The Basics of Roulette
Roulette is an old time casino game that's been around forever and probably always will be. The game is fairly simple to learn but there are many different bets you can make, ranging from long shot bets that pay out huge to even money bets that you'll hit almost 50% of the time.
The game is played with a roulette wheel that has 36 numbers on it plus two green slots marked "0" and "00." Every other number slot is either red or black in color in an alternating pattern that goes all the way around the wheel.
Each round the croupier (roulette dealer) spins the roulette wheel and drops a small ball into it. The roulette ball will spin around inside the roulette wheel until the momentum decreases enough for the ball to land in a slot.
The object of the players in the game is to guess where the ball will land by placing bets on various outcomes. Some of the bets are as simple as red or black, even or odd, or a specific number.
The house advantage in roulette comes from the existence of the two green zero slots. All even money bets like "red or black" automatically lose when the ball lands in a green zero slot. On inside bets the house pays as if there were 36 slots when there are actually 38 slots. For example, the straight-up bet pays 35 to 1 but there is only a 1 in 38 chance of the bet winning.
Even though the concept of the game is simple, there are a wide variety of bets you can make in roulette. Next to the roulette wheel there is a felt table where you can place your chips to indicate which bet you wish to make.
In roulette, you will find two different categories of bets. You can choose between the inside bet and the outside bet. The inside bet is placed on the number grid on the inside of the roulette layout. Outside bets are much easier to win but the payouts are much lower. These bets are placed along the outer edge of the roulette layout.
Overall, the house advantage on every bet is exactly the same: 5.26%
Straight-Up Bet - Pick a number and hope the roulette ball lands on that number. The payout for winning bets is 35 to 1.
Street Bet - Place your chips in the square next to any row of three numbers to make this bet. If the ball lands on any one of those numbers, your payout amount is 11 to 1.
Split Bet - Place your chips on the border in between two numbers to bet that the ball will land on either one of the numbers. If the ball lands on either number, your payout amount is 17 to 1.
Trio Bet - The layout is arranged in such a way that there are only two places you can make this bet. Place your chips on the intersection between 0, 1, 2 or on the intersection between 00, 2, 3 to make this bet.
If the roulette ball lands on any one of those numbers, you'll be paid 11 to 1. This is the only bet in roulette in which the house advantage is not 5.26%. The house advantage in this bet is 7.89%, making this the worst bet in roulette.
Corner Bet - Place your chips on the intersecting lines between any four numbers that are on the grid. Your bet will be paid back at 8 to 1 if the ball lands on any one of those numbers.
Six Line - This is a bet that any one of six selected numbers will be the winner. Place your chips on the border between any two street bets. The payout is 5 to 1 if the ball lands on any one of those six numbers.
Black or Red - Choose a color and make your wager. If the balls on any number that has the same color, you'll be paid 1 to 1 on your money.
Even or Odd - In this bet you pick evens or odds and wager that the ball will land in a number corresponding to your bet. The payout for this bet is also 1 to 1.
High Bet - You win this bet if the ball lands on any number from 19 to 36. You'll see a box on the roulette layout that says "high" or "19-36" for you to place your chips. The payout amount is 1 to 1.
Low Bet - Same as the low bet except you are betting on the numbers 1-18. The payout amount is 1 to 1.
Dozen Bet - This is a bet that any one of twelve numbers will hit on the next spin. You can make this bet by placing your chips in the areas marked "1-12" "13-24" or "25-36." The payout for this bet is 2 to 1.
Column Bet - This bet is similar to the dozen bet except you place your chips in a square at the bottom of any column of numbers on the layout. Each column has twelve numbers in it and the payout for this bet is 2 to 1.
European roulette is identical to American roulette in every way except for one key difference. Where American roulette wheels have two zero slots, European wheels only have one zero slot. This one difference nearly cuts the house edge in half from 5.26% to 2.7%.
Any time you have a choice between American roulette and European roulette; always play on the European roulette wheel. If you would like a more in-depth comparison of the two, take a look at our American vs. European Roulette article. The article will explain why European roulette has an edge over the American variation.
Roulette has a built in house advantage that cannot be overcome with any strategy. However there are several tips you can use to maximize your time at the wheel and give you the best chance to win. You can also find more in-depth strategy by using our roulette strategy guide.
- Always play European roulette if you have the option
- If you only have a short time to play, even money bets will give you the best chance to walk away a winner. Every bet on the wheel has the same house advantage but it takes longer (on average) to win a bet on a single number than it does to win an even money bet.
- Avoid scams like the Martingale system or anything else that guarantees you'll win no matter what. It's impossible to gain an advantage over the casino in roulette unless you're willing to risk prison by stealing chips off the table.
- Look for casinos that offer the "surrender option." Roulette wheels that allow surrender will give you half your bet back if you play an even money bet and then if the ball lands on one of the green zero slots.
- Look for casinos that offer the "en prison" rule. If you place an even money bet and the ball lands on the green zero slot, you won't automatically lose your bet. Rather, your bet will remain in prison until the next spin. On the next spin, the fate of your bet is decided. If you win that second spin, you'll get your original bet back without any winnings. If the ball lands on zero again, your ball just remains in prison for another spin.
- Avoid the Trio Bet at all costs. That is the only bet in roulette that has a house edge higher than 5.26%.
Ready to Play Roulette?
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