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Roulette

Roulette is as the French call it the ‘grande dame’ of all casino games. It is one of the biggest classics you can find in casinos and there is not a single game which has such an air of style and class as this game. It is not hard to see where this reputation comes from. Roulette was always the game of choice of the French aristocracy and nouveau riche and it is easy to picture the rich and famous of this world standing around a roulette table placing big bets. James Bond further reinforced the image of roulette. Who didn’t grow up watching a Bond movie or two in which our superhero is mingling with beautiful ladies around a roulette table? The game oozes class and brings you back straight to the glorious years of the turn of the twentieth Century. Besides a lot of fun, the game however also offers you great chances to win a lot of money!

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What to expect in this chapter?

We will guide you through each and every aspect of the game of roulette, so if you want to become a real roulette expert we advice you to read each and every word. If your time is however limited, you can however skip a paragraph or two and head straight to the topic you are interested in. On this page you can find:

– A brief look at the history of the game of roulette
– Roulette rules, all possible bets and winning chances
– The difference between American and European roulette and all other variants
– Roulette tactics
– What are the best online casinos to play roulette?

The name roulette

As you might expect from its name, the game of Roulette originates from France. The word of ‘roulette’ already gives away the gameplay of this casino classic. Roughly translated, the word of ‘roulette’ means ‘small wheel’ or ‘little wheel’ in English. This of course refers to the wheel on the roulette table which is slowly twisting around. A casino employee then launches a small ball into the wheel. Due to the speed of both the ball and the wheel twisting around, the ball spins across wheel. The ball eventually lose its velocity, until the moment comes when it drops into one of the pockets of the wheel. If you were fortunate enough to bet on the same number as the pocket in which the ball finally drops, you will win big!

History of roulette

Roulette first appeared somewhere in the late 18th Century in the French capital of Paris. Slowly, the game gained in popularity and was slowly introduced in other parts of France by the country’s elite. As France at the time was a world power and the French language and culture were seen across the world as the symbol of high society, elites in other countries often took over French trends. Needless to say, the same happened with the game of roulette, as the nobility and rich classes in other countries also started to see the fun of this game.

roulette table

A virtual roulette table on which the player has bet on the number 16 as well as on the 2nd group (dozen) of numbers.

Throughout those years the rules and even the game as a whole have been adjusted several times. The version which is played nowadays in casinos comes from the year 1842 and was invented by the two brothers Francois and Louis Blanc. They were the ones who created the modern roulette wheel, which besides the numbers 1 to 36 in red and black also created the green number 0 on the wheel and on the roulette table. When the Blanc brothers introduced the game to the famous casino of Monaco, the popularity of the game rose fast, with several other casinos starting to offer the game as well. Eventually the game was exported to the United States, where the variant of American roulette was developed (more on that later on!) which still is the most dominant variety in the US. Nowadays it is impossible to imagine a casino where you can’t play a game of roulette!

The rules of roulette

As we explained before, the game of roulette works in a very simple way. A casino employee called the croupier leads the game and takes in all bets, which are placed on the roulette table. He or she then spins a ball around in a roulette wheel which is continuously moving around as well in a slow pace. Of course, the ball will slowly lose its velocity. When that happens, the ball will drop down into one of the pockets on the roulette wheel. These pockets are all numbered and have a specific colour. If the winning pocket matches your bet, you win! It is therefore up to you to guess on which number the ball will finally drop each turn.

You can place bets by placing casino tokens (also known as gaming or casino chips) on the table in which every possible bet has its own field or place. You can bet whatever amount of money you want, although most casinos have both minimum and maximum bets. Before you chose your casino or table you want to play it you are advised to check this out, especially if you have a small budget and want to play with small amounts at each time (let’s say 0.50 EUR or less for each bet) or when you are a high roller who likes to bet big (5,000 EUR or higher for each bet). There are for sure casinos and tables out there which are suitable for the small-time gambler as well as the true high rollers, so if a particular table doesn’t match your budget, look a bit further around.

Bet combinations

You can place as many bets as you like. If for example you want to spend a maximum of 100 euro for each turn, you can of course choose to put the full 100 euro (or well, the equivalent in playing chips) on number 10. You can also put 50 euro on number ten, and at the same time place 25 euro on black and the last 25 euro the street of 10-11-12. Apart from the minimum and maximum limit of each table, the only other limit is the croupier announcing that all bets are off, which he announces most of the times by saying the French sentence ‘rien ne va plus’, which literally means “nothing goes any more”.

Roulette wheel

After the ball dropped on the roulette wheel, it shows that this player has won 45 USD.

