This is probably the most iconic of all casino games! You’re probably already familiar with the roulette wheel as it exists all over popular culture, from classic Hollywood movie Casablanca to hit game show Wheel Of Fortune.
Indeed, the image of the spinning wheel is synonymous with the glamour and excitement of high-stakes gaming. Online casinos offer a great way to play roulette – you’ll never need to worry about rigged wheels or cheating players!
If you’re new to playing online, you’re in the right place. We’re here to help you brush up on the rules of the game.
The aim of the game
A European or French roulette wheel has 37 numbered slots: 18 red, 18 black, and a green zero. The American version has 38 – the extra slot is a double zero.
For each round or “spin”, a ball is set into motion around the edge of the wheel, eventually coming to a stop in one of the 37 slots. The aim is to guess where it will land. Players can bet on any outcome and can place multiple bets at the same time.
For example, you can bet for the ball to land on red or black, you could bet for it to land on sets of numbers such as 1 to 18, you could bet for it to land on odd or even numbers, you could bet on an individual number, or you could bet on any combination of these.
Once the ball stops rolling and the winning number is known, losing bets are swept off the board and payouts are made. Payouts will reflect the probability of the bet you placed.
For instance, if a ball landed on red 32, the players who bet on red, evens and 19-36 would all win. However, if anybody bet on the ball to land on 32 specifically, they would win more money as they picked a less likely outcome.
Unlike other casino games such as Poker, there can be multiple winners in a single round of roulette.
Types of roulette bets and probabilities
Aside from bets on individual numbers, roulette bets fall into two broad categories: inside bets and outside bets. The odds below are for European roulette.
Inside bets: so-called because the betting chip is placed on the inside of the table’s betting area, these have the lowest odds and the biggest payouts (up to 35:1).
Outside bets: these are arranged around the outside of the betting area and have the highest odds of winning but smaller payouts (1:1 or 2:1).
The house edge
You might have noticed that these odds and payouts don’t quite add up – for instance, betting on red has a 2:1 payout, suggesting 50% (or 18/36) odds, but the odds are actually 18/37. This is because the green zero provides a slight tilt in favour of the house, known as the “house edge”. (Don’t forget, you can still bet on zero!)
Here are the buttons you’ll need to get familiar with as you practice roulette.
- Spin – Confirm your bets and spin the wheel
- Double – Double your bet
- Clear bets – Remove all your bets
- Undo – Remove the last bet you placed
- Double and Spin – Double your last bet and spin the wheel
- Re-bet and Spin – Let your last bet stand and spin the wheel
- Re-bet – Change the bet you want to place
Can you have a roulette strategy?
When you play online roulette, don’t be fooled by thinking a number is “due” or that betting on certain numerical patterns guarantees success. The chance for any individual number to come up is 1 in 37 every single spin – regardless of what’s happened previously. The ball doesn’t remember where it landed last! The outcome of any round is entirely random and cannot be predicted.
However, people might develop personal strategies depending on numbers they find particularly ‘lucky’ or through impulse. They might use this in turn with varying the amount they bet on each round.
Whether this really does improve your chances at winning can’t be proven, but it certainly makes things more fun. Whatever your method, be sure to gamble responsibly and only bet what you can afford to lose.
Which is better: American or European roulette?
European roulette is the most popular type, but the American-style wheel is also well-loved. The payouts are the same in both versions, but due to the extra zero slot, the house edge is almost doubled in American roulette. So why do people play it?
The honest reason is simply that some people just prefer it. They might be used to playing in Las Vegas, where double-zero roulette is the most popular style of wheel. European roulette is often reserved for high-stakes games in US casinos, so some people would have started out by playing American roulette instead and are more familiar with it. However, if you want the best odds, there’s no doubt that European roulette is the one to play!
When you’re ready to play, take a look at our list of the best casino welcome bonuses to start with the best possible advantage! Or if you’re looking for an extra interactive experience, look at our ranking of the best live casinos for the option to play against a real dealer!