Roulette is often referred to as the King of Casino Games, and has been among the most popular and widely played games since its development in France around 300 years ago.
The name literally means 'small wheel' in French, referring to the way in which players need to bet on where a ball will land and come to a stop within a small spinning disk. The wheel is adjacent to a table of red and black numbers where numerous different bets can be placed.
It has been suggested that this is the oldest casino game still being played today, although its' exact origins are somewhat shrouded in mystery. Roman soldiers used to fire arrows at a rotating wheel and bet on where they would land, but another legend is that the Chinese used a similar wheel as a form of torture.
What is certain is that a French mathematician and philosopher by the name of Blaise Pascal developed much of the game and the rules associated with it. Shortly afterwards, two brothers called Francois and Lois Blanc added the 0 to the wheel, as they realized that this would give the House a small advantage over the players.
The new game, now known as European Roulette became hugely popular around the continent, particularly in Germany and Monaco, where it was one of the main revenue earners for the court of King Charles III. As with so many casino games that have survived to the present day, it was in the Americas that Roulette found enduring popularity, as immigrants brought across the Atlantic with them.
With the gold rush in the American West came new fortunes, and many lucky miners spent much of their wealth on casino games. The wheel was adapted with an extra 00 section that further increased the House edge, and this has remained the version played in the USA.
Now, online casinos have made Roulette available to millions of players from all corners of the globe, with new variants like Live Roulette, 3D Roulette and French Roulette all provided.
Roulettes' French origins and American influences are reflected in much of the terminology used in the modern game.
American Wheel: wheel that contains an additional 00 section to give a total of 38 sections, one extra that on a European one.
Ball: A white ball spun around the wheel in the opposite direction to the spin, coming to rest on one of the numbered sections.
Column Bet: A bet on one of the three vertical columns numbered 1 to 12, 13 to 24, and 25 to 36. Also referred to as a dozens; premier 12 bet on the first dozen, or derniere bet on the last dozen. This wager pays out at 2:1.
Corner Bet: A bet on four adjacent numbered sections, also referred to as a 'carre' bet. This pays out at 8:1.
Croupier: The term for the dealer in French, American and many online casinos.
European Wheel: A wheel with a total of 37 numbered sections, from the single 0, to 36.
Even Bet: A bet put on all of the even numbers from 2 to 36, which pays out at 1:1.
Even Money Bet: Any of the possible bets that pay out at 1:1 including betting on red or black, high numbers or low ones, and odd or even numbers.
Five Number Bet: A bet that is only possible on an American wheel, on the numbers 0, 00, 1, 2, and 3.
High/Low Bet: A wager on either the numbers 1 to 18, or 19 to 36.
Inside Bet: A bet on any number, or numbers in the central section of the table.
Line Bet: A bet on one line of six numbers.
Odd Bet: A bet on all odd numbers from 1 to 35.
Outside Bet: A bet anywhere outside of the central section of the table, such as odd/even, high/low.
Split Bet: A bet on any two adjacent numbers on the table.
Straight Up Bet: A bet placed on a single number only.
Street Bet: A bet on three numbers in a row.
Goal: The aim is to correctly guess where the white ball will come to a rest within the wheel.
Opponent: The casino, or House.
- Players then make their wagers, which can be on a single number, groups of numbers, (such as lines, columns and corners), or outside bets (such as high/low, odd/even or red/black).
- Croupier will then start to spin the wheel, and get the ball to roll around the wheel, and the players then have to wait for the ball to come to a rest in one of the numbered sections.
- Once the ball has stopped, and the winning number is revealed, the Croupier will then make payouts to players who have covered that number with their bets.
The House edge varies depending on the version being played. In European games, with a single 0 on the wheel, the edge is 2.7%, but with the 00 of the American game added to the wheel, that edge goes up to 5.26%.
Straight-up bet on one number – 36:1 (or 37:1/38:1 if there is no house advantage).
Split bet on two numbers - 17:1.
Street bet on three numbers - 11:1.
Corner bet on four numbers - 8:1.
Six-number bet - 5:1.
Column or outside dozen bet - 2:1
Even Money Bets - 1:1.
The results of a spin of the roulette wheel are totally random, and there is nothing the players can do to influence it. Unlike other games like Poker and Blackjack, where mathematical strategies can alter the House edge, the only way to maximise you chances of getting a win are to use a betting system. There are many systems that can be used, three of which are described here :
Martingale Strategy: This is the most widely used betting strategy and requires the player to place an Evens bet, either on red/black, high/low or odds/evens. If the bet loses on the first spin, the next bet, which must be on the same outcome, is doubled in size, and should that bet also lose, the subsequent one is doubled again and so on until a winning spin. This is, however, highly risky, as should several bets lose in a row, the player could be staking huge sums of money just to cover their losses so far, exceeding the table limits or the bankroll size in just a few spins.
D’Alembert Strategy: This system has a lower risk, as players only need to increase the value of their wager by one unit after a loss, and following a win, they decrease the bet by one unit. Once the number of wins equals the number of losses, the player should then start over, or cash their chips in following a winning streak.
James Bond Strategy: Like 007 himself, this is can be risky. The strategy requires at least $200 and only works on European roulette. The player should put 70% of their stake on the high numbers, 20% on the low numbers, and 10% on the 0. Should the ball land on a high number, or the 0, you win, and you lose if a low number is hit.
- Roulette is an easy game to learn and play, it is ideal for anyone looking for a new game to play, or is new to casino games.
- Anyone looking to make a living through gambling is advised to look elsewhere, as the House advantage cannot be overturned with any system or strategy. If you want to make a career out of casino games, become an expert Poker player.
- By making Even Money bets, the payouts may be smaller, but so are the risks, with a 50/50 chance of a win, minus the odds of hitting the 0. Wins can often match or sometimes even exceed losses.
- Try both European and American roulette. Both versions will be offered by the better online casinos.
Most online casinos also have the option for customers to try them in free-play mode, giving players the opportunity to learn the rules and how it works before staking any real money.