From this moment you can’t place more bets and have to wait the result of the game. When the ball drops in a certain pocket, the winning number is announced by the croupier, who puts a special marker on the winning number on the roulette table as well. Losing bets are collected, winning bets are paid out – and the game then starts all over again with gamblers being allowed to place new bets.

What is the pay-out for every winning bet?

As there are so many possible wagers you can make with roulette all the combinations might seem a bit overwhelming at first, which is why many first-timers stick to betting on the easiest bets such as a single number or red or black. That is not per definition a bad thing, but there are a huge variety of other bets possible which can also pay out nicely if you are lucky enough to win. Do not forget that we are talking here about winnings. If your bet wins, you keep your original bet and are paid out the winnings on top of it.

Betting on numbers

You can place these bets by putting playing chips on the numbers (or combination of numbers) on the roulette table. These bets are called ‘inside bets’ as you place your bets on the inside (central) part of the roulette table.

Single number: you are waging on a single number, for example the number 10. If the ball indeed drops on number 10, you will win 35 times your initial bet. This is the highest possible earnings you can get in roulette. With European or French roulette, you can bet on the numbers 1 to 36, as well as the 0. With American roulette, you can also bet on the 00, a number which does not exist on the French version of the game.

Two numbers (split): you can also bet on two adjacent numbers combined in a single wager. You can do this by putting your playing chips exactly on the line which demarcates the border between two numbers, for example by putting it on the line separating number 1 from number 2 on the roulette table. You will win this bet if the ball either drops in the number 1 or number 2 pocket on the wheel. If that is the case, you will win 17x your initial bet.

Street: it is also possible to bet on a street which covers three adjacent numbers on the roulette table. For example, you can bet on a street of 1-2-3. You do this by placing your bet on the left edge of the number 1 square. Other streets you can bet on are 4-5-6, 7-8-9 all the way down to 34-35-36. These streets are prefixed by the way they are horizontally listed on the table. For example, it is not possible to combine the numbers 3-4-5 in a single street bet, as these numbers are not located in a horizontal street on the playing table. If your bet wins, you will win 11 times your initial bet.

Square or Corner: this is a square (also called a corner) of four adjacent numbers on the roulette table, for example 4-5-7-9. You can bet on a square by placing your playing chips on the exact corner where the four numbers meet. Your potential winnings are 8 times your initial bet.

Double Street: This bet is also known as a six-line bet. Basically, it works the same as a normal street bet, with the difference that you combine it with another street located above or below. For example, you can bet on a double street 10-11-12 and 13-14-15. You do this by placing the chips you want to wage on the corner of said streets. If you win, your get a pay-out of 5x your original bet.

Other roulette bets

The bets we discussed above are placed directly on one of the numbers, or on a corner of them. But as you can see when you take a look at the roulette table, there are quite some other possible bets outlined on the table. These bets are called ‘outside bets’ as when you look at a roulette table, these are the ones located around the central field of numbers. We will discuss those with you now.

Red of black: This bet is self-explanatory. All numbers on the roulette wheel are either coloured red or black, with the exception of the green-coloured 0 (and 00 if you play American roulette). You can bet for the ball to either drop in a red or a black-coloured pocket. The payout is even at 1 on 1, so if you bet a single dollar, you can keep your original bet and win a single dollar if you happen to predict the result right.

immersive roulette

A game of Immersive Roulette at a live casino.

– Odd or even: This is also quite self-explanatory, as you can bet for the ball to hit any odd or any even number. The payout here is also even at 1:1. Do note however that the number 0 (and 00 in American roulette) is not considered to be either odd or even, so if the ball will hit this number you are out of luck!

First half (1 to 18): With this wager, you bet on the ball to drop on any number from 1 to 18. This bet also pays out even at 1 on 1.

Second half (19 to 36): The opposite of 1 to 18, with this bet you actually bet the roulette ball to drop on one of the higher numbers on the table. If the ball drops on any number between 19 and 36, you get paid evens at 1:1.

First dozen (1-12): By betting on the first dozen, you bet on the ball to fall on a number between 1 and 12. On a roulette table, this bet is either designated as ‘first dozen, ‘1-12’ or abbrevatied as ‘1st 12′. Payout is 2 to 1, so for every dollar you bet, you win two.

– Second dozen (13-24): The same as above, but you now bet on the ball to hit any of the numbers between 13 and 24. You get paid out 2:1 as well.

Third dozen (25-36): You are betting here on the last dozen on the table, which are the numbers 25 to 36. This bet is most often designated as ‘3rd 12′ Your payout here is 2 to 1 as well.

