How to PlayRoulette is a game that has been around since the 18th century, and in all of the time since it has not changed a great deal. In fact, its simplicity is one of the keys to its popularity.

At its most basic, it is a game played with a spinning wheel and a ball. The wheel has various numbered ‘pockets’ coloured red or black, and after the wheel is spun the ball is released onto it where it will eventually come to land in one of these pockets.

Players can bet on which number or colour pocket they think the ball might land on, although there are a few different ways to do this which we will cover later. That’s the game of roulette in a nutshell, so now lets start looking at it in a little more detail.

The Basics

Before we tackle any of the side bets or game variations, let us take you through a bog standard game of roulette and look at how the game is played, and the various different bets you can make.

Whether you play in a real life casino or, as is more likely, at an online casino, your roulette table will look something like this:

Roulette table

You can see the wheel with various numbered pockets and the board containing all of the same numbers. The wheel is where the game is played out, the board is where the bets are placed.

In real life you would have your chips which you could place on the betting board, but in the online game you have to select your chip value from the list on the left (highlighted in yellow) and then click where you want to place that chip. You can click as many times as you want to make the bet bigger, or go back and change the chip value.

Once you are happy with the bets you have made, you can click the spin button (highlighted in yellow below) and the wheel will spin and the ball will be released.

Roulette Bet on Red

You can see in the image above that we have decided to bet £0.10p on red, so we need the ball to land on any red number in order to win our bet.

We could have placed many more bets if we had wanted, and each one is treated individually, so it is possible to place several different bet types and win them all.

Roulette Result

The ball landed on number 4, which is black, so we lost our bet and our 50p goes to the casino. That’s the way the cookie crumbles.

But if you look at the image above you can see 3 main changes to the interface, numbered one to three in yellow: number 1. Shows a close up of the winning pocket on the wheel; number 2. shows a marker placed on the winning number on the board, and number 3. shows the result listed on the results table where you can keep track of all previous winning numbers.

And that is a game of roulette completed. We lost our bet but we might get luckier in the next game.

Roulette Bets

Now you have a basic grasp of how the game works, we can look at the various different bets that you can make.

These can be broken down into two different categories; inside bets, and outside bets. There is no limit on how many of these bets you place on each game, you can even bet on contradicting outcomes if you like, but there is usually a table limit which you cannot go over. It tends to be very high though.

Outside bets have much better odds of coming in but pay out smaller amounts. Inside bets might not be as likely to win, but if they do you will get a much larger amount back on your stake.

Outside Bets

If you look at the image below, you will see that we have placed a 10p chip on each type of outside bet available.

We will explain each bet from left to right.

Outside Bets

First we have the 1st, 2nd or 3rd 12 bets; these are also called 1st Dozen at some tables. Our bet is on the 1st 12. If you note the size of the box that the words “1st 12” is written in, you can see that this is exactly one 3rd of the board, and all of the numbers above it are included in this bet. Therefore, if the ball landed on numbers 1 to 12 (excluding zero) our bet would win. This pays out at 2:1, so if we won with a 10p stake we would get 20p back on our stake.

Moving on, our next bet is on the red diamond. This is a black or red bet, and it has a little under a 50% chance of coming in. It isn’t a true 50/50 chance because of the green zero which we will cover later. For this bet to win we would need the ball to land in any red pocket on the wheel, and we would be paid out at 1:1, so we would win 10p on our 10p stake.

Up next is odd or evens bets, and they work in the exact same way as red or black bets except the winning conditions are based on whether the number is odd or even. We have bet on Odd, so as long as the ball lands on an odd number we will be paid out at 1:1.

Our next bet is on the 2nd 18. The board has 36 numbers in total (plus the zero) and numbers 1-18 are the 1st 18 while numbers 19-36 are the 2nd 18. The ball must land on any number from 19-36 here for us to win our bet, and once again, the payout for this is 1:1, so we would get 10p back on our stake.

Finally we have the rows. These bets split the board longways into three, or to think of it another way into a top row, a middle row, and a bottom row. Our bet is on the middle row, so the numbers 2, 5 , 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29, 31, 33, and 35 would all be winners for us and pay out at a 2:1 ratio, giving us 20p back on our 10p bet.

For quick reference:

Bet Type Payout
12s/Dozens 2:1
Red/Black 1:1
Odds/Evens 1:1
1st & 2nd 18 2:1
Rows 2:1

Inside Bets

We will work from left to right again when looking at the inside bets, starting with a lesser used bet.

