How To Play Roulette – Master Roulette Rules, Odds, and Payouts

How To Play Roulette

17 minutes

Last Updated: March 28, 2024

Checked by: Zvonimir Potocki

Whether you enjoy gambling games or not, you have almost certainly heard of roulette and seen the roulette wheel in gambling movies or on TV.

Roulette is easily one of the most popular casino games in the world, and there is hardly a proper casino out there that does not feature some version of this game.

Brick and mortar places and online casinos alike offer roulette games to their players.

If you have any questions or doubts about how to play roulette, what odds you will have on different bets or anything else about this wheel game, this page is for you.

In this guide, I will teach you how to play roulette, what basic roulette rules you should always keep in the back of your head and how you can possibly win more when you play the game.

Let's get started by explaining the basics of the roulette wheel, the different betting options, and the way the game is actually played in both live and online casinos.

Roulette Rules: Mastering The Basics

Before we get into the specific bets you can make in roulette, we should first cover how the game is played in the first place for the absolute novices out there.

The game of roulette is played on a roulette wheel and a roulette table, which are adjacent.

roulette rules

The roulette table is used for betting, while the wheel is where the outcome of the bets is decided.

All players can place chips on various fields around the table, betting on different things. Once all bets are placed, the dealer will spin the ball through the wheel, eventually ending up in one of the slots with a dedicated number.

Once the ball is still in one of the fields, the bets will be decided.

The players who made bets that correspond to that exact field will be paid according to the fixed roulette payouts. Others will have to look for their luck on the next spin.

Roulette table

roulette table layout

A roulette table is used to place your bets, and depending on the actual game, it might defer a little bit.

In a standard version is the European roulette table that has 37 different fields with numbers ranging from 0 to 36:

  • 18 red fields
  • 18 black fields
  • 1 green “0” field

If the roulette game did not have a “ZERO” field, this game would be even money, and the casino would not be making any profit, so it is an essential part of the game.

The green field creates a house edge of 2.7%, and in the case of American roulette, where the second green field of “00” is added on top of previously mentioned numbers, the house edge increases to 5.26%.

Roulette wheel

roulette wheel

One of the main parts of this game is the roulette wheel, which is used to spin the ball and decide the winner.

It has all of the same number fields as on the table to represent the bets, so the roulette wheel has:

  • 37 fields in European roulette
  • 38 fields in American roulette

There is not much you need to know about the roulette wheel itself since the dealer only uses it to spin the ball and all of the play happens at the table.

Roulette odds

roulette odds and payouts

Contrary to popular beliefs, the house edge is identical on all of the bets, so it does not really matter which bets you choose in the long run.

  • European Roulette has a 2.7% house edge
  • American Roulette has a 5.26% house edge

That said, the actual roulette odds of hitting one bet or another differ quite drastically, so the important part here is bankroll management and if you want to choose an approach with high-risk and high-reward, or lower variance option.

We will break down the roulette odds of every possible bet in the next section.

How To Play Roulette – Betting Explained

how to play roulette - betting explained

The first time at the roulette table can be daunting, as you may not know exactly what you are doing. It is not like playing 3 Card Poker where you only have a couple of options, so you better know what to expect.

I will explain all the bets you can possibly make, starting with the simplest and building up to the most complex options.

By the time you are done reading this section, you will know how to make inside bets, outside bets, and even the announced bets, which may just be the most fun part of roulette.

Inside Bets

Let’s start with the inside bets. The inside bets are the simplest bets in roulette and often carry the biggest roulette payouts out there.

Inside bets are made by placing chips in various places within the main part of the roulette table, where the numbers are located.

