Roulette – History, Rules & How to Play


Roulette comes from the French word meaning little wheel, but the average roulette betting system revolves around the betting table. It is a particularly popular casino game because it is exciting and easy to play.

There are more gambling systems devised to play roulette than any other casino game, although almost every strategy eventually loses.

The History of Roulette

Roulette was invented in France by a man in search of a free energy device. Back then it was very primitive, but was adapted to have similarities to other gambling games.

Since 1796, roulette has remained much the same besides some advances in roulette wheel but a factoring technology and design, intended to make roulette spins less predictable. An earlier primitive explanation of the roulette wheel was that the green pocket is reserved for the casino, and that when the ball lands in it, the casino wins and all players lose. However, the green zero pocket is essentially no different to any other pocket with respect to odds and probabilities.

The earlier versions of the roulette wheel had only red and black pockets, but later the green zeros were added to avoid confusion.

In the mid 1800s, a German casino introduced the European style roulette wheel, which had only a single green zero pocket. This was intended to compete with the other casinos.

There have been numerous versions of roulette wheels that had both fewer and more numbers that are used today. The current prominent wheel versions are the American 00, and the European single zero wheels.

The game of roulette eventually made its way to America, but back then was initially illegal. This gave rise to cheating by both players and casino operators, it was not until sometime later that gambling on roulette spins became legal in America.

The Rules and Basics of Play

Roulette has many different betting options which are easy to understand and learn. The two main types of bets are the inside and outside bets. The outside bets include larger clusters of numbers, and the inside bets include smaller clusters down to individual number bets.

Each roulette table has minimum and maximum bet. The minimum is to ensure the casino has the space around the betting table occupied by profitable losers, and maximum bet is to prevent the casino losing large amounts of money by wealthy lucky players. Contrary to popular belief, a roulette table with no betting limit does not assure the player of winning if they continue to increase bets after losses. This is because the player cannot have an unlimited bankroll, and eventually they will lose unless their strategy circumvents the house edge.

Before a spin begins, the dealer announces “place your bets”. Players may then place their betting chips on the betting table. The dealer, otherwise known as the croupier, then begins the rotation of the rotor, which is the internal and spinning part of the wheel containing the pockets. The dealer then spins the ball in the opposite direction of the rotor. Usually the players may still place bets after this point in time, until the dealer eventually calls “no more bets”. This usually occurs approximately 4 to 5 ball revolutions before it falls.

After the ball falls, the dealer places a marker, known as the Dolly, on the betting table in position of the winning number. The dealer then removes all losing bets either by hand or with a rake, and then proceeds to payout winnings. The winnings are provided in the form of casino chips, and are placed next to each individual winning bet. The winning number is also displayed on an electronic board called the marquee. The marquee usually displays the last 15 or so winning numbers.

Roulette in California

In California, the USA, gambling on roulette wheel spins is forbidden, so the state uses a different type of roulette. According to the laws, the casino must use cards to determine the winning number. The dealer still spins a wheel although a little pointer indicates the winning number which is then displayed to the players. In some other areas, similar processes involving cards are used.  These types of roulette are not real roulette, and are very different to what you would find in other parts of the world.

The European and American Wheel Layouts

The two prominent types of roulette wheel other single zero European wheel, and the American 00 wheel. The two major differences are the sequence of numbers, and that the American 00 wheel has one additional pocket, being the 00 green.

Single,zero wheel

Double,zero wheel

There are no other differences between the two variations of wheels. The wheel manufacturers who create the two different varieties use the same outer parts (bowl) for both the single and 00 wheels.

The Roulette Table and Bet Types

The betting table is usually covered by a green felt material. The table layout is usually identical for both American and European wheel designs, besides the addition of the 00 for American wheels.



Inside Bets

Straight: a bet on an individual or single number.

Split: a bet on two numbers (example: 1 and 2)

Corner (square): a bet on for independent numbers which form a square on the betting table (example 1,2,4,5)

Six line (double street): a single bet covering two streets

Trio: a bet covering green zero and 1, 2 or 3 on the European wheel.


Outside Bets

1 – 18: all numbers between 1 and 18

19 – 36: all numbers between 19 and 36

Red: All red numbers

Black: All black numbers

Evens: All even numbers

Odds: All odd numbers

Dozens: Groups of 12 numbers: 1-12, 13-24 and 25-36

Columns: similar to the dozen bets, but along a perpendicular axis to the dozens


Called and Announced Bets

These types of bets create confusion amongst players, because the definitions of these terms vary between jurisdictions. Often this type of bet involves passing a stack of usually five betting chips to the dealer, and asking them to bet on an individual number and the two adjacent numbers either side of it on the physical wheel. These are called neighbour bets, and some casinos require them to be bet through the dealer, who then places the betting chips on an elliptical part of the betting table called the racetrack. In many European casinos, neighbour bets must be announced to the pit boss for them to be considered valid.

In other regions of the world, called or announced bets are bets where a player tells the dealer specific bet without physically placing a chip. This is intended to be used when a player does not have time to place the bet he or she wants. It is particularly useful on busy tables, but these types of bets are illegal in many jurisdictions. This is because these types of bets are considered credit, and it is too easy for dishonest players to place these bets without actually having the money. Usually these bets are only used by highrollers in VIP rooms, where the players are well known by the casino staff.

Voisins du zero (17 number bet)

This is a bet that covers all numbers between 22 and 25 on the physical wheel, although only nine chips are used. The bet involves a combination of individual bets.

Le tiers du cylindre (wheel thirds)

This bet includes the numbers closest to 0, which are 12,35,3,26,0,32,15 on the European wheel.


A bet of eight numbers including 17,34,6 and 1,20,14,31,9. Each of these groupings have numbers that are next to each other on the European wheel.  Although there are multiple numbers, only five chips are needed because a combination of individual bets are used.

Neighbour bets

Typically five numbers that are directly next to each other on the wheel. Some casinos allow players to choose the amount of consecutive numbers that one neighbour bet reflects.


Odds and Payouts

Despite the variety of roulette bets, the house edge is consistent. That is in the long-term, most roulette systems, the different types of bets will produce much the same results. So if one player bet on dozens for 1,000 spins, a another bet on black for 1000 spins, both players can expect to have lost the same amount. Also combinations of bets do not and all increase the players chances of winning or losing if the method of bets selection has not improved the accuracy of predicted winning numbers.

Type of bet Winning bet Odds Paid Expected odds of LOSING (European) Expected result for 1 unit bet on European (UNITS) Expected odds of LOSING (American) Expected result for 1 unit bet on American (UNITS)
0 0 35 – 1 36 – 1 −0.027 37 to 1 −0.053
00 00 35 – 1 37 to 1 −0.053
Straight up Any single number 35 – 1 36 – 1 −0.027 37 to 1 −0.053
Row 0, 00 17 – 1 18 to 1 −0.053
Split any two adjoining numbers vertical or horizontal 17 – 1 35 – 2 −0.027 18 to 1 −0.053
Basket 0, 1, 2 or 00, 2, 3 or 0, 00, 2 11 – 1 34 – 3 −0.027 11.667 to 1 −0.053
Street any three numbers horizontal (1, 2, 3 or 4, 5, 6, etc.) 11 – 1 34 – 3 −0.027 11.667 to 1 −0.053
Corner any four adjoining numbers in a block (1, 2, 4, 5 or 17, 18, 20, 21, etc.) 8 – 1 33 – 4 −0.027 8.5 to 1 −0.053
Top line 0, 00, 1, 2, 3 6 – 1 6.6 to 1 −0.079
Six line any six numbers from two horizontal rows (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 etc.) 5 – 1 31 – 6 −0.027 5.33 to 1 −0.053
1st column 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31, 34 2 – 1 25 – 12 −0.027 2 16 to 1 −0.053
2nd column 2, 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29, 32, 35 2 – 1 25 – 12 −0.027 16 to 1 −0.053
3rd column 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, 36 2 – 1 25 – 12 −0.027 16 to 1 −0.053
1st dozen 1 through 12 2 – 1 25 – 12 −0.027 16 to 1 −0.053
2nd dozen 13 through 24 2 – 1 25 – 12 −0.027 16 to 1 −0.053
3rd dozen 25 through 36 2 to 1 25 to 12 −0.027 16 to 1 −$0.053
Odd 1, 3, 5, …, 35 1 to 1 19 to 18 −0.027 19 to 1 −0.053
Even 2, 4, 6, …, 36 1 to 1 19 to 18 −0.027 19 to 1 −0.053
Red 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12,
14, 16, 18, 19, 21, 23,
25, 27, 30, 32, 34, 36
1 to 1 19 to 18 −0.027 19 to 1 −0.053
Black 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11,
13, 15, 17, 20, 22, 24,
26, 28, 29, 31, 33, 35
1 to 1 19 – 18 −0.027 19 to 1 −0.053
1 to 18 1, 2, 3, …, 18 1 to 1 19 – 18 −0.027 19 to 1 −0.053
19 to 36 19, 20, 21, …, 36 1 to 1 19 – 18 −0.027 119 to 1 −0.053

The house edge

The house edge is one of the most misunderstood elements of roulette. It is the casinos inbuilt advantage intended to ensure the casino always profits over the long-term.

The house edge could be simply explained as unfair payouts. An example is on the European wheel there are 37 pockets including numbers one to 36, and the single zero pocket. This means that any winning number has a one in 37 chance of spinning. If you were to place a bet on an individual number for 37 spins, statistically you can expect to win once.If the payouts for roulette were fair, on this one win, you would be paid 36 units plus the return of your original bet. This payout would be 36 to 1, and it would mean that you have neither won or lost anything.

But the payout offered by the casino (for single numbers) is only 35 to 1. So the casino is paying less than it would if it were being fair.

The house edge is the same for different types of roulette bets. It is a gambler’s fallacy that some bets are better than others, except when a professional roulette betting strategies are involved to predict winning sectors of the wheel.

Calculating the house edge

There are numerous mathematical models to explain the calculations of the house edge. A simplified version is to compare the payouts versus the odds.