Inside bets

The zero is the only number not included in any of the outside bets. To win money when the ball lands on the zero you have to either bet on the zero specifically, or include it in a split. Here we have included the zero in  a 3 way split with the numbers 3 and 2, so if the ball landed on these numbers we would be paid out at 11:1. This is essentially the same a street which we will cover shortly.

Our next bet is a standard split between the 8 and 11, which would pay out at 17:1 if the ball landed on one of those two numbers. You can do this with the zero too, you don’t have to make a 3 way bet like we did.

Next up is the street bet which comprises of 3 numbers stacked vertically on the board. Our bet is placed on the numbers 16, 17, and 18, and will pay out at 11:1 if one of those numbers wins.

Similar to the street is the line bet. This is a bit like betting on two streets right next to each other, so it includes six numbers and pays out at 5:1. Numbers 22-27 are the ones we would be cheering for here.

A corner bet is the next on the list, which covers four different number and pays out at 8:1, so a 10p bet would see an 80p return on top of the stake.

Last but not least is one of the more famous bet types, the straight up. This is a bet on a single number and carries the highest payout potential on the board at 35:1. You can make this bet on any number you like including the zero, but the ball must land on that specific number for your bet to win.

For quick reference:

Bet Type Payout
3 Way Split 11:1
Split 17:1
Street 11:1
Line 5:1
Corner 8:1
Straight Up 35:1

The Zero

ZeroThe reason the zero is included on the roulette board is to give the casino an edge. All casino games have a house edge which is why the phrase ‘the casino always wins in the end’ rings true; because all games are weighted in their favour.

If the ball lands on zero then all outside bets will lose. Most inside bets will lose too, aside from a street or split containing the zero or a straight up bet on it.

The chances of the ball landing on zero are 1 in 37 or about 2.7%, which goes a long way to giving the casino their 2.63% house edge on standard European roulette.


The example we used in our walkthrough above was from a game of classic European roulette, which is the game variation you will see most often if you are a UK based player. However, you may also come across French Roulette and American Roulette.

Things get a little complicated if you dig too deeply into this, but technically, there are just two different sets of roulette rules; those where all outside bets lose if the ball lands on zero (American roulette), and those where they don’t necessarily (French roulette).

However, there are also different table/wheel layouts built to suit different versions of the game, and over time the different tables and the different rules have become confused.

European roulette is something of a hybrid of the two original types of roulette: it typically uses an American table layout but only has a single zero, like French roulette. However, it is played using American rules (outside bets lose when the ball lands on zero).

So, while European roulette isn’t technically a variation in and of itself, it has become one over the years and is now accepted by all but the purists as its own version of the game.

American Roulette

American Roulette

Looking at the game in the image above, you should be able to spot one fairly obvious difference between American roulette and European roulette.

If you can’t then let us help you; there is a double zero as well as a single zero.

As we know, the zero is what gives the casino their edge, so by adding another zero the casino is seriously bulking out its earning potential, boosting their house edge to 5.26%. The long and the short of it is that playing American roulette would be a mistake if there is a European version available.

One other minor difference is that the numbers are not in the same order on the wheel in American roulette as they are on European roulette, but this doesn’t make a difference to anything other than the way things look.

In a real casino, the table would be run by a single croupier.

French Roulette

A lot of people think that French Roulette and European Roulette are the same thing, but this isn’t really the case anymore. If you ever hear someone talking about European Roulette and mentioning the en prison or la partage rule, then they are mistakenly talking about French Roulette.

French roulette may look the same as European roulette in many online versions, but traditionally the table would be red and the writing in French – oddly enough. The layout may also be different as you can see here:

French Roulette

The main attraction for most players though, is the en prison or la partage rules, and these both come into effect if the ball lands on zero and you have placed outside bets. With en prison, these otherwise losing bets will be marked (or put ‘in prison’) and left on the table for the next spin. If the bets win on this second spin they are returned albeit without a payout.

With la partage, losing outside bets will return 50% of the stake if the ball lands on zero, so your losses are minimised.

This brings the house edge down to just over 1%, so they are understandably popular rules.

In a real casino French roulette is traditionally played with two croupiers, one on either side, as well as a table umpire!

Alternatives and Side Bets

Side BetAs time has gone on, and thanks to the era of online casino, roulette variations and side bets have been coming thick and fast, presenting players with endless new ways to play the traditional game.

All of these side bets or game variations are based on either European, American, or French roulette as a starting point, but they then have extras built in.

A lot of the time the payouts have been adjusted to more equally weight the game so that it doesn’t sit too far in the player’s favour, but many of these extra features also have the potential to pay out much larger amounts than normal.

