Roulette Guide: How to Play, History, Facts, Stats and Odds
How to Play Roulette
If you’ve never played roulette in an online or mobile casino, or even in a real world bricks and mortar casino, our roulette guide is just what you need to help you discover this brilliant and enduring game. Roulette is actually one of the simplest games around and it is this fact, as well as the glamour and the chance to win big, that makes it such a popular game with casino fans everywhere. If you want to join the roulette party but don’t know where to start, we can tell you: right here!
Roulette really couldn’t be any easier to play, especially online. Assuming you already have an account with an online casino just head to the table games section and load up roulette, ideally European roulette (for reasons explained later).
If you don’t already have an online casino account why not check out our casino bonuses section to find out more about the different online and mobile casino and roulette sites and the different promotions and freebies they offer new customers?
Once you have your roulette game up and ready to play, all you have to do is decide what number, colour or combination of various numbers (and colour too, if you want) you want to bet on.
Playing online is, as said, incredibly simple because you don’t need to worry about saying or doing the wrong thing and the casino software won’t allow you to place a bet that breaches the minimum or maximum limits of the table.
In European roulette (of which more later) every bet has the same ratio between the odds it pays out and the probability of it winning, so whether you bet on one single number, 18 single numbers, red, black, odds, evens or anything else, the casino’s advantage remains the same, and therefore so do your chances of profitability.
A roulette wheel consists of the numbers from one to 36, with half being red and half being black. Equally, of course, half of those numbers are even, whilst the other half are odd and in addition there is a single, green zero, making for a total of 37 “pockets” in which the ball can come to rest.
All single number bets pay out at odds of 35/1, meaning a £1 bet on a single number returns £35 plus your £1 stake. As such, if you removed the green zero from the equation you could put £1 on every single number and break even every time. Not much fun, that’s for sure, but what that shows is that it is the green zero, or rather the fact that there is an extra “number” on the table not fairly reflected in the odds, that gives the casino the advantage – called the house edge.
Roulette Odds, Bets and Choices
Whilst many beginners will choose to start with a simple bet, such as red or black or odd or even, there are a whole host of different betting options when playing roulette. As stated, they all carry the same risk/reward ratio, so in the long term your chance of winning is the same.
What differs is the short term results and the variance. For example, obviously, if you bet on a colour – almost half the wheel – your chances of winning that individual bet are far greater than if you back just a single number. But the reward for the single number is so much greater.
So, for example, if you placed 1000 bets on red, you would expect to win just under half of the time and thus make a small loss. There would be some variance from this so you might win 510, 540 or, if you were less lucky, perhaps only 470 or, if you were very unlucky, maybe just 400 times. However, the overall profit or loss would remain fairly steady because of the relatively low odds for a win.
However, place 1000 bets on zero (zero, like any single number pays at 35/1 remember) and you would expect to win 27 times and again, make a small loss. However, with just a little bit of luck you might win 30, 35 or even 40 times and thus make a substantial profit, because the payout for a win is so big. However, it wouldn’t take such a huge swing of bad luck for you to only win, for example 10 times and this would lead to a substantial loss.
A single number and a colour are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to roulette, one offering the smallest odds but the best chance of winning, the other the highest odds but the worst chance of success. In between there are many options, including backing combinations of bets, and here we list some possible bets you can make in roulette.
- Split – Any two numbers vertically horizontally next to each other, paying out at 17/1
- Street – Any three numbers in a horizontal row, e.g. 4, 5, 6 at odds of 11/1
- Corner – Any block of four adjoining numbers with odds of 8/1
- Six line – Six numbers from two horizontal rows, paying out at 5/1
- Dozens – The first dozen includes numbers 1-12, the second 13-24 and the third 25-36, all of which pay at 2/1
- Even Money – If you bet on red or black, odd or even, or high (19-36) or low (1-18) the payout is the same – even money
Many of these bets can be recreated by mixing other bets, for example putting £10 on 1 and £10 on 2 is the same as putting £20 on the 1 and 2 split. Equally putting £10 on all the odd numbers is the same as a bet of £180 on the odds.
Betting on Roulette
Playing online roulette is, as said, really easy, because the software just won’t allow you to place a bet that isn’t allowed, be that because it’s too small, too big, too late (after “no more bets” has been called once the ball is in the wheel) or because it’s not a valid combination.
With many online roulette sites the minimum and maximum stakes will be displayed either in the rules, when you hover over a given number/combination or on a visible “card” that lists the various limits. Hovering over your bet may also detail the payout odds so playing roulette online really couldn’t be any easier, especially as this all happens at your own pace (as unless you are playing live dealer roulette you decide when to spin the wheel).
Payouts are automatically calculated for you with returns automatically being added to your chips and the balance clearly displayed, making it easy to know if you are winning, losing or breaking even.
Roulette doesn’t have a system or strategy that allows you to beat the casino and if you remember that you won’t go far wrong.
If you ever see a roulette system offering to guarantee a profit or, worse, you ever see a roulette betting system for sale, ignore it! Roulette systems and strategies are older than the hills but none can beat the simple mathematical advantage the casino has due to the difference between the odds paid out and the probability of any given outcome.
Roulette Myths and Strategies to Avoid
Martingale is a roulette betting system that originated in 18th century France and dictates that whenever you lose you should just double your stake. It is mainly used for roulette betting on the even money options but can really be used to bet on any event, from sports betting to casino games, where the odds are around evens.
