While many of us have enjoyed gambling since we turned 21, or earlier in some jurisdictions, a wide swath of society can rightfully be considered casino rookies. For these folks, lack of experience on the casino floor has left the out of the proverbial loop. They may want to get down in the pit and place a few bets, but because they never learned the rules of the road, they remain hesitant bystanders.
Fortunately, the classic wheel spinning guessing game known as roulette offers the perfect entry point for novice gamblers making their maiden voyage to Atlantic City’s casino scene.
Roulette for Dummies: Getting a Grasp on the Basic Rules
If you’ve never played the game before, sizing up a roulette table can be a bit intimidating.
You’ll see an elongated table labeled with a random jumble of numbers between 1 and 36, each colored in either red or black. Then there are the green “0” and “00” spaces up above the 1-36 grid.
Surrounding the grid are additional spaces labeled “Red,” “Black,” “Odd,” “Even,” “1 – 18,” “19 – 36,” “First 12,” “Second 12,” and “Third 12.”
And when the game gets going, these spaces will be sporadically covered by special casino chips in several different colors.
Throw in a stoic dealer – known as a “croupier” in roulette lingo – waving their hand, spinning the wheel, and stamping the winning space before scooping up a pile of chips, and roulette can be disorienting to the uninitiated.
But once you get over fear of the unknown and actually step up to the table (roulette doesn’t use chairs), the game’s elegant simplicity becomes immediately apparent.
Here’s how it works:
To start off, you’ll exchange your cash or regular casino chips for special chips used only in roulette. This step is necessary because multiple people can place bets on the same space, and everyone using the standard casino chips would lead to chaos and confusion. Instead, the special roulette chips are used to give each player a distinct color when wagers are sorted through.
Once you’re armed with a stack of roulette chips, the real fun begins in earnest. The time has come to place your bets, and this is where roulette becomes the best option for casino beginners.
The Outside Bets Are as Basic as Casino Gambling Can Get
For your first spin, I’d suggest betting on the simplest wager in the world – Red or Black. This bet is exactly what is sounds like, a binary coin flip* with two available options and one eventual winner.
Both the Red and Black bets share identical win probabilities of 48.6 percent, and not 50 percent, owing to the presence of two green “0” and “00” spaces on the wheel.
After placing a chip, or stack of chips, on either Red or Black, the dealer will send the ball flying and the wheel spinning. They’ll wait a few seconds as the first spins go round and round, before waving their hand to signal the end of betting.
Next up, all you need to do is watch the ball as it circles the wheel and hope it finds a correctly colored space. If it does, you’ll win even money (1 to 1) on your wager, so a $5 bet would bring back $5 in winnings.
Along with the classic Red or Black option, roulette has a few more “outside” bets to choose from. These are known as outside bets because their spaces are located outside the table’s main 1-36 numbered grid.
Another popular outside bet for roulette rookies is Even or Odd. Once again, this is exactly what it sounds like, so you’ll be betting on whether or not the ball lands on an even (2, 4, 6, 8, etc.) or odd (1, 3, 5, 7, etc.) number. And like most of the outside bets, Even or Odd wagers pay back at even money.
You can also bet on Low or High, which refers to the 1-18 and 19-36 number groups, respectively. When wagering on the Low option, you’ll win when the ball finds any number between 1 and 18. And folks betting on high, cash in when the wheel delivers any number between 19 and 36.
Then there’s the outside bet known as the “Column,” which refers to three vertical columns that comprise a roulette table’s 1-36 grid. Here’s how the column bets shake out:
Because the Column bets offer a slimmer selection of winning numbers – with only 33 percent of the wheel in play instead of half – they pay out at a higher 2 to 1 rate. Thus, a $5 bet on a Column produces a $10 profit when you turn a winner.
The last outside bet is called “Dozens,” and it takes a similar track by dividing the wheel into groups of 12 (1-12, 13-24, or 25-36). And just like the Column bet, a winning Dozens bet pays out at 2 to 1 on your money.
The Inside Bets Spice Things up by Increasing the Reward for a Higher Risk
While the outside bets are a great way to learn the game, while enjoying winners at a nearly 50 percent clip, true gamblers tend to enjoy the “inside” bets more.
The most iconic of all inside roulette bets is the single number wager, a truly high-risk / high-reward proposition. You can bet on any particular number between 1 and 36, along with the green “0” and “00” spaces. And if you beat the huge 37 to 1 odds against you – which only happens 2.7 percent of the time – you’ll be rewarded with a massive 35 to 1 payout.
That means a $5 bet on a single number brings back a whopping $175 in winnings, good for the highest return on investment found in all of casino table game gambling.
Even better, roulette’s rules allow players to bet on however many single numbers as they’d like. In other words, if you can bet on your kid’s birthday (4 and 17), your ATM pin (1, 3, 5, and 7), or even your social security number (sorry, that stays a secret).
This is why you’ll see roulette players busily splashing chips on several different numbers before the wheel starts spinning.
And even if all but one of your numbers winds up losing, catching a winner more than makes up for it in the end.
To spice things up even further, additional inside bets can be made by wagering on multiple numbers at once. I don’t mean making separate single-number bets, but rather a group of numbers connected within a single wager.
For example, you can make a “Split” bet that covers two connected numbers, such as 1 and 2 or 35 and 36. To do so, simply place your chip(s) on the white line that divides your chosen numbers. If either of them hit, you’ll win 17 to 1 on your money (half of the 35 to 1 payout used for true single number bets).
The lineup of inside bets continues with several more connector wagers, as you can see in the table below:
Inside Bets in Roulette
Landing an exact single number
35 to 1
Landing one of two connected numbers
17 to 1
Landing one of three connected numbers
11 to 1
Landing one of three connected numbers
11 to 1
Whether the number will be in a certain column
8 to 1
Landing one of six connected numbers
5 to 1
Landing either 00, 0, 1, 2, or 3
6 to 1
Gamblers have flocked to the roulette table for centuries now, and as one of the oldest gambling games in existence, the multicolored wheel remains a genuine classic. A big part of roulette’s enduring popularity is its simplicity as a true game of chance.
No complex strategies to memorize like blackjack or poker, just a spinning wheel and a huge selection of outcomes to bet on. Learning roulette only takes a minute or two, but once you know the game, you’ll likely fall in love. The next time you visit Atlantic City, head to the roulette table and court Lady Luck.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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