Roulette has been one of the most popular casino table games for centuries.
But what is it that keeps people playing this game?
For one, certain roulette games offer you a great chance to win. Another factor is that roulette offers a large variety of bets, meaning you’ll be hard-pressed to get bored.
These are just a couple of the topics that I’ll cover while discussing 10 important things that you should know about roulette.
We’ll also look at betting systems, strategy, and some players who’ve gotten rich through the game.
1. Roulette Offers Lots of Bets
A roulette table can look confusing at first because it has so many different wagers. But the easiest way to break this down is by separating the wagers into inside and outside bets.
Inside bets are those found inside the grid of numbers, while outside wagers are the boxes located outside the number grid.
Here are the different inside and outside bets along with information on each:
- Straight (single) – Bet on a single number to win. The payout is 35:1.
- Split – Wager on two vertically or horizontally adjacent numbers (e.g. 7 & 10). The payout is 17:1.
- Street – Wager on three consecutive numbers in a horizontal line (e.g. 10, 11 & 12). The payout is 11:1.
- Corner (square) – Bet on four numbers that intersect at a corner (e.g. 22, 23, 25 & 26). The payout is 8:1.
- 6 line (double street) – Bet on six consecutive numbers that form two lines. The payout is 5:1.
- Trio – Wager on three numbers with at least one being a zero. The payout is 11:1.
- First four – Bet on 0-1-2-3. The payout is 8:1.
- Top line (basket) – Wager on 0-00-1-2-3, which is only available in American roulette. The payout is 6:1.
- High or low – Bet on a number range between 1-18 (low) and 19-36 (high). The payout is 1:1.
- Red or black – Wager on whether the winning space will be red or black. The payout is 1:1.
- Even or odd – Bet on whether the winning number will be odd or even. The payout is 1:1.
- Dozen bet – Wager on a number range between 1-12, 13-24, and 25-36. The payout is 2:1.
- Column bet – Bet on the first, second, or third column of numbers. The payout is 2:1.
- Snake – Bet on the numbers 1, 5, 9, 12, 14, 16, 19, 23, 27, 30, 32, and 34 (12 total numbers). The payout is 2:1.
I suggest playing online roulette if you’re completely new to the game and want to learn where to place bets.
The software acts as a guiding hand by highlighting where you can place chips. If the software doesn’t highlight areas, then you’ll at least know where to put chips through trial and error.
This is preferable to learning in a land-based casino, where there’s no software to help you figure out how to place chips.
Plus, you’re expected to act within a reasonable timeframe in brick-and-mortar casinos. This makes it harder to process where to put chips for each type of bet.
2. American and European Roulette Are the Most Common Games
The vast majority of roulette games are either American or European roulette.
American roulette wheels are found in North American casinos and many online casinos.
American roulette features 38 numbers along with a 0 and 00. These two numbers act as house-friendly spaces during even-money bets.
Let’s look at how this affects the house edge:
- You bet on high in the high/low bet.
- You win with numbers 19-36.
- You lose with the numbers 1-18, 0, and 00.
- This would normally be a 50/50 proposition without the two zeros.
- But now you’re facing a 5.26% house edge because of these extra numbers (2/38).
European roulette is found in many European casinos and internet casinos.
This game features 37 numbers and a 0. The lack of the house-friendly 00 is definitely a bonus to players.
Here’s how this plays into the house advantage:
- You bet on odd for the odd/even wager.
- You win with any odd number.
- You lose with any even number and 0.
- You’re facing a 2.70% house edge thanks to the lone house-friendly number (1/37).
When faced with the opportunity to play American or European roulette, you obviously want to choose the latter due to the 2.70% house advantage.
3. French Roulette Is the Best
While European roulette is nice, French roulette is even better.
This game is played on a European wheel. But the difference is that it features the la partage rule.
La partage refers to you receiving halfback on losing even-money bets that land on 0. Here’s an example:
- You make a $10 bet on red for the red/black bet.
- The ball lands on 0 and you lose.
- You receive $5 back thanks to the la partage rule.
French roulette only has a 1.35% house edge, meaning la partage cuts the European roulette house advantage in half.
But remember that la partage only covers even-money bets, so don’t venture away from high/low, red/black, and odd/even.
Also, note that American Roulette can feature the la partage rule on occasion. This drops the house edge from 5.26% to 2.63%, which actually makes it worth playing.
