Our Game Guide for Roulette
Roulette is one of the most social games you will find in a casino. The fact that all the players have to do is pick numbers and sit back and let the wheel do the work means there is a lot more time to sit and chat with the other people at your table. The game is great for beginner gamblers for the same reason. However, it is also one of the games that have the largest house edge, meaning it can be costly for players who don't bet intelligently.
We want you to understand all the nuances of the game so that you are in a much better position when you sit down at a roulette table, whether it is live or online. This page will review everything you need to know about roulette, from its beginnings to all the bets that you can make while sitting at a table.
A Brief History of Roulette
Roulette is one of the most popular games in the world, but you may be surprised to find out that it came about more as an accident than anything. The original design of the roulette wheel was actually a failed attempt at science. The famous scientist Blaise Pascal was trying different methods of creating a perpetual motion machine in the mid-1600s. This wheel was one of the many attempts at building such a machine that ultimately failed, but the fact that the design did create a great motion for the ball itself gave way to creating the game of roulette.
The roulette wheel you see today is not very different than the way the game was originally designed. As the game grew in popularity from a casino standpoint in the 1800s, the decision was made to add the single zero to the wheel. When the game was brought to America, the second zero was added, but that is basically it from a design perspective.
Roulette was one of the first games to be built for online casino players when internet gambling was introduced in the middle of the 1990s. Since then, there have been some changes to the game online, specifically the addition of online games featuring a live dealer, which have done an excellent job creating a bridge between online and land-based play.
The Best Online Roulette Sites
If you are sitting at home reading this page, then you may be itching to play by the time you are done. We thought it would be helpful to give you some recommendations from our team of experts of places to play roulette. We have reviewed hundreds of online casinos, and from these reviews, we have compiled this list of the best sites for roulette players.
This list features some sites that you may have heard of before, and many that you haven't. However, each site comes with a seal of approval from our casino team, which means you will find the best combination of games, bonuses, and payment options. We'll go into more detail about what you should be looking for in a roulette site later, but for now, here is a great way for you to get started!
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Roulette Game Types
While it may seem like every roulette wheel you approach is the same, there are a couple of slight variances that you should be looking for, especially if you want to improve your chances of winning.
This is the game as it was originally built. On a European roulette wheel, the numbers 1-36 are represented. Along with these numbers is the number 0. It is this 37th number that gives the house its edge. Picking any of the individual numbers pays 35:1 for every chip bet, and we'll go into the different bets you can make a little further down this page.
When the game was introduced in American casinos, it was the standard European version of the game. However, as the game grew in popularity, the Americans decided to add a wrinkle to the board. Instead of there being just a 37th number on the wheel, the American version of roulette offers a 38th number, the double zero. This means that an American roulette wheel doubles the house edge, which is, of course, terrible for players.
This version of roulette, despite the country being the inventors of the game, is not found in too many places, and certainly none in North America. The French roulette table is the exact same as the European version, with only 37 numbers. However, some different bet types are available for French roulette that aren't when you are playing other versions of the game. These involve "insurance-style" bets for when a ball lands on zero. For the most part, you aren't likely to come across this version of the game.
If you happen to be in Latin America, you may come across a game that looks very similar to roulette but with no wheel. This game is called Canasta, and it is essentially the same game. The major difference is that there is a ping-pong style of ball with each of the numbers represented on it, and the balls are spun in a bingo-style cage. There are those who swear by this game, but most people tend to prefer the wheel to the cage, so Canasta hasn't grown to be much more than a local version for Latin American players.
Currently, these tables are being tested in US casinos. In what can only be considered an act of greed, some casinos have now added a third zero to a roulette wheel. This increases the house edge once again, and while we suspect many players won't even notice when they sit at a table, we cannot recommend this game to anyone - if you see a third zero on the wheel you are looking at, turn around and walk away!
Roulette Bet Types
One of the things that probably confuses most players when they approach a roulette table is the sheer number of chips being placed everywhere. The good news is that the staff is highly trained and will keep track of everything as it hits the table, allowing you to focus on the task at hand, which is making the bets themselves!
