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How to Play Roulette

How To Play Roulette

Ask anyone what comes to mind when they think of casino games, and roulette will almost always come up as one of the answers. Roulette continues to be an icon of Canadian casinos to this day, remaining ever popular over its long history thanks in part to being one of the easiest casino games to pick up and play.

So you want to find a roulette casino, but how do you play the game? In this guide, we’ll be teaching you all of the ins and outs of roulette so you can roll with the regulars the next time you step up to the table.

Updated by Ralph Trayfalgar

What is the History of Roulette?

Like most casino games, the details surrounding the origins of roulette have been lost to time which makes it difficult to fully verify it’s history. However, there are a few key points in its history that are generally accepted to be true.

For one, most sources agree that roulette is likely to have been adapted from an earlier gambling game in Italy called biribissi. This game involved punters staking on a board of numbers from 1 to 70, from which winners are paid out based on who staked on the numbered ticket that a banker pulls out of a bag.

Roulette as we know it today, though, would be played in France sometime in the 18th century. (France would also be where we could get the game roulette, which means “little wheel” in French). This version of the game adapted the board used in biribissi to fit 37 numbers and incorporated the use of a ball and roulette wheel to help ensure the randomness of the spins. 

Arguably the most interesting part of this game’s history is the origin of the roulette wheel. It is generally accepted that the roulette wheel was accidentally invented by mathematician Blaise Pascal (after whom Pascal’s Triangle was named) in his attempts to create a perpetual motion machine. And although he failed to create his dream machine that produced infinite energy, we were at least able to get one of the most entertaining casino games out of it.

Roulette wheel 1

How Do I Play Roulette?

Roulette is well-known and well-loved for its simplicity. In fact, being one of the easiest casino games to learn is one of the main reasons why the game is still so popular today.

So how do you play roulette?

In short, roulette is a game about betting on which number of the roulette wheel the ball will land on. At the start of every round, each player is given time to place their bets on the table layout with a corresponding amount of chips. (Unlike poker games, roulette chips only have a single denomination, and each player gets a specific colour of chips to make them easy to track and collect at the end of each round.)

When players have finished placing their bets at a live roulette game, the croupier or dealer spins the roulette wheel in one direction and spins the ball onto the outside track in the opposite direction. When the ball loses its speed, it then starts to fall towards the middle, eventually landing in one of the roulette wheel’s slots, which has a corresponding number and colour. Whoever has a bet on the winning number before the spin receives a payout.

To win a round of roulette, it isn’t actually necessary to bet specifically on the winning number; the game has other bets that allow players to cover a wider range of numbers. This increases their chances of landing a winning number, but at the cost of a lower payout. 

Can I Play Roulette Online?

In recent years, the realm of casino games (roulette included) has shifted from the physical to the digital. These online In recent years, the realm of casino games (roulette included) has shifted from the physical to digital, so you can play roulette online. These live online casinos and casino games have become quite the popular attraction for casual and professional gamblers alike. But what makes them preferable to playing in a land-based casino? Here are some of the most important reasons we could think of:

  1. Online roulette is convenient. When playing roulette online, you won’t ever have to deal with any of the stresses that come with playing at a physical venue. No more worrying about dress codes, etiquette, or trying to find your way back to your hotel after a long night—you can play online roulette at your own pace, at your own time, and on your own terms.
  1. Online roulette is portable. Thanks to the rise of mobile casino sites and mobile apps, you can now take your roulette game just about anywhere. All you need is a smartphone or a tablet and a good enough internet connection, and you’re off to the races.
  1. Online roulette is easy. While roulette isn’t necessarily a difficult game to play, playing the game online is a lot easier to interact with since all of the bets available to you can be placed with just a few clicks. And if you are ever stumped on what some bets do, all of the resources and references you could ever need are just an internet search away. 

Of course, that’s not to say that online roulette is 100% better than its offline counterpart. One area in particular in which offline roulette still holds the edge is in the holistic sensory experience of being in an actual casino. Even with the latest technologies from live gaming powerhouses like Evolution Gaming, not even the best online casino could replicate the combination of sights, smells, sounds, and surfaces of the real deal.

Are there different variations of Roulette?

