When Albert Einstein talked it was always worth listening and he had these words of caution for any would-be gamblers: “You cannot beat a roulette table unless you steal money from it.”
But millions of people can’t see the logic in this Einstein equation and continue to wager huge sums of money on one spin of the wheel.
And while I’m loath to dub the great man an ill-informed gas bag, there are strategies that can give you a better chance of success.
What is Roulette?
Roulette originated in 18th century France and the name means “little wheel” in French. A roulette wheel features red and black slots with the numbers 1 to 36 on them plus a green slot for zero.
On a typical European wheel, there will be just one green slot but there is an American double zero wheel as well.
For European roulette, bets are placed on a table that features 12 columns with the numbers 1 to 36 split into rows of three. At the top of the table is a space for zero and there are also spaces to bet on even numbers, odd numbers, red numbers, black numbers, the first 12 numbers, the second 12 numbers, the third 12 numbers, numbers 1-18 and numbers 19-36.
Once bets are placed the dealer will then spin the wheel and drop in a ball which will eventually come to rest on one of the numbers.
Different Kinds of Roulette
There are three general versions of roulette – French Roulette, European Roulette and American Roulette. I will explain the differences later in this article, which will cover mainly European Roulette.
What kind of bets can I place?
Bets in roulette range from the simple (backing the winning number) to complicated French terms which cover bets on a series of numbers. The odds decrease on a sliding scale from 35/1 for picking the winning number to just evens for outcomes such a red/black or odd/even winning numbers. There are three different categories of bets and these are: Inside Bets, Outside Bets and Announced Bets.
There are seven different types of inside bets, which are placed on the numbers themselves and not the sections surrounding them. Here’s a rundown on every kind of inside bet.
Straight: This is the most simple bet in roulette as it involves placing your chip on the number you think you will win. A winning Straight bet pays 35/1.
Split: This involves placing a bet on two numbers that are next to each other on the table. To do this, you just place your chip on the line between each number. A winning Split bet pays 17/1.
Street: If you want to bet on three numbers in the same row this is called a street. To place the bet you put your chip on the line at the start of the row on the left. A winning Street bet pays 11/1.
Six Line: This involves betting on two adjacent lines, covering six numbers in total. To place the bet you put your chip on the corner of the two lines on the left. A winning Six Line bet pays 5/1.
Corner: This bet covers four numbers that are connected together on the grid. Place your chip on the corner that connects all four numbers. A winning Corner bet pays 8/1.
Trio: If you want to bet on zero and two of the adjacent numbers on the table then it’s called a trio. Place your chip on the corner of the line that connects zero with the other two numbers. A winning Trio bet pays 11/1.
Basket: This is a step further from the trio as it involves betting on zero and all three numbers adjacent to it (1, 2 and 3). Place your chip on the corner that connects the first row with the zero box on the left. A winning Basket bet pays 8/1.
Outside Bets in Roulette
This section covers the bets you can make by placing chips on sections of the table that don’t contain one of the numbers.
There are five different types of outside bets.
Red or Black: Probably the most common bet placed in roulette. It’s a simple case of whether the winning number will be black or red and the bet pays evens. But remember the chances of winning are slightly less than 50/50 as you have to factor in the green zero.
Odd or even: Another simple bet to explain as you can bet on whether the number the ball lands on will be an odd or even number. This bet also pays evens.
1 to 18 or 19-36: This one doesn’t need much explaining either as you can gamble on whether the number will be between 1 and 18 or 19 and 36. The bet pays evens once more.
Dozens: This bet improves your payout a little as you can bet on which of the three sections on the main board the winning number will come from. The first dozen covers 1-12, the second 16-24 and the last 25-36. The odds for a winning Dozens bet are 2/1.
Column: Similar to a dozens bet, you can gamble on which column the winning number will come from. There are three columns in total, covering 12 numbers each, and you can place your chip at the bottom of each column. A winning Column bet also pays 2/1.
This is where things start to get a bit complicated and you might have to dig out a French dictionary to help with some of the terminology. These bets concern numbers on the wheel instead of those on the table.
