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The complete guide to roulette

The complete guide to roulette


A complete guide

to Roulette


Having been around for approximately 300 years, roulette rivals some card games in terms of its age. This makes sense when you think about it, as the wheel was created long before the printing press. However, roulette did stumble behind card games initially as the wheel was only ever thought to be used for practical reasons, not games. Once it was realised that wheels could create fun too, it did not take long for roulette to come along. But where did roulette come from and how far has it divulged from its roots?

Roulette is thought you have first been created, at least in a primitive form, in the 18th century. While this is way after the first forms of playing card games, it is around the same time as some of the most popular games that are played today, such as baccarat.

There is a common belief that Blaise Pascal created the earliest form of roulette, while attempting to create a perpetual motion machine. It is quite amusing and heart-warming that such a serious man embarking on a serious scientific quest could end up accidentally creating one of the most popular pastimes in the world.

It took until 1796 for roulette in its current form, or at least European roulette, to become popular. It even made its way into a French novel around this time. By the 19th century,roulette had spread around the globe and was one of the most popular casino games in both Europe and the USA.

It was during the 1860s that the split between European and American roulette took place. In Monte Carlo the European roulette wheel was developed and became the dominant wheel across the world, apart from in America where their own version remained the most popular.

From there roulette has become one of the most popular casino games in the world. The wheel has become smoother and the rules have become more defined. But at its heart it has remained a simple game with a wheel and a ball. Really that is what makes it so appealing.

Common roulette myths

The first myth that abounds about roulette is the same that is applied to almost every game of chance: the myth of probability. We should explain, probability is not a myth in itself, more that it is a myth in terms of affecting where the ball is going to land. If you have been carefully checking where the ball has been landing and have worked out that the only place it has left to land is 21, and so by the laws of probability that is where it is going to land, you sadly do not understand probability.

Each spin of the wheel is an independent event. That means that the spins that have happened before have absolutely no bearing on the next spin. The spin of a roulette wheel is what is called unconditional probability, so unfortunately your number crunching will not help you at the roulette wheel.

The next myth is one that pops up very often. American and European roulette are the same. This is not true. They are not the same, despite sharing a lot of similarities. The wheels for American and European roulette are different and as such there is a slight difference in house edge between each game. It might not sound like a lot, but to some people it makes all the difference.

The final myth is that winning at roulette is impossible. This is just plainly not true. While a lot of it is down to luck, there are also tactics that you can employ with the way you bet that help to increase your chances and build your bankroll. There is no way to guarantee a win when playing roulette, but you can make it more likely that you walk away with a profit.

How to play roulette

There are two main forms of the game, as mentioned at the start: European and American roulette. While on the whole there is very little difference between the two types of game, there is one area that makes a very big difference and one area that makes hardly any difference.

The area that does not have much impact on the game is purely an aesthetic one. The order of the numbers is different on each wheel. They still go in a red and black sequence, but they are not laid out in the same way. Unless you are a superstitious beast or are using a computer program to model where the ball is going to land, then the order of the numbers makes very little difference to the game.

The area that does have a big impact on the game is the number of pockets on the wheel. A European wheel has fewer pockets than an American wheel. There are 37 pockets on a European wheel and there are 38 pockets on an American wheel. The American wheel has the green zero pocket, represented a 0 and 00 on the wheel, at the top and bottom of the wheel. This means that there is an extra pocket that will not pay out. This impacts on both choosing a single number and choosing a colour.

The reason that it impacts on both of these aspects is because there are a higher number of positions that the ball can land in, but the chances of winning do not increase. As well as the chances of winning not increasing, neither do the payouts. So, with a 37/1 chance of winning when choosing an individual number on a European wheel and a 38/1 chance of winning when choosing an individual number on an American wheel, there is a difference in the possibility of winning.

Because the payout is the same for both wheels, it means that the house edge is increased when playing American roulette. That is the main difference between the two games.

