How to Play Roulette
Roulette, like blackjack and craps, is one of the most popular games in the casino. Roulette, meaning “little wheel” in French, is a game involving a little ball and a wheel. A casino employee spins the wheel in one direction and then the ball in the opposite direction around the rim of the wheel. The ball eventually slows down and falls into one of the 38 colored and numbered slots on the wheel and the players are paid accordingly depending on the slot into which the ball falls.
Types of Bets in Roulette
There are two basic types of bets in roulette: inside bets, where a player bets on a single number or a composite of numbers directly, and outside bets, where a player bets on a larger string of numbers based on qualities such as grouping, color, even or odd, etc. It should be noted that all outside bets lose if the ball lands upon 0 or 00.
Single- Player bets on a single number. Chip(s) is placed on the middle of a number square.
Split- Player bets on two adjoining numbers. Chip(s) is placed on the line between the two numbers.
Street- Player bets on all three numbers in a single horizontal row. Chip(s) is placed on the edge of that row.
Square- Player bets on four numbers sharing a corner. Chip(s) is placed on the shared corner.
Double Street- Player bets on all six numbers in two adjacent horizontal rows. Chip(s) is placed on the corner of both rows.
1 to 18 or 19 to 36- Player bets on either one of the first 18 numbers being hit or the second 18 being hit.
Red or Black- Player bets on the color the ball will land on.
Even or Odd- Player bets on an even or odd number being hit. (Note: if zero is hit, both even and odd bets lose.)
1 to 12, 13 to 24, or 25 to 36- Player bets on groupings of 12 numbers.
Column- Player bets on all 12 numbers within a single vertical column. Chip(s) is placed on the lower edge of that column.
Odds and Payouts in Roulette
As there are 38 slots in roulette, each of which has an equal chance of being landed upon, the math behind roulette is pretty straightforward. The probability of any single number being landed upon is 1/38 and has a payout of 35/1. The discrepancy between these two numbers represents the house advantage. All other bets similarly follow from the odds and payouts of any single number being landed upon. The probability of the ball landing upon a red number, for example, is 18/38 (a little less than 1/1) while the payout is only 1/1.
As you can see from these two examples, roulette would be a completely fair game, with the odds exactly equaling the inverse of their payouts, if it was not for the 0 and 00 slots in which the ball can land. The 0 and 00 slots are the sole source of the house advantage. On any single number bet that house advantage is about 5.26%.
Sucker Bets in Roulette
The worst bets in roulette are on any single number being hit, including bets on 0 and 00. These bets obviously have the worst odds and more importantly their relative payout to those odds is worse than other bets. Generally, outside bets are better than inside bets as they combine more numbers so are more likely to be hit and they have better odds to payout ratios.
Any betting strategy you may see out there that relies on using the “history of the wheel” to predict future spins is also a sucker bet. Casino roulette wheels are recalibrated multiple times a day to ensure that they are perfectly level and fair. Previous spins in no way affect future outcomes, there is no such things as streaks, and do no waste your time or effort trying to keep track of different wheels’ biases.
Best Bets in Roulette
One of the easiest and most common bets in roulette is on odd/ even or red/ black. This bet is pretty player-friendly. It is just like betting on the flip of a coin except that the coin has a small probability of landing on its side (i.e. 0 or 00) with a payout of 2/1. So, as long as the ball does not land on 0 or 00, you should be making even money. The expected value of this bet if we take into account 0 and 00 is about 95% your wager.
Generally, most inside bets are sucker bets while most outside bets are much better bets.