For the purposes of simplicity, we are going to break up the bets into two categories: inside and outside Bets. There are lots to choose from, each giving you a different way to win with each spin. Let's take a look at all the available bets for roulette.
Inside bets in roulette are defined as any bets that are made on the numbers themselves, which are displayed in the inside of the betting area at a roulette table. Here are the different inside bets that you can make.
When you want to place a bet on a single number, this is called a straight bet. The payout for hitting a number is 36 to 1.
You can bet on the ball dropping on one of two numbers next to one another on a board by making a split bet, placing the chips on the line between the two numbers. This pays 17 to 1 on winners.
The roulette board is arranged in 12 rows of three numbers across, and if you want to place a bet on one row, you can do so with a street bet. This bet pays 12 to 1.
Spreading your money around even more, you can make a bet on a four-number zone of the board by placing a cornet bet. This is like the split bet, but you place the chips on the corner of four numbers. A winning corner bet pays 8 to 1.
Double Street Bet
Much like the corner bet, you can spread your bet across two rows of numbers, and if you win, you are paid 5 to 1 on the bet.
When you look at a roulette table, you can see that there are many spaces for chips outside the number board itself. These are all the outside bets, and these allow you to make bets on several groups of numbers. While these bets tend to pay far less, they do give you the best odds given how many numbers you are picking with each group. Here are all the outside bets for players to choose from.
This is an easy bet, based on if you think the winning number will be between 1-18 (low) or 19-36 (high). Most tables have a minimum that you must bet on this option, and the winning bet pays 2 to 1.
Similar to the low/high bet, you can bet on the winning color of the number (black or red). This bet pays 2 to 1 as well.
The final 50/50 bet you can make is the even/odd bet, which is exactly as it sounds. This pays 2 to 1, and remember that the zeroes are losers for this wager.
If you want to get a little riskier, you can bet on the numbers in dozens. You can bet 1-12, 13-24, or 25-36, and if you win, you are paid 3 to 1 on your chips.
We mentioned that the roulette game board is split into 12 rows of three numbers, but if you look at it from the other angle, it can also be split into the columns of 12 numbers. You can bet on each of these columns and have a return of 3 to 1 for winning this bet as well.
How to Play Roulette
Okay, now that you have a clearer picture of all the bets that are available in roulette, you need to know how the betting rounds work. It is different for live play than for anyone playing online. If you are playing online, then you are most likely playing at a table by yourself, which means you control when the game starts. Before you hit the "Spin" button, you make all the bets you want. Then, the electronic wheel spins, and your bets are locked in until the game ends.
When you are playing in a land-based casino, there is typically a couple of minutes between spins, which allows you to make all the bets you wish. When it looks like betting is slowing down, the dealer takes the ball and spins it in the wheel. While every dealer spins the ball at a slightly different speed, the ball tends to take up to a minute to slow down enough to drop into the spots. During this time, you are able to make any last-second bets until the dealer calls "No more bets." Then you wait and watch, and the ball bounces around, hopefully to a spot you have chosen!
That's basically it. This is why the game is so popular for novice gamblers, as there is no more strategy involved than simply picking your favorite numbers and outside bets.
What to Look for When Searching for a Roulette Site
When we review an online casino, we use several criteria to determine which sites we think are worth recommending to our readers. Our team of experts comes from a wide range of gambling backgrounds, including several who have experience with certain casino games. We asked our roulette experts what tips they would pass along to you if you wanted to research sites on your own. Here are the top things you should be looking for.
For roulette players, it starts with seeing what variants of roulette are available at a site. At a minimum, you should be looking for a site that offers both European and American versions of the game. This puts you in the best position to limit your risk at the table (to be honest, we aren't sure why anyone plays American roulette when given the option of playing the European version).
Also, you should see which sites offer live dealer roulette. While these games are slower to play and typically come with a higher minimum bet, they also offer players a more social atmosphere. Most of the live dealer games allow multiple players to bet simultaneously, and there are chat features which allow you to communicate with the others at your table. Recently, Evolution Gaming has launched hybrid tables in land-based casinos to give online players even more of a sense of being there in action!