  • Extra Pocket – There are many different versions of this side bet, World Cup Roulette or Key Bet Roulette are two that we have covered on this site, and they all work by adding an extra pocket to the wheel. You need a bet on this extra pocket otherwise if the ball lands on it you get nothing, but assuming you have made a bet you can win a lot more than the 35x you would get from a straight up bet.
  • Free Bets – Some games offer players something for nothing, such as Betfair Bonus Roulette, and Dragon Jackpot Roulette, where your winnings can be boosted if the ball lands on the correct pocket regardless of whether or not you have made a bet on it.
  • Multipliers – This is more common with live version of the game like Lighting Roulette and Quantum Roulette, where a few numbers are chosen before each spin to be boosted. This means that straight up bets on these numbers will pay out at much higher odds.

As well as these you can also find games that have been mainly changed visually like Pinball Roulette (this one also has a ‘Gamble’ feature but the base game rules are unchanged) which are something a bit different but don’t offer much else, and others that have used roulette as a starting point but then changed almost everything else about the game such as Roulette Diamond.

Roulette Diamond

On top of this there are even versions of the game based on TV shows and board games like Deal or No Deal and Monopoly, where the developers have tried to build aspects of the theme into the game.

Monopoly Roulette Tycoon Bonus Game

There are no limits as to how game developers can adapt the old favourite, and as you can see some of the things they have done take the game far from its original form.

This is bound to continue, which is great because players who may not be too keen on the more traditional version of the game might find something to enjoy in these side bets or alternative versions, while those who are put off by what some might call novelty additions can just stick to the real thing.

Common Questions

Roulette Etiquette Guide: How to Behave at the Table

Mostly, roulette etiquette is just about being polite, respectful, and considerate to other people, but there are some unique aspects too, such as knowing when to place bets, when to talk to the dealer and when not to, how to exchange cash for chips, and how to gracefully accept both victory and defeat.

What is Top Hatting in Roulette and is it Cheating?

The act of adding chips to bets made on numbers that go on to win, so the win is increased at no extra risk to the player. Technically, top hatting requires the dealer to be in on the scam, and yes, it is very much cheating.

What is a Finale Cheval Bet in Roulette?

A finale cheval bet is made up of three or four split bets covering adjacent numbers that end in the same two digits. So a finale cheval bet on numbers 5 and 8 would cover 5 and 8, 15 and 18, and 25 and 28. It is a simpler version of the finale cheval plein bet, and an alternative to the finale plein bet.

What is a Finale Cheval Plein Bet in Roulette?

The finale cheval plein bet is a combination of the finale plein bet and the finale cheval bet, whereby two single digit numbers are chosen and bets are placed on any number ending in those digits. It covers between 6 and 8 numbers depending on the choices of the player, and includes straight up bets and split bets where they are possible.

What is the Finale Plein Bet in Roulette?

A finale plein bet in roulette is simply the act of betting on all numbers ending in a specific digit. So a final plein bet on number 4 would cover 4, 4, 24, and 34. Straight up bets are used to cover these numbers.

Visual Ballistics for Roulette

Visual ballistics is a method of pushing the house edge back in your favour just enough to make the game profitable - although its validity is sometimes questioned. The idea is to study the wheel and the results over many spins, and then use the information you collect to make bets. This is done by creating a reference point such as the dominant diamond, learning to spot the point at which the ball loses speed, and using them to find a reference number as the wheel spins. You can then estimate from your wheel study approximately how may spaces from the reference number the ball will land, and get last second bets on to cover that area.

What Are the Odds of Red or Black in a Row in Roulette?

The chances of a single red or black coming up on any European roulette spin are 1 in 37, which can be expressed as a percentage of 48.65%, or once in every 2.06 spins. To find the probability of further reds or blacks we would use the formula 18 ÷ 37 x 18 ÷ 37 as many times as necessary for the number of spins you want to look at. Equally, we can use 2.06 to the power of 2 (or however many spins you like) to work out the probability as a 1 in x chance.

What are the Best Numbers to Bet on in Roulette?

All numbers on the roulette wheel have a 1 in 37 or 2.70% chance of coming in, so technically there is no such thing as the 'best' number to bet on. There are other ways of looking at this though, and whatever sample size of spins you choose to look at, there will always be a few numbers that look hot, and a few that look cold.

Can Roulette Dealers Control Where the Ball Will Land?

If you are asking whether the dealer can pick out a specific number then no, they can't. However, it can be argued that they can guide the ball towards a certain part of the wheel. The reality of this is an ongoing debate, however.

