How to Play Roulette – Learn All About the Game Rules
Basic Roulette Rules
The game is built around a revolving roulette wheel that is used to generate random outcomes. It has numbered pockets that are identical in size and is surrounded by a circular ball track where the roulette ball is launched. Eventually, gravity pulls the ball from the track towards the wheel where it settles in one of the numbered pockets. The main goal of the game is to guess one of the several possible outcomes defined by the pocket where the ball settles. Here are the main rules that are identical across all roulette versions. Getting familiar with them is critical for learning how to play roulette:
- Bet Placement – real money games require bets to be placed from participating players. This is done by putting chips on a table layout that corresponds with the possible outcomes.
- Bet Timing – after launching the ball in the track, the croupier will announce “no more bets”. Bets will be closed until the ball settles and the outcome is announced.
- No Call Bets – call bets are considered gambling on credit and are illegal in many jurisdictions, including the UK. Players must place their bets in advance.
- Bet Combinations – multiple bets can be placed, with varying probability and payouts.
- Payouts – theses vary depending on the bet probability and are higher for riskier bets.
Roulette is played in three main versions, namely French, European, and American roulette. These games are available both online and at traditional casinos. The best roulette sites offer a great deal of RNG titles and live dealer tables. All available variants are based on the same main principles. However, each game has its distinct features that affect the outcome probabilities, the house edge and the payouts. The most obvious difference is the number of pockets on the roulette wheel, but there are also versions with unique rules that are not present in other games. Stay tuned as we reveal more details about the game specifics in the following paragraphs.
Roulette Wheel – How It Works?
Modern-day roulette wheels are precisely crafted and very well balanced. They move smoothly and are quite inert, with slow and steady rotation speed. Wheels can rotate in either direction. Note that the ball is always launched in the opposite direction, i.e. if the wheel is turning clockwise, the ball will be shot counterclockwise. The ball is usually required to make three full revolutions in the track for the spin to be considered valid. Between the ball track and the wheel, there are eight evenly distributed metallic “diamonds” with prolonged lozenge shape. Half of them are parallel to the wheel radius, and the rest are perpendicular to it. Their function is to reduce the spin duration by disrupting the ball.
One of the most interesting things about roulette is the distribution of the colours and numbers of pockets. European and French roulette feature 37 pockets numbered from 0 to 36. In American roulette there’s a 38th pocket with a double zero. The interesting thing is that the numbers on the wheel are not in consecutive order. Another important feature is the colouring. Half of the pockets are red, the other half is black, and the zeroes (single or double) are always green. On the wheel the neighbouring pockets are never of the same colour. For more information, please consult our full roulette wheel guide.
The Roulette Table – How to Work with It?
Knowing how to play roulete at a casino depends a lot on your understanding of bet placement. The roulette table consists of a layout where chips can be placed, and the actual wheel operated by the dealer. We already described the main features of the wheel in the paragraph above. Now let’s look at the layout and how it’s organised. As you can see in the picture below, the layout represents the pockets on the wheel. However, here we have a different order because the layout’s purpose is to facilitate multiple types of bets.
On the inside, we have the numbers from 1 to 36 in consecutive order, distributed in 3 columns and 12 rows. The zero is placed on top in a green field. On the outside, there are areas that allow placing high probability bets on outcomes covering multiple numbers. Outside bets include:
- Red / Black – each of these bets covers all 18 numbers of the given colour.
- Low / High – covers 18 numbers, either in the lower half (1-18), or the higher half of the range (19-36).
- Even / Odd – covers all 18 numbers in the given group.
- Column bet – covers the 12 numbers in the given column.
- Dozen bet – covers the 12 numbers in the chosen dozen. The three dozens include the numbers 1-12, 13-24, and 25-36.
It’s important to note that inside bets can be made for multiple outcomes too. This is done by placing your chips in a way that covers more than one facet of the layout. For more details about bet types, probabilities and layouts, check the following paragraph.
