You’ve seen the scene a dozen times in as many movies: someone walks into a casino, puts money on their lucky number at the roulette table and wins big. Sometimes they repeat this several times and keep winning.

Well, sorry to burst the bubble, friends, but roulette doesn’t work this way. Sure, the white ball always lands on a number, but there are 37 (or 38 if you play the American version) on the wheel (from 0 to 36) and the odds that you win as they do in the movies are slim at best.

Let us tell you a bit more about the game and how you may increase your chances to win at least somewhat.

A little bit of history

The first version of roulette appeared somewhere around the mid-18th century in France. It wasn’t quite the same roulette we play today, but the principle was the same. Interestingly, the original French version included not just the number from 0 to 36 but also the 00.

The 00 was dropped when the game arrived in Germany in the 19th century, where the first casino was opened in 1841. This new version became widely known as the European version, but when the game was introduced in America someone decided to add the 00 again. This is now the American version of roulette. Though why anyone would play it remains a mystery as it increases the house edge.

The setup of the game

Roulette is a game where the players do nothing much at all except stand around the table, watch the wheel and the little white ball, place their bets and shout at the universe to move that white ball into the pocket that will win them lots of cash.

Everyone sort of knows what the wheel looks like. It’s made of nice wood, has a groove all the way around where the white ball will spin for a while, and comes with 37 or 38 numbers that alternate in colours of red and black with one or two green wedges (for the 0 and the 00, depending on the version you play). Below the numbers, you have an additional space, the so-called pockets, where the white ball will eventually come to rest.

Picture of a live roulette wheel in action
An example of how a roulette wheel might look like at an online live-casino table

There are little bumps all around the wheel in random places as well, which are called deflectors. They increase the bouncing around of our little white ball to make the final result as random as possible.

Now, the wheel sits on one end of a fairly large table with a green felt underground. On that underground, you’ll see a grid that looks like a complicated mathematical table, but it really only displays all the numbers as you find them on the wheel (in matching colors, of course) and some betting options you may choose before the croupier (the dealer) announces that ‘rien ne va plus’, meaning no further bets are allowed.

This setup is standardized and whilst you don’t get wood or felt at an online casino, the layout of the game is still the same as are the colors.

How do you play Roulette?

Well, you don’t, really. The croupier is the one performing most of the action. If you play roulette at an online casino, you do get to decide when to spin the wheel, but that’s about it. There’s not much playing involved. What you will be doing is choosing where to place your bet. Then you cross your fingers and hope that luck is on your side.

Roulette is a bit of an instant lottery in many ways. You have numbers, you choose which ones to play (if you decide to play numbers that is) and the little white ball eventually lands on one of those. You’ll win or lose right away.

So, when choosing roulette, the most important thing to know is how to place your bets. Be aware, however, that you don’t have unlimited time to do so. The croupier, who needs to keep the game going, will ask you (and everyone else gathered around the table) to place your bet. Most people have standard numbers or betting systems they follow. If you’re not sure where to begin, observe the others (discreetly), but preferably don’t just do what they do.

Live roulette at an online casino being played with a classic view
This is a classic view of a live-casino roulette table

In any case, once everyone has placed their bets, the croupier will get the ball spinning. He throws it into the wheel that is spinning in one direction, whilst the ball will be thrown in the opposite direction. Eventually, the wheel will stop, the ball will land, and the croupier announces the result. All wins are paid out, all losses are collected. The next round begins.

Possible bets at a Roulette table

The main distinction that is generally made is the one between inside and outside bets. You can bet on any position on the table, though the payouts differ depending on which position you choose. More on that later, though.

Inside bets

So-called because these bets refer to the ‘inside’ of the table, where the numbers are located. Here are the options:

  • Straight bet – Choose a single number. Put your money (chips) on it. Done.
  • Split bet – The bet is placed on the line between two numbers. Thus, you’re placing a bet on both numbers that touch the line
  • Street or Line bet – Your bet is placed on a line of three numbers here
  • Corner or square bet – Place your bet on the corner where four numbers meet. Accordingly, you’re betting on all four numbers at once.
  • Line or Six-line bet – This equals 2x a line or street bet as you are now placing a bet on six numbers at once.
  • Basket bet or top line bet – Here the bet is placed on the line between the 0 and 00, which also touches the numbers 1, 2 and 3. Only available in American Roulette.
Live roulette being played with 3d view on mobile at an online casino.
Live roulette with 3d view on a mobile, here you can see inside and outside bets

Outside bets

Consequently, betting on the outside means you’re putting bet outside the numbers. You’ll find various sections around the numbers that you can bet on and that is usually safer to play, meaning a higher chance of winning, though usually smaller wins.

