Apr 22, 2020
Apr 22, 2020

How to play Roulette

Roulette rules

Roulette bets

Roulette odds and house edge

Roulette tables and wheels

How to play Roulette

Roulette is a traditional game popular in casinos around the world, and arguably one of the more straightforward to enjoy. Here is a guide on how to play Roulette, including the bets you can make, the odds and probabilities involved and everything else you need to know.

Roulette rules

The objective of Roulette is to bet whether the ball will land on a specified number or colour, or within a certain set of numbers on the Roulette wheel. Bets are placed at the start of the round before the ball is released onto the wheel by the croupier to determine what number it will land on.

Roulette wheels come in two common types: the European style which is comprised of 37 pockets featuring a zero and numbers from one to 36, and the American style which is comprised of 38 pockets featuring a zero, double zero and numbers from one to 36.

There are numerous different types of bets that can be placed on a round of Roulette which reward different payouts, and players can place multiple bets on the same round.

Below are the official layouts of the European and American style Roulette wheel and table that is used by players to place bets:

European style Roulette wheel and table

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American style Roulette wheel and table

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Roulette bets

Bets that can be placed on a round of Roulette consist of two types – inside bets, which are bets made by placing chips on the 37 or 38 numbers listed on the Roulette table, and outside bets, which are bets made by placing chips on any part of the table outside of this area.

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Inside bets that can be made on Roulette include:

Straight / Single

This is a bet that the ball will land on a specified number. This bet is represented by placing chips within the specified number on the Roulette table and usually has a payout of 35:1.

Split

This is a bet that the ball will land on one of two vertically or horizontally adjacent numbers on the table (for instance, one and four or two and three). This bet is represented by placing chips on the edge shared by the numbers on the table and usually has a payout of 17:1.

Street

This is a bet that the ball will land on one of three consecutive numbers in a horizontal line on the table (for instance, four, five and six). This bet is represented by placing chips on the outer edge of the number at either end of the line and usually has a payout of 11:1.

Corner / Square

This is a bet that the ball will land on one of four numbers that comprise a 2x2 ‘square’ on the table (for instance, seven, eight, ten and 11). This bet is represented by placing chips on the common corner the four numbers share on the table (the center of the ‘square’) and usually has a payout of 8:1.

Six Line / Double Street

This is a bet that the ball will land on one of six consecutive numbers that form two horizontal lines on the table (for instance, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21). This bet is represented by placing chips on the outer corner shared by the two leftmost or rightmost numbers on the table and usually has a payout of 5:1.

Trio

This is a bet that the ball will land on one of three numbers that ‘touch’ on the table including zero. On a European style wheel, this can be placed on zero, one and two or zero, two or three, and on an American style wheel, this can be placeed on zero, one and two or double zero, two and three. This bet is represented by placing chips on the edge shared by the three chosen numbers on the table and usually has a payout of 11:1.

First Four

This is a bet exclusive to European style wheels that the ball will land on one of the first four numbers (zero, one, two and three). This bet is represented by placing chips on the corner shared by zero and one or zero and three and usually has a payout of 8:1.

Basket

This is a bet exclusive to American style wheels that the ball will land on one of the first five numbers (zero, double zero, one, two and three). This bet is represented by placing chips on the corner shared by zero and one or double zero and three and usually has a payout of 6:1.

Outside bets that can be made on Roulette include:

Low or High

A low bet (also known as Manque) is a bet that the ball will land on a number from one to 18, whereas a high bet (also known as Passe) is a bet that will land on a number from 19 to 36. These bets are represented by placing chips on the section of the table marked ‘1 to 18’ or ’19 to 36’ and usually have a payout of 1:1.

Red or Black

This is a bet that the ball will land on a number of the specified colour. On both European and American style Roulette wheels, numbers correspond to the colours as follows:

Red: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 30, 32, 34, 36

Black: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 29, 31, 33, 35

Note that zero and double zero are not included in this bet, as they are green. These bets are represented by placing chips on the relevant part of the table (these may be labelled ‘Red’ and ‘Black’ or simply be red and black blocks). This usually has a payout of 1:1.

