Casino Roulette 101: Learn how to play roulette from scratch.
In the grand scheme of gambling, some games are lot easier to learn and play than others. For this reason, I believe seasoned players like myself tend to glaze over certain topics. Unfortunately, I believe that’s what I’ve done regarding the subject of roulette rules and variations.
After looking back over more than two years of gaming content, I’ve found a gaping hole in the roulette department. I’ve mentioned the game, in its American and European formats, in passing. I’ve even detailed some betting systems for it. But I’ve never gotten into the fundamental basics of how the game is played.
Starting today, I’m going to fix that. In our first installment of Casino Roulette 101, I’ll explain how the game works, both online and in land-based casinos. From there, we’ll spread out into other segments, detailing all the available betting options, the house edge on those bets, and more. So, without further ado, let’s get started…
How to Play Roulette
As I mentioned above, roulette is one of the easiest games to play in a casino. The game consists of a table, a wheel, and small metallic ball.
Roulette Table: On the table are all of the available betting options. Players will position their chips within the appropriate betting area of the table diagram.
Roulette Wheel: The wheel is a large, bowl-shaped mechanism with alternating colored and numbered slots all around the inside. The numbers and colors on the wheel match the colors and numbers indicated on the roulette table’s betting diagram.
Roulette Ball: The ball is the key to the game of roulette. It is dropped into the wheel as it spins round. When the ball comes to a stop in a slot position, it indicates the winning number/color in the current round.
Order of Events: When a new game is about to begin, the dealer, known as a croupier, will announce, “Place your bets.” Each player has a given amount of time (varies by casino and number of players at the table) to place their chips in the corresponding position on the roulette table. After a short period of time, betting closes as the croupier announces, “No more bets, please.”
The croupier will now spin the roulette wheel in one direction, then drop the ball into the wheel in the other direction. This causes the ball to bounce more, ensuring maximum unpredictability of the outcome. The position on the wheel that the ball stops in indicates the winning number and color. All winning bets are paid, all losing bets are collected, and the process repeats itself.
Originally, all roulette games had 38 positions on the wheel, numbered 1-36, plus 0 and 00. Over time, American casinos stuck with the original, double-zero format, earning it the title American Roulette. European casinos reduced the slots to 37 positions (1-36 and 0), resulting in European Roulette.
The difference between the two is more impactful than you might think. Having a pair of positions (0 and 00) in which the house collects all the bets (except those on 0 or 00) effectively doubles the house edge. Thus, American Roulette carries an edge of 5.26 on most wagers. European Roulette’s single-zero approach reduces the edge to 2.7%.
Other variations of roulette rules include French Roulette, Mini Roulette and Multi-Wheel Roulette.
In French Roulette games, additional groups of numbers can be bet on (sometimes found in European games, too). French versions also tend to carry the La Partage rule, highly favorable for strategic players.
Mini Roulette is a miniature version of European Roulette, in which the numbers only include 1-12 and 0. In Multi-Wheel Roulette, there is just one table, but up to 6 roulette wheels. Each time players bet, all the wheels spin, giving players a chance to win on up to 6 wheels per play. In turn, wagers are divided by the number of wheels in play to offset the odds.
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