Roulette

Although it has always had a place in land based and online casinos, the popularity of roulette has increased dramatically since the turn of the century.

Its popularity is down to one thing: it's so simple to play. No skill whatsoever is required. Couple that with the thrill of winning 35:1 your bet if your single number comes in and you've got a ‘winning' combination. Old and young, rich and even poor, roulette has something to offer everyone.

The object of the game is simple; predict what number a ball will land on when it is spun around a wheel. Different areas on the table represent different bets and the odds and payouts of these bets vary.

We've compiled a short list of tips

  • Always play European roulette instead of American roulette.
  • Don't believe the hype, roulette systems don't work. However there are some useful tips on our strategy section.
  • Over time, the roulette wheel will always win. Don't be fooled. But like all casino games, it's having the self control to walk away when you're up that makes you a winner.
  • Single number or straight bets as they are called offer the best payouts. However, to increase your fun at the table and frequency of winning, outside and split bets offer the best overall experience.
  • Even money bets (red or black, even or odd) have the lowest house edge of all roulette bets.
  • Multi-player, live dealer versions of roulette offer the closest experience to playing at a real casino.

History in the Making - 350 Years of Roulette

The creation of roulette is widely credited to Blaise Pascal who was a French scientist and invented what we now refer to as a roulette wheel.

This was all the way back in 1655 and since then the game has advanced considerably. But it wasn't until the mid 1800s that roulette wheels we would recognise today could be found in Monte Carlo casinos.

Pascal's original wheel was numbered 1-32 but shortly after the game's emergence in casinos a 0 was added. This was done in 1842 by Francois and Louis Blanc who were said to have made a deal with the devil in exchange for the secrets of roulette. While we're sceptical about whether this is true, we do know that the addition of a 0 actually added a house edge to the game, which is probably the real reason.

Differences between American and European Roulette Left - American Roulette. Right - European Roulette.

As with most modern casino games, roulette found its way on to US shores. Unfortunately those stingy US casino bosses decided the game was still too player friendly and introduced a second 0 and further increased the house edge. This version of the game was named American roulette and can still be found in online and land based casinos today. We always recommend avoiding American roulette as it carries a house edge of 5.26% compared to the 2.7% of European roulette.

Atlantic City casinos took American roulette one step further in an attempt to drum up popularity. They created the en prison rule which meant that if the ball landed on 0 or 00 then even money bets are not lost. They remain on the table until the next spin when if they win they're given back to the player (but not paid) and if they lose then they're taken away. This rule was dropped in 1980 by the Casino Control Commission. You can still find the en prison rule alive and well in most British bricks and mortar casinos.

Along with blackjack, roulette was one of the first casino games to be available online back in the mid 1990s and its popularity is unlikely to wane anytime soon.

Beating Roulette

Here's how to beat roulette...

  1. Find a biased wheel
    • Which is impossible online and very, very rare in bricks and mortar casinos.
  2. Steal from the table
    • As the late, great Einstein once said, the only way to make money from roulette is to steal from the table.
Alvert Einstein on Roulette Einstein: "You can't beat roulette, kids!".

For some reason, people seem determined to find a system which allows them to beat roulette. Obviously this is motivated by a desire to win money, but roulette appears to be a target of these systems more than any other game.

Take Norman Leigh for example. As explained in his book Thirteen Against the Bank, Leigh led a team of thirteen people into Monte Carlo casinos and came out with huge profits. Leigh claimed to use the reverse labouchère system to great effect but mathematicians have doubted whether the winnings he claimed to have made are possible.

The development of personal computers led to a new generation of tech-savvy roulette system players. Of these, the most high profile was a group of physics students from the University of California who called themselves the Eudaemons.

Following research on the roulette wheel, these students developed a formula to track its motion. As this formula was so complicated they created a small computer which they would take with them into the casino and would calculate which eighth of the wheel the ball would land in.

This appeared to work with a 44% profit that led to winnings of around $10,000. However, they abandoned their efforts when one of the computers burned a hole into a female team member's skin.

Other people that have taken on the roulette wheel and claimed to have won include Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo, Edward Thorp and Claude Shannon, and Charles Wells.

Roulette Rules

At its heart roulette is a pretty basic game which is why it's so popular. Really all you're doing is trying to predict where a ball will land once it's thrown onto a spinning wheel.

While there are only a few roulette rules per se, there are quite a few things to consider and restrictions on bets that you can't place.