One big difference between the land-based and online game is how a casino rewards players. Roulette players in a live casino can receive on-property bonuses such as free drinks, meals, etc. Online, the bonuses tend to be more cash-oriented but still valuable none the less.
When you are looking for a site to play roulette, you want to focus on sites with both excellent deposit bonuses and those that consider roulette play when earning those bonuses. Many sites do not count roulette at full value when offering bonus cash to players, so you will have to play longer to accumulate enough points to convert the bonus dollars to cash.
You will also want to find sites with the best loyalty plans. If you are a good roulette player, you could have some marathon sessions, and you should be rewarded for that! Many sites take their VIP programs very seriously, and these sites tend to be the ones we recommend to our readers. Every extra bonus or reward you receive from a casino goes right to your bottom line, so shopping around for the best offers is definitely worth your time.
These days, it is easier than ever to do everything, including gamble, from our phones and tablets. For us, the best sites for roulette players are the ones that offer the best mobile platforms. Depending on where you live, this may mean being able to download a native app to your device, which places the bulk of the table graphics and sounds locally on your machine. If you can't or don't want to download an app to your phone, then you should have no issues playing with the mobile browser version of roulette. These games are built in HTML5 or Flash and provide excellent gameplay with no lag unless you are on a bad internet connection from your phone.
We always hope that our readers never have a reason to have to contact the support department of an online casino, but unfortunately, that isn't the case for many players. When you are looking for sites to play roulette, take note of which sites have 24/7 customer service (yes, there are some that don't). Also, finding a site that offers support in multiple languages is a bonus for players in certain countries.
Online Roulette vs. Land-Based Roulette
There are a couple of differences between playing roulette in a land-based casino or playing online. The first that is the most noticeable is the speed of the game. When you are playing with a digital dealer, you control when the spins take place, but you are also the only person betting. As a result, you can find yourself playing many more spins per hour, which means you will be gambling a higher amount. While this is great to accumulate loyalty points and VIP status, it can also be more costly in the long run.
Another difference is convenience. These days, with so many roulette games available for mobile devices, you are only an arm's length away from the betting action. This can again be a blessing or a curse, as it also means there is no real impediment to putting real money on a game without hesitation.
Finally, one difference that is beneficial to players who play roulette online is the betting limits. Typically, a roulette game at an online casino will have significantly smaller limits. With less overhead to manage, an online casino (aside from a live dealer option) can offer the games at much lower stakes, which means that novice players can try the game without having to invest significant amounts of money.
As you have read, there is a lot more to roulette than just the numbers on the wheel. We didn't go too much into strategy on this page - for those of you who are interested, you can read our strategy page here.
We think that even though the game has terrible player odds, roulette is a great way for someone to get used to playing in a casino, and it also creates a very social gaming atmosphere. We hope you have learned something about the game by reading this page, and we hope that you use this information to enjoy the game even more!
Frequently Asked Questions
We hear this complaint a lot from players, but the truth of the matter is that there is no benefit to software companies and casinos to rig the game. Online roulette providers have a random number generator that is often audited by a third party to ensure its accuracy. In a land-based casino, the dealer is often changed, so even if someone has picked up a pattern from their spins, it only lasts a few minutes before a change is made.
No. This is pure superstition at play here. The fact that casinos keep track of the last 15-20 spins on the board only serves to help the house, as players look for a streak to either follow or try to buck. The bottom line is that each spin of the roulette wheel is its own independent event, with the previous results having no impact on future results. So, if you see that the last 12 spins have come up with a red number, there are no different odds that the next one will continue to be red, regardless of what someone tells you.
The short answer to this is no. Realistically, you should only be betting what you can afford to lose - when betting on roulette, you can get carried away quickly, and before you know it, you could have a few hundred dollars on the table in bets each spin. Play within your limit and think of your chips as a series of units. Playing a strategy where you hedge your bets a little can help limit the damage but won't end up with you a winner unless you get a little lucky along the way.