Why You Should Learn the Basics of Online Roulette

By in Casino & Gaming on
6 Minute Read
Online Roulette Chips Table Mobile

Online roulette provides the same kinds of thrills you can expect from casino play without any of the hassle of actually making it to the casino. In times like these, conveniences like these can’t be overstated. That’s why now is as good a time as any to learn the ins and outs of online roulette.

In the past few weeks, we’ve been providing you detailed blogs about a number of different online casino games, such as blackjack and video poker. Many casinos around the world are in the process of opening their doors back up after shutting down for the panic. But that doesn’t mean that everyone will be comfortable heading right back to them, which is why learning these online games can be really helpful.

Real money roulette is a game that many people love in a casino setting. There is nothing quite like the excitement of laying your bets on the table and waiting to see where the ball is going to land. It’s a relatively easy game to play in terms of just getting your bets down and seeing if your number comes up.

But there are a number of intricacies within the game that, when you understand them, can help you become a more knowledgeable and better player. In addition, it’s a good idea to understand the differences between playing in a casino and what will happen when you take on online roulette in a casino.

Online Roulette Can Be Just as Exciting

You might be under the impression that roulette would seem odd within the confines of a website. But once you’ve seen a few simulated spins, you’ll understand that the game is really the same as what you can find in the casino. While it might lack an actual wheel, you can still get that same excitement of seeing where the ball lands.

It’s also a good idea to learn how different types of roulette separate from each other. The rules tend to differ as you search from site to site on the internet. In addition, you’ll find that the boards and wheels with which you’ll be dealing could be configured differently.

If you’ve never played roulette before, you might think that it doesn’t matter which version you choose. But in actuality, each slight rule change can also alter your expected outcome. Roulette is not aa game which offers up the best average payback, which is why you’ll want to know all the ways that you can increase your odds.

On top of that, you should also know how to choose the correct website to play the game. If you neglect to include this in your considerations, you could end up at a site that is less than reliable. And that will ruin your enjoyment and could conceivably cost you money as well.

With all that in mind, we’re here to help you get started playing online roulette. We’ll explain how to sign up and begin to play and we’ll go into how the mechanics of the game work. Finally, we’ll also tell you about those rules variations so that you’ll know which online roulette games offer you the best payback.

Signing up to Play

Before you can see that online wheel spinning, you have to choose the gambling website that you’re hoping to use. As we mentioned above, this is an important choice. If you sign up with the wrong site, a lot worse things can happen to you than just losing a fee bets here and there.

Make yourself a checklist of all the important things that you need from a gambling website. Those checklists should include the following:

  • Excellent customer service: When you have a problem with the site of your choice, you’ll want to know that there’s somebody who is working heard to rectify it. Having a reliable contact person at the site will also put you at ease if you have technical difficulties. And these folks can also tell you about promotions that will be beneficial to you.
  • Many funding options: Most websites will give you a few credit card options with which you can fund your online gambling exploits. The more choices you have, however, the better it is for you, especially if your preferred method of paying isn’t available. You might even be able to find sites that provide alternate funding options like cryptocurrency.
  • Extensive variety of games: Obviously, since you’re reading about online roulette, you’ll want to know what kinds of roulette games are available to you. But you might want more of a full-service experience should you decide to branch out. Look for sites that can offer you a comprehensive casino and sports book experience.
  • Mobile gambling: You shouldn’t have to be chained to your computer to play your favorite online roulette game. Instead, a gambling app should be a part of any site you choose. In that way, you can play on the go.
  • Sizable gambling bonuses: The best way to boost your bottom line when playing online roulette is to take advantage of website rewards. These rewards can be offered when you sign up or as part of a loyalty program. In any case, you should avoid any website that is skimpy in offering up these bonuses.
  • Deposit and withdrawal liability: Obviously, if you’re gambling for real money, you’ll need to trust that you’ll be able to collect your winnings when you amass them. Make sure that any site you choose has clearly delineated their process for deposits and withdrawals. And make sure they stick to those guidelines at all times.

If you have any other necessities that you require from your gambling website, don’t hesitate to make them known. Doing just a little bit of research can make all the difference is choosing just the right gambling website for your online roulette action.

Playing Online Roulette

Now that you have the basics down, you can start to focus on playing online roulette. As we said above, the actual game play is just like what you would see in a casino, right down to the types of bets you can make and the payback for those bets.