Above all, you definitely want to opt for French roulette whenever you have a chance. This game is available in French and Monte Carlo casinos, along with other European countries like Germany and Italy.
The MGM Grand Las Vegas is the only North American casino that currently features French roulette and reasonable stakes. You can play for $25 per spin, which is low for Vegas when considering the 1.35% house edge.
4. Mini Roulette Is the Worst
Mini roulette features a tiny wheel with 13 numbers ranging from 0-12. Here are the available bets in this game:
- High/low. Pays 1:1
- Odd/even. Pays 1:1
- Red/black. Pays 1:1
- 1-6, 4-9 & 7-12. Pays 1:1
- Pays 2:1
- Pays 2:1
- Pays 2:1
- 0-1-2-3. Pays 2:1
- Pays 3:1
- 0-1-2. Pays 3:1
- 0-2-3. Pays 3:1
- Pays 5:1
- Single number. Pays 11:1
This novelty of a mini wheel appeals to roulette players who are looking for something different. But the catch is that the house edge isn’t very good.
You’re facing a 7.69% house advantage on every bet, which is worse than American roulette or any of the other games we’ve covered.
But some mini roulette tables use the la partage rule, which lowers the house edge to 3.85% on even-money bets. This is better than a standard American roulette game, but it’s still worse than European and French roulette.
I’d advise you to avoid betting much money on mini roulette if you do play.
5. Online Casinos Have the Best Roulette Games
Earlier I mentioned areas/countries where you can find European and French roulette.
But what if you don’t live in Europe and have no intention of going? And what if you don’t want to travel to Las Vegas and play at the MGM Grand?
The good news is that you can find both French and European roulette at internet casinos.
The best way to find these games online is to visit any casino that features Microgaming or Realtime Gaming (RTG) software.
Both of these providers offer online French roulette with $1 minimum stakes. This means you can enjoy the best game roulette has to offer along with the cheapest stakes anywhere.
Keep in mind, though, that Microgaming software isn’t available to US players. They only offer their services to licensed markets.
But if you can use Microgaming software, then you’re in for a treat because they offer multi-player and multi-wheel roulette variations.
RTG casinos are available to Americans. But the catch is that you won’t have as many cool roulette variants to choose from.
Again, though, the point of using Microgaming and RTG software is to take advantage of low stakes French roulette.
6. Roulette Strategy Is Easy
Roulette is one of the simplest table games in terms of strategy. All you need to do is pick the right games and stick with the right bets.
Here’s a recap of the house edges for each roulette game we’ve covered:
- French roulette = 1.35% house edge
- European roulette = 2.70%
- American roulette = 5.26%
- Mini roulette = 3.85% or 7.69%
It’s tough to find French and European roulette in brick-and-mortar casinos if you don’t live in Europe. And when you do, the stakes may be out of your bankroll range.
Luckily, online casinos are filled with European roulette tables. You can also find French roulette through Microgaming and Realtime Gaming casinos.
7. Most Roulette Bets Have the Same House Edge in their Respective Game
The other side to this is that you need to make the right bets to achieve the lowest available house edge.
European roulette features a 2.70% house advantage no matter what bet you make.
American roulette features a 5.26% house edge for almost every wager. The one exception is that the top line bet has a 7.89% casino edge.
French roulette offers a 1.35% house advantage as long as you stick with even money bets. This is because the la partage rule only covers even money wagers.
Mini roulette can have a 3.85% or 7.69% house edge, depending upon if la partage is in effect.
One more thing worth noting here is that you should weigh the odds properly with your bankroll.
Single number bets are tantalizing because they offer a 35:1 payout. But you only have 36:1 odds of landing a single number in European roulette.
If you don’t have a large bankroll, then it’s tough to absorb losses while you wait for long-shot bets to come through. I personally stick with bets that pay either 1:1 or 2:1 so that I consistently win.
8. Roulette’s History Is Steeped in France
Roulette variations have been recorded as far back as Ancient Rome. Records state that Roman soldiers would place bets on the spinning chariot wheels.
But French physicist and inventor Blaise Pascal is credited with creating the first modern version of roulette in 1655.
Pascal was trying to invent a perpetual motion device. He failed to create this, but he did invent a rudimentary roulette wheel in the process.
