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Roulette rules: how to play roulette

Roulette is much loved by millions of casino gamers around the world, and is one of the casino games that largely depends on luck and where the house unfortunately has an advantage. The roulette wheel, which is basically a spinning disc with pocket divisions around the edge that revolves around the base of a bowl, has become so iconic that if you had asked both young and old to name just one casino game, they would probably mention this. The luck factor is such a big part of the roulette setup that when a ball is spun around the outside of the bowl, there is no set of roulette rules or strategy that can control which pocket it will end up in.

 Roulette rules brief:
1. Whatever number you choose you have the same odds
2. You are free to bet on any number, combination of numbers or color. 
3. Maximum effort limits the efficiency of systems

In fact, the only thing you can control when playing roulette is how to place bets, and this is done by players who place their chips on the numbers, colors or sections where they think they will have the greatest chance of winning. In addition to this, odds are increased or decreased depending on whether you are playing European or American roulette.

Although traditional roulette wheels are numbered from 1 to 36 in a seemingly random pattern where every number is red and black, European wheels have one simple, green pocket with the number 0 while American wheels have an additional green pocket with the number 00. This extra green pocket gives American roulette a bigger home advantage, which is why the American version of roulette goes beyond your pocket more than the European counterpart. Understanding how to play roulette is partly about understanding discrete differences like this.

Because roulette is a game of French origin, many of the French terms are still used to describe the roulette rules and strategies one can use to get a higher chance of winning. These refreshed roulette rules that will guide you to playing roulette at an optimal level will be discussed further on this page and you can also find brief explanations of them on our roulette concepts page. 

Roulette Rules

How to play roulette: that basic

If roulette is your game, you’ve been lucky. The game is available in most, if not all, online casinos. If you THINK roulette may be your game, but you do not know how to play it or are not sure how it works online, here are the basics:

As you approach a roulette table, you will see a layout with numbers 1 to 36 plus a 0 pocket if you are going to play European roulette (as mentioned earlier, if you choose to play American roulette your wheel will also have a pocket with double zero in addition to the pocket with single zero).

The purpose of roulette is to guess where the ball will end up on the next reel, and players can bet on red, black, single numbers or a number group where the odds will be greater or less accordingly. A simple rule of thumb to try to understand how to play roulette and how the odds work is this: the greater the chance that you will win, the lower the payout will be.

Roulette odds: The truth

A roulette layout is numbered 1 to 36, which should indicate that the number should appear on average once every 36 times. Each time a specific number appears, the number should not reappear in 35 more rounds. Therefore, odds of one number should be 35 to 1, which is exactly the payout you get by hitting one number. Similarly, hits on one of two covered numbers are 17 to 1, and a cover of four numbers is 8 to 1.

Hitting one number in one of the three columns pays 2 to 1. Hitting red or black pays ‘even money’ for a 50-50 chance. Everything good so far. But the problem with this scenario is that this is not an accurate picture of everything, since we have not considered the availability of the green zero (and double zero) on the wheel, and this is where we find the casino advantage. It is the green pocket with zero that makes the difference because that is where the casino usually makes money. It is because of these places that the odds of hitting an individual number are actually 37 to 1, not 35 to 1 (and so on through the layout).

The game where you are spoiled with choice!

In many casino games, different bets have different payouts and these are usually based on how much the player is willing to invest. In craps, for example, some bets can offer a house benefit of around 2%, while other bets can have a house advantage of over 10% – the trick is to always read the rules well so you can plan your actions accordingly and decide whether the specific game that you have in mind is actually worth your time and energy.

Unlike other casino games, the house advantage in roulette is always the same no matter what bet you place, but just because this is the case does not necessarily mean that the odds of winning are the same for all bets you can place and when learning how to playing roulette it is important that you keep this in mind. If you bet on black, you will almost certainly win almost half the time (the zeros prevent you from having a fifty percent chance of winning), but if you bet on a single number, you will only win once every 37. or 38. depending on which wheel is used. Stakes with higher odds pay better, but in the long run the result will be the same no matter where you place your chips.

So what are the betting options in roulette? In the list below, we show the odds of winning on both US and European roulette reels in addition to the actual payouts you will receive for these winnings. As you can see, the true odds of the European games are always closer to the actual payouts due to the lack of double the zero on the European roulette wheel. 

Straight Up: A bet on one, simple number

Odds of winning (am. Reels): 37 to 1

Odds of winning (eu. Wheel): 37 to 1

Payouts: 35 to 1

Two-number split: A bet on two numbers

Odds of winning (am. Reels): 18 to 1

Odds of winning (eu. Wheel): 17.5 to 1

Payouts: 17 to 1

Street bet: A bet of three numbers

Odds of winning (am. Reels): 11.67 to 1

Odds of winning (eu. Wheel): 11.33 to 1

Payouts: 11 to 1

Square bet: A bet of four numbers

Odds of winning (am. Reels): 8.5 to 1

Odds of winning (eu. Wheel): 8.25 to 1

Payouts: 8 to 1

Five numbers: A bet of five numbers

Odds of winning (am. Reels): 6.6 to 1

Odds of winning (eu. Wheel): N / A

Payouts: 6 to 1

Line bet: A bet of six numbers

Odds of winning (am. Reels): 5.33 to 1

Odds of winning (eu. Wheel): 5.17 to 1

Payouts: 5 to 1

Dozen Bet: A bet on the first, middle, or last twelve numbers

Odds of winning (am. Reels): 2.17 to 1

Odds of winning (eu. Wheel): 2.8 to 1

Payouts: 2 to 1

Even / Odd bet: A bet that the number is an odd or even number

Odds of winning (am. Reels): 1.05 to 1

Odds of winning (eu. Wheel): 1.01 to 1

Payouts: 1 to 1

High / Low bet: A bet on either the first or last 18 numbers

Odds of winning (am. Reels): 1.05 to 1

Odds of winning (eu. Wheel): 1.01 to 1

Payouts: 1 to 1


Red / black bet: A bet on the number’s color

Odds of winning (am. Reels): 1.05 to 1

Odds of winning (eu. Wheel): 1.01 to 1

Payouts: 1 to 1

Always go for European if you can!