In European Roulette, there are 37 numbers in total, from 0 to 36. In American Roulette, an additional 00 spot is added to the table, making a total of 38 numbers.

roulette inside bets

You may have a basic idea of how inside bets work in roulette, but let’s run down all of them and explain what they mean and how to place them:

  • (1) Straight: A straight bet is the simplest of all, meaning you bet on a specific number. Place your chips within the square of a single number, and if your number lands, you will be paid 35:1.
  • (2) Split: A split bet is made by placing chips on the line dividing two neighboring numbers on the table. This bet pays 17:1 and is paid out if either of the two numbers is the winner.
  • (3) Corner: A corner or a square bet covers four numbers. You place it by putting chips on the cross-section of these four numbers on the table. The bet pays 8:1 if it lands.
  • (4) Street: A street bet includes three numbers on the same roulette line. You place it by putting your chips on the outside line of the lowest of these numbers. The bet pays 11:1 when it lands.
  • (5) Six Line: Move your chips from the street bet a bit to the common outer corner of two roulette lines, and you will place a bet on six numbers at once. The payout is 5:1, and any of the six numbers are winners.
  • (6) Basket: A unique bet that only covers 0, 1, 2, and 3, this bet is placed on the outer corner of 0 and 1 squares. This bet covers four numbers, and the payout is thus 6:1.
  • (7) Trio: This bet is made by placing the chips on the corner of 0 and two of its neighboring numbers, for instance, 1 and 2. The bet pays 11:1 like a street bet and covers three numbers in total.

As you can see, inside bets are bets that cover a relatively small number of squares and often come with high payouts.

The roulette odds for hitting these bets go from 2.7% on a straight bet (in European Roulette) to 16.2% on a double street bet or a six-line.

The payouts also correspond to these probabilities, and the less likely a bet is to win, the higher you are paid.

Outside Bets

Outside bets offer a much better chance of payouts but make these payouts smaller. These bets often give the player even money or a 2:1 payout.

Outside bets are preferred among novice players who don't like taking too much risk.

They are also a part of some popular roulette strategies, such as the Martingale, D'Alembert, and Paroli.

Outside bets are similar to inside bets in some ways, as they also cover a number of squares at the table. However, they are even easier to make and track than the inside bets.

how to play roulette outside bets

These are the outside bets you will be able to make and their roulette payouts:

  • (8) Red or Black: Placed by putting chips on either the red or black square on the table. The bet is a winner if the winning number has the corresponding color. The payout is even money, and the house edge is 2.7% in European Roulette.
  • (9) Odd or Even: Almost the same as red or black. You place chips on the square you want to bet on and hope the ball lands in the slot with an odd or an even number. Payouts are also at even money and the same house edge as red/black.
  • (10) Low or High: Just as you can bet on red or black, and odd or even, you can also bet on the number being high (19-36) or low (1-18). Zero plays for neither, and the payout is even money.
  • (11) Dozens: A dozen bet includes 12 numbers in total, which is one-third of all numbers apart from zero. The payout is thus 2:1, and the chances to hit are 32.4%.
  • (12) Columns: Column bets are somewhat rarely made, but they also include 12 numbers as they line up across the roulette table. Column bets are made at the far right of the betting table and pay 2:1.

As you can see, outside bets come with a lot less variance than inside bets, and they are much easier to hit. However, the payouts on these are also smaller.

If you are going to be betting big, you might want to mix some outside bets into your play simply to reduce the variance and try making some quick money with a few easy double-ups.

Called Bets

The final group of bets you should understand when learning how to play roulette is the called bets.

These bets are sometimes associated with the more serious gamblers who have been around for a while, but they are actually quite easy to understand and make.

The difference between regular and the called bets is that the numbers in called bets are grouped up by their position on the wheel, not the betting table.

Since the number on the wheel is nowhere close to being in order, these bets can sometimes seem a little bit out of place. However, once you learn your called bets, you will quickly learn to recognize which numbers fall into which category.

roulette rules called bets

So, let’s go over some of the most common called bets and what they mean:

  • (13) Le Tiers du Cylindre: Translated to “one-third of the wheel,” this bet covers numbers between 33 and 27 on the wheel. There are 12 numbers in total in this part of the wheel.
  • (14) Orphelins: Numbers between the two bets I just mentioned fall into the orphelins or “orphans” section of the wheel. These numbers are 1, 6, 9, 14, 17, 20, 31, and 34.
  • (15) Voisons du Zero: The neighbors of zero is a called bet that covers the numbers in the top half of the roulette wheel. Numbers from 22 to 25 on the wheel are covered, 17 of them in total.
  • Neighbors: If you announce neighbors of any number on the wheel, you will effectively be betting on that number and two of its neighbors on either side, for five numbers in total.

Once you call a bet, the dealer will consider it as if you had placed some chips on particular inside bets. However, you will not have to place a chip on each number in play.

Instead, these bets have a particular way of being placed. For instance, the “orphelins” bet is placed by placing four chips in total. One chip goes on the 1 square. One chip is split between 6 and 9, one is split between 17 and 20, and one is split between 31 and 34.

Notice that this means your payout for the ball landing on 1 will also be higher since this is a straight bet. The same goes for “voisons du zero” and “le tiers du cylindre’, both of which have different payouts for different numbers within the series.

Games Variations – How To Play Roulette In The Right Way

roulette game variations - how to play in the right way

Just like Texas Holdem is just one variation of poker, the name roulette is used for any game with a wheel and a betting table, but there is quite a big difference between different roulette games out there.

Even before online casinos came around, there were multiple versions of the game being played in the world. Today, online casinos offer even more different roulette variations.

Each of these games brings different roulette odds, betting opportunities, and special rules that one should take into considerations.

These are a few of the most popular versions of roulette you will find in brick and mortar and online casinos.

European Roulette

europian roulette game

Often called a classic roulette, this is the most common roulette game that you will find in most places.

European roulette has 37 numbers in total, ranging from 0 to 36.

This is the basic roulette game, and the bets and rules explained in this guide mostly refer to European Roulette.

The overall house edge in European Roulette is 2.7%, and this does not change regardless of which bets you choose to make.

Each number has the same probability of landing on each spin, so no strategy will give you a true mathematical edge over the house in the game.

American Roulette

american roulette differences

As the name suggests, this game is most often found in brick and mortar casinos across the USA. The game looks very similar to European Roulette, with one major twist.

An extra number, the 00, is added to the wheel.

However, the roulette payouts are not changed in any way, and they are identical to those of European Roulette.

This clearly means that the game is less favorable to play, reflecting in the roulette odds quite a bit.

The house edge in American Roulette stands at 5.26%, almost double of the European version.

In reality, American casinos just wanted to make more money from roulette players, and they added another number to make it more difficult for the players to beat them.

Considering this, i is not the game you should be looking to play, so rather stick to European roulette rules, which gives you much better odds.

French Roulette

Quite the opposite of American Roulette, French Roulette is a game version that gives players an extra chance to win at more reasonable odds.

If you are making inside bets, the game will be identical to European Roulette. However, two extra rules apply to players who make even-money outside bets.

These rules are “En Prison” and “La Partage’.

These rules come into play when the ball lands in the 0 slot and you have made a red/black, odd/even, or high/low bet.

In this case, you will get a chance to take half of your money back (la partage) or leave the money out for a new spin (en prison).

This rule reduces the house edge on these bets to 1.35%.

The French Roulette version is one of the best options available to you, but unfortunately, this is not a very popular game, so you won't have this option too often.

Multi-Ball Roulette

Multi-ball Roulette is a game usually only available in online casinos.

When playing Multi-ball Roulette, you will be betting on a European Roulette table and wheel, but two balls will be in the wheel on each spin.

The balls will land in two slots, and you will be paid for each hit you make. As you can imagine, the roulette payouts are dropped in half, but the overall odds remain the same.

Some versions of the online Multi-ball Roulette allow for both balls to land in the same socket, in which case you are paid a special bonus.

Multi-Wheel Roulette

Are you tired of just playing roulette one spin at a time? Multi-wheel roulette is another invention of the online casino industry that lets you spin multiple wheels simultaneously.

The bets you make will apply to each of the wheels in play, and the payouts will be split based on how many wheels are out there.

Multi-wheel Roulette's function is to give you a game with more payouts, less variance, and an action-packed environment.

Online vs. Live Roulette: The Similarities and the Differences

Online vs. Live Roulette

Now that I have covered all the different versions of the game of roulette and explained how the game is played, let's talk about whether it's better to play it online or in a live casino.

