Roulette Frequently Asked Questions

What is Roulette?

What is Roulette wheelIf ever you were searching for a game that is synonymous with gambling, casinos, luck, and fun, then roulette is your game. Invented initially by a physicist for a completely different purpose in the 17th century, the game can be found in pretty much every single casino in the world and on every online casino. Roulette is a French game, and the word itself translated to English is “small wheel.”

Not many casino games are as simple as roulette. The dealer, or croupier, spins a white ball in the reverse direction of a spinning number wheel. Each number has a rack, or pocket, that the ball can land in, which will occur once the ball loses its velocity enough to drop down. The number that the ball lands on is the winning number. Each number is colored either red or black, and only one number, or two, depending on which variation of wheel you’re playing on, has no color or is colored green, this being 0 and 00.

Players can wager on numbers on the table layout, on red or black, on an even or odd number, or groups of numbers as defined by the betting areas on the table felt.

How Do I Play It?

Roulette is a very simple game to play. In most casinos and online you’ll bet with chips. You’ll find a certain minimum amount you can wager for inside bets, which are numbers on the board, and outside bets, which are even money bets, and row and column bets listed at the table.

A player simply needs to place their chips on the section of the board they wish to bet on and then wait for the dealer to spin the ball. Once the ball has landed in its final location, the dealer will place a marker, also known as a dolly, on that number, and then remove all losing chips from the table. The croupier will then award players who’ve won based on the odds for that particular bet.

Roulette is simple in essence yet it can be very confusing when there are a lot of players on a table with chips everywhere. This is why some casinos will assign certain colored chips, also known as wheel checks. If you’re playing online or rapid roulette, you won’t have to deal with this as you’ll have your own betting board that is independent of anyone else playing on the same roulette wheel.

To learn the specific details on how to play roulette, make sure to visit our Online Casino Roulette page.

What Type of Roulette Games are Available?

Types of Roulette GamesUnlike some other casino games, there aren’t too many variations of roulette. This is due to the simplicity of the game. In general, players should be wary of strange variations as this will generally mean worse odds and a larger house edge.

The most popular forms are American roulette and European roulette. American has 38 numbers on the wheel and includes 0 and 00 while European has 37 numbers with just the 0. Obviously, the 00 in the American version creates worse odds for the player. We recommend playing European roulette if you have the choice.

French roulette is another variation which has the same wheel as European roulette with a different betting field. Additionally, in the French version if the ball lands on the 0, then you’re meant to receive half of your bets back.

You’ll also find even more variations of roulette in online casinos, however once again be wary when playing these as fancy jackpots or extra numbers and bet types will often result in a larger house edge.

What is an Inside and Outside Bet in Roulette?

As you approach a roulette table you’ll see the betting chart laid out on the felt. This is known as the layout. This chart has numbers from 1 to 36 and a 0 across the top. On the side of the number chart, you’ll also see thirds of the table broke up as 1st, 2nd and 3rd 12, column bets at the bottom which pay 2 to 1, number bets from 1-18 and 19-36, odds and evens, and red and black.

These make up the standard betting options in roulette. Although you can also make corner bets, street bets, and sixth bets. An inside bet refers to betting on the numbers themselves, and an outside bet refers to the rest of the bet options as mentioned above.

Generally speaking, it’s better to play outside bets as your chances of winning in a short session will be greater. Simply betting on one number, known as a straight up bet, and hoping it hits is not the best way to play roulette and you’ll most likely lose a lot of your money before your number finally comes up.

Can You Win at Roulette?

Breakeven iconNo, you can’t win in the long run playing roulette. However, this shouldn’t discourage you from playing as sometimes you can get lucky and have a win, provided you walk away at the right time. Coupled with this is the excitement and fun you’ll experience at the roulette table, so it’s definitely worth playing.

Basically, all casino games have a house edge and can’t be beaten in the long run, however by factoring hours of entertainment, fun and the chance that you might be lucky in a given session and walk away with a profit, it’s still a desirable and popular game.

You should still follow some basic rules when choosing a roulette game to play though as you won’t want to give the house more of an edge if you don’t need to. As touched on in the question above, you should always avoid tables that have a 00, better known as American roulette tables.

What is the House Edge in Roulette?

At 2.76% you could do worse when it comes to the house edge in roulette, particularly on other table games and American roulette, which has a house edge of 5.26%. A house edge is basically how much money the house will absorb as a profit in a particular game. Therefore, on a roulette table, 97.24% of the money wagered will be returned to the players, and 2.76% will go to the casino. Of course, this is theoretical and lucky or unlucky streaks and play can drastically increase or decrease the practical house edge as determined after the fact. On a long enough timeline, however, the practical house edge will always come back to the theoretical house edge. This is a mathematical certainty and there’s nothing a player can do to beat this in roulette.

