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Although Roulette game seemingly quite complicated to the uninitiated, it’s actually very simple to learn and play.
Roulette is probably the oldest game of gambling. It is said to go all the way back ancient China, where it was played with a wheel (legend says the wheel was used as a torture instrument – yikes!). In Roman times, it was played with arrows being shot into a wheel (no torture there that we know of).
Roulette as we know it today has more humane beginnings; it is based on a game and wheel invented in the 1600s by French philosopher and mathematician, Blaise Pascal. Later on, the Blanc brothers invented the single zero roulette wheel in order to give the House an advantage.
Roulette gained immense popularity in Europe, from Germany to Monaco. (It even became a significant source of income for King Charles III and his family!) But like other casino games whose origins date back to Europe, Roulette hit its peak of popularity when it arrived in America from overseas.
American Roulette started out as a game for the nouveau riche, who were on the lookout for fun things to do with their new found money. Perhaps it is because the nouveau riche played as if money grew on trees, but the fact is, American Roulette has a key difference than its European counterpart: American tables have an extra double zero (00), which gives the House a bigger advantage.
Thanks to the rise of online casinos in the 1990s and their popularity today, all forms of Roulette are played by millions of people worldwide.
Roulette’s varied terminology reflects its mixed European and American origins. Below are some basic terms that Roulette players should know.
American Wheel: This is a wheel with 38 numbers; the European wheel has 37. The extra 00 gives the House a larger advantage.
Ball: This is the small white ball that spins around the roulette wheel; eventually it settles on a number and color.
Column Bet/Dozen Bet: This is a bet placed on a vertical column of 12 numbers (1-12, 13-24, 25-36). The payout is 2:1. A bet on the last dozen numbers is known as “derniere,” and a bet on the first dozen is known as “premiere 12.”
Corner Bet: A bet placed on four adjoining numbers; payout is 8:1. In French, it is known as a “carré.”
Croupier: The dealer (a term used in other casino games as well).
European Wheel: This wheel has 37 numbers (including a single 0), one less than its American counterpart.
Even Bet: A bet placed on all even numbers.
Even Money Bet: Any bet that pays out at 1:1. These include bets on red/black, odd/even and high/low.
Five Number Bet: A bet on 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3 – this is a bet for American Roulette only (because it includes the 00 which is not found on European wheels).
High/Low Bet: A bet on 19-36 (high) or 1-18 (low).
Inside Bet: A bet on the numbers, which sit on the inside area of the table.
Line Bet: A bet on a line of six numbers.
Odd Bet: A bet on all odd numbers (not counting 0).
Outside Bet: The opposite of an Inside Bet; a bet on anything other than numbers (for example, red or black, high or low).
Split Bet: A bet covering two numbers.
Straight Up Bet: A bet placed on one number.
Street Bet: A bet covering three numbers in a row.
The goal of Roulette is to predict (and bet on) which slot the ball will fall into. Players play against the House, not each other. In Europe, the House advantage is 2.7%, and in America, the House advantage is 5.26% (due to the 00).
The sequence of events is as follows:
- Players place their bets. Bets can be placed on single numbers, a group of numbers or outside bets (anything that is not a number).
- The Croupier spins the Roulette wheel. Everyone watches as the ball lands in one of the slots.
- The Croupier makes payouts to the players.
The payout odds are:
Straight-up bet on one number - 36:1 (or 37:1/38:1 if the House doesn’t have an advantage)
Split bet on two numbers - 17:1
Street bet on three numbers - 11:1
Corner bet on four numbers - 8:1
Six-number bet - 5:1
Column or outside dozen bet - 2:1
Even Money Bets - 1:1
Roulette is a game of luck, and in this way it is unlike Poker or Blackjack, where players can use mathematical strategies. It is not played with a deck of cards, so one turn does not affect the other. However, there are a few basic strategies you can implement to maximize your chances of winning.
Martingale Strategy: This is the most popular roulette strategy. The idea is that players bet only on Even Money Bets, and they double the value of their wagers after each loss. The logic is as follows: Even Money Bets are a 50/50 game of chance; therefore, constant doubling of bets means that on your first win, you will recover all your losses. If you choose this strategy, it means that you need to make your bet and stay with it. Meaning, if you bet on red, you need to bet on red the whole time. The risk in this strategy is that sometimes red fails to come up in four, five, or even six spins, and by then you may have exceeded your bankroll limit.
D’Alembert Strategy: This is considered a safer roulette strategy where players raise their bet value by one after each loss and lower their bet value by one after each win. The goal of this strategy is to stop playing the game once your number of wins equals or is greater than your number of losses. If you start off losing, you wait until you get back onto an even keel. If you start off winning, you cash your chips before you fall back to 50/50.
James Bond Strategy: As its name suggests, this strategy is for high-rollers (you’ll need $200, minimum). This is a strategy for European Roulette only, and requires you to place only column bets. You place 70% of your funds on high numbers, 25% on low numbers and 10% on 0. This means that your odds of winning are just above 50% - if you hit high or 0, you win, if you hit low, you lose.
- If you are looking for a fun, simple game, Roulette is that game. It’s not completely based on luck, but the strategies are simple enough that you don’t have to break your head thinking about them.
- If you are looking to make a career out of online gambling, Roulette is not your best bet (no pun intended). This is because it is mostly based on luck, and the House always has the advantage. Poker would be a game better-suited for devising winning strategies, as you are playing against real opponents, not the House.
- Even Money Bets are a good way to maximize your chances of winning. If you would rather play it safe and win small than take risks and possibly win big, Even Money Bets are the way to go.
- Not sure if you prefer American or European Roulette? Well, the best online casinos offer both, so you can decide which one you like better.
- A tip for all casino games: many online casino sites offer a free-money mode, where players can play for free before using real money. Take advantage of this! This way you can practice and see which strategy you like best before putting any real money on the table.