What is the James Bond Roulette Strategy?

A three bet strategy placing 1 unit on the zero, 5 units on a 13-18 line bet, and 14 units on the top end of the table, numbers 19-36. This covers around 68% of the table. On top of this, a progression system is used when staking to attempt to recoup any losses by increasing bet sizes.

What is the Paroli (Reverse Martingale) Betting System?

A positive progression system which requires winning 1:1 bets to be left on the table (so doubled in effect) after each win. A base stake is set before play begins, and after each loss or the 3rd win in a row, whichever comes first, the stake is reset. This system aims to capitalise on mini winning streaks and lessen the impact of losses.

What is the Tier et Tout System?

This system uses 2 spin cycles and requires the player to split their entire bankroll into thirds. The first third is bet on the first spin, with the remainder bet on the second spin should the first bet lose. Should either bet win, the new bankroll amount is split into thirds again (with any excess put aside as profit when this is not possible), before a new cycle begins.

Are Roulette Systems Sold on Ebay a Scam?

Whether you want to call them a scam or not is a question of perspective, but what is absolutely 100% true is that they will not work in the long term. All roulette systems are flawed because they will ultimately be restricted by betting limits at the table, or by your bank roll running out. On top of this, information on roulette systems is freely available all over the internet, including right here.

Who Invented Roulette?

Although Blaise Pascal is most commonly credited with creating roulette, in actual fact all he only created (potentially), the wheel itself. The history of the game's rules less well known, but other similar games have been played throughout history from which inspiration was surely drawn for roulette.

Is Zero (0) Even in Roulette?

Although the number zero is considered to be an even number by mathematicians, in the game of roulette it is treated as neither odd nor even. This is to keep the game balanced and ensure the house maintains their edge, and can make money from the game.

What are the Odds of the Same Number Coming up in Roulette?

The odds of any number coming up are 37/1 in European roulette and 38/1 in American roulette. However, the odds of the same specific number coming up twice in a row are 1369/1 for European roulette and 1444/1 in American roulette. Those odds change dramatically if we look at further wins a row though.

What are the Biggest Ever Wins in Roulette?

It's not possible to know about every game of roulette ever played, but there are some stonking wins on record. This list includes a $3.5 million win from winning straight up bet, and an incredible instance where number 17 came up 3 times in a row netting one very famous actor $27,000.

What are Call Bets and Announced Bets?

While traditionally a call bet is a bet on credit and an announced bet is one made without laying your chips but showing your means to pay for the bet, both being placed by talking to the dealer, these days people use the terms to mean the French bets like Orphelins, Voisins du Zero, and Tiers du Cylindre.

What is Oscar's Grind Betting System?

A slow and steady roulette strategy that seeks to minimise losses and gradually eek out a profit of 1 betting unit from each cycle of the system. Stakes remain the same after a loss but are increased by 1 unit only after a win that follows a loss, and only if the increase will not take the player above 1 unit of profit overall. Once 1 unit of profit has been achieved, the cycle resets and starts again.

What is the Kavouras Bet Strategy?

A bet that covers 20 numbers, giving a 54% chance of winning on each spin, and costing 8 betting units per spin. This is a very simple and flexible bet, rather than a strategy. There is no complicated staking system to remember, although this is something you can develop yourself using the core bet as a base.

What is the Roulette Dozens Strategy?

There are many different takes on the dozens strategy, but essentially you bet on either a single or a double dozen, and adjust your bet depending on the result. The payout for a dozens bet is 2:1 rather than the 1:1 bets most other systems are based around, and there are more options here as the system works with all 3 possible dozens bets as well as the rows/columns bets, since they all contain 12 numbers each.

How Many Numbers are There on a Roulette Wheel?

There are 37 numbers on a European roulette wheel and 38 on the American version. This is because the American wheel has a double zero as well as a single zero, reducing the chances of winning and increasing the house edge.

How Many Numbers Should You Bet in Roulette?

There really isn't a one size fits all answer to this question, but there are different approaches depending on what you want to achieve. You can cover a lot of numbers cheaply with an outside bet or spend more on inside bets to do the same, with the only differences being the amount you spend and the payout you receive. However, anyone looking for big wins over frequent wins will want to limit the amount they spend per spin by covering fewer numbers, to allow their less frequent wins to recoup losses and leave them in profit.

What is a Roulette Ball Made Of?

