➤ How to play roulette: Rules, Odds and Payouts

The game of roulette has rules that are easy to pick up and the best part is that beginners and experienced players have the same chances of winning. In most casino games, practice makes perfect, but when it comes to roulette, all you need is good luck and a solid understanding of the rules. Based on their expectations and bankroll, players can choose an aggressive betting strategy, or settle for smaller potential winnings in exchange of better winning odds.

For a better understanding of roulette, we highly recommend:

History of roulette

The history of the game begins more than 300 years ago, at the end of the 17th century, with Frenchman Blaise Pascal being credited with this invention. Apparently he was trying to create a perpetual motion machine as he was studying probabilities, but the outcome took him by surprise. The roulette wheel gained a lot of traction relatively quickly and by the end of the century it was a popular game in Paris.

There are plenty of stories that modern players like to share when it comes to Roulette and most of them are about bad beats and incredible downswings. Back in the day, legends had a slightly different flavor and some claim that Frenchman Francois Blanc was so determined to gain the secrets of the game that he struck a deal with the devil.

The argument frequently cited in support of this claim is that the numbers on the wheel will add up to 666, so there definitely has to be something unholy going on. You don’t need to a big fan of Goethe and his Faust to fall in love with the game though, but this theory could come in handy when going through a rough streak. It is always better to blame somebody else for your downswings, especially the devil, instead of taking responsibility for erratic gambling behavior.

Over the course of time, casinos decided to improve the house edge and since imagination is not their strong suit, the solution was to add another zero. The betting table changed its structure many times and when the game was imported to America, these changes grew numerous. French Roulette has a more traditional layout and offers better odds for players, while adding two special rules for the connoisseurs.

Roulette rules

If you didn’t figure out the object of playing roulette by now, you should probably stay away from the wheel. The purpose is to win as much as possible in each session you play and avoid downswings on the long run, silly. On a more serious note, players are supposed to correctly guess the number on which the ball will land after the spin. There are several types of bets to choose from and each of them has a different payout, with the best paying wagers being also the most unlikely to win.

The rules state that players are supposed to place their bets before the ball starts dropping, but it is possible to wager when the wheel is in motion. The dealer is the one who calls the end of the betting phase, and once the ball stops in its final resting place, the winners are paid and a new round begins. It is the dealer’s duty to clear off all losing bets and lift the marker off the winning number.

In addition to these roulette rules, there are some that have to do more with etiquette, but even though they are unwritten ones, are just as important. For instance, people who are just watching the game are not allowed to sit at the roulette table seats and the dealer will kindly ask them to step aside. Those who play, are supposed to place their bets as quickly as possible, without interfering with their peers, so that everyone can wager before the dealer calls “no more bets.”

Roulette bets and odds

Once the player purchases the chips from the casino’s cashier, he is allowed to bet on any number, group of numbers or betting areas. The only problem is that they have a limited period of time to do so and in land-based casinos, where many people play at the same table, it can get a bit crowded.
The dealer can also help with placing the bets if asked by a player, but he can easily get overwhelmed when receiving many similar requests. By contrast, those who choose to play roulette online won’t have the same problem, as they decide when the wheel starts spinning. The only exception to the rule is provided by online casinos that offer live dealers, as the same rules apply as in brick-and-mortar casinos.
Basically there are two categories of roulette bets, which go by the name of outside and inside bets. The former are more likely to produce a winner as the chances to win are 50-50, while inside bets are riskier but can trigger bigger payouts.

roulette bet payouts
Roulette bets, odds and payouts

Outside Bets

Perhaps the most popular roulette bet of all is the Red or Black wager, which pays even money and allows players to bet on either color. If the player wins he will keep the initial state and receive an equal amount. Odd or Even has the same payout ratio, the only difference being the fact that players bet on old and even numbers. The High or Low is also an even money bet is the one on numbers ranging from 1 to 18 or 19 to 36 and in all these roulette bets, the house extract its edge from the zero slot.
It goes without saying that those who play American roulette that features two zeroes will have to deal with a bigger house edge. By contrast, those who prefer French Roulette, which is a version of European Roulette will have better chances to win, due to the “in prison” rule. Basically, if the ball lands on zero, the player doesn’t lose the wager, instead it is locked in for another spin. If the next wager is a winner, the money will be released, if not it goes to the casino’s coffers.
A slightly different type of outside bets are those that pay 2-1 as the odds of winning are just 33%. The most popular version is on the Dozens, where players are supposed to bet on the first 12 numbers, the second or the third. The same goes for the Columns bet, with players being also expected to bet on 12 numbers, with the only difference being the distribution on the betting grid.
All outside bet are clearly defined on the roulette table with specific places for each bet.

roulette table bets
The position of the roulette bets on the table.