Column bet: This bet is found at the bottom of a roulette table. You can bet on three columns of numbers listed above each other. For example, the second column is a bet on the numbers 2-5-8-11-14-17-20-23-26-29-32-35. Your potential payout here is 2 to 1.

Of course, you can combine any of the above bets with any other bet at the same time. For example, you can put one casino token on a single number, one on a street, and another one on a column. The sky is the limit, so we do encourage you to experiment.

What is the difference between French and American roulette?

As you might know, there are nowadays two major versions of roulette being played in both online casinos as well as in land-based casinos. These are of course European roulette (also called French roulette) and American roulette. Before we answer the question which the better game is to play from the perspective of the average gambler, we will first go through the history of American roulette.

We already described you the basic history of French roulette – which is not only the original version but also the most widely played version in nowadays casinos. Fortunately for the gambler wanting to understand both versions, the differences between the two versions are very minor. The rules and bets and even the potential winnings of American roulette are basically the same as with French roulette. The only real difference is that American roulette has an additional number on the wheel and table which you won’t find back with French roulette: the double 0 or the 00.

The mathematics behind American roulette

The double zero was an added when the first casinos in the US started to offer roulette to their gamblers. They did this for one simple reason: to make more money. What the consequences are for you as a gambler don’t need much explanation if you have a bit of mathematical understanding. As the potential winnings are the same as with French roulette, it means that the actual chances to win are lower with American roulette because one extra number was added to the wheel. The chance of winning on a single number bet with European roulette is 1 on 37 (36 numbers + the 0), while this goes down to 1 on 38 with American roulette (36 numbers + the 0 and the 00). For this reason we would always recommend gamblers to go for French roulette, and not for an American roulette table!

What is the best bet to make?

Ah! The golden question! But unfortunately we have to disappoint you as there is no single right answer to this question. If only roulette was this simple, we would all be multi-millionaires. Roulette will always remain a pure game of chance, even though some people might walk home with some money due to a combination of luck and intuition. Even though there are many winners at roulette, the fact is that in the long run, the only winner is the house. You would need to have some luck and hit a winning streak in order to go home with some nice earnings.

You will hear a lot of different answers to the questions what the best betting pattern is depending on the person to whom you speak. Of course the biggest potential winnings can be had when you just bet on a single number, but then of course the chance of the ball dropping on this exact number is also the smallest. Sure, you can contravene that by placing a bet on black or red, but with an even payout of just 1:1 you won’t go very fast earning yourself some nice winnings to take home, especially when betting token amounts such as a dollar or pound each time.

A solution might be to wage 10,000 USD in its entirety on such a single bet, for example by putting it all on black. But we would get a heart attack doing so, as the chance of it not ending right is bigger than 50% (19/37, given there are just 16 black numbers on the wheel, with 16 coloured red and one green). And what is the fun of gambling your whole budget on a single bet? Sure, most of us hope to make some nice winnings, but gambling should also always remain a fun activity. There is not much fun playing roulette for just ten seconds when you can use your budget for smaller bets and have fun for the entire evening!

Roulette tactics: facts and fiction

There have been many people in the history of the great game of roulette who claimed to have found the winning tactic which guarantees you to take home thousands in winnings. There people included big gambler of celebrity status, as well as absolute nobodies writing anonymous tales on the internet how their tactics has changed their lives forever. Needless to say, such tactics attract thousands of gamblers who want to improve their skills and hopefully find a way to casino glory.

We have to be absolutely blunt here to you by pointing out that on a long-term all these tactics are bound to fail. There is no long-term tactic to beat the house in roulette for the simple reason that the odds are not in favour of the gambler but of the casino. An interesting thought experiment is to check what the payout rates for each bet are (we described those earlier on for you!) and then to calculate the chance of actually winning with such a bet. You will find out that the chance of winning is always lower. Think of it: there is a 35x payout if your wager on a single number wins. But a (French) roulette wheel has a total of 37 numbers (besides 1-36 it also has the 0) – which means that the odds are slightly in favour of the house. That is even more the case if you play American roulette, which has 38 numbers on a wheel (1-36, 0 and 00). Clearly, mathematical facts are not on the side of roulette prophets proclaiming they have found the winning tactic.

Why roulette tactics could still work

After reading the previous paragraphs this might sound weird, but the fact that it is not possible to keep winning at roulette on a long term does not mean that you cannot have short-term success. There are thousands of people playing roulette at online casinos of at land-based ones in Vegas, Macau or Monaco who manage to walk away with big profits in their pocket. The key is very simple: you need to be lucky, and know when to stop.