There are advantages to both of these choices, as you might have expected.

Roulette was invented for live casino play, and it's probably more fun to play live.

The live casino roulette tables tend to be fun places with a lot of action and some colorful characters running around at all times.

Playing in a brick and mortar casino can really make you feel good when you are winning, as others are around to celebrate your wins. In most places, even the dealers will be happy when you are winning.

However, roulette is a game in which many things can go wrong.

If you place your chips wrong or the dealer doesn’t hear your announced bet, some trouble can arise.

Online roulette games offer remedies for most of these problems. The virtual games give you any amount of time you want to take and don't pressure you at all.

However, the biggest advantage of online casinos is the huge bonuses they might offer. The promotions in live casinos tend to be much less valuable.

In the end, it will be the decision between the live atmosphere and the ease of online play. Do you prefer a casino bonus or unlimited free drinks? It’s all up to you to decide!

Roulette Strategies and Do They Really Work

Many roulette strategies are floating around, but we will discuss them in another article.

As I already mentioned, roulette is really a game of chance in which skill plays very little part.

There are many different ways to bet and play, but none affects the final roulette odds.

You should already know roulette rules and how to play roulette games the way that suits you, so go ahead and try it out. There are plenty of free options online, so pick your spot and test your skills before risking real money.

If you are looking to learn another exciting game, I highly recommend checking craps rules and giving it a go.

Roulette FAQs

How does roulette work?

Roulette is a fairly simple gambling game that includes a betting table and a roulette wheel.

Players use the table to place their bets, while the wheel is where the ball spins and decides the outcome of all bets.

Players make their bets during the betting round, which is followed by a spin, and then all the winners are paid according to their bets.

How good are roulette odds?

Roulette odds are reasonably favorable but actually worse than many other popular casino games.

European Roulette gives the house an edge of 2.7% across all bets, which is significantly higher than games like blackjack or baccarat when played properly.

Which roulette bets have the best odds?

Outside bets offer the best roulette odds. A red/black or odd/even bet has the odds of 48.65% of being a winner each time you make it, which is only slightly lower than 50% it would take for the bet to be a break-even proposition since it pays even money.

What is an inside bet?

Inside bets are bets made by placing chips on the inside part of the roulette table, where the numbers are drawn out.

An inside bet can be a straight bet, a split bet, a column bet, etc. The inside bets are described in more detail earlier on this page.

What is an outside bet in roulette?

Outside bets are made by placing chips on the numerous outside betting fields such as red, black, odd, even, high, low, etc.

The outside bets offer the best chances of winning and the lowest payouts in turn. These bets are great for betting bigger sums of money.

What is the difference between European and American roulette?

There is one major difference between the European and American versions of the game.

American Roulette comes with an additional “00” socket on the wheel.

However, the roulette payouts are the same, which means the house edge is nearly doubled across all the bets in American roulette, making the Europian version more favorable to the players.

What is the best bet in roulette game?

All bets in roulette give the house an equal edge. For that reason, all are equally favorable or unfavorable.

If you are going for a big payout, go for inside bets and try to guess an exact number.

If you prefer steadily building it up, outside bets are the way to go, so trying to guess a color might be the best bet in roulette for you.

What are the odds of hitting red or black in roulette?

The odds of hitting red/black or any other even money bet in roulette are 48.65%.

These odds go down to 47.37% in the American version of the game.

The payout for hitting red or black is 1:1, which means the bet gives the house the same edge as any other roulette bet you can make.

What does a green “0” field mean?

The 0 field on roulette is the only green field in European Roulette, while the American version also has the additional 00 field as well.

These numbers give the house edge to the casino and are the only ones that don’t offer any payouts on the outside bets.

What are the differences between live and online roulette games?

There are several key differences between live and online roulette. Virtual online roulette games let you take any amount of time before spinning the ball. There are no dealers in online games either, and an RNG generates the results.

Of course, online casinos also offer live roulette games with a real dealer and are more similar to proper live roulette.

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