There are two main differences that, while they don’t affect the odds, impact the overall experience of the game. They are:

  1. The wheel spin: When you’re playing online roulette, you will see a spinning digital wheel on screen. But the actual results will have been determined at the time you activate the spin by random number generator software within the game; the on-screen spin is just for show. This ensures that every spin you get is completely random and independent of everything that came before
  2. Pace of play: When you’re playing in a casino, you are at the mercy of the croupier in terms of how fast the game goes along and how many spins there might be in a given time. With online roulette, you get control of that. You decide the pace of play.

Types of Online Roulette Bets

Roulette is simple on one level, in that you’re betting on the outcome of the wheel spin, trying to match your bet to the number where the ball lands. But there are many bets that you can make to cover the different spaces, which is determined in part by the look of the roulette board.

To put it simply, the more spaces on the board that you cover with your bets, the less your payback will be, and vice versa. You can also raise or lower the amount of the bet per chip, which will then have a direct effect on how much you will get paid back.

Here are the standard bets that are found in just about every version of online roulette:

  • Single number (straight-up): 35 to 1
  • Two numbers (split): 17 to 1
  • Three numbers (street): 11 to 1
  • Four numbers (corner): 8 to 1
  • Five numbers (basket, available only in American-style roulette): 6 to 1
  • Six numbers (six line): 5 to 1
  • Twelve numbers (columns, dozen): 2 to 1
  • Eighteen numbers (odd, even, red, black, 1 to 18, 19 to 36): 1 to 1

When you see the configuration of a roulette board on your screen, these combinations will be easier to understand. For example, the main section of numbers is divided into three columns of twelve numbers each. Hence, when you bet on a column, you are getting every number in that column.

American Versus European Roulette

When you see an online roulette board, unless you are playing some strange variation, you are most likely going to see the numbers 1 through 36, 18 of which are red, 18 of which are black. You will also see either one or two green spaces with zeros in them. This is how you can tell between American and European roulette.

In American-style online roulette, there are two green spaces, one with a zero, the other with a double-zero. In European-style online roulette, there is just one green space with a zero.

This Is Important for a Number of Reasons:

First of all, the two zero spaces on the American board means that there are 38 spaces on the wheel overall, compared to just 37 on the European wheel. That means that you have less of a chance of picking the right number on the American wheel, even though the payback is the same in both styles of games.

For example, you would have a one in 38 chance on a straight bet, meaning that you put your chips on one number, in American roulette. In European roulette, your chances are 1 in 37. But your payoff in both versions is 35 to 1.

The other thing to realize is that the green spaces are also known as ‘house’ spaces. When a ball lands on the green space, you would lose any of the bets on the board with multiple numbers involved, since the green spaces aren’t included in those combinations. (One exception is the basket bet, only available in American-style, which covers the 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3.)

The fact that there are two house spaces on the American wheel instead of just one means that you have more of a chance of losing these cluster bets. When you combine these factors, you can probably understand why European-style is far more preferable. Later on in this article, we’ll show you exactly how much more preferable it is.

Special Online Roulette Rules

There are two main variations available in online roulette that involve what happens when you’ve made an even-money bet (1-18/19-36, odd/even, or red/black) and the ball lands in a green zero space. Normally, since that is a house space, you would lose the whole of your even-money bet.

But if you can find online roulette that offers either surrender or imprisonment, you can mitigate these losses somewhat. Take a look at how these rules work, and keep in mind that they only come into play on even-money bets. All other cluster-type bets are going to be losers when the ball lands on the green space even if these rules are available to you.


Surrender is also called la partage in the European-style of online roulette, and it is available in both American and European styles of play. When you make an even-money bet with surrender in place and the ball lands in a green space, you would lose only half your bet instead of all of it.

For example, imagine that you bet ten units on odd and the ball lands in a green space. That would mean you lose only half of your bet. The other half is returned to you.


Imprisonment, often known by the French term en prison, is only available in European-style online roulette and is a bit trickier to understand than surrender. But the concept is the same in that you have a chance at salvaging your wager to some extent on an even-money bet when the ball lands on a green space.

When this occurs and imprisonment is in play, your original bet is said to be “in prison” until the next spin. On the next spin, if the ball lands in one of the spaces covered by this imprisoned bet, you would get the bet back. If it lands on one of the spaces not covered, you would then lose the bet.

In other words, if you bet ten units and the imprisoned bet goes your way, you would get to take that ten units back. Keep in mind that this is not the same as winning that bet outright, in which case you would get the ten units back in addition to winning ten units of profit.

