Roulette rules, strategies, live playing tips
Overview - table layout, wheel, bets and payouts
Return to player considerations
Live roulette playing considerations
Roulette advantage play
Roulette, in all of its forms is really a very simple game to understand.
You have a wheel with 36 pockets numbered 1 to 36 and colored red or black, a
further pocket (or 2) numbered zero, and an accompanying table layout with
corresponding betting numbers and betting options.
You select your bets by placing chips on the table up until the point where the
dealer or croupier announces "no more bets" or "rien ne va plus".
The winning bets will be determined based on which pocket on the wheel the
roulette ball comes to rest on. This number is marked on the table by the
dealer using a dolly.
Bets are categorized as 'inside bets' and 'outside bets'.
Inside bets are made by placing chips within the 1 - 36 grid and include:
Straight-up - place chip on a single number in the grid
to bet on that single number
Payout: 35 to 1;
Split - place a chip on the line between adjoining
numbers to bet on both numbers. eg 22/23, 32/35
Payout: 17 to 1;
Street - place a chip on the line at the edge of a 3 line
row to bet on all three numbers. eg 31/32/33
Payout: 11 to 1;
Corner - place a chip on a line intersection to select
all 4 surrounding numbers. eg 17/18/20/21
Payout: 8 to 1;
Six Line: - place a chip on adjoining streets to select
all six numbers. eg 16/17/18/19/20/21
Payout: 5 to 1;
Trio or Basket - place a chip on the intersecting point
between 0/1/2, or 00/2/3 or 02/00
Payout: 11 to 1.
Outside bets are made by placing chips on the bet options
outside the 1 - 36 grid and include:
1 to 18 - place a chip on the 1 - 18 bet box
Payout: 1 to 1;
19 to 36 - place a chip on the 19 - 36 bet box
Payout: 1 to 1;
Red or Black - place a chip on the red or black diamond
Payout: 1 to 1;
Even or Odd - place a chip on the Odd or Even bet box
Payout: 1 to 1;
Dozen Bets - place a chip in the '1st 12', '2nd 12', '3rd
12' bet boxes
Payout: 2 to 1;
Column Bets - place a chip in the space indicated above
as '2 to 1' to bet on each column on numbers
Payout: 2 to 1;
Typically casino will set table limits in respect of both
inside bets and outside bets.
layout of an American roulette table is the same as that of its European
counterpart apart from one key difference - there are two zeros instead of one.
Of course this is also reflected by an additional zero being
on the accompanying roulette wheel for the American version of the game.
While this difference is a minor one from a presentational
perspective, from a house edge or house advantage perspective it is a crucial
Discussed further in our
Return to player section, the additional zero makes for
a slightly higher house edge by virtue of the fact that payouts remain the same
while odds of hitting the right number are increased because there are 38 possible
outcomes rather than 37.
Roulette has only a single zero on the table layout and accompanying wheel.
While this may seem a minor difference from a presentational perspective, from a
house edge or house advantage perspective it is crucial.
While the payouts are the same for both European and American
roulette, the odds of hitting your selection in this version of game are better
given there are only 37 possible pockets for the ball to fall into. This
is explored further in our
Return to player section below.
Most European roulette tables will also allow for bet groups
known as the 'neighbors'. These are presented next to the table and allow
players to select different number combinations, including:
Grand Voisins du zero -
Jeu zero - 12, 35, 3, 26, 0, 32, 15;
Tier - 27,13,36,11,30,8,23,10,5,24,16,33 ;
Orphelins - 17,34,6, 1,20,14,31,9;
Asian roulette is not as common at online casinos as its
American or European counterpart, but there is at least one live platform that
offers this version of the game so it's worth a quick look.
Asian roulette is similar in most respects to European
roulette (same odds and single zero game) and its key point of difference is the
number sequence on the wheel - as depicted below.
From a return to player perspective Asian roulette, like
European roulette offers superior returns to the American version of the game.
Asian roulette wheel
European roulette wheel
This should be a crucial consideration for all roulette
players and it turns to the question of how much money you are statistically
likely to win for a given amount invested. A
return to player rate of 95% indicates that for every $1,000 bet on a given
game, the mathematically likely return is $950, or a $50 loss. This can
also be expressed as a 5% house edge.
