Roulette Guide

How to Play Roulette Online

While roulette might just be the easiest casino game to play, our roulette guide runs you through the basics you need to start spinning that wheel with confidence.

Introduction to Playing Roulette

One of the big four casino table games (the others being Blackjack, Craps and Baccarat) roulette is the only significantly popular wheel game widely available today and is second only to online slots in its popularity with players. If you want to learn how to play roulette online quickly and easily, be sure to read through the basics listed below.

Overview of How to Play Roulette

The game is played on a circular wheel whose circumference is surrounded by pockets.

  • If playing European Roulette, the pockets are numbered 1 to 36, alternately coloured red and black with the final pocket numbered 0 and coloured green.

  • If playing at an American Roulette, the pockets are numbered 1 to 36 again alternately coloured red and black and the final two pockets are numbered 0 and 00 and both coloured green.

When playing online roulette the players place wagers – normally in the form of special coloured casino chips specific to the individual player, though standard casino chips can be used as well – on a felt layout. Unlike standard casino chips, roulette chips do not have a predefined value. When the player first ‘buys-in’ a chip colour is assigned to them. The value if these chips are determined by the buy-in divided by the number of chips bought. This will generally be recorded by the Croupier (dealer) where that specific colour of chips is racked.

Once the players have placed their bets, the Croupier spins the roulette wheel in one direction before spinning a small ball round the inclined track on the outside of the wheel in the opposite directions. As the ball loses momentum it drops off of the inclined track, bounces off of the deflectors intended to randomize the final location off the ball, then comes to rest in one of the numbered pockets.

Roulette Wheel Layout

Typically the layout has 3 columns with the numbers in order starting from the top left. The 0 and 00 are represented at the very top of the felt (closest to the wheel) directly above the 3 columns. This allows the player to bet in a variety of ways;

  • ‘Half’ – The numbers 1-18 or 19-36 (sometimes called ‘Manque’ and ‘Passe’)

  • ‘Even’ or ‘Odd’ – the Even or Odd numbers (sometimes called ‘Rouge’ and ‘Noir’)

  • ‘Red’ or ‘Black’ – the Red or Black numbers (sometimes called ‘Pair’ and ‘Impair’)

  • ‘Column’ – 12 numbers in a vertical line on the layout

  • ‘Thirds’ – The numbers 1-12, 13-24 or 25-36

  • ‘Six Line’ or ‘Double Street’ – 2 adjacent horizontal lines of numbers on the layout (a total of 6 numbers)

  • ‘First 5’ – The numbers 1, 2 and 3 alongside the 0 and 00 (only available on American wheels)

  • ‘Corner’ or ‘Square’ – 4 numbers forming a square

  • ‘Basket’ or ‘First 4’ – The numbers 0, 1, 2 and 3 (only available on European wheels)

  • ‘Street’ – 3 numbers in a horizontal line on the layout

  • ‘Basket’ – The numbers 0, 1, 2 or 0, 00, 2 or 00, 2, 3 (only available on American wheels)

  • ‘Trio’ – The numbers 0, 1, 2 or 0, 2, 3 (only available on European wheels)

  • ‘Split’ – 2 adjacent numbers

  • ‘Straight Up’ – a bet on a single number

Some casinos – though we are not aware of any online – will offer what is referred to as the ‘Snake’ bet. This bet consists of the numbers 1, 5, 9, 12, 14, 16, 19, 23, 27, 30, 32 and 34. Looking at the layouts above you’ll be able to see that this bet ‘snakes’ from left to right on the layout following connected Red numbers.

Roulette Numbers

Unlike the layout, the numbers surrounding the wheel are not in sequential order, though by and large, they do follow a standard sequence in the majority of online casinos.

For a single 0 roulette wheel (European) the numbers appear in the following order clockwise round the wheel;

0, 32 , 15, 19, 4, 21, 2, 25, 17, 34, 6, 27, 13, 36, 11, 30, 8, 23, 10, 5, 24, 16, 33, 1, 20, 14, 31, 9 22, 18, 29, 7, 28, 12, 35, 3, 26

For a double 00 roulette wheel (American) the numbers appear in the following order clockwise round the wheel;

0, 28, 9, 26, 30, 11, 7, 20, 32, 17, 5, 22, 34, 15, 3, 24, 36, 13, 1, 00, 27, 10, 25, 29, 12, 8, 19, 31, 18, 6, 21, 33, 16, 4, 23, 35, 14, 2

The numbers on the roulette wheel sum to 666 which has lead to various outlandish legends about the game’s association with the number of the beast and the devil.