But being the generous folks we are, we've put together a beginner's guide to roulette rules to bring you up to speed. Even if you have played the game before feel free to have a browse through. After all, can you ever get enough of roulette rules?!

Basic Roulette Rules

  • To play a game of roulette there needs to be a roulette wheel and a table. The wheel is made up of 37 (European version) or 38 (American version) numbered slots. The numbers one through 36 are coloured red and black. The number zero is green (American roulette has a double zero, which is also green).
  • The game is played when a ball is thrown in the opposite direction around the edge of a spinning wheel. The ball bounces around and eventually falls randomly into one of the slots on the wheel.
  • You make bets by placing chips on the table according to where you predict the ball will land. Bets can be placed up to the point when the ball falls onto the wheel.
  • Once the ball has come to rest on one of the numbers a marker called the ‘dolly' will be placed on the corresponding number on the table.

There are numerous bets that can be made in roulette with some having different odds of winning and therefore different payouts. The different types of bets on offer are listed below:

Inside Bets
Bet Payout
Straight up (one number) 35:1
Split (two numbers) 17:1
Street (three numbers) 11:1
Corner (four numbers) 8:1
Top line (bets that include 0) 6:1
Six line (six numbers) 5:1
Outside Bets
Bet Payout
Dozen bets (1-12, 13-24 or 26-36) 2:1
Column bets 2:1
High or low (1-18 or 19-36) 1:1
Red or black 1:1
Odd or even 1:1

Playing Roulette Online

Unless you're playing live roulette, there is no actual dealer so the way the game is played does change slightly in an online casino. But online roulette rules are actually pretty similar to those of the land based games.

The main difference comes from the fact that you can take as much time as you want to select your bets and place your chips. In a land based casino other players around the table may begin to place their bets prompting the dealer to eventually stop bets being placed.

Also, betting limits tend to be a lot wider. For example, land based UK casinos will have minimum bets of £1 or £2 compared to 10p or even 20p online. In addition to this, many of the UK's main casinos such as Aspers Stratford only offer American roulette.

How to Play Roulette

As it's such a popular game, it's unlikely that there are many people out there who don't know how to play roulette.

Nonetheless there may be a few misguided souls who are yet to experience the delights of the ultimate game of chance.

So to help out those new to roulette or refresh the memories of players who have gone far too long without a game, here's our guide to how to play a game of online roulette.

More Options than you Might Expect

Finding a roulette game to play can be a tougher task than you may think as some casinos can have more than ten different games to choose from.

Headlines

  • American and European roulette are the most common variations of the game, but others also exist
  • Some online games use 3D or HD graphics and some offer live dealers
  • Progressive roulette jackpots, although rare can be very lucrative
  • A basic understanding of the game is sufficient to play and enjoy roulette
  • Playing roulette consists of clicking the number you predict and waiting to see where the ball lands
Variations of Roulette at Ladbrokes Casino Some of Ladbrokes' roulette options.

To begin with, you have to decide which set of rules you want to play. The most common variations are European and American. More information about these games can be found on their respective pages but if you like winning then you'll go for European rules.

In addition to these main two types there are other ways that roulette games can vary. Here's just a few of them:

  • Graphics can vary (3D, HD etc.)
  • Live roulette
  • Progressive jackpots (these are rare but can provide big wins)

How to Play a Game of Roulette

One you've made your choice of roulette game and deposited some money into your account, you're pretty much ready to go. So without further ado, here's our step by step guide showing you how to play roulette.

  1. Click on the chip value that you would like to bet and then click on the area of the table where you would like to place your bet.
  2. Repeat step one until you're satisfied with the bets that you've made on this spin.
  3. Click on the 'spin' or ‘play' button and watch as the ball is thrown onto the spinning wheel and eventually comes to a stop.
  4. Once the ball comes to rest the winning number will be revealed and the dolly (marker) will be placed on the correct number on the table.
  5. All winning bets will be paid automatically at the correct amount while losing bets will be taken by the casino.
  6. If you wish to continue playing then return to step one and keep spinning until your heart's content!

Roulette Strategy

A lot has been said about roulette strategy over the years. There have been many varied opinions on what works, how it works and if it works.

Many great men and women have tried their hand at creating the perfect roulette betting system but all have failed.

There's no such thing as a perfect roulette strategy. Some have come close and have been able to win for a small period of time but eventually they were all unable to overcome the odds of the mighty house edge.

