Roulette – the basics

Roulette – The Basics

coral-roulette-tableWhen it comes to casino games, it’s hard think about anything else than Roulette, which is arguably the number one casino game of all times. Recent years have seen it decline slightly in favor of more interactive games like poker or Blackjack, but a brief visit to a random casino will be enough to convince you which game is still the undisputed number one.

The advent of online casinos has boosted its popularity even further – and don’t get us started on how exciting it is to play one of those new and shiny online live roulette games! In this article, we’re going to take a step back from all that and look at the absolute basics of the game, including its history, rules and variations. If you’ve never really been into roulette or if you’re just looking to learn more about your favorite casino game, this is the right place!

Roulette History

The history of roulette is rather enigmatic. The rumor goes that the game actually originated in China and that it was brought to Europe by Chinese traders, but there isn’t a lot of evidence supporting this particular theory.

It is widely accepted, however, that the French philosopher Blaise Pascal was the first to introduce a fairly primitive version of the typical roulette wheel at the end of the 17th century. In French, “roulette” actually translates to “small wheel”.

The game as we know it now was probably brought into fashion somewhere during the 18th century, with the French novel “La Roulette, ou le Jour” describing a roulette wheel that’s basically exactly the same as roulette wheels of this day and age. In fact, it even mentions that there are two zero pockets from which the house derives its mathematical advantage, so it’s pretty clear that the game didn’t have any secrets by then. Moreover, it means that the “double zero” wheel wasn’t invented by greedy Americans who wanted to increase the house edge – they simply copied the original French wheel.

In 1842, two Frenchmen, Francois and Louis Blanc, invented what is now known as the typical European-style roulette by removing one of the zeros, which was naturally done not to decrease their profits, but to gain a competitive edge over all the other casinos – with the house edge smaller, people were bound to flock to casinos in which such wheels were used.

Since many of the governments started to crack down on gambling in the 19th century, the Blancs fled from Germany to Monte Carlo, where they helped to build the gambling paradise that is now so incredibly well-known.

While the Europeans treated their gaming as a somewhat prestigious affair, American casinos – which were often very basic – started to make the game more entertaining and fast-paced by simplifying the betting layout. The simplified layout – which features the wheel on one end and the betting board on the other one, has now largely replaced the traditional layout that has the wheel in the middle of two betting boards.

How To Play

There isn’t a whole lot to know about playing this game. You make your bet, or bets, and the dealer spins the wheel.

The outcome of the spin – the number that the little ball lands on – determines whether you win or lose.

If your number comes up you will be paid according to the odds of the bet or bets you made.

Roulette Odds

As we discuss further on, there are three main types of this game – French, American and European. European is by far the most common, and the odds are the best, so those are the odds we are going to talk about here.

For a single number bet the odds are, or at least should be, 35 to 1. A winning single number bet, also known as a ‘wheel bet’, where you have wagered $1.00, should pay you $35 in winnings plus your original $1.00 should be returned to you.

If you are playing at a casino that pays less than this, you should change immediately.

To calculate the odds you are being paid on this bet we need to look at the wheel. There are 37 numbers on the European wheel – 1 through 36 and the zero. In American roulette there are 38 numbers – they add double zero.

The ball will land on one number and will not land on any of the other 36 numbers. The true odds then are in fact 36 to 1.

The difference here is the house edge.

That edge can be expressed as 1 over 36 which we can calculate out to be 2.77%.

This is a reasonably low edge – not as low as games like Blackjack and Baccarat – but higher than most slots games.

This low edge is the reason that Roulette is a restricted game when playing with a casino bonus.

The single number bet – along with odd/even and black/red – has the lowest edge of all the bets in the game. Do note that other bets which you might think should have the same odds will in fact have slightly worse payouts on many tables.

Roulette Rules

The rules of roulette are incredibly simple – in fact, the only decision that you have to make is which bets you’re going to place onto the betting layout. The tradition is to divide the range of bets into outside bets and inside bets, so let’s run through them in that order.

Outside bets are bets with lower payouts and higher chances of winning. These include betting on half the numbers (1-18/19-36), betting on whether the number will be red or black and betting on whether the number will be even or odd. You can also choose to bet on a dozen of the numbers (1-12/13-24/25-36) or on one of the three vertical lines (such as the 1-4-7-10-13-16-19-22-25-28-31-34 one).

Inside bets are bets with higher payouts and lower chances of winning. These include betting on straight numbers, two adjoining numbers (horizontally or vertically), streets (three numbers in a single line), corners (four numbers in a square) and six lines (two adjoining streets).

When playing on layouts with a single zero, you can also bet on trios (0-1-2 or 0-2-3) and the basket (0-1-2-3).

When playing on layouts with two zeros, you can also bet on baskets (0-1-2/0-00-2/00-2-3) and the top line (0-00-1-2-3).

Once you place your bets, the croupier is going to spin the wheel and throw the ball in – once it lands, he or she will simply process all the bets and wait for the next batch to be placed.

Roulette Variations

Although Roulette is one of the more stable games out there as far as its variations are concerned, let’s take a closer look at what’s on offer in this particular department.

First of all, there’s the traditional European roulette with pockets numbered from 0 to 36. This is perhaps the purest version of roulette that you can find nowadays in that it doesn’t stray away from the original and that it is played with no additional rules.

Secondly, there’s the typical American Roulette that has two zeros, one simple and one doubled. This naturally increases the house edge, but it still remains to be relatively low for a casino game.

Those who are looking for a variation in which the house has the lowest possible edge should head towards tables that are advertised as French Roulette. These tables are the same as the European ones, but there’s an additional “half-back” rule in play. Put simply, if you make an even-money bet and the ball lands on a zero, you’re going to get half of your stake back. Sometimes, the croupier might even allow you to imprison the bet for the next spin – if it wins then, you’ll get your entire stake back (and you will naturally lose your entire stake if the bet loses).

Some casinos, both online and off-line, have also started to introduce mini-roulette tables that go much faster and that feature a smaller number of pockets. Typically, only the 0-12 range is covered. You may like the fast pace and the simplicity of it all, but the smaller range of numbers means that the likelihood of a zero hitting will always be much higher.


There are many other versions of Roulette available online, such as the multi-wheel version in the image above, but they will all be using the rules and odds from one of the three main versions.

In the Multi-Wheel version shown above from Coral Casino you can bet on up to 6 spins at one time. If you bet £1.00 on say number 17, that bet will cost you £6.00 and you will have 6 chances of that number hitting.

This type of version can be useful if you are playing a system or strategy as it can speed the process up quite a bit.

Incidentally, you can play Roulette at Corals from 1 penny per bet. The maximum bet on that table is £200.00 per bet, so you have a good range to play within.

The reason I use Corals for the examples on this page is their bonus deal allows you to play roulette in the wagering requirements. Many casinos don’t allow it when playing a bonus.

Playing Roulette Online

With all these basics under your belt, it’s time to hit the tables and start playing the most popular casino game of them all. If getting to a real casino seems to be too much of a hassle, you can always stay home and enjoy the services of one of the many great online casinos – like BetVictor – that are on the market nowadays – and you can even enjoy all the action on your iOS or Android device!

What’s more, basically all online casinos offer generous first deposit bonuses, which means that you’ll get some free cash right after you start playing. Loyal players can then typically take advantage of additional bonuses and promotions, so your stay is bound to be an interesting one regardless of which games you like.

Once playing against a computer becomes a bit boring, just check some of the exciting online live roulette tables and get as close to the action as possible. Real croupiers, real wheels and HD-quality video streams – what could be better than that?