One of the reasons that roulette has remained as popular as it has is down to the simplicity of the game. It’s an accessible casino game that players of all abilities can enjoy and it is wholly based on chance, which means that strategy is not necessary.
The main problem that new players run into is understanding what the different sections of the board mean and how they work in terms of payouts. Whilst there are several different roulette variants, once you grasp the basics, you’re going to be able to work out how to play pretty much any other variation.
The chances are that you already know at least some of the basics; it’s as simple as placing your chips on the felt and if the ball lands on your number/colour/third or half, then you win.
Sequence of Events
All variations of the game will follow the same steps even if the rules differ ever so slightly:
- Choose the number, combination of numbers, or area of the board that you want to bet on. When playing online you need to click the screen the do this.
- Each section of the board will pay out at different odds relative to the chances of the ball landing on a number contained there.
- The dealer sets the ball spinning and will eventually land on a number from 0-36.
- If your chips are either on that number or cover sections of the board that include the winning number, then your bet wins.
That’s literally all there is to it. It only takes a handful of spins to get the hang of but it’s incredibly exciting as you wait for the ball to land. Cheap thrills, some might say, but casino players obviously enjoy it or it wouldn’t be so readily available.
Learning the Board
It’s imperative that you become accustomed with a roulette board as soon as you can, so that you can think fast when betting and follow what is going on.
The numbers run from 0 to 36. These are the base numbers for the game and you can select any of them to bet on individually. You can also click on the split (the dividing line) to bet on two numbers with one chip, or the corner where the lines cross each other to choose four numbers. Choosing multiple numbers come at reduced odds, so it’s important to place your chips carefully to avoid confusion.
The bottom row of the table includes your split bets. These are low/high (1 to 18 and 19 to 36), odd/even, and red/black. These are probably the most common bet types and where most money is spent, because the odds are as close to 50/50 as you can get.
On the row dividing the splits and the numbers you have the dozen/third columns which each cover 12 numbers; 1-12, 13-24 and 25-36. You will also notice at the bottom of the table (right of the image) you see three columns named 2 to 1, and these are the exact same thing except they split the board into thirds lengthways instead.
Lastly, the zero. This can only be bet on as an individual number and is not included in any of the split bets or dozen/third bets. The zero gives the house its edge, and if you play American roulette there will be two of them, the second being a double zero.
Roulette Odds and Chances of Winning
Whilst the table might look fairly straightforward, you might notice a few extra combinations in there.
For example, a 3 number bet is placed by putting your chip on the bottom edge of a row of three, while a 6 number bet is placed in the same way but the chip should also cover the vertical line that divides the two rows. The odds will shorten for each.
The table below includes all the bet types and their respective odds, including the chances of winning. Note that American tables have an added ‘00’ on the wheel which explains the different percentages:
|Red / Black||1:1||48.65%||47.37%|
|Even / Odd||1:1||48.65%||47.37%|
|Low / High||1:1||48.65%||47.37%|
|5 Number Bet||6:1||n/a*||13.16%|
*The 5 number is only available in American roulette and covers the 0, the double 0, 1, 2, and 3.
House edge is basically the percentage that the house will theoretically take over a significant number of hands (spins), and by significant we are talking millions. It’s worth noting that the house edge for roulette is pretty high compared to other casino games.
European and French roulette have a house edge of 2.70% whereas American roulette, with that additional ‘00’, puts the house edge at 5.26%.
So, what does that mean?
Well, in simplified terms, for every £1 that is wagered on a roulette the casino would see a net win of 2.7p, which is 2.70% of £1. For every £100 spent they would see £2.70, and so on. Obviously the bigger the house edge the more money they make and the more this ‘game of chance’ favours the casino over the player.
You may be looking at the roulette table and wondering how they achieve an edge, but the edge comes from the odds that they set you. Look at the pricing for a red/black bet, this pays out at 1:1, which is even money. This would be 50/50 if there were only two outcomes, but the inclusion of the ‘0’ – which is actually green – means that there are actually three possible colours not two. This makes the probability of the ball landing on a red/black number only 48.65%, leaving a little room for the casino to secure their success. This is known as the house edge.
Placing a Bet
Once you’re familiar with the board and the payouts on offer, it’s time to actually place your bet. This is very simple process. You first need to choose your stake using the coins/chips of varying amounts. These are found at the bottom of the table.
Instead of placing the chips by hand as you would in a real casino, just click the area that you want to bet on when playing online. If you click an area by mistake, just click the undo button at the bottom of the table next to your chips.
Once you’ve placed your bets, your table should identify how much you’ve bet, and you can see the chips on the table. In this case we have staked £150 in bets from our bankroll of £1000 – 50 on black, £50 on number 23, and £50 on number 25 (those 25 chips are double stacked).
Next, we click the spin button in the bottom right hand corner. Once you do this the ball will start spinning in the wheel, and as the ball lands you will be notified of the result and whether any of your selections have won.
The result of our bet was number 4, Black.
So our first bet won on Black but lost on both numbers. Our second bet below had a winner on Red, although at odds of 1:1 it wasn’t enough to cover everything we bet during that hand. We bet £175 and won £50.
You will notice that on the right-hand side of the screen is a board with the number 4 in it. Well, this is the history board that indicates the previous ten or so results on that table. This allows you to see any streaks and how the ball has landed so far.
Basic Roulette Strategy
As roulette is a game of chance, applying an effective strategy is tough. Sticking to European roulette is a good tip given the lower house edge over American roulette, but it isn’t a strategy.
The Martingale system is probably the strategy that people have achieved most success with, although it is still flawed.
The concept is to start with a small wager on a 1:1 payout bet like red/black, and then if it loses you keep doubling your stake until you win. This means that you can win small and often given the likelihood of hitting a 1:1 shot.
The downside of this is that eventually you will hit losing runs that exceed your bankroll or the table limit. Roulette tables have limits for a reason, meaning that you can only double your bet so many times before you are capped out, even if you have a bankroll to support it.
It takes fewer losing hands than you might think to get there. For example, it only takes 7 losses before you are at £640 stakes if you start with a £5 bet; £5 x 2 = £10 x 2 = £20 x 2 = £40 x 2 = £80 x 2 = £160 x 2 = £320 x 2 = £640. At a table with a £500 limit you would have lost £635 by this point – which is the sum of those 7 bets – and would not be allowed to double any further.