Yes, there are different variations of roulette and there’s quite a bit more to roulette under the surface than simply placing chips down and watching the wheel go round, especially if you’re playing to win. For one, some casinos can introduce certain variations into their roulette games to add a bit more interest into the gameplay. Here are a few examples of variations you may encounter when playing roulette:

Layout Variations

The layout is the grid printed on the roulette table that keeps track of what bets have been and can be placed. While there can be some casinos out there that offer their own spin on roulette, we will be focusing on the two most common ones for this guide: the European and the American version.

European roulette table

European roulette table layout

European roulette games are arguably the most common and popular of the three, and is what we will be using to explain the mechanics of betting in roulette. As you can see in the diagram above, the European table has 37 numbers on the board from 0 to 36. On the roulette wheel, each of the numbers 1 to 36 have a black or red colour attached to them, while 0 is marked green.

American roulette table

American roulette table layout

American roulette, as the name suggests, is the variant of roulette that’s most popular in US casinos, particularly Vegas. Their table layout is practically identical to the European table, save for the inclusion of a 00 number into the game, giving the table 38 numbers in all. This small addition changes the odds of winning quite significantly, as we will explain later.

Rule Variations

Other roulette variations don’t involve physical changes to the roulette table, but instead add certain mechanics that are handled by the croupier during gameplay. Some examples include:

  1. En Prison rule

    This rule, which is most commonly played in roulette games in France, gives you the chance to recover your money if you lose an even money bet (high/low, even/odd, or red/black) when the roulette spin lands on zero. When this happens, your lost bet is marked as *en prison*, and is kept where it is for the next spin. If the *en prison* bet wins the next spin, you recover your lost bet.

  2. La Partage rule

    This rule is similar to the en prison rule in that it applies when you lose an even money bet on a zero spin. Unlike the en prison rule, though, the la partage rule only returns half of the bet you lost, but on the flip side, half of your bet will always be returned to you without needing to win the next spin.

  3. Call bets

    Some roulette games allow you to place an additional subset of bets which are not marked on the table layout. These call bets provide players with more interesting betting options, as we will explain in more detail in the next section.

What are the Bets on Roulette?

All of the player’s interactions in roulette revolves around the betting. As such, part of the formula to win a game of roulette is to know what to bet and when. 

With so many kinds of bets you can place in roulette, it is important to understand roulette odds.  An easy way to think about this is to divide numbers into categories. These categories are called inside bets and outside bets, with some casinos offering additional call bets which we touched on earlier. With that out of the way, here are all of roulette’s many bet types, all in a handy little table for quick reference:

Bet NameWinning NumbersPayout
Single / Straight-Up135 to 1
Split217 to 1
Street311 to 1
Trio311 to 1
Corner / Square48 to 1
Basket4 (E)5 (A)8 to 1 (E)6 to 1 (A)
Line / Double Street65 to 1
Green1 (E)2 (A)35 to 1 (E) 17 to 1 (A)
Column122 to 1
Dozen122 to 1
Even / Odd181 to 1
High / Low181 to 1
Colour181 to 1
Neighbours of zero171 Trio 1 Corner5 Splits
Third of the wheel126 Splits
Zero game71 Straight-up3 Splits
Orphans91 Straight-up 4 Splits
Neighbours55 Straight-ups
Finales3 or 43 or 4 Straight-ups

Note: (E) indicates a European table; (A) indicates an American table.

Inside bets

The following bets are so named because the chips are placed inside the number grid on the table layout:

  1. Straight-up bets

    Wager on a single number on the layout, and are indicated with chips placed on top of the selected number.

  2. Split bets

    Wager on two adjacent numbers on the grid, which can be horizontal (as in 1-2) or vertical (4-7). These bets are indicated by placing chips in between the two selected numbers.

  3. Street bets

    Wager on three numbers in one of the 12 rows of the grid, such as 10-11-12. These bets are indicated by placing chips on the left edge of the leftmost number on the row, and pay out 11 to 1 when they win.

  4. Trio bets

    Wager on three numbers that include a 0 (or a 00 in the American layout), which means these bets are limited to 0-1-2 and 0-2-3 in the European layout, and 0-1-2 and 00-2-3 in the American layout. These bets are indicated by placing chips on the intersection of the three numbers of choice.