Now the bad news is that every form of roulette, whether it
be European, American or Asian, has an in built mathematical house edge, no mater which bet
or combination of bets you choose to make. This is how casinos make their money.
But a crucial point worth remembering is that this house edge
differs from one form of the game to the next and this difference is brought
about by the presence (or absence) of a second zero.
Consider a straight up bet on both an American and European
roulette table. In both cases you get a 35 to 1 payout for a hit but the
odds of hitting your bet playing the American version are slightly worse than
the European version because there are 38 possible outcomes rather than 37.
This fact, and the resulting house edge and return to player (RTP) rates are
presented in the below table.
||Odds of hit
||1 in 38
||35 : 1
||-1×37/38 + 35×1/38 =
||1 in 37
||35 : 1
||-1×36/37 + 35×1/37 = -0.0270
The clear message here: avoid American roulette and play
European or Asian roulette if possible.
By far the most common version of roulette offered in live online format is
European, however the American and Asian variations are available.
What you may also find playing live, is that the time period between spins
can differ significantly from one casino to the next. As a general rule, the
'for television' games such as those offered at
Smart Live and
Supercasino take plenty of time between spins, while some of the other
casinos can be notably faster.
If its a very fast game you prefer, then
is probably a good option. The others generally sit somewhere in between.
Also note that table limits differ significantly from one casino to the next.
For a comparison of live roulette limits
No other casino game seems to have as many systems devised
and advertised to help players win than roulette. Maybe this is because it
is a reasonably simple game to understand, and the systems are typically easy to
Unfortunately many of the better known systems rely on a
flawed logic that reasons that past spin results will impact future outcomes.
Referred to sometimes as the 'gambler's fallacy' this idea leaves rather large
holes in the mathematical soundness of these systems, and means quite simply
that they don't work.
Now where a method can be devised to bring about a player
edge on individual spins this is a different story. Wheel bias analysis
systems devised around a specific wheel's tendency to drop balls in certain
regions have enabled advantage players to win big - the most famous case of this
was Billy Walter's $3.8 million win at the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City in
1986 on a wheel his team found to have a slight drop bias. Needless to say the
Golden Nugget, and casinos all around the world, were quick to invest in new low
profile, precision technology wheels from specialists like John Huxley.
Assuming a well engineered, unbiased wheel (as almost all now
are) it must always be remembered that each spin of the roulette
wheel is an independent event and the odds of winning or losing on that spin are
in no way influenced by prior outcomes. Nevertheless, it is fun to to consider how these systems work
and the thinking (albeit flawed) underlying them.
One of the most commonly
discussed and employed systems which forms the foundation of a bunch of
variation systems, is the Martingale. The full mathematical analysis of
this system is set out at
The system dictates that players, playing even money outside
bets, continue doubling up until such time as a win occurs, at which point all losses are recovered
and a profit equal to the original bet amount is made. Proponents of the
system reason that statistically a loosing streak cannot last forever and
consequently a sufficiently bankrolled player must eventually win.
The problem with this logic is two-fold. First, long
loosing streaks do occur and even an enormously bankrolled player will run into
problems when stakes are being increased exponentially. Second, all
roulette tables have limits that mean that regardless of how deep the player's
pockets are, when a losing streak reaches the point where your double-up stake
is greater than the table limit, the system falls down. While some
commentators claim that roulette table limits were introduced by casinos to
combat Martingale players, in truth (backed by mathematical analysis) even in
the absence of table limits this system has been proven ineffective.
You can read about the
Martingale and live
roulette here, and the Dozen roulette system at
While roulette systems (especially most for sale on the
internet!) should be take with a grain of salt, techniques have been devised
over time that have allowed advantage players to beat certain wheels in certain
casinos. Crucial for this to be possible is identification of a bias in
the wheel itself or dealer's ball spin that can then exploited.
These techniques are based more on physics than mathematics.
When measurable non-random elements are introduced into the roulette game by
virtue in flaws in physical wheel construct or dealer signature, and the effect
they have on outcomes is observed and understood, the odds can swing drastically
in the player's favor.
Some of the better known techniques are discussed in more
detail in our blog. They and include: