The Game Rules for Roulette

Roulette is an iconic casino game that is fun to play and even more fun to win. The first step, of course, is understanding the game rules for roulette, the bets, and the strategies and systems used to win.

Learning the Wheel

roulette-wheel-028The first thing people think about when they think about when they consider roulette is likely the wheel, the fundamental piece of the game. In fact, roulette actually means “little wheel”. A roulette wheel is divided into 36 numbered slots alternating in color: red, black, red, black, and so forth. The numbers on all of the wheels are in the same non-linear format. For example, red 9, black 22, red 18, and so forth.

There are two main variations of the roulette wheel: European roulette and American roulette. On an American roulette wheel, there are two green slots added to the 36 red and black ones. The green slots are numbered zero and double zero; this gives an American roulette wheel 38 total slots. The European wheel has just one green space labeled zero; there are 37 total slots on this wheel.

The wheel is spun clockwise, then counterclockwise, and so on. If the dealer spins the wheel the same direction twice in a row the results of the spin will be invalidated.

A small ball is spun along the top rim of the wheel in the opposite direction. If the ball is ever spun in the same direction as the wheel, the results are invalidated. The ball will spin until the wheel and ball slow and gravity pulls the ball down toward the colored slots. When the ball hits the dividers of the slots it bounces off and typically hits two to four slots before it comes to rest in one of the numbered and colored spaces. The object of the game is to predict which slot the ball will end up in.

Types of Bets and Betting Table Layout

The second step in understanding the game rules for roulette is learning the betting board. The board is the same for European roulette and American roulette except for the zero and double zero spaces. A variant of European roulette known as French roulette uses a different betting board.

The board is divided into three columns of numbers that represent the same numbers and colors that are on the wheel. There are 12 numbers in each column. Bets placed on this number grid are considered “inside bets” because they are inside the number grid. Outside bets are placed on the spaces around the columns. There is a place for betting “evens”, “odds” a red diamond for betting all red numbers, and a black diamond to bet any black. There is also a place to bet on numbers 1-18 and another for 19-36. At the bottom and side of the columns, you can bet horizontally or vertically on a third of the numbers. At the top of the columns, you can bet on the green zero and/or double zero space(s).

The Betting Process

Bets are placed once all business from the previous spin has been concluded. The dealer will open the table for betting and then spin the wheel and the ball. As the ball starts to decelerate and gets ready to drop, the dealer will close betting. Different tables will close betting sooner or later based on casino rules (online games often do not allow bets to be placed once the ball is spun).

Players place their chips on the number, numbers, colors, or sections of the board they wish to bet. Some casinos will allow a player to call out their bet without physically putting their chips down. Some casinos will allow players to call out the bets, but the chips need to be placed on the table quickly. On these verbal bets, known as “called bets” and “announced bets”, the dealer needs to acknowledge the bet in order for it to be valid. Complex bets are often called out because of the difficulty in covering all of the spaces on the betting board.

Each bet has its own odds of winning and payouts based on the probability of the bet winning. A simple even-money bet would be made by placing chips on black, red, even, odd, 1-18, or 19-36. The chances of one of these bets winning are 48.65 percent on a European roulette wheel and only 47.37 percent on an American wheel (due to the extra green, double zero). Since the odds of this bet winning are high, the payout is low: 1 to 1. This means that if you bet $10 and your bet won, then you would bet your bet back plus $10. A bet placed on one of the numbers pays out at 35 to 1, a bet placed on the line between two numbers covers both numbers and pays out at 17 to 1, and bets on a corner of four numbers cover all four numbers and pays at 8 to 1.

There are dozens of bet variations and combination. To win at roulette, you do not need to memorize the fancy bet combinations, but understand the science behind the game to increase your odds of winning.

For more detail, see the roulette bets, rules, odds and payouts at and the guide at

Which roulette systems work?

See the page about how to win at roulette for professional tips. It explains why most systems fail, and which systems really work.

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