Roulette is one of the simplest games you can play at the casino. At its heart, players have to guess where a small ball in a spinning wheel will land. But look past the simple gameplay of roulette and you're met with a betting system that can be intimidating for new players. Roulette is probably the only table game where betting on it successfully, is harder than actually playing the game.
It's arguable that the actual game of roulette, takes place entirely in how players place their bets. A bad bet in roulette is a game killer and can have you throwing away money, without any hope of getting it back. In our guide to roulette bets, we'll take a look at both the European and American versions of roulette and give you the basics of how to bet on both of them.
Before we start betting, we'll have to run over the basics of the roulette wheel and how it works. The European roulette wheel contains 37 indents for the ball to land in, each one labelled with a number from between 0 – 36. In a slight twist, the American version of roulette has 38 numbers on the wheel, which includes an additional 00 area. This different setup will slightly affects how bets between versions, but we'll point them out as they turn up.
The numbers are also split into different colours. The 0 and 00 areas are coloured green, while the rest of the numbers on the wheel are coloured either red or black. The rest of the numbers are spread randomly around the wheel and are alternated as red and black, so there's no noticeable pattern regarding the number and the colour it is.
The roulette betting table is what you need to understand before even starting to play the game. It's important to remember that the layout of the table is not just to look nice. The setup of the table affects what kind of bets you can place.
Bets on a roulette table can be placed on single areas of the table, or across adjacent areas of the table. This allows players to place a single bet for several outcomes of the game. Being able to split your bets across several outcomes is what sets roulette apart from basically every other table game, and the fact it's dependent on which options are closer to one another on the betting table, separates it even further from the casino game crowd.
Depending on where you place your one chip, players can bet on between 1 – 5 outcomes, which will affect the odds of winning and the payouts you'll receive. Those are the basics of the betting table, so now let's check in on the…
Roulette bets are split into 2 types of bet. There's inside bets and outside bets.
Inside bets are bets that are made on the actual numbers of the roulette wheel, which can be found on the inner area of the roulette bet table. As we said earlier, depending on the position of certain numbers, players can place bets across several numbers. Each bet will have a different name depending on the bet placed:
The American roulette bets include all the earlier rules of inside betting. The same rules for corner bets and split bets can apply to the 0 and 00 numbers as well. It doesn't change the game drastically, but gives you additional choices when placing bets adjacent to the green areas.
Outside bets include all the remaining bets, which lie on the outer edges of the betting table. These bets aren't made on individual numbers, but are made on entire areas or categories of the roulette wheel. These include:
Red or Black – Bets placed on the winning number being either black or red in colour – Pays 1 to 1
Odd or Even – Bets placed on the winning number being either odd or even – Pays 1 to 1
High or Low – Bets placed on winning number being either high (1 – 18) or low (19 – 36) – Pays 1 to 1
1st Dozen – A bet placed on the winning numbers being within the first dozen numbers (1 – 12) – Pays 2 to 1
2nd Dozen – A bet placed on the winning numbers being within the second dozen numbers (13 – 24) – Pays 2 to 1
3rd Dozen – A bet placed on the winning numbers being within the third dozen numbers (25 – 36) – Pays 2 to 1
Column Bets – Bets placed on one of the 3 columns of the inside bets – Pays 2 to 1
European roulette's major difference from American roulette, is that it comes with a secondary betting table. Known as racetrack bets, the racetrack betting table strings all the inside bets around a racetrack shaped circle. A selection of outside bets are found in the middle of the racetrack and split up the inside bets into categories that can be bet on.
The inside bets of the racetrack are very simple, with players only able to place either straight up or split bets at most, due to each number only sharing 2 neighboring numbers. When it come to outside bets, there are 5 options players can take and the more unlikely they are to win, the higher the payout:
The Voisons du Zero (Neighbours of Zero) bet includes both the Voisons and Zero areas of the racetrack. In total, they both cover 17 numbers, including the left half of the racetrack which goes from the numbers 22 – 25, which encompasses the green 0 also. This is where it gets its name, Neighbours of Zero from.
Compared to the regular betting table, the Voisons du Zero area includes a combination of split and corner bets, which could have been placed individually on the standard table. To place this bet, it will cost 9 chips and the odds of winning this bet are around 45.9%.
This is a similar bet to the Voison du Zero, but only includes the Zero area of the table and so covers less numbers. It covers 7 numbers in total along the track, spanning from 12 – 15 and includes the green 0 in the middle. You'll need 4 chips in order to take out this bet and the odds of winning are 18.9%.
The Tiers bet only covers a third of the wheel, 12 numbers in total, and works in much the same way as the dozen bet does on the standard betting table. Just imagine it as a dozen bet, but there is only one of them this time. It covers a random dozen of the total numbers, ranging from 27 – 33 around the racetrack.
It requires 6 chips to play and the odds of winning it are 32.4%.
Orphelins translates to orphan and covers the remaining unused numbers on the racetrack, hence its morbid name. The numbers it covers are dotted on either side of the racetrack and include: 1, 6, 9, 14, 17, 20, 31 and 34.
It requires 5 chips to place an Orphelins bet and the odds of winning it are around 21.6%.
A Neighbors bet isn't directly displayed on the racetrack, but it is an additional bet that allows you to chain neighbouring numbers together. The bet allows you to pick a number and then include the 2 neighbouring numbers to the right and left of it, chaining 5 numbers together in total.
In total, it is a five number bet and your chosen number will always count as the middle one. It costs 5 chips to play and your odds of winning it are set at 13.5%.
That brings us to the end of our starter's guide to betting on roulette. We've broken down the basics, so you can get to grips with the freedom of betting that roulette offers. You should now be able to approach every official version of roulette, which includes both the American and European versions, and be able to confidently start betting straight away. Roulette is a great alternative to playing slots, and just as simple to get your head around.
We'd love to give you some strategies to get you started, but that would be a subject for a whole other article and would need a lot more explanation than what we can put here. For now, get out there and get to grips playing the real thing. As long as you follow the numbers, go for safe bets and bet smart, you should find yourself getting more comfortable with roulette in no time.