For whatever reason, the classic casino game roulette gets a bad rap among the “serious” gambling set. Players who prefer the strategic implications of skill games like blackjack and video poker tend to scoff at roulette enthusiasts.
And listen, I fully understand that sending a ball spinning around a wheel and guessing where it will land is a pure game of chance. But what roulette lacks in terms of strategy, it more than makes up for in pure entertainment value from a gambler’s perspective. If you’ve never really given roulette a fair shake, here are five good reasons to spin away and have some fun.
If you know how to flip a coin and call heads or tails, you’re well on your way to learning how to play roulette.
The game’s staple wager simply asks players to guess whether the ball will land on a red or black space. Of course, roulette has much more depth than a basic binary “either/or” bet, but red or black is the foundational building block.
In case you’ve never seen a roulette table, here’s a quick crash course on how the wheel is set up. You’ll see either 37 or 38 spaces (more on this in a minute) with a randomized array of numbers between 1 and 36 labeling each space.
The red spaces contain the following numbers: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 30, 32, 34 and 36.
And the black spaces are labeled as follows: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 29, 31, 33 and 35
You’ll also see either one or two green spaces which hold the “0” and “00.” Roulette used to be played predominantly on a single-zero “European” wheel. But once casino operators realized they could increase their own house edge by adding a second green space, double-zero “American” Roulette became the norm in the US.
These days, the vast majority of roulette games in Las Vegas utilize the double-zero wheel, but you’ll still find a few single-zero wheels where the minimum bet is higher.
From the player’s perspective, your sole objective is to correctly guess where the little silver ball that the dealer shoots onto the spinning wheel will land.
Obviously, you can bet on the classic red or black wager, but you can also bet on odd or even, low (1-18) or high (19-36) as nearly binary options.
As you might’ve suspected by now, those green “0” and “00” spaces are what separates roulette from a genuine coin flip. A coin provides a pure 50/50 chance of landing on either side, but with green spaces lurking, the faux binary bets listed above actually create a 47.37% probability of winning.
Winning one these either/or bets is good for an even money payout, so $1 wagered brings back $1 in return.
But naturally, with so many wagering wrinkles on the wheel, players can enjoy several different payouts that escalate all the way up to 35 to 1 on your money.
To earn that premium 35 to 1 payout, you’ll need to guess the exact number that the ball ends up on.
That requires beating really stiff odds—a single number hit on a double-zero wheel is just a 2.63% probability—but man is the reward for getting lucky oh so sweet! Aside from the machine games like slots and video poker, you won’t find payout odds in the 35 to 1 range on any other casino game.
Obviously, chasing a 2.63% shot isn’t very sustainable over the long run, so roulette regulars tend to spread out several small bets over their favorite numbers. In fact, you’ll even see some players splashing around a handful of chips on dozens of different numbers.
Personally, I like to keep things somewhat disciplined by betting up to five unique numbers on any given spin. Others are minimalists, choosing one number only and adding a stack of chips to sweeten their potential payout. And a few freaks out there only bet on the “0” or “00” spaces, so they’ll be the ones celebrating when everyone else just lost their shirts.
That’s the beauty of roulette though, as there’s no “right way” to play roulette for real money. With that in mind, feel free to experiment with whatever single number betting pattern that feels like the right fit for you.
However you bet single numbers, when you watch that dancing ball bounce, roll, and settle perfectly in your chosen space, you’ll experience a genuine rush of excitement.
Bringing back a payout of $175 on a $5 bet certainly helps out, but even if you bet a lowly buck, spiking a single number isn’t really about the money. Instead, you get to savor the feeling which comes after beating such extremely stiff odds against. Lightning doesn’t strike on every spin, or even many spins for that matter, but when it does, you’ll definitely feel those good old-fashioned gambling goose bumps.
For the most part, Las Vegas casinos utilize a $5 minimum on table games like blackjack or Three-Card Poker. And sure enough, the major resorts on the Strip tend to use the same $5 limit on roulette.
But while a fiver only gets you one hand of blackjack, roulette lets you spread that minimum bet out over up to five wagers using $1 chips.
Even better, when you visit certain gambling halls in Sin City, you can show up with a single dollar and see if Lady Luck is on your side.
The El Cortez in Downtown Vegas and the South Point a few miles south of the Strip are home to $1 minimum roulette wheels.
You’ll also find several casinos in town where $3 minimum roulette is the game of choice. And if you feel like putting your coin jar on the line, head to the Boulder Station, Fiesta Rancho, or Fiesta Henderson casinos to find $0.25 minimum wheels.
Gambling for George Washington’s may not seem like a big deal, and for many players, low minimums like this don’t mean a thing. On the other hand, plenty of folks out there simply like to enjoy a nice sweat without breaking the bank.
On the other end of the financial spectrum, players willing to pony up $100 per spin can visit the gilded towers of the Venetian and Palazzo sister casinos.
These are admittedly high-limit tables, but in exchange for the higher minimum, players on a single-zero wheel enjoy a 2.70% house edge. That nearly doubles to 5.26% on a double-zero wheel, so seeking out a single-zero game is a great way to turn the tables on the house.
And if you’re looking for the best roulette game in all of Las Vegas, get yourself to the Cromwell casino on the Strip. The Cromwell is famous as the home of $25 minimum single-zero roulette, so players on a budget can still shred the house’s edge on the cheap.
I’ve mentioned three of the “outside” bets like red or black, odd or even, and high or low, but you’ll see a few others lining the outside perimeter of the betting layout.
The “Dozen” bet breaks the wheel’s numbers down into groups of 12, so you can wager on 1-12, 13-24, or 25-36. Winning a dozen bet pays back at 2 to 1 and you’ll have a 31.58% chance of success.
Same goes for the “column” bet, but instead of those 1-12 groupings, you’re backing one of three columns listing all the numbers on the wheel. The first column contains the numbers 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31, 34; the second column holds 2, 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29, 32, 35; the third column is home to 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, 36.
And a “snake” wager includes the numbers 1, 5, 9, 12, 14, 16, 19, 23, 27, 30, 32, and 34, returning 2 to 1 on your money at the same 31.58% win probability.
Don’t forget about the slew of “inside” bets that can be made using various combinations of single numbers. By placing your chip on the line separating two numbers, you’ll have both of them in play on a “split” bet that pays out 17 to 1 on a 5.26% win probability.
A “street” bet covers three connecting numbers and pays out 11 to 1 on a 7.89% shot. The “corner” bet covers four numbers connected by a shared corner, and you’ll collect 8 to 1 on the 10.53% chance.
You’ll find more inside bets out there too, so pull up a roulette resource to see all of the possibilities this great gambling game provides.
Roulette has long been one of my favorite casino games for one simple reason; it’s gambling distilled to its very essence. Centuries before card sharps and computers cracked the code behind blackjack’s basic strategy, gamblers were content to watch a spinning wheel and guess where it will land.
These players knew the odds weren’t in their favor, but they relished the challenge of tempting fate and trying to beat those odds. Games of pure chance aren’t for everybody, I know that. But if you’re willing to take the risk, I’m willing to wager roulette will prove to be quite rewarding.
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