How to Play Roulette?


The game has fascinated casino patrons for close to 300 years now. Although no one seems to know all of the details surrounding its origination and development, some form of the game is probably as old as the wheel itself. There are accounts of ancient Romans tipping their chariots on their sides and spinning one of the wheels for games of amusement. The word roulette itself is French, meaning little wheel. Several early versions of roulette appeared in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries. It is believed that the noted French scientist and mathematician, Blaise Pascal, invented the mechanism in 1657 while experimenting with perpetual motion devices. Pascal, incidentally, pioneered the mathematical field of probability.

The first account we have of a spinning ball and rotating horizontal wheel being used as a gaming device was in a game called roly-poly, in 1720. The Gaming Acts of 1739 and 1740 banned roly-poly, as well as many other games of chance, in England. An innovative Beau Nash, the Master of Ceremonies at Bath, England, evaded these laws by introducing EO. EO, or even-odd, was a simplified version of the game, but that too was outlawed in 1745. During the next 50 years, the game evolved into the one we would recognize today. These modern wheels appeared in Paris casinos around 1796. They contained all of the familiar elements that survive today; the alternating red and black colors, the layout of numbered pockets 1 through 36, the 0 and the 00. About the only difference being that the single zero was red in color (although the casino barred any red bets from winning if 0 appeared) and the double zero was black (again barring black bets). To alleviate the confusion, the color green was eventually assigned to the zeros.

This version of roulette found its way over to the U.S. by way of Europeans in New Orleans in the early 1800’s. Some proprietors, not content with a big 5.26% edge, experimented with wheels containing 31 pockets. These wheels were numbered 1 through 28, with a 0, 00 and an Eagle pocket. These greedy proprietors paid out only 26 to 1 for a single number win (30 to 1 is the fair pay out). This translates into a whooping 12.90% house edge! People soon stopped playing these wheels in favor of the original double zero wheels.

Meanwhile, back on the continent, two innovative brothers from France, went in the opposite direction. Francois and Louis Blanc introduced the first single zero roulette wheel in 1842. They left France, where gambling was illegal, and set up a house in Homburg, Bavaria (now Germany). The new single zero wheel, with a 2.70% edge instead of the double zero’s 5.26% edge, was an instant hit. It decimated the competition. When gambling was outlawed in Germany, Louis Blanc (who survived his brother) accepted an invitation from the Prince of Monaco, Charles III, for whom Monte Carlo was named. For a cost of 2 Million Francs, he was allowed to establish and operate the magnificent casino that sets all the standards in Europe.

Although both the double zero and single zero wheels originated in France, the double zero became known as the American Wheel, because it survived in the states. The popularity of the single zero wheel had supplanted the double zero wheels in Europe and consequently was dubbed the French Wheel. In Europe, the option of En Prison was offered, further lowering the house edge, on even money wagers, down to 1.35%! No wonder the game accounts for over 50% of revenues in European casinos as compared to about 5% in U.S. casinos. Casinos today in Atlantic City, do offer En Prison for even money bets on their double zero wheels. This effectively reduces the casinos’ edge from 5.26% to 2.63% for those bets.

Roulette did enjoy popularity stateside around the turn of the century up until World War II. As Americans learned to lose less at craps and subsequently became interested in the notion that black jack was beatable, roulette declined in popularity. Roulette is the oldest casino game still in existence. With the emergence of more single zero wheels in the United States, and a well informed gambling public, the game may enjoy a resurgence in popularity.


Players, usually up to eight, play against the house represented by the croupier also called the dealer, who spins the roulette wheel and handles the wagers and payouts. The European variant of wheel has slots for all numbers from 1 to 36 plus zero(0). The US variant has in addition “double zero” (00), which increases the house edge from 2.7% to 5.26%. Each player buys-in a different colored chips so their bets don’t get mixed up. At the end of play, if you won, you exchange back the colored chips with cash chips. These are special chips with the value amount imprinted on them. There are several denominations in various colors. You then take these chips to the cash desk where they will give you actual cash money in exchange.


The player’s objective is to correctly guess and place wagers on which number on the wheel the ball will end up on. The player places bets on the Roulette table and if lucky collects a payoff, the size of which is determined by how he/she bets. The odds range from 35 to 1 down to even money, depending on the likelihood of picking the correct number.


To play roulette, you place your bets on numbers (any number including the zero) on the table layout or on the outside, and when everybody at the table had a chance to place their bets, the croupier starts the spin and launches the ball. Just a few moments before the ball is about to drop over the slots, the croupier says ‘no more bets’. From that moment no one is allowed to place or change their bets until the ball drops on a slot. Only after the croupier places the dolly on the winning number on the roulette table and clears all the losing bets you can then start placing your new bets while the croupier pays the winners. The winners are those bets that are on or around the number that comes up. Also the bets on the outside of the layout win if the winning number is represented.


