Roulette is one of the most popular casino games worldwide, largely due to its simple rules, the rush we get from playing, and the complete lack of skill involved.
Playing online gives us the opportunity to avoid crowded tables and allows for maximum time in between spins so we are not rushed to place our bets. If playing in house, we can begin betting at the table when the dealer has cleared the table from the last spin and paid all previous winning bets. We then have a certain period of time where we can place wager, up until the dealer calls for ‘no more bets,’ which is usually when the wheel is in motion. When the ball comes to rest in a slot, that number will be called out and a marker, called the dolly in most countries, will be placed on the corresponding number on the table layout.
European & American Roulette
The two main forms or roulette are American and European (French roulette holds the same house edge as European roulette, but has some additional betting options available). The game play of European and American roulette is almost identical, but there are a few important differences that need to be taken in to account.
The European roulette wheel has 37 slots, (1-36 and a zero) and the house edge is 2.70%. European games of the French variety feature the La Partage and En Prison rules, which apply to even-money bets (black/red, odd/even, 1-18/19-36). If the ball lands on zero and players have bet on any of the aforementioned even-money bets, either half of their bet is returned, and the other half goes to the casino (La Partage) or they may have the option where their bet is imprisoned on its bet, and on the next spin, if the bet wins, the stake is returned, but if it loses, then the wager is forfeited.
The American roulette wheel adds a double zero (so now the wheel has a 0 and a 00), bumping up the house edge to 5.26% with a total of 38 numbers. However, often on high roller tables in America, they will revert to the single zero version. While the extra 00 does not seem like a big deal, it almost doubles the European house edge. This suggests we, the player, are going to lose more money in the long run if we play the American style, as opposed to the European counterpart.
In Australia, most land-based casinos have added the 00 to increase the profitability of each low end table. But the majority of high roller tables use the single 0.
Roulette Betting Options
There are many different betting options in roulette and it is a requirement for all tables to display the minimum and maximum bets allowed. The betting options are broken into two categories, inside and outside bets. They are labelled as such because of the layout of the table, as shown in the below image.
Note: Payouts across both the European and American versions are identical, but the true odds of winning specific bets differ due to the extra zero.
Outside bets, as the name suggests, are bets which are located outside of the 1-36 number grid. They automatically lose if the ball lands on 0 or 00 because they are not red or black, odd or even, and don’t fall into any of the other categories.
- Red & Black: There are 36 numbers on the roulette wheel which are split evenly in to red and black colours, and we can choose to bet whether the outcome of the spin will land on a red or black number. The payout is 1:1, but the true probability of winning the bet is 48.65% in European roulette, and 47.37% in the America version.
- Odds & Evens: Here we can choose to bet on whether the ball will land on an odd or even number. The payout is also 1:1, and the probability is the same as red and black in each respective version.
- 1-18 & 19-36: This bet is whether the ball will land on the first 18 numbers or the second 18 numbers. It has the same payout and the same probability as the other ‘even-money’ wagers above.
- Dozens: This bet describes wagers which individually cover the first 12 numbers (1-12), the second 12 numbers (13-24), and the third 12 numbers (25-36); the table layout displays each of these sections outside their corresponding numbers. The payout is 2:1 and the chances of winning one bet on any of the dozens is 32.43% (European) and 31.58% (American).
- Columns: There are three different columns on the roulette table, and the area to place a bet on any one of the three columns is below below the corresponding numbers (the boxes which say 2:1). The 12 numbers in each column go up in increments of three. The first columns numbers are 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31, 34, the second columns numbers are 2, 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29, 32, 35 and the third columns numbers are 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, 36. The payouts and probabilities are identical to the dozens.
Inside bets offer larger payouts than outside wagers but come with a significantly higher risk. All inside bets are located within the grid of numbers 0-36.
- Single Number: The player bets on an individual number, which can include 0 and 00. The payout is 35:1 and the probability of winning such a bet is 1 in 37 (Euro) and 1 in 38 (US).
- Split: The player places their chip or chips on the intersecting line between two numbers, for example, 24 and 27. The payout for winning this bet is 17:1. Our actual chances are less: 5.41% and 5.26% for the European and US versions respectively.
- Street: A three number bet on any single horizontal line. Players place their chips on the edge of the furthermost number in their desired sequence (can be on the left or right side, depending on the layout). This bet holds a payout of 11:1 and a 3 in 37 (8.11%), or 3 in 38 (7.89%), chance of hitting.
- Corner: A bet on four numbers which are laid out in a square design. Players place their chip/s on the intersecting lines of those four numbers. If the ball lands on one of those numbers, we get paid out at 8:1. Chances of it happening: 10.81% (European) and 10.53% (American).
- Six Line/Double Street: Here we are betting on six numbers that occupy two streets adjacent to one another. Place chips at the corresponding intersection (the intersecting point between two street bets, on the left or right of the edge of the layout). This bet gives you a payout of 5:1 and holds the best winning odds of all inside wagers: 16.22% on the single-zero layout, and 15.79% on the double layout version.
- Trio: This bet only applies for European roulette and is wager on the adjoining lines of 0, 1 and 2, or 0, 2 and 3. It offers the same payout as a street bet with the same odds of winning.
- Basket (Euro): Essentially the same as a corner bet, just including the use of the zero: place chips on either the far left or far right of the 0 line and 1, 2, 3 line (the same line). As we are betting on four numbers, the payout and odds are the same as the European payout and odds for the corner wager.
- Basket (US): Betting on 0, 1, and 2; or 0, 00, and 2; or 00, 2, and 3, by placing chips at the intersecting point of the three desired numbers. Like the street bet, this holds a payout of 11:1 and a true winnings probability of 7.89%.
- Top line: Known as the worst bet to make in roulette because the discrepancy in payout and actual winning odds is significantly large. We place our chips in the same place as we would with the European Basket bet, but because of the layout, this incorporates a zero and a double zero (0, 00, 1, 2, 3). Payout: 6:1. Probability of of hitting: 5 in 38 (13.16%).
Minimum & Maximum Table Limits
All roulette tables have a minimum and maximum bet, designating the least and most amount of money you can bet across the table for one spin. When playing offline at a brick and mortar casino, the minimum betting amount is the unit that must hit the table; i.e. if the minimum bet is $10, we cannot place five $2 chips over several inside bets to total $10. The chip used must by at least a $10 chip. When playing at a physical table, the following also applies: if the minimum bet is shown as $5, this will often be referring to inside bets only, meaning the minimum bet for all inside wagers is $5, but all outside bets are required to have a minimum of double that amount ($10, in this example).
Online roulette is much more flexible and clearer in terms of minimum bets. The minimum bet at online tables will usually apply to both inside and outside bets, and will often be as low as $1. You’d be hard pressed to find any brick and mortar casino that allowed you to place $1 bets on black. Additionally, at online tables, if the minimum bet is $10, you will usually be allowed to spread smaller denomination wagers across the board (inside bets only), to total $10; so ten $1 bets, for example.