  5. Square bets

    Wager on four adjacent numbers arranged in a square on the grid, such as 14-15-17-18. These bets are indicated by placing chips on the intersection of the four numbers of choice.

  6. Basket bets

    Wager on 1, 2, 3, and 0 (including 00 in the American layout), meaning that these bets wager on 4 or 5 numbers depending on the layout. They are indicated by placing chips on the left edge of the grid, between the 1-2-3 and zero rows.

  7. Double street bets

    Wager on two adjacent rows on the grid, which amounts to betting on 6 numbers in all. They are indicated by placing chips on the left edge of the grid between the two rows of the player’s choice.

  8. Green bets

    Wager on the green numbers on the grid—that is, 0 and 00. On the European layout, green bets are equivalent to straight-up bets, while American roulette games consider green bets equivalent to split bets.

Inside bets in roulette

Outside Bets

The following bets are named because the chips are placed on marked spaces outside of the main roulette grid.

  1. Column bets

    Wager on 12 numbers in one of the three columns of the grid.

  2. Dozen bets

    Wager on 12 numbers arranged in one of three sequences: 1 to 12, 13 to 24, and 25 to 36.

  3. Even / Odd bets

    Wager on 18 even or odd numbers on the main number grid and always exclude zeroes.

  4. High / Low bets

    Wager on 18 numbers arranged in either the 1 to 18 sequence (Low) or the 19 to 36 sequence (High).

  5. Colour bets

    Wager on 18 numbers on the grid that have either a red or a black colour attached to it.

Outside bet odds

Call bets

The following bets are not marked on the roulette table in any way, but are instead announced to the croupier to indicate that you have placed one of these bets.

  1. Voisins du zéro bets (“neighbours of zero”)

    Wager on 17 numbers on the roulette wheel between and including the numbers 22 and 25.

  2. Le tiers du cylindre bets (“third of the wheel”)

    Wager on 12 numbers of the roulette wheel between and including the numbers 27 and 33.

  3. Jeu zéro bets (“zero game”)

    Wager on 7 numbers on the roulette wheel between and including the numbers 12 and 15.

  4. Orphelins bets (“orphans”)

    Wager on 8 numbers on opposite sectors of the roulette wheel that are not included in voisins or tiers bets. These include the numbers on the wheel between 1 and 9 as well as the numbers between 17 and 6.

  5. Neighbours bets

    Wager on a specific number as well as four of its neighbouring numbers on the wheel.

  6. Maximum bets

    Place all of the possible inside bets that can be placed on and around a specific number.

Roulette wheel 2

Are there any tips for playing Roulette?

We’ll be up-front with you right now: there is no guaranteed winning strategy in roulette. No matter how convincing that “roulette expert” may be when describing his strategy with a “90% win rate”, none of it is guaranteed to be effective.

The reason for this is that the player has no influence on where the ball could land. Unlike blackjack, where players can make decisions on whether to hit or stand, roulette only allows players to place bets. With no way of making any outcome more or less likely, all that’s left is purely a game of chance.

That being said, we do still have a few tips and tricks on finding the best roulette strategy. These tips, again, aren’t guaranteed to win, but are still good rules of thumb that you can follow:

  1. Manage your bankroll. Casinos are businesses, and all businesses need to make money to stay afloat. To do this, casinos design their games with a statistical advantage—a little alteration in the winning odds or the payouts to ensure that the casino always earns money in the long run. Never is this more true than in roulette, which boasts a house edge of 2% to over 5% in some cases.
    Because the house edge makes it so that you will always lose money at the end of the day, a really important tip is to manage your bankroll in a way that allows you to play for as long as you want. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to only bet the minimum amount—you can always up the stakes if you really feel like it—but lowering your average bet amount will help make sure your session doesn’t end early.
  2. Take advantage of comps. Comps, short for “complimentary,” are bonus services and goodies being offered by the casino in exchange for playing their games longer. You can think of it like a loyalty rewards program. With rewards ranging from free meals and extra chips to hotel stays and event tickets, signing up for the casino’s comps system will add a cherry on top of your roulette sessions, win or lose.
  3. Have fun! Unless you are a professional gambler that makes a living off of playing casino games, then there is no reason to stress so much over leaving the game with more money than you started. (In fact, if you gamble for a living, you probably wouldn’t be playing roulette in the first place because of its house edge.) So the most valuable advice we can give is to just enjoy the thrill of the game as it is.