For both American and European roulette the table is laid out in almost the same way. The only difference is the zero position. On the far left-hand side of the table will be a space for the zero on a European table. On an American table there will be two spaces, one for zero and one for double zero. Other than this the table is laid out in the same manner.

The main part of the table is 36 squares, one for each number on the wheel. The numbers are then laid out on the table. They are laid out in this fashion for all 36 numbers.

To the right of each line of 12 numbers is a space to place a bet on any of those 12 numbers landing. Underneath each block of 12 numbers, like the one shown above, is a space to place a bet on any of those 12 numbers landing.

Finally at the very bottom of the table there are options for the numbers 1 - 18, even, red, black, odd or 19 - 36 to have a wager placed on them.

The table is where all of the wagering action happens when playing roulette and is similar to both blackjack and baccarat in that all wagers are placed in relation to where you lay your chips on the table.

There are a number of mistakes that beginner players make when playing roulette. These are easily avoided and will improve your roulette playing experience and success. Firstly, it is important to set a limit to your bankroll and stick to it. Many people have fallen down the rabbit hole of trying to spend their way out of a losing streak and end up losing much more than they could afford. Make sure that is not you, by sticking rigidly to your bankroll limit you can ensure that you never lose more than you can afford and can always walk away on your own terms.

Placing a number of bets on each spin is another common mistake. While it means you are much more likely to get something back from the spin, it also means that you are spending a lot more for that to be the case. It can also have disastrous consequence if none of your bets come in, which is possible if you have not placed a wager on the zero, and you lose everything. Stick to one option, it may have a smaller chance of giving you a return, but it will cost you a lot less in the long run.

The final mistake that beginners make is going to the table without a plan. While a plan does not guarantee that you will win, it does give you a better chance. A betting system will help to limit the house edge and give you a better chance of winning. If you go into playing without one, then it could be a short time before you have completely used all of your bankroll and you are back to just watching other people play.

Roulette terminology

There are two main table positions when playing roulette. Outside bets and inside bets. They are quite easily explained, outside bets are bets that are made on the outside of the table. Inside bets are bets that are made on the inside of the table. What constitutes the outside and inside? Simple. The single numbers are the inside and the bets for lines and things such as odd or even are outside bets.

The table makes up where all of the betting action actually takes place. With a number of different betting options available, that are not all immediately obvious to the beginner. There is no need to worry though, we have covered every bet that you can make on a roulette table and what your return would be. For both European and American roulette the payouts and betting choices are the same.

The first and most obvious wager in roulette is placing a bet on a single number. This is known as a straight bet. It is placed by placing your chip inside the square of a single number. It pays out 35/1 no matter what kind of roulette is being played.

The next type of wager is placing a bet on two numbers. This is known as a split bet. It is placed by placing your chip on the line in between the two numbers that you want to lay a wager on. It pays out 17/1.

Next up is a wager on three numbers. This is called a street. It is slightly more complex than the other wagers because it can only be placed on a sequence of numbers on the table. When there is a row of numbers collected together in a group of three, a street can be placed on those numbers. It is placed by placing your chip on the line at the start of a row of three numbers. It pays out 11/1.

The next wager is on four numbers. Like the street is can only be placed on certain numbers. It is called a square. The reason for this is twofold. Firstly, a square has four sides. Secondly, the wager is placed by putting your chip on the lines in the middle of four numbers which create a square around the chip. A square pays out 8/1.

Next up is a wager on six numbers. This wager is called a six line. It is placed in a similar manner to a street and as such has a limited scope for what numbers can be chosen, just like the street. In order to place a six line, you will need to place your chip at the start of a row of three numbers, but on the line in between two rows. This will choose both rows of three and therefore choose six numbers. A six line pays out 5/1.

