Roulette - How to Play

By a strange twist of fate, financial problems in Monte Carlo in the 18th century led the rulers to allow the return of casino gambling to that country. A new game, called roulette, was soon introduced and has been one of the most popular casino games ever since. From the luxurious casinos of Monte Carlo, where European nobles went to gamble, to casinos everywhere the spinning wheel and bouncing ball entertain casino patrons throughout the world.

The Roulette Wheel

Roulette is played by spinning a wheel that has 37 or 38 indented spaces or slots on it. The European wheel has the numbers 1-36 and the number 0. The American wheel has 1-36, 0, and 00. In land-based casinos you may not be able to decide whether to play with the American or the European wheel, but online you often can choose. When you can choose we always recommend playing on the European wheel. The house advantage with the European wheel is only 2.7% while the house advantage with the American wheel is 5.26%.

The bettor can choose from a variety of options. These will all be explained below. In every bet the player's goal is to predict the outcome of the spin in some way.

After the croupier spins the wheel, he or she tosses a small ball onto the wheel in the opposite direction of the spinning. Soon the ball comes to rest in one of the slots and the croupier pays the winners.

Before we explain the many different bets that can be made at roulette, take a close look at the wheel. Except for the extra 00 the two wheels are the same. The numbers alternate from two odd numbers to two even numbers. See also that each slot is either red or black and that 0 and 00 are green.

European Roulette Wheel


American Roulette Wheel


The Roulette Table

Bets are placed on the roulette table before the croupier spins the wheel. Look at the roulette table. The American and European tables are the same except for the one very important difference of the 00 on the American table.

By convention, some bets at roulette are called inside bets and some are called outside. This terminology has some affect on the bets as we will see, but none on the outcome of the spin, or on the payout to the winners.

In both European and American roulette there are eight possible bets. Here are the charts. The only difference is in the fifth bet.

These are the bets on a European Roulette Table:


A - Straight, B - Spilt, C - Street, D - Corner, E - Four-Number, F - Line, G - Column, H - Dozen, I - Red or Black, J - Odd or Even, K - High or Low

These are the bets on a American Roulette Table below :


A - Straight, B - Spilt, C - Street, D - Corner, E - 5-Number, F - Line, G - Column, H - Dozen, I - Red or Black, J - Odd or Even, K - High or Low

Roulette Chips

In casinos players buy special roulette chips. These chips cannot be used anywhere else in the casino so they must be cashed in. In American roulette each player's chips are slightly different to make it easier for the croupier to keep track of bets. In European roulette the chips are unique to roulette but the players all have the same chips. The European croupier must have a very good memory!

To Place a Bet

As you saw on the table diagrams, players put chips on numbers, lines, or areas on the table. Some bets are outside the layout of numbers and some are inside the layout of numbers. This is where the terms inside bet and outside bet come from.

The croupier will give players enough time to choose and place their bets. Betting stops when the croupier says, "no more bets". Everyone removes their hands from the table and the croupier spins the wheel. He or she will toss the ball in the opposite direction of the spin. Soon the ball will settle into a slot. The croupier will place a "dolly" over the ball in the winning slot. He clears away losing bets and pays the winners.

Explanation of Inside Bets

Straight Bet - This is a bet on one specific number. The player places the bet at the top of that number's square on the table. The payout for a winning straight bet is 35:1

Split Bet - This is a bet on two numbers that are next to each other on the table. The player places his chip on the line that separates the two numbers. The payout for a winning split bet is 17:1

Street Bet - This is a bet that one of the numbers in a row will come up. The player places his bet on the outer line of the row he wishes to bet on. The payout for a winning street bet is 11:1

Corner Bet - This is a bet on four numbers that share a common point on the table. The player places his chip on that common point. If any of the four numbers comes up the bet is a winner. Payout for a winning corner bet is 8:1

Five-Number Bet - This is a bet only on the American table. It says that the 1, 2, 3, 0,or 00 will win. The payout for a winning bet is 6:1. On the European table this is a Four-Number Bet covering the 1, 2, 3, and 0. It pays 8:1

Line Bet - With this bet the player says that one of the six numbers on two connected rows will come up. The player places his chip on the outside of the two lines on the point where the two lines meet. Payout for a winning line bet is 6:1

Explanation of Outside Bets

Column Bet - This bet says that one of the eight numbers in a column will win. The player places his chip at the end of the column where the table reads 2 to 1. A winning column bet pays out 2:1

Dozen Bet - This bet says that one of twelve numbers will win. The table is divided into three sets of twelve numbers. The player puts her chip on either the 1 st twelve, 2 nd twelve, or 3 rd twelve square. A winning dozen bet pays 2:1

Red or Black Bet - The player chooses either red or black as the color of the winning number. To bet "red" the player places her chips on the square labeled red. To bet "black" the player places a chip on the square labeled black. Winning bets pay 1:1

Odd or Even Bet - The player chooses whether the number will be an odd or an even number. To bet the player places a chip on the square labeled odd or on the square labeled even. Winning bets pay 1:1

High or Low Bet - The player chooses whether the number will be in the higher half or the lower half. The higher half is numbers 19-36. The lower half is numbers 1-18. To bet a player puts a chip on the square marked 1-18 or on the square marked 19-36. Winning bets pay 1:1

Some Roulette Rules

There is a difference between inside bets and outside bets in one important way. If a player wants to divide his inside bets among a number of bets before he reaches the table minimum he may do so. For example, if the table minimum is $10, the player may make five bets of $2. This is not allowed on outside bets. If a player wishes to make an outside bet, the bet must be equal to the table minimum. The player may make other outside bets less than the table minimum as long as he doesn't exceed the table maximum.

En Prison: This is a feature primarily of European casinos and applies only to even-money, outside bets. When the en prison rule is offered it means that a player doesn't automatically lose his outside bet if the number 0 comes up. He may take back half his bet, forfeiting the other half. Or he may leave the entire bet for a second spin. If the player leaves the bet for a second spin and 0 comes up again the bet is lost. However, accepting en prison reduces the house's overall advantage to 1.352% a far cry from the American advantage of 5.26%.

La Partage: This also applies only to even-money outside bets when the number 0 comes up. Here the player may forfeit half his bet but is not offered the chance to leave the bet for another spin.


Roulette is an attractive casino game. The spinning wheel and ball, moving in opposite directions can be mesmerizing and certainly adds to the game's appeal. If a player chooses to play European roulette, an easy option online, he can reduce the house's advantage to a mere 1.352%.

Many players are attracted to roulette because of the many betting options. It only takes a few minutes to learn the different betting options.

Posted by Nick David

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