Spin to Win with Online Roulette

Surprisingly simple yet endlessly entertaining, roulette continues to be a staple among casinos in Canada and around the world. Whether you’re a casual player or a high-roller, there’s something to like in roulette for just about any player.

We hope that this roulette how-to-play guide has brought you up to speed on everything you need to know to play roulette. Everything we’ve shared in this guide applies to playing roulette online as well as offline, so feel free to take this knowledge with you to wherever the next roulette game happens to be. 

FAQ

How do you play the game of roulette?

To play roulette, all you have to do is to place your bets on the roulette table, watch the ball spin around the track until it lands in a slot on the wheel, and collect your winnings if your bet matches the winning number. That’s all there is to it!

What is the trick to win roulette?

Because roulette is designed to be a losing game, the only real trick to “win” roulette would be to manage your bankroll wisely. Good bankroll management helps minimise unnecessary losses, allowing you to play for longer, which is a win in our books.

What is the safest bet in roulette?

The safest bet you can make in roulette is arguably any one of the *even money bets*. These bets include the colour bets, the high/low bets, and the even/odd bets. 

The reason why these bets are so safe is that they take up 18 numbers on the board. This gives them a 48.65% chance of winning on the European table and a 47.37% chance of winning on the American table layout. 

Is roulette easy to play?

Roulette is one of the easiest, if not the easiest casino games to learn and play. And it’s not hard to see why—as all of the actual gameplay is handled by the dealer, the only thing you need to do is to place your bets on the table. It really is that easy.

What number hits the most in roulette?

We’ll say this right now: there is no such thing as a “most common number” in roulette. This is because the numbers all have equal probabilities of being landed on. 

The reason why this is so is pretty straightforward. We know that each of the 37 or 38 numbers on the grid have equally-sized slots on the roulette wheel and only appear on the wheel once. This means that each number has an equal probability or chance of being landed on by the ball in any given spin. When this is extrapolated into physical or statistical simulations, we will find that, given enough spins, the ball will have landed on all of the numbers of the roulette wheel an equal number of times.

What is the most successful roulette strategy?

As is the case in roulette probabilities, we can’t give advice on the “most successful roulette strategy” because, frankly, there isn’t any. We say this because players have no way to influence the outcomes of the game in their favour, unlike other casino games like blackjack and poker.

The reason for this is because of the way the game is designed. All of the numbers on the roulette table are given a single, equally-sized space on the roulette wheel. This, along with the difficulty of predicting the trajectory of the ball (made even more difficult by agitators along the slope of the track), and you have an almost perfect game of chance.

Besides the probabilities, it’s also important to remember the ever-present statistical advantage that the casino has over the players, which is known as the house edge. This can be interpreted as how much money a player stands to lose per chip on every spin, which the math states can range anywhere from 2% to over 5%. While it might not seem like much, it practically guarantees that you will burn through your entire bankroll if you play the game long enough.

Can you just bet red or black in roulette?

All roulette games allow you to bet on all red or all black. These are called colour bets, and are one of the 5 outside bets in roulette.

Colour bets are one of the three roulette bets that provide the highest odds of winning (the other two being even/odd bets and high/low bets), but this of course comes at the cost of having the lowest payouts. In fact, their payouts are described right in their names—even money, which is another term to refer to a 1-to-1 payout.

Can you bet every number in roulette?

Yes, it is possible to bet on every number in the grid in roulette. This can be done with any combination of bets ranging from 37 straight-up bets to 2 colour bets. But there is a catch—the payouts for these bets guarantee that you will lose money if you bet on every number.
The reason for this is the mechanic we know as the house edge. The house edge is present in all casino games, and is the statistical advantage that the casino (or house) has over the players. In the case of roulette, the house edge is built into the payouts of the bets, which are always less than the odds of actually winning said bet.

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