For example, consider a single number bet on European wheel. A fair payout would be 36 to 1, but the casino only offers 35 to 1. To calculate the house edge, subtract 35 from 36 which is 1. Then divide the result by 37, which is 1/37 = 0.027, so the house edge is 0.027.

It becomes more complicated to calculate with other types of bets, but the basic principles are the same. If you would like a Microsoft Excel chart to more easily calculate the edge for any roulette bet, contact me and I’ll email it to you for free. It is the same roulette edge calculator I use myself.

Betting Strategies and Systems

More betting systems have been devised for roulette than any other gambling game. Most do not at all increase the accuracy of the winning number predictions, and therefore have no better than random accuracy. This in turn means that the expectations that the players bets will win are subject to normal expectancy, and thus the house edge.

Most roulette strategies are based on gambler’s fallacy, which is basically a pattern or principle that the player believes to exist, but does not actually exist. A common example is that after many read spinning in a row, the player may believe that Black is due to spin next. But the odds of red and black are unchanged and still equal to each other. This fallacy is often referred to as “thinking something is due”, although no event in roulette is ever due without cause-and-effect. The winning number in roulette is determined by the physical variables of the roulette wheel and ball.

Another common example is after multiple reds, the player may believe that red is on a streak, and thus red is more likely to spin next. Like the previous example, it is a false belief, and red is still no more likely to spin than black.

Professional Roulette Prediction Strategies

The only known method to beat roulette and overcome the unfair payouts of the house edge involve the use of physics to predict the winning number.

One of the first cases of a professional player is Joseph Jagger, otherwise known as “the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo”. Joseph determined that physical defects in roulette wheel is cause a phenomena called wheel bias, where certain numbers will spin more frequently than others. Many factors can cause wheel bias, such as manufacturing defects that cause one pocket to be significantly larger than the others. This in turn means the ball is more likely to fall in this pocket. The case of Joseph Jagger occurred in 1873. Eventually the casino modified their roulette wheels and Joseph lost some of his winnings before he noticed the changes. He still walked away with the equivalent of millions in today’s money.

A more recent case involving roulette wheel bias is with a Spanish family (Garcia-Pelayo family). Their approach was much the same as what was used by Joseph Jagger. For some time the casinos do not understand how the Pelayo family were consistently winning. They began with approximately $2000 and profited approximately $1 million in a relatively short space of time. At the time, the casinos were not able to legally deny that the players attend the casinos and win. When the casino was unable to stop the family winning, they forcibly removed the players which then took the matter to court. The family won the case, and was able to continue playing and winning. But the casino was forced to apply more stringent measures to prevent the player is winning, such as very frequently modifying wheels to the point where play became impractical. The team then began playing in other jurisdictions, although the father of the family became ill and they were unable to continue.

Roulette wheel bias is very difficult to prevent, and in fact all casinos suffer from some bias. For this reason, casinos use software to analyse previous spin results of the wheels, to determine if a bias is present. This requires the analysis of several thousand spins. With common software, a wheel can have a green, orange or red rating. A green rating means the wheel exhibits no significant bias. An orange wheel means there is significant bias, but it is not a big problem and the wheel can still be used by the casino. A red wheel is a significantly biased wheel that must be replaced or fixed. The majority of today’s wheels are between the green and orange ratings.

Modern roulette wheel analysis techniques used by professional players are capable to detect bias before the casinos. Significant bias can be detected in a few hundred spins instead of the typical few thousand spins. This website provides these advanced techniques for free, because there are other more powerful methods to beat roulette.

Roulette wheel bias can be used in modern casinos, but it is far more time-consuming and less profitable than other available methods.

The most effective roulette betting strategy to win is the roulette computer. These are electronic devices that measure the roulette ball and rotor speed to predict the winning number. More information is at A well-designed roulette computer is capable of achieving over a +120% edge over the casino, which is approximately 40 times the edge the casino has over normal players. For this reason, beating roulette is extremely easy with the only limitation in what the player can win without being detected by casino staff. Roulette computer devices are legal in approximately half of the jurisdictions worldwide because they only predict game outcomes without interfering.

Losing Betting Systems

The Martingale

This is a simple betting strategy where the actual bet is irrelevant. The player simply doubles their bets after losing, with the intention of winning back losses plus an additional amount. This is well documented to fail because the player reaches the betting limit or deplete their bankroll very quickly.

Labouchère system

This is essentially no different to any other betting progression like the Martingale. It still involves the increasing of bet size after losses.

D’Alembert system

This is a system designed to preserve bankroll. When the player wins, they reduce their bet size. When they lose, they increase their bet size. So it is still a betting progression, but not quite as dramatic as betting strategies such as the Martingale.

Why Most Roulette Systems Lose

Most systems do not even consider the winning number. For example, the Martingale is a betting plan and not a method for predicting the winning number.

The only roulette systems that are globally recognized as effective involve the application of physics to predict the wining number, and therefore change the odds that the bet wins.

Visit the home page to see the top 5 roulette systems that work.

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