Are There any Good Roulette Strategies?

You’ll find hundreds of roulette strategies online and in books and most will get you absolutely nowhere. So you’re better off saving your time and money. As roulette is purely random with a fixed house edge, there’s no strategy that a player can implement to overcome the house and be profitable.

Should I use the Martingale System When Playing Roulette?

When a player makes an even money bet, which may be on red or black or half the numbers on the board, and then doubles that bet if they lose, and keeps doing so until they win, they’re using the Martingale betting system. It sounds good in theory and should allow a player to win their initial wager no matter what, as eventually they’ll win.

The problem is that every spin is independent of previous spins in roulette. The fact red has come up four times in a row, for example, doesn’t give black a higher chance of coming up next time.

This means that hot streaks can occur and if a player is using this system they could lose their bankroll very quickly. Say a player is betting on red at $5 per spin. If black comes up five times in a row, they’ll now be wagering $80 on the next spin to hopefully win back their losses plus $5. As you can see the risks become quite large when all the player is trying to do is simply win a small amount back.

Although I wouldn’t recommend using this system, if you do choose to implement it, then be prepared with a huge bankroll, lots of patience, and nerves of steel.

Other Progressive Betting Systems & Should I Use Them?

Betting Strategy iconYou’ll be able to find a wide range of other progressive betting systems online and in books which each have their own unique method of betting. Basically, a progressive system instructs a player to make certain changes to their bet sizes based on the outcome of the previous bet. On top of the aforementioned Martingale system, there’s also the d’Alembert, Labouchere, and Fibonacci systems.

The d’Alembert system suggests that players should increase their bet by one unit when they lose and decrease their bet by a unit when they win. This system can only be used when making even money bets. It’s considered safer than the Martingale system as the fluctuations in bet sizes aren’t as large.

The Labouchere system instructs players to break down their desired total win into units, and then list out these units in a row in either singles or multiples. After this, a player wagers units in this row and crosses them out if they win. The aim is to cross out all units. If the player loses then they must add the units they lost to the end of the row and eventually cross them out, provided they win and get to that point. Once again, this system can only be used on even money bets.

The Fibonacci system is based on the Fibonacci numbers, which is a sequence of numbers determined by adding the previous two numbers in the sequence together to determine the next number in that sequence. In roulette this is implemented by betting units according to the Fibonacci sequence until you win, then you would return to the beginning. This is once again considered safer than Martingale and gives you a better chance of winning, supposedly. The first few numbers in the Fibonacci sequence are 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 and 34.

Once again, roulette spins are independent and random and the house edge is fixed no matter what. Hot and cold streaks can happen and you can be extremely unlucky when trying to choose the outcome of an even money bet.

Is Roulette Completely Random?

Like slots, roulette is another completely random game. Each spin is independent of any other spin that has occurred before it, so studying the roulette table history screen will make absolutely no difference to your chances or the future outcomes of the game.

Casinos and players love roulette, for very different reasons. For the player, roulette is great as you place your bet and you’re done. Then you just wait in anticipation and watch that little white ball spinning in the wheel with the hope that it lands on your number or color. This is a truly amazing experience which is unlike any other in a casino. Maybe the roll of the dice in craps can compare to it, but the turn of a card in blackjack certainly can’t. Roulette is amazingly fun for players and can provide hours of entertainment.

Casinos love roulette because the house edge is fixed and no strategy can be implemented to beat it. On top of this, they love it because the players love it. Sometimes players have winning sessions and this ensures they keep coming back for more.

How Does Roulette Compare With Other Table Games?

As mentioned above, the house edge in roulette is 2.76% when playing European roulette. Most blackjack games have a house edge of around 0.5% to 2%, baccarat is just over 1%, pai gow poker is 1.46%, and finally craps is 1.41% on the pass line, and the odds bet in craps has no house edge at all. So if you look at it from a purely mathematical perspective then roulette isn’t great. You’ll find better odds at other games.

Simplicity is sometimes best for the casual player, however, and it doesn’t get much simpler than roulette. You don’t even really need to learn the game, by watching for a few seconds you’ll understand how it works. The simplicity of the game is a big draw and this makes it a very attractive table game for many players.

What Type of Roulette Game Should I Play?

If the best odds are what you play for, then play French roulette. If this isn’t available, you should play European roulette. If you’re looking for something else in roulette or have certain superstitions, then choose a game that suits you.

Just be sure to check the house edge on the particular type you choose to play. If you’re feeling lucky and want to really gamble, sit down and play any roulette game that appeals to you.

If you have further questions,  you can visit The Wizard of Odds roulette FAQ. Additionally, you can find answers to some other roulette questions on Wikipedia.