That covers all of the different inside bets that are available when playing roulette. As already mentioned, every type of bet pays out the same whether playing American or European roulette. In American roulette there is also an additional inside bet known as the five-number bet. This is when you place your chip on the line that covers both zero pockets and 1, 2 and 3 on the left-hand side of the table. This pays out 6/1 but it is generally accepted as the worst bet to place when playing roulette. It has the highest house edge of any kind of bet and therefore gives the worst potential for profit.

The outside bets are next. The first of the outside bets is when you choose either red or black. This is known as a colours bet. It is simply placed by placing your chip on the colour that you want. Either red or black, it pays out evens.

The next outside bet is when you choose 12 of the numbers. This is known as dozens, as a dozen is a colloquialism for 12. It is placed by placing your chip on any one of the three boxes at the bottom of a box of 12 numbers. This means that you can only choose those three pre-set selections of 12 numbers and cannot choose your own 12. The box of 12 is split into 3x4 grids and is different to the columns bet. It pays out odds of 2/1.

Next up is the choice to place a wager on either the first 18 numbers on the wheel or the last 18 numbers on the wheel. This wager does not include the zero as one of the numbers, which is why it only includes 36 numbers. That means on the European wheel the zero is not included and on the American wheel the zero and double zero are not included. This is known as a high or low bet. The first 18 numbers are the lows, the last 18 numbers are the highs. This is placed by choosing the relevant box at the bottom of the table, paying out evens.

The next outside bet that is on offer is choosing either the odds or the evens. This is known, quite sensibly, as odds or evens. It is placed by placing your chip on the box that says odd or the box that says even. Again, the zero or double zero are not included as even numbers and will not be included in your bet. It also pays out evens.

The final outside bet that is on offer is another method of choosing 12 numbers. It is known as the columns bet. It is placed by placing your chip on the box at the end of 12 numbers in a straight line.

When it comes to placing your bets, there is one window in which this can take place. After the last game has finished the dealer will clear the table of all losing bets and then pay out any winners. Once this has been done there will be a signal, on an online casino it will be a pop-up window or a sound, andin a brick-and-mortar casino it will be the dealer shouting, for betting to start. Players can place their bets, even while the wheel is spinning after the ball has been dropped. Betting only stops when the dealer gives the signal for no more bets.

What are the bets in roulette?

European roulette has a lower house edge than American roulette. The standard house edge for European roulette is 2.7%. For American roulette it is 5.26%, because of the extra zero pocket that is on the wheel and the odds for each wager not increasing between American and European roulette. In American roulette if you have placed a wager on the five-line option then the house edge increases to 7.89% which means that it is the least sensible wager in the game.

To put it simply, the easiest way to combat the house edge when playing roulette is to play the European version. It has around half of the house edge that American roulette has. This means that over time you are less likely to make as big as loss when playing European roulette. Of course, if you do play American roulette then making sure you do not play the five-line bet is another way to combat the house edge.

The final way to combat the house edge is to find a wheel that uses the en prison/la partage/surrender rule. This will help to reduce the house edge slightly; we will cover this rule in more detail later on.

In general, the best bets to place a wager on are the ones you feel most comfortable with. Each betting selection, apart from the five line, have the same house edge. While it makes the most sense to avoid a single numberwager and combination wagers, placing a wager on a selection of 12 numbers gives a relatively large spread of numbers while still paying out 2/1 odds. On the whole though, unless you are following a betting strategy, you can bet on anything you like.

The safest bets when playing roulette or the high/low, odd/even or red/black. Each of these bets will cover almost half of the wheel and therefore give you an almost 50% chance of winning. A 48.65% chance of winning to be exact.

In terms of the best returns, betting on a single number gives the best returns in roulette. This will return 35/1 which obviously is a good level of payout. If you want to walk away from the roulette table with a big win then betting on single numbers is the way to do this.

When it comes to which bet you should avoid in roulette, we have mentioned that a number of times. But it is always worth mentioning again. Stay away from the five-number bet in American roulette. You may as well just hand over your money

Bankroll management in roulette

It is important to remember that roulette is a random game of chance. This means that you cannot influence what will happen to the ball with your strategies. The only thing that you can influence is how you place your bets. It is through your own betting tactics that you can influence your own level of success. So, while you cannot reduce the house edge by doing anything to the wheel, you can reduce the house edge by how you place your wagers.