We therefore always advice gamblers to set a goal, both in what you want to earn as well as what you can afford to lose in the worst-case scenario when luck is simply not on your side. To achieve these short-term goals, you could use certain roulette tactics to your benefit, although opinions vary wildly as to how effective they are. We have listed the most common roulette tactics below and will go through the advantages and disadvantages with you.

live roulette

A game of live roulette at an online casino.

The Martingale System

The Martingale System is one of the easiest – but also one of the most widely misunderstood of roulette tactics. The theory behind this tactic is quite easy to understand. We will explain it by using a very simple example. According to the Martingale System, you should only wage money on a bet which pays out even (1 on 1) such as red/black, odd/even or 1-18/19-36. If you bet a single euro on one of these bets, you will double your initial wager if the ball indeed drops the fight way.

Let’s say that your first bet of 1 EUR on red is successful. The croupier will pay you an extra euro as profit, and you now have 2 EUR in your pocket. Great! You set the euro you won aside as profit, and keep on betting with the single euro with which you started.

How to prevent losses with the Martingale System

Of course, you cannot always win and the chance will be there that when you bet your 1 EUR on red, that eventually the ball will drop on black and your bet will be lost. According to Martingale, you can easily recuperate your losses by doubling your following bet. You will therefore now bet 2 EUR on red. Let’s say this time the ball indeed drops on a red number. You will win 2 EUR, which not only means you have recuperated your initial loss of a single euro, but you have again a profit of 1 euro over the last two bets combined. You can now pocket the euro as profit, and start over again by betting a single euro.

If we put Martingale in an easy to understand table, it would look like the one below.

– First bet: 1 EUR
– When losing the initial bet, you have to wage this amount on your second bet: 2 EUR
– When losing, third bet: 4 EUR
– When losing, fourth bet: 8 EUR
– When losing, fifth bet: 16 EUR
– When losing, sixth bet: 32 EUR
– When losing, seventh bet: 64 EUR
– When losing, eight bet: 128 EUR
– When losing, ninth bet: 256 EUR

If you happen to lose all nine bets so far, you would need to bet 512 EUR on your tenth bet to recuperate all your previous losses. Let’s assume that this time you finally win. You get paid out 576 EUR in profit. That seems like a big amount, but do not forget that the previous nine rounds you lost all your bets. If you subtract those lost bets from the 512 euro you just won, you will find out that your real profit is just a single euro only!

The disadvantage of the Martingale System

It is easy to see what the disadvantages are of the system, two of which especially do stand out immediately. These are the low profits which you would hopefully earn eventually, and the involved risks of having to recuperate losses which are too high for your budget. If your budget is 1,000 EUR to gamble with, you will be not be able to place the tenth bet of 512 EUR in the example above (as the nine previous bets already equalled 511 EUR).

Of course you might think that it will never get to such a point, as surely the ball will drop on your preferred colour at least once in so many bets? But then think again – big losing streaks do happen. Even if it might go against your own intuition that if you bet on red it won’t happen for the ball to hit black ten times in a row, this really does happen. Sure, the chance of it happening is low – but for a game which favours the house the odds are not in your advantage in the long run.

Martingale with higher bets

Of course, you can also play the Martingale tactic with higher numbers, by for example betting 100 EUR on your first bet and 200 EUR on your second bet and so on. Some think that this way they can tweak the system to force decent payouts which are actually worth it, unlike the example of 1 EUR profit in the standard Martingale system.

This has however its own share of problems as well. First of all there is again the question of your own budget. If you hit a similar losing streak, you would need a 51,200 EUR wager on the tenth bet just to recuperate your initial losses. Do you have that much money in your casino budget, and do you really want to risk such an amount? In the end, you are betting a huge amount of money just to basically recuperate losses and to win 100 EUR – by risking 51,200 EUR. We leave it up to you whether that is worth it or not.

Do note that by playing the Martingale System with higher bets you risk hitting the upper limits of each roulette table as well. Most casinos have strict limits to the maximum bets allowed. These are not only different between casinos, but also between tables as most casinos have both tables for beginners as well as for high rollers. Yet even those high roller tables do have maximum limits, and by using the Martingale System you could easily hit that limit with your fifth or sixth bet already. Do take care!

Fibonacci System

The Fibonacci System is not a completely new tactic on its own, but should rather be seen as a variant of the Martingale System. According to this system, you need to place your bets according to the Fibonacci numbers, which is a series of numbers thought of by a medieval Italian mathematician of the same name in which each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers.

These numbers are: (0)-1-1-2-3-5-8-13-21-34-55-89-144-233-377, etcetera.