Inside Bets

These sorts of wagers are not suitable to risk-averse players, as the odds of winning are reduced, albeit potential profits are boosted. Gamblers will frequently bet on a single number and if they win the payout will be 35 to 1. One thing to keep in mind is that while players are allowed to bet on the zero slot or the double zero, if they play American roulette, the return on investment is 35 to 1 while the odds are 37 to 1.
The second most risky wager is on the split, as players are betting on two numbers and if they make a correct prediction, the initial bet will be increased 17 times. The Street bet is basically a fancy name for a wager that pays 11 to 1, if the player makes the right assumption and the ball lands on one of the three numbers he indicates. To place this wager, players are expected to place the chip on the line that separates outside bets from inside ones.
A corner bet pays 8 to 1 and it is made by placing the chip at the crossroads of four numbers, indicating the player’s intention on betting on all adjacent numbers. The five number wager is rarely used, due to the fact that it applies only to American roulette and  carries a massive house edge of 7.9% while the return on investment is 6 to 1. The odds are much fairer if you choose the double street wager, as you bet on six numbers and the payout is 5 to 1.

Bet                      Payout  Win probability* Win probability**
Red / Black (18 numbers)   1:1        48.65%          47.37%
Even / Odd (18 numbers)    1:1        48.65%          47.37%
Low / High (18 numbers)    1:1        48.65%          47.37%
Dozen (12 numbers)         2:1        32.43%          31.58%
Column (12 numbers)        2:1        32.43%          31.58%
Double Street (6 numbers)  5:1        16.22%          15.79%
First Five (5 numbers)     6:1          -             13.16%
Corner (4 numbers)         8:1        10.81%          10.53%
Street (3 number           11:1       8.11%           7.89%
Split (2 numbers)          17:1       5.41%           5.26%
Straight (single number)   35:1       2.70%           2.63%

* = European wheel win probability
** = American wheel win probability
The best way to develop your own set of strategies is to play roulette online in a reputable casino like Parklane Casino and start experimenting.

Types of roulette and table layout

There are basically two types of roulette wheels, with the distinction between them being made by the number of zero slots. The European version is considered to be the fair one, as it features a single zero, while its American counterpart increases the house edge by adding the 00 slot.

American roulette wheel

In addition to the 36 regular numbers, the American roulette wheel features two green slots that have 0 and 00 inscribed on them. They reside at the opposite side of the wheel, as do all consecutive and same color numbers. The distribution of regular numbers is also different from European Roulette, and this is how they go counterclockwise: 0, 2, 14, 35, 23, 4, 16, 33, 21, 6, 18, 31, 19, 8, 12, 29, 25, 10, 27, 00, 1, 13, 36, 24, 3, 15, 34, 22, 5, 17, 32, 20, 7, 11, 30, 26, 9, 28.


European roulette wheel

Since there is a single zero slot on the European Roulette, manufacturers don’t need to make sure that it sits at the opposite side of the reel from any number. The rule still applies to same color numbers and consecutive ones, but the sequence is different and it goes like this, clockwise: 26, 3, 35, 12, 28, 7, 29, 18, 22, 9, 31, 14, 20, 1, 33, 16, 24, 5, 10, 23, 8, 30, 11, 36, 13, 27, 6, 34, 17, 25, 2, 21, 4, 19, 15, 32.

european roulette wheel


French Roulette

At a first glance, there is no difference between the French and European Roulette, as the wheels have the same layout and numbers are arranged in the same sequence. The only difference between the two games is that French Roulette has two special rules which go by the name of “En Prison” and “La Partage”. The first kicks in when the ball lands on zero and as explained above, players won’t lose the wager, instead they will have a second chance to make a correct prediction. The “La Partage” also helps those who use the even money bet recuperate half of their investment, as 50% of their wager will be instantly refunded if the ball lands on 0.

However, the most important understanding you should have before heading to your nearest casino to play roulette, is to play responsibly with money you can afford to lose. Good luck!