This is essentially a betting strategy. As with all betting strategies it cannot guarantee that you will win. The only way you can guarantee you win is by cheating and that is a sure-fire way to get you banned from pretty much every casino as well as losing all of the money you won from cheating. A betting strategy can make winning more likely though. This is why they are important. A betting strategy will do two main things for you.

Firstly, it will give you a way to manage your bankroll in a sensible manner. Not everyone knows how to manage their bankroll, so a betting strategy will do this for you. It will choose the best way to bet that will give you the biggest chance of winning while making sure your bankroll lasts long enough for you to be successful.
Secondly, it cuts into the house edge. By cutting into the house edge a betting strategy will allow you to have a better chance of winning and reduce the casino’s chance of winning. Again, it does not guarantee a win, but it does make it more likely. A quick rundown of some of the more popular roulette betting strategies are as follows:

The Martingale system is one of the main betting strategies that are used for roulette. This is because it is a relatively simple strategy to carry out. Basically, in order to carry out the Martingale strategy you need to choose a wager that has a 50% chance of coming in, or very close to 50%, and pays out at evens. This would be one of the odd/even, high/low or colours bets. In this system you start off playing the minimum wager possible.

You bet at this level for as long as you win. If you lose, then you double your bet. This will cover the loss from the previous bet and provide a profit. If you lose again, then you double your bet again. You keep doubling until you win, then you go back to playing at the minimum wager. It is a simple system and you can find out more about it on our blog.

The Labouchere is a slightly more complex strategy. In this strategy you would take the number of units you wanted to win, say 20 for example, and then split it up into smaller numbers. So, 2-2-2-4-4-4-2. Then when you place your wager you bet the outside numbers added together, so in this case it would be 4 units. If you win you would cross out the numbers from the list, if you lose then you would add the number that you just wagered to the right-hand side of the list.

This has to be placed on even money bets also. The way that it works is because you only need to win 33.34% of the time in order to make a profit, but with roulette the even money bets have an almost 50% chance of winning. In order to find out more about this system, check out our blog for the best roulette tips and tricks.

The D’Alembert system is similar to the Martingale system. The only difference is that instead of doubling your wager and then returning to the minimum allowed wager, you increase your wager by one unit every time you lose, and then decrease your wager by one unit every time you win, down to a minimum of one unit.

There is another aspect of roulette that offers the possibility for reducing the house edge. This will have a number of different names, depending on which version of roulette you are playing. It can be known as en prison, la partage or surrender. It comes into play when you place a wager on an even money bet, something like a colour, odd/even or high/low bet.

When you are playing at a table that has one of these rules in place, you will be covered if the ball lands on the zero. Either the single zero in European roulette or the zero or double zero when playing American roulette. If you have placed an even money wager and this happens you will have a choice to make. You can either take back 50% of your wager, so if you placed a $100 bet you can get back $50, or you can let it ride again.

If you let it ride again you do not get the full winnings. On an even money bet if you won outright you would get your money back from your wager plus your money back again. So a $100 bet would pay back $200 giving $100 profit. When the en prison/surrender/la partage rule is in place, the second chance will just pay back your initial stake. So you would receive $100 back. While it is not a profit, it is also not a loss either.


If you have gotten a taste for playing one of the most classy and classic casino games then a trip to Bitcasino will help you whet your whistle. With a range of roulette games on offer you will be spoilt for choice. No matter what type of roulette you prefer to play we have got something that will be up your street. Even if you are not a fan of roulette we still have a huge range of other games on offer here at Bitcasino. With a massive selection of video slots, blackjack and baccarat games there is something for everyone. No matter what your game of choice is, we cater for you at Bitcasino.


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