In theory this looks like a system that can’t lose, because whenever a losing sequence ends, the staking plan means that you will be left with a profit of one. However, unless you have an online casino with no maximum bet, as well as a bottomless wallet and a never-ending amount of time, the Martingale system is guaranteed to lose.
Many people think they are the first to dream up this system, whilst others may even pay to use it but in truth, whilst it may deliver lots and lots of very small wins, eventually a very large loss will wipe you out. The chances of five, 10 or even 15 straight losses coming up are far greater than people think and when such a bad run hits, your profits – along with your savings if you’re stupid/unlucky – will be gone.
If there are eight reds in a row, the next one must be black
A roulette table is a piece of machinery with no memory and which gives an equal chance of any number or colour coming up on any given spin. People think that if there are eight reds the next spin MUST be a black but this isn’t the case. This links in to Martingale too because people think there just couldn’t be 10 blacks in a row, and hence assume their system will work. 10 blacks in a row happens every single day. Equally, if you see the same number twice in a row, that number has just the same chance on the next spin as any other.
Roulette can be beaten
As said, roulette cannot be beaten. The casino has the advantage and whatever you bet on and however much you bet you cannot get round that fact in the long term. Yes, systems, including Martingale, are capable of delivering some wins but NEVER pay for a system and NEVER think you can beat roulette as that will simply lead onto the next point…
Chasing losses – All, or certainly many, of our bad roulette strategies and myths are linked and this is the case here. If you think you can beat roulette, or you use Martingale, or you think that what has happened before impacts what will happen next, there is a big chance you will chase your losses.
Don’t do it!
If you think your system works but you’re just being unlucky or you can’t possibly see how seven reds in a row has happened you don’t understand roulette.
If you’re down and you think “I’ll just have one more big spin and I could get all my losses back and surely my luck must change, there can’t be another red”, please, don’t do it.
Don’t make a bad day worse, because there is a better than 50% chance you’ll lose if you bet on red.
Roulette History, Stats and Facts
Okay, that’s everything you need to know about playing roulette and how to, hopefully, win at it. Here we take a look at the history of the game and how it all began.
As with many things in life and almost all casino games (bar the ones most recently invented) the exact origins of roulette are a little murky and disputed. What is fairly certain is that the game began in France in the 18th century and indeed the name roulette almost certainly derives from a much earlier “Old French” word, roelete, meaning “little wheel”. That word is thought to have come from the Latin word rota, meaning wheel. Etymology aside, let’s take a look at roulette in its early years.
It is felt that roulette was preceded by a number of games, including various English wheel games such as Roly-Poly and Ace of Hearts, and also some existing Italian and French games. In fact, as early as the 17th century a French physicist, Blaise Pascal, may have invented what could be viewed as the first ever roulette wheel when he was attempting to create a perpetual motion machine… the world energy issue’s loss is our gain then I guess!
One undeniable fact is that by the late 18th century, France – and Paris in particular – was in thrall to the game, an 1801 novel describing roulette almost exactly as we know it. In fact there is a written reference to the game as early as 1758 but it wasn’t until later that the game really began to gain popularity, spreading throughout Europe via merchants and traders. In the beginning roulette had both a single and double zero, the former being red, the latter black, though by the start of the 19th century these had become green.
It was in 1843 when the single zero version of roulette was developed, casinos introducing this more player-friendly variant to attract business and unsurprisingly it was a big hit with roulette fans. The game continued to spread, immigrants bringing roulette into America, firstly in French New Orleans, although it was only ever the double zero version of roulette that was played in the USA.
From these early games little has changed and whilst, of course, the advent of online, mobile and live dealer roulette have brought the game to a wider audience and allowed such developments as progressive games, bonus roulette and other variants, in essence, roulette now is exactly as it was 200 years ago.
Read more roulette history here.
Roulette Stats and Facts
- House Edge – As said, roulette has a reasonable – compared to many other casino games – house edge of 2.7% in the single zero version of the game. As for the double zero… don’t bother!
- The Devil – Add up all the numbers of the roulette wheel and you get…666! This is just a coincidence of course(!) but it is claimed that one of roulette’s early kingpins learned the secrets of the game from the devil himself!
- Einstein’s Thoughts… – Didn’t believe us when we said there was no system to beat roulette? Okay, well check out what Einstein thought: “No one can possibly win at roulette unless he steals money from the table while the croupier isn’t looking.”
- Odds on… – The odds on 10 straight reds are roughly the same as the odds on zero (or any other number) coming up twice in a row. Not that uncommon, eh?
- Martingale – Did we mention this was a bad system? Don’t ever play it!
- California Roulette – This game was invented in 2004 as a legal version of roulette in California, using cards instead of a standard roulette wheel.
- Bet Your Life On It? – In 2004, Ashley Revell from Kent, then aged 32, sold all his worldly possessions, including his name and went to Vegas for the bet of a lifetime. He stuck everything – £76, 840 to be exact – on red. See what happened in the amazing video below…
- Mike Ashley – Newcastle United owner, billionaire and boss of Sports Direct Mike Ashley can trump Revell and then some. In 2008 he won £1.3m on a single spin in a Mayfair casino. The bets covered every possible bet involving his lucky number, 17, and his profit from his total stake of £480,000 was more than £800,000 when the ball dropped into 17.
- Duck – In 2007 a man wagered a duck in a Las Vegas casino on double zero. When the bet won pit bosses informed the man that ducks were not accepted at the table and he was given just 25c in compensation.
- Duck – The duck fact above, it isn’t true. The rest are though…roulette’s a great game!