Odd or Even

This is a bet that the ball will land on an even or odd number. Zero and double zero are not included in this bet. These bets are represented by placing chips on the part of the table labelled ‘Odd’ and ‘Even’ and usually have a payout of 1:1.

In some casinos using European style wheels, a player has half the amount they bet returned to them if the ball lands on zero on Low or High, Red or Black and Odd or Even bets.

Dozen Bet

This is a bet that the ball will land within the first dozen of numbers (one to 12, also referred to as Première douzaine), the second dozen of numbers (13 to 24, also referred to as Moyenne douzaine), or the third dozen of numbers (25 to 36, also referred to as Dernière douzaine). Zero and double zero are not included in this bet.

These bets are represented by placing chips on the part of the table labelled ‘1 to 12’, ’13 to 24’ or ’25 to 36’ and usually have a payout of 2:1.

Column bet

This is a bet that the ball will land within a specified vertical column of 12 numbers on the table, such as one, four, seven, ten, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31 and 34. This bet is represented by placing chips below the final number in the column and usually has a payout of 2:1.

Snake Bet

This is a bet that the ball will land on one of one, five, nine, 12, 14, 16, 19, 23, 27, 30, 32 and 34. This bet is represented by placing chips on the lower left corner of the 34 box and usually has a payout of 2:1.

Roulette odds and house edges

The process of working out the probability of winning a Roulette bet is relatively straightforward. Simply take the quantity of numbers the ball can land on for your bet to win and divide it by the total quantity of numbers on the wheel.

For example, the probability of the ball landing on one specified number is approximately 2.70% (1 in 37) on a European style wheel and 2.63% (1 in 38) on an American style wheel.

The win probability for the main Roulette bets are as follows:

Roulette bet win probabilities

Roulette bet

European style wheel

American style wheel

Numbers that win

Win probability 

Numbers that win

Win probability

Straight /
Single

1 in 37

2.70%

1 in 38

2.63%

Split

2 in 37

5.40%

2 in 38

5.26%

Street

3 in 37

8.11%

3 in 38

7.89%

Corner /
Square

4 in 37

10.81%

4 in 38

10.53%

Six Line /
Double Street

6 in 37

16.22%

6 in 38

15.79%

Trio

3 in 37

8.11%

3 in 38

7.89%

First Four

4 in 37

10.81%

-

-

Basket

-

-

5 in 38

13.16%

Low or High,
Red or Black,
Odd or Even

18 in 37

46.65%

18 in 38

47.37%

Dozen Bet,
Column Bet,
Snake Bet

12 in 37

32.43%

12 in 38

31.58%

As illustrated above, the win probabilities on European style wheels are narrowly more favourable as there are 37 outcomes as opposed to 38.

Casinos secure a house edge on Roulette by rewarding payouts as if there are fewer numbers on the wheel. Indeed, if you were to win a bet on the ball landing on the number seven on a European style wheel, you would receive a total payout of 36 times the amount you bet.

However, there are 37 numbers on the wheel. According to the law of probabilities, this means that for every 37 bets placed on the ball landing on the number seven, the bet can be expected to win once. As a result, if you placed this bet 37 times, betting €1 each time, you would be expected to get back €36 from €37 worth of bets.

This translates to a house edge of 2.70% for the casino, essentially meaning that for €100 of Roulette bets on a specified number, your expected return would be €97.30.

For all of the bets covered in this article, on a European style wheel the house edge is in fact always 2.70%, as all reward payouts as if there is one fewer number on the wheel. If they adopt the aforementioned rule with the player receiving half the amount they bet for a zero on Low or High, Red or Black and Odd or Even bets, for these bets the house edge is halved to 1.35%.

On American style wheels, the house edge jumps to 5.26% as there is one more number, meaning it rewards payouts as if there are two fewer numbers on the wheel. The sole exception is on Basket Bets, which rewards a 6:1 payout for a 5 in 38 win probability, resulting in a house edge of 7.89%.

Learn more about Roulette

If you want to learn about betting strategies that can be applied to Roulette, we have an article analysing Roulette betting strategies. If you’re interested in learning more about Roulette beyond how to play the game, you can read about the history of Roulette.

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