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Roulette Overview


The game of roulette, which means ‘little wheel’ in French, undoubtedly symbolizes casino gambling like no other and even those who have never set their foot in a casino door will recognize a roulette wheel. Roulette is an extremely simple game to understand and only requires that players predict where the ball will fall after the wheel spins.

Today, roulette – a game of chance – is more popular in Europe than it is in the United States because of the difference in the house edges, however the online casino gambling industry has seen to it that players from all over the world have access to European roulette and therefore better odds.


Even before the invention of the classic roulette wheel as we know it today, legend has it that the game was played in various forms in several areas in the world, including by Chinese monks and the Ancient Romans. A carnival game in 16th century Europe also slightly resembled roulette.

However, it wasn’t until Blaise Pascal, a French scientist, invented the first roulette wheel in the 17th century that the idea of basing a game on the wheel came about. The first recorded use of a roulette wheel and a ball was in 1720 as a version of the popular game, Roly Poly, among the English nobility. The game went ‘underground’ when English laws banned all forms of gambling and was revived in France in the 18th century. The game was introduced to Germany and, later, to the gambling houses of Monte Carlo as a means to fill the new kingdom’s coffers.

Early settlers brought European roulette to the United States and casino proprietors, keen to increase the house edge, added a second zero to the roulette wheel. This was the beginning of American roulette. The game was not as popular in the US as it was in Europe, although it still managed to attract a huge following of players. Today, roulette, is a popular online casino game pastime and is enjoyed by millions of players from all over the globe.


The objective of roulette is to accurately predict which slot the ball will fall into once the roulette wheel comes to a stop by placing a bet. Payouts are made according to a pre-determined schedule.


American roulette wheel: A roulette wheel with 38 numbers (including two zeroes), compared to the European roulette wheel, with 37.
Column bet: A bet of 12 numbers in a column.
Combination bet: Where the player bets on more than one possible outcome in the game.
Corner bet: The player bets on four different numbers at the same time.
Dozen bet: A bet on three number groups (1-12, 13-24, 25-36)
European roulette wheel: A roulette wheel with 37 numbers (1-36 and one zero), compared to the American wheel with 38 numbers.
Even-Odd: A bet on either the even numbers or the odd numbers on the wheel.
High-Low: A bet on either the high or the low numbers on the wheel.
Inside Bet: A bet on the number section of the roulette table.
Outside bet: A bet on anything other than a number bet.
Red-Black bet: A bet on the red or black.
Straight up bet: A bet on only one number on the roulette wheel.
Trio Bet: A bet that one out of three numbers will come up.

How to Play/Game Rules

Roulette Basics

The game of roulette is played around a roulette table and the wheel. There are 37 or 38 slots on the roulette wheel, depending on which version (European or American) is being played. Each slot is numbered, with the numbers alternated between pairs of odd numbers with pairs of even numbers, as well as between black and red slots. The zeroes are shown as green on the wheel.

The roulette table is designed with all the numbers arranged in three columns of twelve numbers, with the first row across being 1, 2 and 3, the second row 4, 5, 6, etc. This is where the player places the chips to make wagers on the outcome of the game. Bets can also be placed in the areas surrounding these rows, which are all the other types of wagering options available in roulette.

The Difference Between American and European Roulette

As mentioned, the main difference between American and European roulette is the amount of zeroes, with the American version having an extra zero added. As a result, the house edge in European roulette is 2.76%, while its American counterpart has a significantly larger 5.26%.
If played in a land-based casino, American roulette will also be recognized by the colored chips used to distinguish one player’s chips from the others. European roulette croupiers tend to depend on their memory to distinguish chips. Finally, European roulette has specific rules, such as the ‘en prison’ that is not found in the American version.

Game Format

 Players place their bets on the roulette table.
 Once all chips have been placed, the croupier announces that no more bets are to be placed.
 The croupier spins the wheel and throws the ball in the opposite direction.
 Once the ball lands in a slot, the croupier will remove all losing bets.
 Winners are paid out and a new game begins.

Bet Types

Bets in roulette are divided between inside and outside bets. Inside bets are wagers on numbers (single and combinations), while outside bets are considered all other bets.

Examples of inside bets include:
 A straight bet: That one particular number will come up. Payout = 35:1
 Street bets: That any number in a particular row will come up. Payout = 11:1
 Corner bets: That one of a group of four numbers will come up. Payout = 8:1

Examples of outside bets include:
 Red Bet: That the ball will land in a red numbered slot. Payout = 1:1
 Even Bet: That the ball will land in an even numbered slot. Payout = 1:1
 High Bet: That the ball will land in slots numbered 19-36. Payout = 1:1

Particular Roulette Rules

Certain European roulette variations of the game will offer distinct rules that are not generally found in American roulette. The ‘en prison’ rule, for example, works for outside even money bets. Should the ball land on a zero, the player may choose to take back half the bet or leave the money ‘en prison’ (in prison) for the duration of another spin. The bet is lost if the next spin also produces a zero. The ‘la partage’ rule is similar to ‘en prison’, except that players are not given the option of leaving their money in prison and need to forfeit half their bet.

Tips and Strategies

 Because of the better odds of winning, especially when played with the ‘en prison’ rule, it is always better to seek out European roulette instead of American roulette. Online roulette has made it easier for American players to find this version of the game.
 Avoid the five number bet (0, 00, 1, 2, 3) which is only found in American roulette. This wager has a particularly high house edge of 7.89% and is obviously not a profitable wager.
 Try to find roulette games that offer the en prison rule. The house edge will be brought down even more with this option.
 Accept that roulette is a game of chance and don’t buy into scams selling you the ‘optimal roulette strategy’, simply because it does not exist. Whatever you do, the casino will always have an edge to the game.
 Stick to outside bets. These include red/black, odd/even, high/low, etc. bets and, although their rewards are marginal in comparison to other bets, you will be able to win if you are on a lucky run.
 Practice online. Before betting at roulette for real money, give the game a go using the free option at an online casino. This will familiarize yourself with the betting options, terminology and layout of the game and give you the confidence you need to play for real when the time is right.


Roulette is a highly popular casino game that attracts millions of gamblers from around the world. Roulette tournaments are becoming a much sought-after pastime, with lucrative prizes at casinos. Thanks to its classic image, simple rules and the exciting build up to the moment that the wheel comes to a standstill, roulette will always be a favorite among gamblers.

See our Roulette Resources page for further links to useful Roulette sites and pages.







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