with a £5 minimum, you would need to bet at least £5. If, however, you wanted to place five inside bets on individual numbers, you could place £1 on each of them. You aren’t required to bet £5 on each number as long as the total inside bet amount meets the table minimum.
Types Of Inside Bets
As was stated above, any bet on the grid of numbers on the roulette table is called an inside bet. That doesn’t mean that an inside bet is limited to betting on just a single number, however. Let’s look at the various type of inside bets and the payouts they award if your wager wins.
A straight bet is a bet on a single number on the roulette wheel. The player can bet on any number including zero or double zero. The payout for a win is 35 to 1.
A split bet is a wager made on two numbers. Place your chip(s) on the line between two numbers make a split bet. The payout for a win is 17 to 1.
A street bet, also referred to as a line bet, is a bet placed on the three numbers within a row (a street). To make this bet, place your chip(s) on the line that separates the the inside and outside bets on the street you want to bet. The payout for a win is 11 to 1.
A corner or quad bet is a wager on four numbers. To place this bet, simply place your chip(s) where the four corners of the numbers you want to bet on meet. The payout for a win is 8 to 1.
The basket bet is a wager on the numbers one, two, and three, plus the the zero and double zero. This bet has a house edge of 7.89%, which makes it the worst bet you can make at a roulette table. That payout for a win is 6 to 1.
Double Street Bet
A double street bet is a wager on the six numbers within two rows (two streets). To make this bet, place your chip(s) on the line that separates the inside and outside bets where the corners of the two streets meet. The payout for a win is 5 to 1.
Types Of Outside Bets
The outside bets you can make at a roulette table are all fairly straightforward. They will all be clearly labelled and pretty much self-explanatory.
Red or Black
This is a wager that the result of the spin will be either a red number or a black number. If the ball lands on 0 or 00, which are both green, your bet loses. The payout for a win is 1 to 1.
Odd or Even
This is a wager that the result of the spin will be either an odd number or an even number. If the ball lands on 0 or 00, which are neither odd nor even, your bet loses. The payout for a win is 1 to 1.
High or Low
This is a simple wager on the result of the spin being between either 1 and 18 or 19 and 36. A result of 0 or 00 is, of course, a loss. The payout for a win is 1 to 1.
There are three dozens bets available on the table. Each is a wager that the result of the spin will be a number between 1 and 12, 13 and 24, or 25 and 36. Again, if the result is 0 or 00, your bet loses. The payout for a win is 2 to 1.
The column bet is similar to a dozen bet in that it is a wager on 12 numbers, but rather than betting on the numbers in order, it is a bet on all of the numbers in one of the three columns within the grid, which increase in increments of three. Of course, as above, a result of 0 or 00 is an automatic loss. The payout for a win is 2 to 1.
There is an inherent house edge in roulette that no strategy is going to beat without a bit of pure luck. There are, however, some playing strategies that will help increase your chances of walking away a winner as opposed to just placing random bets on each spin. They can also help you to extend your time at the tables and allow you to get more enjoyment out of the game. Following are just a few.
Note: No strategy or “system” has ever been proven to beat roulette 100% of the time. You should fully research any strategy you plan to use before implementing it at a real-money table. Progressive betting strategies, especially, can lead to very large losses if you don’t fully understand what you are doing.
The Martingale Method
The Martingale Method is probably the oldest and most well-known progressive betting gambling strategy. It most often comes up in discussions concerning roulette but is also employed by gamblers in many other games.
This strategy is quite simple. The player starts betting on one of the even money bets (red/black odd/even) with a decided upon amount — usually the table minimum — and doubles the bet after each loss. When a wager wins, the betting level returns to the initial amount. The idea is that by doubling the bet after each loss, any win will recover all of the previous losses.
There is no trick, and this method is mathematically sound. The problem, however, is that the size of the bet needed to recover losses after a streak of losing bets can increase extremely rapidly causing the player to either run out of money, or come up against the table’s maximum bet, both of which, obviously, prevent doubling the bet again.
To put it in perspective, if you start with an initial bet of £10 and lose seven bets in a row, this system would require you to bet £1280 on the next spin in order to continue. It may seem like betting on red and losing seven times in a row is highly improbable, but it can and will happen more often than you might think.
The D’Alembert Strategy
The D’Alembert Strategy works in a similar fashion but takes a more conservative approach to bet progression. It’s also designed to be implemented on even-money bets but with this strategy, instead of doubling your bet after a loss, you would add one “unit” to the bet after each loss and subtract one after each win.
So let’s say that we start betting with £1. If we lose a bet we’ll increase to £2. In case we lose again we’ll go to £3, and so on. And If we made a bet of £ 4 and won, our next bet would be £3. On another win, we’d move down to £2.
This strategy can easily show a profit when your luck is quickly going back and forth. If you’re winning two and losing three, then winning three and losing two, the D’Alembert Strategy will keep your bankroll pretty stable.
The downside to this strategy is that if you hit a streak of losing bets all in a row, you’re going to need a fair streak of wins in order to recover your losses. Since the betting progression is more conservative, though, you’re not as likely to suffer catastrophic losses as you are with the Martingale Method.
The James Bond Strategy
This strategy gets its name because it was supposedly invented by Ian Flemming, the author of the James Bond series of books and movies. It might seem a bit more complicated, but it employs a very specific series of bets that can be easily memorized.
To use this strategy, you will start with a total £200 (You can adjust the amount up or down to fit your bankroll as long as you keep the following ratios the same). You will place one bet for £140 on the high numbers (19-36). Place a second bet of £50 on the six numbers 13-18 as a double street bet. And finally, place a bet for £10 on 0. The payoff is as follows:
- If the 1 to 1 bet wins, you profit £80.
- In case the double street bet wins, you profit £100.
- Or, if the 0 bet wins, you profit £160.
If you are unlucky and the result is 1 through 12, repeat the process using the martingale method to double up bets and recover losses. For more info about roulette strategy, you can always visit our special guide with 3 Roulette Strategies To Stretch Your Bankroll.
Practice Your Play And Check Back For More
So by now, you should understand the basics of how roulette works, how to place your bets, and what kind of payouts you can expect when you win. We even threw in a few simple betting strategies.
So go ahead and practice your play at your favourite online casino. If you’re not sure where to find the best online casinos to play roulette, we have plenty of researched and reviewed suggestions available.
Check back soon for more detailed strategies that will help you get the most out of your bankroll at the roulette table!
Cheers and good luck!