Although ivory and even wood were used many years ago, these days roulette balls are made of far more durable and sustainable materials like ivorine and teflon. These materials look different in colour but also have different behavioural characteristics, with ivorine balls being bouncier and heavier.

What is a Snake Bet in Roulette?

A snake bet is made by placing 12 different straight up or single number bets in a zig zag on a roulette board, creating a pattern that looks like a snake. It is similar to a column or dozen bet in terms of coverage, but comes with a much higher risk/reward ratio.

Can You Buy a Roulette Table & How Much Would it Cost?

You can, and you can spend anything from a few hundred pounds up to around £20,000 on it depending on what you buy. The range of tables available is vast and you can either buy new or find something second hand.

What is the Fibonacci System?

A negative progression staking system that uses Fibonacci's number sequence at its' core. It requires the next bet after a loss to be the sum of the two bets before it, while a win requires the player to jump back two places in the sequence to make the next bet. Getting back to the start of the sequence is the aim, and the fewer spins it takes to do so the better.

What is the Labouchere System?

A negative progression staking system for roulette that fairly aggressively chases losses and aims to win the player a set amount of money by breaking that target amount down into a sequence of smaller numbers and betting as the sequence dictates.

What is the D'Alembert System?

A more cautious version of the Martingale System in many ways, the D'Alembert lowers the stake size by 1 betting unit after a win and raises the stake size by 1 betting unit after a loss, thus going some way to protecting your bankroll. It can be adapted to suit your own style too.

What are Even Money Bets in Roulette?

We have talked about inside and outside bets, but what about even money bets? It's a term you will hear a lot, and the bets included in this category are some of the most commonly placed - especially by new players or those that are more risk averse.

Can You be Good at Roulette?

You can't improve at roulette itself because it is a game of chance and nothing the player does can influence the outcome, the house edge is always the same. However, it is possible to play optimally in terms of choosing the right game, managing your money, and making sensible bets.

What is Roulette Wheel Bias?

If a roulette wheel has minor imperfections it can cause certain numbers to come up more often than others, creating a bias towards those numbers. Technically then, bets on those numbers have a greater chance of winning than the others.

What Does it Mean to Break the Bank in Roulette

To break the bank a player must win more than the roulette table has in reserve, or in 'the bank'. This forces the table to close for a short time until more funds can be topped up from the casino's vaults.

Is There a Triple Zero Roulette?

Believe it or not, triple zero roulette does exist, and it carries a very high house edge of 7.69% - this makes it terrible value. Most likely to be found in America, there are also cleverly disguised online versions with extra symbols that offer bonus rounds or increased payouts.

Do the Numbers on a Roulette Wheel Add up to 666?

If you add them all up one on top of the other then yes, the numbers on the roulette wheel make a total of 666. There are other ways to play with the layout of the numbers to create 6's too, and this had led to associations with the devil.

What are the Roulette Odds and Probability?

The answer is different depending on the bet that you place, but even money bets have odds of 1:1 and a 48.65% chance of coming in, while straight up bets have odds of 35:1 but just a 2.70% chance of occurring.

What is the House Edge in Roulette?

If playing regular European or French roulette the house edge is 2.70%, but if you find yourself at an American roulette table that jumps to a whopping 5.26%. There are certain rules or features that can change this though.

Can You Cheat at Roulette?

If you are talking about online roulette then no, that's pretty much impossible. It's almost just as impossible when playing real life roulette too, but not quite.

Is Online Roulette Rigged?

The short answer is no, not if you play at a licensed online casino, although they are all weighted in the casinos favour. Online games are subject to intensive testing and checking by independent bodies, plus, the casinos themselves are not able to tamper with the games because its the developers that run them, and the developers get their money from licensing out the games to the casinos. Rigging the games just doesn't make sense.

Does the Martingale System Work in Roulette?

It's tempting to simply write 'no' and leave it at that, but the Martingale system does technically work. The problem is that hardly anyone has a bank roll to support it long term, and even if they did the betting limits at your casino would eventually scupper the system and wipe you out. Perhaps it's fairest to say that the Martingale system is not allowed to work.

How Do the La Partage and En Prison Rules Work in Roulette?

These rules aren't easy to find but they are hugely beneficial to the player when they do pop up, cutting the house edge in half. La Partage returns half of your stake on even money bets if the ball lands on zero, while En Prison keeps what would be a losing even money bet active for the next spin of the wheel.

What is the Racetrack in Roulette?

The racetrack allows players to place groups of bets quickly. These bets are called Les Voisins du Zero, Tiers du Cylindre, and Les Orphelins, and they all cover different proportions of the wheel.