The first French phrase I’ll throw at you is Voisins du Zero, which you might see translated as Neighbours of Zero.
This is a 15-number bet made up of nine chips: A two-chip trio (covering 0,2,3) five splits (4/7, 12/15, 18/21, 19/22, 32/35) and a two-chip corner (25/26/28/29). The name of the bet comes from the fact it covers the zero and the seven numbers on each side of it on the wheel. The payout varies, depending on what the winning number is, but if you’re lucky it can go as high as 24/1.
There’s a smaller version of this bet called the Jeu Zéro, translated as Zero Game. This bet covers the three numbers on each side of zero on the wheel. There’s one straight (on number 26) and three splits (0/3, 12/15 and 32/35).
Next up is Le Tiers Du Cylindre, which is almost the mirror image of the Voisins du Zero, and translates as a Third of the Wheel. This bet covers 12 numbers and involves six one-chip splits (5/8, 10/11, 13/16, 23/24, 27/30 and 33/36). It pays 17/1.
The French lesson ends with Orphelins, which translates as Orphans. This is a four-chip bet made up of one straight (on number 1) and four splits (6/9, 14/17, 17/20 and 31/34). It pays either 35/1 or 17/1 depending on whether a straight or split comes up.
There are other bets concerning numbers on the wheel and I’ll briefly run through them here. A neighbours bet involves betting on a number plus the two numbers next to it on either side of the wheel. Some websites will allow you to increase the number of neighbours in your bet up to eight on each side. A Finale or Finals bet allows you to wager on the last digit of the winning number. For example, if you pick four it covers 4, 14, 24 and 34.
Differences between European, American and French roulette
The big difference in American roulette is on the wheel. In addition to having a double zero, the numbers also run in a different order to a European roulette wheel. The table is slightly different in American roulette as the top of the table has a space for zero and double zero. The inclusion of the double zero also makes it slightly harder for a player to win as the house advantage increases to 5.7 per cent from 2.7 per cent.
In American roulette if the ball lands on zero or double zero, all bets are lost which differs from French roulette, where two different rules come into play. If you are playing with the En Prison rule then your bet is not lost if zero comes up but stays in jail until the next spin, where you will either win or lose. However, if the ball lands on zero again then the bet will be lost. The other rule is La Partage, which translates as splitting. In this case you will get half of your stake back if the ball lands on zero.
There are no European rules as such, you will either play by American or French. The major difference between French and European roulette is the layout of the table. This looks different to the European version but contains the same elements. Betting on numbers 1-18 comes under the term ‘Manque’ while 19-36 is ‘Passe’. To bet on an even number you place your stake on ‘Pair’ while odd is ‘Impair’. The sections for betting on each third of the number grid are found in either corner at the bottom of the table.
Strategies for Roulette
So now you know all the terminology, bets and rules, what’s the best strategy for striking it rich on the roulette table?
My first tip for any novices would be to play the game for free online before you start gambling with your own money. This will let you familiarise yourself with all the different kind of bets and get a feel for what strategies work best for you.
It’s vital that you sign up with a licensed and regulated firm as some sites might just be scamming you and won’t pay out winnings.
Roulette Casino Bonuses
Make sure you also sign up for a firm offering good bonuses for new members and regular promotions. This can help boost your balance considerably and it’s a hugely competitive market so sites will offer plenty of great offers for your custom.
It might be worth opening accounts with several firms so you can take advantage of their opening offers then decide which site you like best.
But remember to check the fine print of any welcome offer or bonus. They generally have what is called a wagering requirement and these can be quite high. This is the amount of money you will need to bet in order to release your bonus winnings into your main cash balance.
For example, if you have a welcome bonus of £100 with a wagering requirement of 25, you would only be able to access the bonus once you have a bet a total of £2,500.
Once you start playing for cash, make sure you opt for European or French roulette as it eliminates that double zero and increases your chances of winning.
Also try to make sure you play in a version with the En Prison rule as this will give you a second chance if the ball does drop on a zero.
It might be tempting to go for straights and splits at first as you chase that big win but there’s more chance of building up a head of steam if you stick mainly to outside bets. Stick to small bets at first before you become a seasoned roulette player.