These are your options:

  • Red/black – The easiest bet you can choose. Bet on either color, your chance to win is 50:50.
  • Odd/even – More or less the same as above, but you choose whether the winning number is odd or even.
  • Dozen bet – You can bet on whether the ball will land on the 1st, 2nd or 3rd Dozen of numbers.
  • Column bet – Again, you’re betting on a dozen numbers at once, but the numbers are divided by the columns on the table.
  • 1-18/19-36 – You bet that the winning number is either between 1 to 18 or 19 to 36.
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Whilst you can bet on any combination of inside and outside bets, you should always ensure that you’re not betting against yourself. For instance, you could bet on ‘odd’, ‘red’, ‘1-18’, covering quite a few options. You should not bet on ‘even’ and ‘black’ at the same time, however.

What are the best payouts?

The return on your bet depends on how specific it is. Playing a single number will yield the highest possible return. Covering several bases may not get you back more than what you put in, because not all bets you chose may end up winning.

Here’s a simple overview, which suffices most of the time:

  • Red/Black; Even/Odd; 1-18/19-36 – 1:1
  • Dozens and column bets – 2:1
  • Six Line bets – 5:1
  • Corner bets – 8:1
  • Street & Line bets – 11:1
  • Split bets – 17:1
  • Number bets – 35:1

This is a rough guide only, mind you, and the numbers are slightly different for American and European roulette because American roulette has a higher house edge. Where the European roulette has a house edge of 2.7%, American roulette has a house edge of 5.26%, which affects the payouts as well.

Roulette Strategies

Whilst no strategy exists that guarantees you to win all or most of the time, some strategies will help you stay smart and possibly even ahead of the game. Roulette is very much a game of pure chance and there’s nothing you can do affect the outcome. But you can place smart bets and budget carefully. The main thing is not to lose all your money. At the same time, you must be prepared to lose more than you win, though.

And don’t believe anyone who claims to have a foolproof strategy. The only thing that will be proven is that you are a fool for believing any of it.

how live roulette looks when playing from a mobile
Live roulette played on a mobile device

How to stay ahead?

Don’t be tempted to bet on your lucky number or follow your gut. There’s no such thing as a lucky number and chances are you have indigestion rather than a gut that tells you to bet on number 10. Or perhaps you’re simply hungry.

Don’t try to win with the highest odds in roulette. Just try to win. Sure, now and then you may risk a little and bet on a ‘lucky’ number. But you cover more ground by putting your money on outside bets. And your chances of winning are higher.

Beyond that, however, do the following:

  • Set a budget – that should be however much you’re comfortable able and willing to lose
  • Never raise your bet – in Roulette, you’re not actually playing against anyone else than the house itself. If you raise your bet, the house is likely the winner in the end.
  • Stay sober – casinos serve free drinks on the floor. Have a sip here and there, but don’t forget to eat and have some water as well. You don’t want to gamble whilst drunk. That’s a terribly unhealthy combination.
  • Have fun! In other words: don’t play to win.

Offline or online roulette?

Let’s have a quick look at the advantages of offline and online roulette. Whilst it is certainly a matter of preference, each option has different benefits.

What’s great about online roulette?

  • You can learn how to place all the various bets at your own pace
  • No financial risk at all if you play in demo mode (not possible at live tables)
  • Try out betting strategies (and figure out how useless they are)
  • Access to many different versions
  • Play at home or on the go (mobile), wearing pajamas or whatever you like
Live roulette played at the online casino ShowLion with live dealer
Playing live roulette online gives you a feeling of real-life experience while playing

And why should you try real-life roulette?

  • There’s nothing better than the thrill of standing at a real roulette table
  • It’s a cool night out
  • Interesting social experiment (just watch your fellow players)
  • The croupiers are friendly and fun to interact with

The choice really is yours, but you could try both if you ever have the opportunity. Roulette is a fun online casino game to play at online casinos, where you play automated versions or even join a live table. But it’s just as much fun to go out and see the real thing.

Whatever you choose to do, don’t be intimidated and enjoy.

Roulette FAQ

Where can I play roulette?

Every online casino that offers a live game library, has roulette among their games. This might be the most-known live casino game out there.

Is roulette pure luck or is skill involved?

Basically, it comes down to pure luck. But controlling your bankroll management and finding betting strategies that work for you is where you’re “skill” comes into play.

Why does roulette have the numbers 0 and 00?

The green number 0 or 00 in the American version is what makes the house edge in roulette. If this number didn’t exist in the game your chances of winning on colors or 1-18 had been 50:50. So they added 0 and 00 to give the house some edge over the players.