RaceTracks

While not always present, roulette layouts sometimes include a ‘Racetrack’ which displays the numbers in the same order as the roulette wheel and allows the player to bet on sequences of numbers as they appear on the wheel.

Typically these Racketrack layouts are found on European Roulette games with specific number groupings given French names:

Les Vousins de Zero

(‘The Neighbours of Zero’ also sometime called ‘Serie 0/2/3’) When the player places this bet 9 chips are placed at once; 2 on the 0, 2, 3 combination, and 1 chip on each of the following Split bets 4/7, 12/15, 18/21, 19/22, 25/28, 26/29 and 32/35. These bets combined cover the wheel clockwise from 22 to 25. The 0, 2, 3 combination is paid at 11 to 1 while any of the Split bets is paid at 17 to 1.

Jeu Zero

(the ‘Zero Game’ also known as ‘Zero Spiel’ or simply ‘Zero’) When the player places this bet 4 chips are placed at once; 1 on each of the following Split bets 0/3, 12/15 and 32/35 and 1 chip Straight Up on 26. These bets combined cover the wheel clockwise from 12 to 15. The split bets are paid at 17 to 1 while the Straight Up bet is paid at 35 to 1.

Le Tiers du Cylindre

(‘Thirds of the Wheel’ also sometimes called ‘Serie 5/8’) When the player places this bet 6 chips are placed at once; 1 on each of the following Split bets, 10/11, 13/16, 23/24, 27/30 and 33/36. This Split bets are paid at 17 to 1.

Orphelins

(‘Orphens’ sometimes called ‘Oprh’) When the player places this bet 5 chips are placed at once; 1 on each of the following Split bets 6/9, 14/17, 17/20 and 31/34 and 1 chip is bet Straight up on the number 1. These combinations represent the sections of the wheel in between the Les Vousins de Zero and Le tiers du Cylindre bets. The Split bets are paid at 17 to 1 while the Straight Up bet is paid at 35 to 1.

Neighbours

When the player places this bet 5 chips are placed at once. The player selects a number and that number and the 2 directly to either side of it on the Racetrack all receive a single chip Straight Up bet. The Straight Up bets are paid at 35 to 1.

Additional Notes:

  • Numbers and colours: On both the European and American wheels the number groups 1-10 and 19-28 match odd numbers with red and even numbers with black. The number groups 11-18 and 29-36 match odd numbers with black and even numbers with red.

  • Called bets: Online, when playing standard Random Number Generated (RNG) versions of roulette, all betting takes place prior to the ball being spun. Offline and potentially online where a ‘Live’ version of the game is selected, betting can continue after the Croupier releases the ball up until the Croupier shouts ‘No more bets’. The Called bets are usually placed on a Racetrack layout system and it’s worth noting that Croupiers will regularly assume that a Called number in intended as a Neighbours bet.

Roulette House Edge and Payouts

The payouts for roulette are standard across both the European and American versions of the game resulting in the European version having a far lower house edge.

BET COMBINATION PAYOUTODDS PROBABILITYHOUSE EDGE
Halfs 1 to 118/38 0.47368421 5.26%
Even/Odd 1 to 118/38 0.47368421 5.26%
Red/Black 1 to 118/36 0.47368421 5.26%
Column/Thirds/Snake 2 to 1 12/38 0.31578947 5.26%
Double Street 5 to 1 6/38 0.15789473 5.26%
First 5 6 to 1 5/38 0.13157895 7.89%
Corner8 to 1 4/38 0.105263165.26%
Street/Basket 11 to 1 3/38 0.07894737 5.26%
Split17 to 1 2/38 0.052631585.26%
Straight Up 35 to 1 1/38 0.026315795.26%
BET COMBINATION PAYOUTODDSPROBABILITYHOUSE EDGE
Halfs1 to 1 18/37 0.48648649 2.70%
Even/Odd 1 to 1 18/37 0.48648649 2.70%
Red/Black 1 to 1 18/37 0.48648649 2.70%
Column/Thirds/Snake 2 to 1 12/37 0.324324322.70%
Double Street 5 to 1 6/37 0.162162162.70%
First 4/Corner 8 to 1 4/37 0.108108112.70%
Street/Trio 11 to 1 3/37 0.081081082.70%
Split17 to 1 2/37 0.054054052.70%
Straight Up 35 to 1 1/37 0.027027032.70%