There are some games that allow both imprisonment and surrender. If that’s the case and you’ve made an even-money bet, when the ball lands in a green space you can choose either one.

With imprisonment you run the risk of losing the entire bet for the potential reward of getting the full bet. And with surrender, you’re guaranteed half of the bet back. Which one you choose will be based on your personal betting preference.

Payback and House Edge for Online Roulette

When you play online roulette casually, your results will be defined by luck more than anything else. You could get lucky and hit a bunch of straight bets right off the bat. If that occurred, you might think that online roulette is the most lucrative game ever.

But what will happen as you play more and more is that your luck will even out, one way or another. As you play for hundreds or thousands of spins, the built-in odds of online roulette will begin to take over. And that’s when the payback percentage and house edge will start to take over.

Take a look at what you can expect:

  • European roulette: 97.3% payback percentage, 2.7% house edge
  • American roulette: 94.7% payback percentage, 5.3% house edge

These are the percentages in place for games without either imprisonment or surrender. When those are in play, here are the adjustments:

Style/RTP W/o Surrender or Imprisonment W/Surrender or Imprisonment
European 97.3 98.6
American 94.7 97.2

Obviously, you should try to find the online roulette variation that gives you the best possible payback. If you plan to play the game with regularity, you’ll want the game that lowers the house edge to the least damaging level possible.

Online Roulette Tips

Don’t Believe in Betting Systems

One of the things that you’ll find immediately when you start researching online roulette is that different entities will be touting betting systems that claim to help you win over the long term. The idea behind these systems is that you can’t really control where the wheel is going to stop. But you can control how much you bet and what types of bets you utilize.

While this is true, being able to do this will not make you suddenly overcome the odds. Some of these systems rely on the size of the bets changing depending on whether you win or loss on certain spins. Other systems dictate what types of bets you should be making.

But the bottom line is that your odds for online roulette never change. These systems might sound good, but there is always some sort of flaw within them. Think about it: if they could prove that they worked, everybody would use them and bankrupt casinos and gambling websites immediately.

Understand Variance

Roulette is a mathematical marvel of a game. Every bet that you can make essentially gives you the same odds in the long run.

In other words, imagine two people begin playing online roulette with the same bankroll and play over the same, long period of time. One makes only straight bets, and the other makes only even-money bets. At the end of that period, the expectation is that both would have experienced the same outcome in terms of where their bankrolls stand.

But the difference comes in how they got to that point. The player making straight bets likely had lots of severe ups and downs, since their percentage of winning spins would be quite low but the payback on the bets they won quite high. Meanwhile, the even-money player would have had a less bumpy ride, with fewer peaks and valleys.

This is what we mean when we mean when we talk about variance in gambling. And you should understand it so you know what kinds of bets you should be making when playing online roulette.

If you want to make a lot of money in a short amount of time, the high-variance bets, which will cover less numbers on the board, are for you. By contrast, if you’re more about keeping an even keep and playing for a long time on a small bankroll, you should go with low-variance bets like the even-money options.

Don’t Look for Trends

It can be tempting to believe that you’ve figured out some kind of pattern in terms of the numbers coming up while playing online roulette. The game itself will even keep a running tally of the numbers that have shown up as if to help you in this regard. You might think you can accurately guess what spins might come up based on this information.

For Example:

If a certain number has come up a bunch of different times in recent spins, you might think that it’s somehow hot. Or, if you haven’t seen a number for a long while, you might think that it’s due.

In actuality, the chances are the same for every number on every spin, thanks to the random number generator software. There is a 1 in 37 chance that the ball will land in a certain space on every spin of European-style online roulette, and 1 in 38 on American-style.

It’s OK to try to guess which numbers might come up. But don’t raise your bets because you think that you have it figured it out. It’s completely down to luck, and nothing that has happened in past spins will change that.


We hope that you now have a firm hold on how to get started playing online roulette. You might find that you enjoy it so much that you stick with it in favor of the casino style of play. Manage your expectations and your wagers well and you should have a blast.

Jim Beviglia

Jim Beviglia joined Gamblingsites.org as a staff writer in 2018, parlaying his years of freelance writing into contributions on a number of different topics. He handles the sport of horse racing for GamblingSites.org and the intersection between the worlds of cryptocurrency and online gambling in a weekly blog. For his full-time job, Jim handles the television and track announcing duties at a h ...

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