French writer Jaques Lablee wrote about the first record casino roulette wheel in his book La Roulette, ou le Jour. Lablee describes seeing a roulette game at Paris’ Palais Royal in 1796.
It appeared to be what we know today as an American wheel because it had “exactly two slots reserved for the bank.”
French casinos and other gambling houses throughout Europe continued to use the double zero wheel for decades.
The European roulette wheel wasn’t introduced until Frenchmen François, and Louis Blanc did so in 1843.
They were running a casino in the German spa town of Bad Homburg. The Blancs wanted a way to attract more gamblers, so they dropped the 00 to lower the house edge.
The brothers took their game to Monte Carlo in the mid-1800s, and the game continued to spread from there.
An 1886 Hoyle gambling book describes early American roulette wheels as having numbers 1-28, a single zero, double zero, and American Eagle. The latter three spaces were house-friendly, thus creating a terribly high house edge.
American gambling houses and riverboats eventually replaced this with the common double zero wheel.
9. Betting Systems are Rampant in Roulette
Roulette doesn’t offer you many opportunities to influence the house edge. This is why betting systems are so popular in the game.
The most-common roulette betting system involves watching trends and wagering accordingly. Oftentimes this means betting against a trend that’s been winning frequently.
Here’s an example:
- You see black win four times in a row.
- You think that red is “due” for a win.
- You bet $25 on red.
Trend betting falls in line with the gambler’s fallacy, where one thinks that they can use past results to predict future outcomes. Nevertheless, it’s still a popular betting system among roulette players.
Some people develop complicated mathematical systems in an effort to influence the house edge. And there are even those who sell their systems under the guise of guaranteed profits.
No roulette system is guaranteed to work, meaning you should never spend money on a system.
And you don’t have to spend money because there are already plenty of betting systems. Here’s an example of the Labouchère system:
- This is a progression betting system where you use a series of numbers to determine your next wager.
- You start by creating a series of unit numbers like this: 3, 1, 4, 2, 1.
- The goal is to cross all of the numbers off and book a profit.
- You add the first and last number to get your next bet. In this case, you’d add 3 and 1 to get 4 units.
- A unit normally refers to the minimum bet, but it can be any size you want.
- If you win the wager, you cross the 3 and 1 of the list. You then add 1 and 2 to create your next bet of 3 units.
- If you lose, you add 4 to the end of the list. The idea is that you will eventually win back your losses and finish with a profit when the list is finished.
This sounds reasonable enough. But again, keep in mind that no betting system is proven to win long-term profits in roulette.
10. Gamblers Have Won Millions through Roulette Wheel Bias
Betting systems may not consistently win in roulette. But an advantage-play technique called wheel bias has been proven to do so.
Wheel bias involves spotting imperfections in a roulette wheel through meticulous observation and record keeping. If you gather enough data to show that a wheel favors certain numbers, then you can make a fortune.
You can see a few gamblers who won big with wheel bias below. But when reading these, keep in mind that most casinos today feature sturdier roulette wheels that can’t be beaten:
Joseph H. Jagger
Jagger was an English engineer who figured out that roulette wheels favor certain numbers. In 1873, he sent six clerks to record roulette spins in Monte Carlo and bring him back the data.
Jagger analyzed the data and found bias in one of the wheels. He then traveled to Monte Carlo and won £60,000, or what amounts to over £5 million today.
Gonzalo García Pelayo
This Spaniard recruited his family to help him record roulette spins at Barcelona casinos in the 1990s. Pelayo found bias in one particular wheel and made a fortune.
He was eventually banned from many Spanish casinos and traveled to Las Vegas, where he made more money through wheel bias.
Billy Walters and his “Computer Team” group research various casino roulette wheels in America. And they found biased wheels at Atlantic City’s Golden Nugget casino in the mid-1980s.
The Computer Team made several million dollars in profits before they were banned from the Golden Nugget.
Roulette is an easy game once you figure out the different bets and payouts. And what’s nice is that you’ll be facing the same house edge with most of these wagers (dependent on the game).
Speaking of the house edge, you want to look for French roulette whenever possible. This game’s 1.35% house edge is the lowest in roulette.
If you can’t find the French version, then opt for European roulette. This game still has a reasonable 2.70% house edge.
Remember that you can always visit online casinos if you don’t live near a brick-and-mortar casino with the top roulette variations. Specifically, casinos that use Microgaming and RTG software will have both French and European roulette.