En Prison

Some, but not all, European Roulette games offer the player favourable ‘En Prison’ rule. Where this rule is in force, when the player bets on one of the even money bets (Halfs, Even/Odd or Red/Black) and the ball lands in the 0 slot one of two things will happened depending on the casino’s enforcement of the rule’

1) Half the players bet is returned (called ‘La Partage’ )

2) The player’s bet is placed ‘in prison’. This means that the bet rides on the result of the next round; if the bet would win on the next spin the full bet is returned to the player, if the bet would lose on the next spin the full bet is lost.

In the first scenario the House Edge of the game is as follows;

BET COMBINATION PAYOUTODDSPROBABILITYHOUSE EDGE
Halfs1 to 1 18/37 0.48648649 1.35%
Even/Odd1 to 1 18/37 0.48648649 1.35%
Red/Black1 to 1 18/37 0.48648649 1.35%

The second scenario is slightly more complicated depending on how the casino chooses to enforce the En Prison rule. Specifically the issue arises where the subsequent spin results in a further 0.

In this situation there are 3 possible options;

1) The casino ignore the zero and the first non-zero spin decides whether the bet is returned to the player or not. This rule results in the same House Edge as the La Partage rule.

2) The casino keep the bet on a subsequent zero.

3) The casino create additional ‘in prison’ restrictions on the bet (i.e. if 2 zeros have come up, the player would require 2 winning spins on the next two rounds to release their bet).

In the situation where the casino keeps the additional bet on a subsequent zero the House Edge for the various bets is as follows;

BET COMBINATION PAYOUTODDSPROBABILITYHOUSE EDGE
Halfs1 to 118/370.486486491.39%
Even/Odd1 to 118/370.486486491.39%
Red/Black1 to 118/370.486486491.39%

The variation that allows multiple levels of imprisonment makes only a fractional difference to the standard En Prison rule where the player loses if a second 0 come up. This is due to the rapidly diminishing probability of multiple 0s coming up (presuming one 37 has already occurred a 2nd zero will occur 1 in 37 times, a 3rd zero will occur 1369 times, a 4th zero will occur 1 in 50653 times, a 5th zero will occur 1 in 1874161 times and so on).

Progressive Side Bets

Microgaming currently offer a version of roulette called ‘Roulette Royale’. This version of the game uses a European wheel (single zero) and automatically places a one credit bet on a progressive jackpot side bet. The side bet is one if the same number comes up 5 times in a row (regardless of whether the player one or lost on the main bets of those spins).

The probability of winning this side bet is (1/37)^4 = 0.000000533 or 1 in 1,874,161. The reason that the power is 4 rather than 5 is that it does not matter which number starts the sequence, so the first spin is irrelevant.

The House Edge for this bet is calculated as such;

House Edge = (0.000000533*[VALUE OF JACKPOT])-(1-0.000000533)

House Edge = (0.000000533*[VALUE OF JACKPOT])-0.999999467

We couldn't release this how to play roulette guide without a word of advice about side bets: the jackpot values for this game can be as low as 60000 and as high as 977403. This gives a range of House Edge values of 96.80% to 47.90%. Even at its highest value, this is one of the worst bets you can make in the casino.

The break even value for this side bet would be 1876171.61.

The overall House Edge of the combined bets once the bets on the main game are included is going to vary substantially depending on the amount wagered on the main game. The Jackpot side bet, as it has a substantially higher House Edge than the main game, will always be a penalty on the average House Edge, but the more wagered on the main game the more diluted the penalty will become.

In this case, the best roulette strategy to employ would be to simply stick with the standard Microgaming European Roulette game and avoid Roulette Royale altogether.