As you can see, the number eight in this series is for example the sum of the two previous numbers (3+5). The number 34 equals the two previous numbers as well (13+21). Just like the Martingale System, you use this system by betting on black/red, odd/even, or the first/second half (1-18 or 19-36). Betting can be easily explained: if you bet and you don’t win, you need to wage the subsequent number in the Fibonacci list as your next bet. If you for example just lost two bets of five and eight euro in a row, your next bet will be (5+8 makes) 13 euro in total.

The advantage of this system compared to Martingale is that the numbers add up on a slower pace (with Martingale, you double them all the time) and that you will go less quickly through your entire gambling budget if you hit a losing streak. The disadvantage however is that if you finally win, you only recuperate the losses of your two preceding bets, and not all the previous bets which you lost.

Progressive tactics

The Martingale and Fibonacci systems are both known as being progressive tactics because each subsequent turn you need to wage an increasingly big amount in the hope to recuperate on previous losses. There are quite a few similar systems, such as the Paroli system or the D’Alembert tactic. These are all variations on Martingale and Fibonacci. For example, one such tactic tells you that instead of doubling your bet, you need to bet on a different category if you might happen to lose a bet. For example, if you first lose a bet on red/black, your next bet should be on something which gives you a higher payout than the 1:1 of a bet on red/black, for example by betting on a column or a dozen. When you might lose this as well, you then start betting on a column or a double street for example.

Whatever the variation of the progressive tactic is which you use, the downsides always remain the same. If you happen to hit a bad streak, you will eventually run out of options to recuperate losses. In the example above, it can go all the way down to you betting on a single number to recuperate losses, which you might easily lose as well as the chances of winning are not too high (1 on 37 with European roulette). The bottom line remains the same: progressive tactics might work on a short-term, but on a long-run will only end up with losses.

Observational roulette tactics

These tactics listed are different from those above as they do not really involve a pre-set guideline, but rather require you to pay attention to the game as it unfolds, in particular to which numbers are frequently hit and which not. Based on this, you can then make up your own tactic how to play the game.

Roulette has been the focus of some scientific research, especially by statisticians. In one particular study, several tens of thousands of roulette turns in a row were simulated, with statisticians counting how often single numbers were hit. It proved that after one full circulation of 37 turns (this being a full circulation as there are 37 numbers – 1 to 36 and the 0 on an European roulette wheel) not every number was hit once as you perhaps might expect.

It turned out that:

– 36.3 percent of all numbers (this being 13,4 numbers) did not turn up once after the wheel was spun 37 times.
– 37.3 percent of all numbers (on average this means 13.8 numbers of the 37 on the wheel) were hit once by the roulette ball during a cycle of 37 spins.
– 18.6 percent of all numbers (meaning 6.9 numbers) were hit twice.
– 6 percent of all numbers (meaning 2.2 numbers of the 37 on the wheel) were hit three times.
– 1.7 percent of all numbers (0.6 number) was hit a whopping four times out of 37 spins.

Two theories

It is certainly possible to keep the previous observations in your mind and use it to determine your roulette strategy. You can easily watch a game of roulette first as a spectator for 37 rounds, taking notes to which numbers are hot and which are not before you take a seat at the table. There are however a few disagreements to what would be the best tactic and best way to proceed when placing your bets.

– Theory 1: The chance is by far the greatest that also in the upcoming rounds, the previous observations will ring true and the hot numbers will remain hot, and the numbers which did not fall are so-called ‘cold numbers’ and best to be avoided. If for example you noticed that in the preceding 37 spins the number 12 was hit four times, you can use this to your advantage by putting a wager on this number as a single number bet.

– Theory 2: This is exactly the opposite. Sure, that number 12 might have been hot during the last 37 rounds. But there might be for example a series of numbers which were not hit a single time in the preceding 37 rounds. You use this knowledge to solely bet on these numbers, as for sure they should have a hit sooner than later as well?

The truth behind such observational theories

Unfortunately, neither of the two theories listed above is correct. You can observe as much as you like, but it is simply impossible to determine the future by interpreting past results. Theoretically, the chance of a number being hit is always 1 on 37, whether you are betting on the number four or on the number fourteen. It does not matter if for example number fourteen might have been hit even six times in the preceding 37 turns. The next turns the chance will be 1 on 37 each single time the wheel is spun.

The conclusion in the end is rather simple. On a long term, you can’t make a profit when playing roulette. There are no winning tactics which will always earn you money. That said, you can certainly be lucky on a short term and still win big when playing roulette. There are thousands of people walking home daily with huge roulette profits. All you need is just luck.

Try it out!

Want to try your hand at roulette? We have listed the best online casinos which offer both virtual roulette as well as live roulette where you will have access to real-time tables and croupiers using a live video feed. All these online casinos offer great bonuses as well for new customers, so take a look and sign up!