Now that we’ve taken a look at all of your betting options and odds, let’s take a closer look at the roulette rules that you, if you understand them well, can literally rule the table with. Despite what you may have heard on the rough casino streets, roulette is basically a very easy game to play, which is why so many people love it so much.

Not only can the player choose and change the direction he wants to go with each spin, but as soon as all bets have been placed on the table using colored chips to separate each player, the croupier will stop the bet, spin the big wheel and roll the ball. It is only when a ball arrives at its final stop that the croupier will announce the result, collect all loser bets and win the winner.

Of course, the fun does not end here and in fact there are extra roulette rules that some casinos and houses allow, such as the “La Partage” and “En Prison” roulette rules that we will soon be dealing with individually. These make playing roulette a more interesting journey. Both “La Partage” and “En Prison” effectively halve the casino advantage with ‘even-money’ bets, which means they are useful to access.

If you can choose online or even just play a quick roulette game at home, then decide at the outset which of the following roulette rules you want to use in your game before you start!

European Roulette rules

Arrange “En Prison”

When it comes to this specific roulette rule, the player must keep in mind that it can only be used on bets that pay ‘even money’ and if a zero appears, the player has two options:

  • He can either claim back half of the effort and lose the other half OR
  • Leave the bet “En Prison” (in prison) for the next spin of the roulette wheel for gambling on all or nothing. Unfortunately, if the next spin is another zero or does not match the imprisoned bet, the entire bet loses. But if the outcome of the following spin matches the bet, the player will get their money back.

Arrange “La Partage”

Reminiscent of the above rule “En Prison”. The player loses half his bet and does not have the opportunity to leave his bet “en prison” for a later spin. “La Partage” is used for outside bets that pay ‘even money’: Red / black, high / low, odd / even and can also be used when the result is zero.

Minimum bets and maximum bets

Some casinos place a minimum and maximum bet on a roulette table so players know what to bet. This can be especially useful for people who take money management seriously and want to budget accordingly (read more about roulette money management here). Usually, the total amount of a player’s inside bets (Inside Bet) will have to exceed the minimum bet for each reel spin, but the maximum bet usually shows only what is maximum allowed on a ‘Straight Up’ bet, ie at a single number.

The maximum bets change according to the selected bet proportionally – an example of this is the following: let’s say the maximum bet allowed for a pair of numbers is twice the maximum ‘Straight Up’ bet, the maximum allowed for a corner bet (Corner Bet) is four times the maximum in ‘Straight Up’, and so on. This restriction is actually on the amount that the casino can lose. For more information on the above terms, please read our roulette concepts page

American Roulette Rules

In both North America and the Caribbean you will find that the roulette wheel has a double zero and that all bets (except direct bets on the selected zero) lose when one of the zeros appears. Of course, this unfortunately results in significantly worse odds for you as a player and an increase in the casino’s advantage. It is therefore more than for any other reason that roulette is less popular here than in other parts of the world.

On top of all this, some US casinos also allow an extra bet called “Basket Bet” which is placed by adding chips in the same way as a “Line Bet” on the outside of the dividing line between the 0 row and the row of 1, 2 and 3. This bet usually pays out 6 to 1, which gives worse odds than any other roulette bet. If you keep this in mind, I think most of you will conclude that it doesn’t pay to play in the American way!

Play roulette online TODAY!

When it comes to roulette maybe more than any other casino game out there, one really has to choose which casino to play with great care and reassure one that one can actually sit down on a European wheel instead of an American to increase the odds of a good win. On top of that, avid roulette players also need to make sure their selected casino is certified with a Random Number Generator, so the result they get on the wheel spin will be random. Since roulette is really about luck, you have to make sure that luck is not controlled by some big guy who is starving to make his already fat wallet even fatter. All the casinos in our leaderboard are specially selected for their reliability as well as their excellent bonuses and frequent payouts.

Once you have read through the terms and conditions of each casino and selected the one that suits your needs, everything is easy going from there as roulette is really one of the easiest games to play online. All you really need to do to play online roulette is to click and drag the amount you want to bet to the number or group you want to bet on and spin the wheel. After that, you can only hope to have luck with you. One last piece of advice we at CasinoSite New Zealand love to give all players is the following – always look high and low for the best deals before you start your journey to become a roulette champion, whether you are playing for a bonus (and in these days practically casinos throw bonuses at their players at random), this bonus will both help you and reduce the house advantage as you will get ‘extra’ money that does not depend on how good the game is for you and how lucky you are. So sit back, start scrolling through our custom-made leaderboard and don’t forget that playing roulette is not just about winning, but about using your roulette rules to play the game.