Roulette Tips

  • Where possible always play European roulette over American roulette.
  • Play roulette games where you can surrender or leave your bet on the table when a 0 comes up (called en prison). This reduces the house edge to 1.35% but is hard to find online.
  • The lowest house edges are on even money bets. Inside bets have higher house edges.
  • If you really fancy that big payout, spread your bets on single number bets called straight up bets.
  • You can hedge your losses to some extent by nesting single straight up bets with splits, orders and street bets.
  • Forget about roulette strategies – they don't work!

But despite the lack of a working roulette strategy that guarantees you big wins, there are still a few things that you can do in order to increase your chances of winning.

Popular Roulette Strategies

Rather than being advice about where to actually bet, most roulette strategies that have been created are simply money management systems. Below are a few of the more popular, but still unsuccessful, ones.

Martingale System

The Martingale betting system is by far the most well known roulette strategy. In order to implement it correctly you must be betting on an even money bet such as red or black, or odds or even. The theory is that when you lose a bet you have to double the next one in order to recoup your losses. So if you lose a £5 bet then you bet £10 the next time.

If you win your bet then you continue to bet the same amount. This theory may actually work if a player had an infinite bank roll - unfortunately we don't know anyone who does. Once you lose multiple hands in a row then the amount being bet starts to pile up and soon enough you'll have run out of money.

Labouchere

This roulette system is very similar to the Martingale system except that players aren't required to increase their bets quite so dramatically after a loss. Rather than doubling your wager, a series of numbers are used to determine the amount wagered.

Thirteen Against the Bank Book

The system requires the player to write down a series of numbers dependant on the amount you're willing to bet. When you lose a bet you must cross off one of the numbers and this determines how much you place on your next bet.

Reverse Labouchere

This roulette system was primarily championed by Norman Leigh and his use of it is described in his book titled ‘Thirteen Against the Bank'. As the name suggests it works using the same system as the Labouchere roulette system but with one major difference.

This difference is that rather than increasing your bet when you lost, you did so when you won instead. Leigh's argument was that when using his system a large winning streak or a number of small ones would lead to huge profits whereas the Labouchere system lead to huge losses should you have a losing streak.

European Roulette

In case you didn't already know, where possible you should always play European roulette instead of the American version of the game.

Highlights

  • European roulette is offered in almost every online casino.
  • With just one zero, European roulette is preferred to American Roulette as you’ve got better odds of winning.
  • Inside bets offer high payouts, but a slim chance of winning
  • Outside bets offer a higher likelihood of winning but lower payouts
Playtech Euro Roulette Screenshot A European Roulette table and wheel.

The simple reason that European roulette is much more preferable than American roulette is that the wheel only has one zero. This impacts your chances of winning much more than you might think. It means that the games house edge is a friendly 2.7% instead of 5.25%.

European Roulette Bets

All of the numbers on a European roulette table are arranged in 12 rows and three columns with the number zero placed at the top of the number field. Every bet that's placed in this space or on the lines between numbers is called an 'inside bet'.

Bet Payout
Zero bet 35-1
Single number 35-1
Two numbers (split) 17-1
Three numbers (street) 11-1
Four numbers (corner) 8-1
Six numbers 5-1
Column 2-1
First 12, second 12 or third 12 2-1
1-18 or 19-36 1-1
Red or black 1-1
Even or odd 1-1

European Roulette Inside Bets

An inside bet is a type of Roulette bet made up of a specific number bet or a combination of different numbers within the number layout on the table. The following bets are all classed as inside bets.

  • Zero bet – essentially the same as a single number bet except that it's placed on 0.
  • Straight-up bet (single number bet) – pretty self explanatory – the single number bet is placed on just one number.
  • Split bet (two numbers) – Split bets are placed on the line between two different numbers.
  • Street bet (three numbers) – Street bets are placed at the end of a row of numbers and allow you to bet on all three numbers in that row.
  • Corner bet (four numbers) – This bet is made by clicking on a corner that is attached to four different numbers.
  • Line bet (six numbers) – Placed by clicking on the corner in-between two rows and bets on all six numbers on those two rows.

European Roulette Outside Bets

Outside bets in European roulette are placed outside of the 37 numbers of the European roulette table layout and refer to specific sections and colours. They have lower payouts than inside bets but with also provide you with a better chance of winning.

Many online European roulette players tend to predominantly place outside bets and just place one or two speculative inside bets. Below is a list of outside bets that are available in European roulette.