Rules of Roulette – Bets and Payouts
As mentioned above, there’s a variety of bets you can place in a roulette game. This allows for diverse approaches and strategies that players can apply. Probability and payouts are in a very broad range. The main dependency here is that the lower the odds, the higher the payouts, and vice versa. In other words, riskier bets get higher rewards when you win and they are preferred by many players of high stakes roulette, but the chances to win are lower. The most profitable bets, however, are those with the lowest payouts. The probability there is a little less than 50%, resulting in a high long-term return to player. Check the table below to compare the payouts and probabilities for the different bet types in roulette. The given odds are for European and French roulette. The odds for American roulette are between 0.2% and 1.2% lower than the ones listed below.
|Roulette Bet||Bet Type||Probability||Payout|
|Straight Up (1 number)||Inside Bet||2.70%||35:1|
|Split (2 numbers)||Inside Bet||5.40%||17:1|
|Street (3 numbers)||Inside Bet||8.11%||11:1|
|Corner (4 numbers)||Inside Bet||8.11%||11:1|
|Line (6 numbers)||Inside Bet||16.21%||5:1|
|Column (12 numbers)||Outside Bet||32.43%||2:1|
|Dozen (12 numbers)||Outside Bet||32.43%||2:1|
|Red / Black (18 numbers)||Outside Bet||48.64%||1:1|
|Even / Odd (18 numbers)||Outside Bet||48.64%||1:1|
|High / Low (18 numbers)||Outside Bet||48.64%||1:1|
We already explained the different types of outside bets. They allow you to bet on an outcome that includes a range of numbers. This is also possible with inside bets. All you need to do is place your chip in a way that it covers 2 or more facets of the layout. A corner bet, for instance, covers four numbers, by placing the chip over the intersecting lines separating the facets. Examples of corner bets are 4, 5, 7, 8, or 26, 27, 29, 30. Keep in mind that your chips can be spread in many stacks across the entire layout. This allows players to make elaborate bet combinations. In such situations, every winning bet in the combination is awarded according to the payout table. However, the overall probability of these complicated wagers, and hence the risk, is much harder to calculate.
Roulette Variations and Their Rules
We already mentioned briefly the three main versions of roulette. Now it’s time to explain in greater detail how they differ from one another and what are their pros and cons. There’s no difference in the way the game is conducted. Bets are also played in the same way. Bet combinations are allowed in all versions. The main distinction is in the number of pockets on the wheel. French and European roulette have identical order of the numbers and colours of the pockets. American roulette stands out with one additional green pocket numbered with double zero. This increases the house edge to 5.26%, compared to only 2.7% for European roulette. Also, at American roulette, the order of the numbers is not identical.
European Roulette Rules
European roulette features a wheel with 37 pockets. Those numbered from 1-36 are either black or red. The zero pocket is green. In roulette, the zero is neither red nor black, even, odd, high or low. Also, it’s not included in any dozen, street, line or column. In European roulette, if you make any of these bets and the ball hits zero, this is a definite loss. The table layout is quite similar to the one in French roulette and allows the same types of bets. The only major difference is that the European version uses the English language. Here’s a shortlist of the unique features in European roulette:
- The wheel features a single zero;
- Zero results in a definite loss for Red / Black, Even / Odd, and High / Low bets;
- Highest possible odds are 48.64%;
- House edge is 2.70%;
- The layout is in English;
The role of the zero is pivotal for the game’s house advantage and the theoretical return to player. It means that even for the bets with the highest odds (e.g. Red / Black), there are 19 losing outcomes versus 18 winnings. This results in a house edge of approximately 2.70%, or 97.30% RTP. This is better than American roulette, where the double zero further decreases your winning odds. However, the house advantage is higher than in French roulette where special rules apply.
American Roulette – Learn How to Play
As mentioned on a couple of occasions, the main feature of American roulette is the double zero wheel. Also, the order of the numbers on the wheel, and the layout respectively, is different than in French or European roulette. This makes the American version riskier even when players stick to high probability bets. Here are the main distinctions of American roulette:
- The wheel has an additional pocket numbered with double zero, making the total number of pockets 38;
- Both the single and the double zero result in a definite loss for even-money bets;
- Highest possible odds are 47.37%;
- House edge is 5.26%;
- The layout is in English;
The additional zero pocket makes a big difference by reducing the winning odds. The highest probability bets have 18 winnings versus 20 losing outcomes. Therefore, the house edge in American roulette is 5.26%, and the RTP is 94.74%. This makes it the least favourable of all roulette versions.
