Roulette is one of the easiest casino games for the novice gamer to comprehend – red or black, even or odd, straight number. But what seems like a 50-50 bet is skewed emphatically towards the house thanks to the addition of a single zero on the wheel. Or, in the American version two non-winning slots that drop a player’s win percentage below 95%.
Beating the house edge on such a simple game has spawned a legion of complicated betting systems and colourful gambling stories. After all, there is no greater gambler fantasy than to waltz into a casino, drop a fortune on red and watch the spinning of the wheel as it carries your life’s fate with every bounce of the ball.
The above selections are based primarily on the casinos roulette game selection as well as our general opinion of the site. If you’re looking for additional bonuses which can be used in conjunction with the game, you may wish to view our separate guide to roulette bonuses.
The first modern roulette wheels, as we play them today, were spun in the Palais Royale, a Paris casino, in 1796. The game, however, has antecedents that reach back much further, borrowing influences from English wheel games like Roly-Poly and Reiner and Italian board games such as Biribi and Hoca.
The actual roulette wheel owes its existence not to a visionary gaming operator but to the 17th century French physicist and mathematician Blaise Pascal who was fruitlessly chasing the inventor’s dream of a perpetual motion machine. Pascal’s primitive wheel became the prototype for today’s highly engineered casino-quality roulette wheels. The name roulette, in fact, is simply the French term for “little wheel.” The wheel is designed with alternating black and red slots and the numbers are not placed sequentially but are grouped so that the different sections of the wheel have numbers that total approximately the same as every other section. In number ranges from 1 to 10 and 19 to 28, odd numbers are red and even are black. In ranges from 11 to 18 and 29 to 36, odd numbers are black and even are red.
The game’s popularity was spread by gamblers and a lively description in a French novel published in 1801 titled La Roulette, ou le Jour by Jaques Lablee and the game migrated across Europe. In its original gambling incarnation the roulette wheel featured the familiar 36 slots plus an additional two slots for a zero and a double zero which produced the house edge. In 1843 a pair of French brothers, FranÃ§ois and Louis Blanc, looking to jumpstart business in their gaming house in Homburg, Germany introduced a roulette wheel with only a single zero, paring the house edge from 5.26% to 2.70%.
The new variation helped make the Blanc boys’ casino a hit but Germany banned gaming in the 1860s and the brothers shuffled off to Monte Carlo. They helped set up the Principality’s first casinos around the centrepiece game of single-zero roulette which became the European standard, as it remains today. The first online roulette games appeared in the 1990s, armed with sophisticated software algorithms that reproduced the absolute randomness of a land-based casino roulette wheel.
If anything, some gamers might have argued, online roulette was the real incarnation of pure chance at the roulette table. As long as roulette wheels have been spun and silver balls have bounced among slots there have been suspicions of irregularly balanced wheels that send the ball careening into pre-determined slots and skilled dealers who are capable of steering the ball into the preferred sections of the wheel. Such shenanigans may have been possible in disreputable houses of yore but modern wheels sporting obstacles between the rim and the numbers ensure an honest game – as honest as an online spin ruled by mathematical formulas.
How To Play Roulette
Betting rules in roulette have evolved little since their beginnings more than two centuries ago. The betting field, or layout, consists of a three-by-twelve grid with the numbers 1 through 36 listed sequentially across the rows. Additional spaces for zero and double zero if used are placed on top of the number grid. Around the outside of the grid are spaces that allow players to bet on blocks of numbers with correspondingly shorter odds.
The inside bets, as wagers on the numbers grid are called, can include:
- Straight – a bet on a single number.
- Street – a bet placed on the line at the beginning or end of a row that gives the players three numbers to win (1,2,3 for example).
- Split – a bet placed on two adjoining numbers, either vertically or horizontally, on the grid (such as 28 and 31 or 32 and 33).
- Corner – a bet placed at the intersection of four numbers on the grid (such as 20, 21, 23 and 24).
- Trio – a bet of three numbers that can be made based on the placement of the zero spaces at the top of the grid.
- Basket – a bet involving the numbers in the top row and the zero depending on configuration.
The outside bets on the options around the grid can include:
- 1-18 – the player wagers that the ball will favour one of the lower half of the 36 numbers.
- 19-36 – a bet on the higher half of the grid.
- Red or black – a bet that the ball will tumble into a red or black pocket.
- Even or odd – a bet that the bill win end up in an even or odd numbered slot.
- Dozen bets – similar to the 1-18 or 19-36 bets this option gives you the opportunity to wager on 1-12, 13-24 or 25-36.
- Column bet – instead of having your twelve numbers in play run sequentially you can wager on all the numbers in any of the three columns.
- Snake Bet – a variation of the dozen bet that allows the player to bet on the numbers 1, 5, 9, 12, 14, 16, 19, 23, 27, 30, 32, and 34 as they slither through the number grid. Some layouts display a snake head to enable live casino players to make this wager.
While the single zero variation of roulette became entrenched in Europe when the game sailed across the Atlantic Ocean it was reincarnated in its original version with a double zero. This has resulted in the gaming world recognizing European Roulette (single zero) and American Roulette (double zero).
Not to be stripped of the glory of giving roulette to the world the French also have a variation that returns one half of the original stake to players making an “even money” bet (the red or black and odd or even and 1-18 or 19-36) should the ball come to rest in the green single zero pocket. The player may choose to leave his wager “imprisoned” for the next spin and should that win the full bet is returned, without winnings. If a zero comes up again in some casinos the first bet is lost totally but others permit “double imprisonment.” If the player wins on the third spin of the wheel that original stake returns to single imprisonment with a chance to return the full wager on the fourth spin. A variation of imprisonment is to keep the bet imprisoned only once until the wheel returns a non-zero verdict. In America this giveback from the zero or double zero goes by the name Atlantic City rules.
Roulette Tips & Advice
A single spin of a roulette wheel is the embodiment of random chance in gaming. Nothing that has occurred previously has any bearing on the outcome of the current spin. But gamblers do cling to theories of “hot numbers” and “numbers that are due.” To stoke these fantasies some online roulette games post prior wheel outcomes for gamers to study in approaching their wager.
As is expected from one of the easiest games to understand in a casino, roulette returns one of the biggest house advantages to the operator. In an attempt to fight back against the unfavourable odds produced by the presence of that dastardly zero, or the even more pernicious double zero, roulette players turn to betting systems.
One of the simplest and most popular is the martingale betting system where a gamer makes even money bets and doubles the bet after every loss. The theory is that as soon as the bulked-up bet wins it will cover all the previous losses and a bit of profit as well. Of course, chasing losses could well deplete your bankroll before that saviour win ever arrives and whilst it is popular with many players, we would advise steering very clear away from the martingale system.