In roulette you have numerous betting options, the different bets are indicated by the placement of the chips on the table. They are usually grouped into two major categories(assuming US type of wheel):

  • Inside bets – made on numbers directly inside the layout
  • Outside bets – are made on the betting area on the roulette table bordering the number layout. Different tables have slightly different layouts for outside betting, you have to find the location for the bet you want to make and place your chip there


Straight up A chip is placed on any single number 1-36 including zero (0). This bet covers one single number. 35 to 1 A 30
Split up A chip is placed on the line dividing two adjacent numbers. This bet covers two numbers. 17 to 1 B 11,14
Street Bet A chip is placed on the outer right boundary line of the roulette table. This bet covers three numbers. 11 to 1 C 19,20,21
Corner Bet(also known as square or a quarter bet) A chip is placed in the corner where the four numbers meet. The bet covers all these four numbers. 8 to 1 D 25,26,28,29
Five-number line This bet can be made in only one place.Don’t make this bet! It’s the only one that gives the house an extra 2.5% advantage! 6 to 1 E 0,00,1,2,3
Six-number line A chip is placed on the outer right boundary line where it intersects with the line dividing two neighbour rows. This bet covers all two rows each consisting of three numbers. 5 to 1 F 4,5,6,7,8,9
Red-Black A chip is placed on the “red” or the “black” field. This bet covers 18 numbers. Zero doesn’t pay. 1 to 1 G red
Odd-Even A chip is placed on the “even” or the “odd” field. This bet covers 18 numbers. Zero doesn’t pay. 1 to 1 H odd
High-Low A chip is placed on the “1-18” or the “19-36” field. This bet covers 18 numbers. 1 to 1 I 19-36
Column Bet A chip is placed on one of the fields marked as “2 to 1” at the very right of the roulette table. This bet covers all the 12 numbers in the corresponding column. Zero doesn’t pay. 2 to 1 J central “2 to 1”
Dozen Bet A chip is placed on one of the fields marked as “1st 12”, “2nd 12”, or “3rd 12” (first, second or third dozen). This bet covers the corresponding 12 numbers. 2 to 1 K 3rd 12


On a double zero Roulette wheel if the Casino paid 37 to 1 for a straight up bet (single number win) there would be no Casino advantage despite the presence of the two zeros on the wheel. By paying 35 to 1, total 36 instead of 38, the Casino gains 2 units or 5.26% of your win.


A roulette rule applied to even-money bets only, and by some casinos (not all). When the outcome is zero, some casinos will allow the player to either take back half his/her bet or leave the bet (en prison = in prison) for another roulette spin. In the second case, if the outcome is again zero, then the whole bet is lost.


The la partage roulette rule is similar to the en prison rule, only in this case the player loses half the bet and does not have the option of leaving the bet en prison for another spin. This refers to the ‘outside’ even-money bets Red/Black, High/Low, Odd/Even and applies when the outcome is zero. Both the La Partage and the En Prison roulette rules essentially cut the casino edge on the ‘even-money bets’ in half. So a bet on Red on a single-zero roulette table with the la partage rule or the en prison rule has a 1.35% house edge and one on a double-zero roulette table has a house edge of 2.63%.


When comes to roulette, there is basically no strategy. But, if you’re going to play, European roulette is the way to go. The difference being, in American roulette, the wheel has 38 slots with “0” and “00”. The European version has 37 slots with only “0”. The math behind the game is straightforward. Consequently, many people have proposed a roulette strategy, such as the Martingale system, that professes to exploit this simplicity. The problem with trying to develop a proper roulette strategy is that all of the bets on the table calculate out to the same house edge of 5.26% (on American tables). The only exception to this rule is the five-number bet, which has an even worse edge of 7.29%!

Follow these tips to give you the best chance of winning:

Wager on low-odds and even-money bets as they offer the lowest house advantage when playing roulette.
Only play at casinos that offer European roulette. With that extra zero in American roulette, the house has a 5.26% advantage where as with European roulette, the house has a 2.7% advantage.
Don’t bet on the five-spot or top line (0, 00, 1, 2, 3) on American roulette.
Set a specific target amount of money to play roulette with. Once you lose it, quit. Roulette should be played for its entertainment value.


Spin Roulette Gold: Secrets of Beating the Wheel

by Frank Scoblete, Publication Date: 05/01/1997, 229 pages

“Frank Scoblete’s fresh analysis of the age-old game of roulette is outstanding and is a must read for those who enjoy the numbers. Scoblete has the unique ability to instruct and inspire at the same time. His wit and wisdom are the keys to his success as a casino gaming writer.

Secrets Of Winning Roulette

by Marten Jensen, Publication Date: 04/01/1998, 208 pages

A valuable resource for learning the numerous techniques and systems that have been used by professional gamblers who consistently overcome the casino advantage. The author breaks down the many techniques and strategies for playing roulette. And for those new at the game, he covers all the basics.

Get the Edge at Roulette: How to Predict Where the Ball Will Land!

by Christopher Pawlicki, Frank Scoblete, Publication Date: 06/18/2001, 229 pages

Pawlicki shows readers how to find and play biased wheels and how to recognize and exploit deep-pocket wheels that are more susceptible to bias tracking. He shows visual wheel tracking techniques and how to sector slice to increase the speed and accuracy of predictions. Also discussed is the new world of internet roulette and how it differs from the real-world game.