French Roulette – All the Rules
French roulette is one of the top live roulette online versions. It has a considerably low house advantage because of the unique rules that are not present in the other variations. The basic distinction of French roulette is the application of the La Partage rule. In a nutshell, when even money bet is placed and the outcome is zero, the player keeps half of the bet. This rule has another version called En Prison. Whichever rule the casino decides to apply, the bottom line is that not all would be lost if the ball hits zero on even money bets. This reduces the house edge to only 1.35%. In addition, the layout is in French and looks a bit different. The facets for the dozen bets are to the side of the column bets. Nevertheless, this shouldn’t be much of a problem if you take some time to read a bit.
Advanced Roulette Rules – La Partage and En Prison
As mentioned, both rules are strictly associated with French roulette. However, they cannot be applied together because they define alternative actions for the same outcome. Therefore, it’s up to the casinos to choose which rule to include. The La Partage rule is the more common one and dictates that even money bets are split in half between the house and the player when the outcome is zero. That said, in such cases, we are still talking about a losing bet. However, the fact that the player keeps half of the money significantly increases the RTP (98.65%), making the game the most preferable roulette version.
Instead of La partage, casinos may choose to apply the so-called En Proson rule. It means “in prison” and implies that the bet is kept on the table to await resolution in the next spin. That said, with En Prison the zero is neither a winning nor a losing outcome for even money bets in French roulette. The two rules are easy to follow and don’t require any special skills. All you need to do is to remember, that you either lose half of your bet, or it stays on the table awaiting a second chance in the next round.
How to Play Roulette – Our Top Tips
Knowing how to play roulette is essentially knowing the rules. If you want to master the game, the best way to level up is to play. We understand that novice players may be more hesitant. Therefore, we shortlisted the most important tips for a smoother start in the game. Here are some basic things to keep in mind when playing roulette:
- Stick to European or French Roulette – These two versions have considerably lower house edge which makes them preferable. Avoid American roulette where the house advantage is higher.
- Train on a Free Demo Version – Online casinos offer RNG powered titles that can be played with demo credits. These are perfect for getting familiar with the game before moving forward with real money bets.
- Mind the House Edge – remember that the casino always has an advantage which is built in the game rules. This means the house always wins in the long run.
- If Uncertain, Ask the Dealer – The croupier will always assist you if you have a question. Also, online games have help sections with all rules explained.
- Have a Plan and Play Responsibly – whatever your bankroll is, enter the game with a clear idea how much you can afford to spend. When you hit your limit, say cheers and walk away.
The right mindset is critical to your success in roulette. That said, it is important to keep in mind that chance plays a huge role in the game and shouldn’t be underestimated. Fallacies and superstitions are another factors that can bury a non-suspecting player. Remember the essentials and don’t rely on or false facts and beliefs. Last, choose games with low house edge and stick to reasonable bets that don’t involve too much risk.
Play Roulette for Real Money
Once you are familiar with the rules of roulette and know the main bet types and their odds, you can start playing with real money. We already emphasized the importance of the casino advantage. Since the house edge varies between the different roulette versions, it is advisable to pick games with better odds. We recommend avoiding American roulette because of its higher house edge. It’s not a bad game per se and still makes it to the top 10 of casino games with best odds. However, when you have even more favourable games, it’s better to choose them. We highly recommend signing up with a casino that offers a good selection of live dealer roulette games.
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Our top nominee for live dealer roulette is 32Red Casino. The operator is licenced in the UK and has a considerable collection of live roulette tables. The casino also stands out with a generous bonus offer suitable for roulette players. Bonuses are a great way to wager at real money games without risking real money. However, not all offers are suitable for roulette gameplay. 32Red is one of the few casino sites that offers a special welcome bonus with 20% contribution of the roulette tables.
Frequently Asked Questions
This guide contains quite a lot of information. We realise that playing roulette might be confusing at first, especially with so many details to think about. If you have any questions about the game, check the following Q&A where we answer the most popular roulette related queries.
More Roulette Guides
We hope that with this guide we provoked some interest in the roulette game. If you are enthusiastic to give it a try, we recommend spending more time with our detailed guides. No doubt, roulette rules are important, but there’s more to the game. For a better understanding of the different aspects of the game, we prepared separate pages where we make a more thorough review of the table layout. Also, our advanced guide of roulette bets, odds and payouts are quite useful for those who want to build a deep understanding of the game. Last but not least, we made a review of the different strategies used by roulette players.