Red or Black
Even money bet on whether the number will be red or black.
Odd or Even
Betting whether the winning number will be odd or even.
High or Low
Betting on whether the winning number is 1-18 (low) or 19-36 (high).
Columns
Column bets are placed at the bottom of the column and bet on the twelve numbers in the respective column.
Dozens
Allows you to place a bet on any one of three separate dozens. These range 1-12, 13-24 and 25-36.

American Roulette

American roulette appeared in the 1800s after the game had been brought to the country by French and European settlers.

It was created after tight fisted American casino bosses felt that the original format of the game favoured the player too much. As a result, an extra zero, also known as the double zero, was added and the house edge of the game rose to 5.25%.

Highlights

  • American roulette was developed to give the casino more house edge
  • In spite of slightly poorer odds than European roulette, American roulette is still very popular in online casinos
  • Even online casinos that don’t allow American players offer American roulette
  • The fundamental difference between American and European roulette is the double zero
  • The American roulette wheel has a different number sequence, which leads to consecutive numbers being opposite each other
Playtech American Roulette Screenshot Betfair's American Roulette table.

The game became extremely popular in riverboats along the Mississippi river and in New Orleans. However, the game was plagued by cheaters as the wheel was originally out of sight below the table. This was soon changed and the game of roulette has continued to be extremely popular in the US ever-since.

Online American roulette can be found in all online casinos even if they don’t accept US players (which most don’t). To be honest we’re not entirely sure why, seeing as it’s clearly less preferable to European roulette.

American Roulette Bets

American roulette rules are also very similar to the European format but obviously have the addition of the extra bet.

The layout of the table includes a grid made up of three horizontal boxes and twelve vertical. The first six types of bet are all made on the numbered space or on the lines between them and are called inside bets.

The last five are made by clicking on the boxes to the side and below the grid of numbers. These are called outside bets and have better chances of winning than most inside bets but include lower payouts.

Bet Payout
Zero and double zero 35-1
Single number 35-1
Two numbers (split) 17-1
Three numbers (street) 11-1
Four numbers (corner) 8-1
Six numbers 5-1
Column 2-1
First 12, second 12 or third 12 2-1
1-18 or 19-36 1-1
Red or black 1-1
Even or odd 1-1

While the zero and double zero bets technically count as a single number bet, we placed them in a different category here to highlight the fact that there is an extra bet on offer.

The Double Zero Bet

In almost every land based US casino you’ll find a game of American roulette. However you’ll be hard pushed to find much in the way of European roulette. Annoyingly, this is also the case in the UK.

Fortunately most online casinos offer both forms of roulette. The major difference between the two is obviously that there is an extra zero.

While this does increase the house edge, it also means that there is a definite pattern in the numbers on the wheel. Consecutive numbers appear opposite each other while successive pairs of numbers of the same colour total 37. Have a look next time you’re playing.

Roulette Jackpots

Roulette is a game that has never really been associated with progressive jackpots. The closest you'll usually come to a jackpot is a single number payout.

Highlights

  • Roulette jackpots provide the opportunity to win well over the 35-1 maximum payout of a standard roulette game
  • Roulette jackpots are rare, but Roulette Royale and Premium Roulette are the most famous
  • The Roulette Royale jackpot is hit when a number falls five times consecutively
  • Premium roulette jackpots are relatively small, but are frequently hit
  • It's only a matter of time before Roulette Jackpots grow in Popularity

While winning a single number bet (35:1) is good, even if you wager £5 then you'll only win £175. This is obviously a nice payout but it's not really in the same league as some of the progressive jackpots that can be found online.

Until recently, these progressive jackpots were reserved for slots but they are now being attached to a number of other games including roulette. Unfortunately there aren't a whole lot of jackpot roulette games yet but it's surely only a matter of time until they grow in popularity.

Jackpot Roulette Games

We set out on a search of online casinos everywhere to find the best jackpot roulette games but could only come up with one. Our fingers are crossed that more will be created in time though.

Roulette Royale

Roulette Royale One of the few progressive jackpot roulette games, Roulette Royale.

This Microgaming effort was the first ever roulette jackpot game to be found in online casinos. It uses a single zero wheel and has all of the bets available that you would expect from a game of roulette.

Then there's the rather large matter of the progressive jackpot. The Roulette Royale jackpot is won when the ball lands on the same number five spins in a row. While this is fairly unlikely to happen, it has done before with the first jackpot win going for almost £1 million.

Since then it has paid out on a few hundred thousand pound jackpots as well and looks set to continue doing so. It certainly helps that the jackpot tends to increase by almost £1,000 every day meaning that if you do win it, you will win big!