The History of Roulette
As with many games, the real history of roulette is unclear.
Many ancient cultures, such as the Chinese, Greeks and Romans, had games similar to roulette. A primitive version of roulette was developed by a French man called Blaise Pascal, who developed the roulette wheel while studying perpetual motion in the 17th century.
Roulette was popular in France in the 18th century and featured in several books of the time—that version of roulette had two slots reserved for the bank, namely zero and double zero. Unlike modern roulette wheels, the wheels had red for the zero and black for the double zero (current wheels use green to prevent confusion).
In the mid-19th century, Louis and Francois Blanc introduced a wheel with only a single bank slot, which offered players more favourable odds than the established two-house pocket wheels. The men opened this new form of roulette in Hamburg, but due to religious resistance, expanded into Monte Carlo.
As the last legal gambling state in Europe, Monte Carlo quickly gained a reputation as the gambling mecca of Europe. The single-zero roulette wheel became the default method of playing the game.
At the same time as Europe started banning gambling, the French style of double-zero roulette found its way into the United States, where it remained relatively unchanged. The only changes made were to simplify the betting layout and place the roulette table on top of a surface to prevent cheating.
The style of roulette persisted and moved into Canada, South America, and the Caribbean.
By the end of the 20th century, the two styles had solidified into American and European roulette, and the only step left was to leap into the online space. Today, thousands of casinos offer online roulette that both experienced gamblers and novices enjoy.
- 1 The History of Roulette
- 2 Rules
- 3 Strategies
- 4 Roulette Tips
- 5 Common Roulette Terms
- 6 Roulette Variants
- 7 FAQ
The principle of roulette is straightforward: you need to guess in which numbered slot the rolling ball will land.
The pockets of a roulette wheel have numbers between 0 and 36, and in the American version of the game, there is an extra ‘00’ pocket.
The numbers come in four ranges: 1-10, 11-18, 19-28, and 29-36. For numbers 1-10 and 19-28, odd numbers are marked red and even numbers are marked black. For numbers 11-18 and 29-36, even numbers are red and odd numbers are marked black.
Players can place a wide variety of bets, each with different odds of winning. Players signal their bets by placing chips on a cloth-covered betting area (known as a layout).
There are two main types of bets: inside and outside bets.
Inside bets include betting on a single number, betting on two adjacent numbers, betting on four numbers that meet at one corner of the layout, and betting on six consecutive numbers that form two horizontal lines.
Outside bets focus on a broader range of numbers and have a higher chance of winning, but smaller payouts. These bets also have the condition that if the result of a roll is a zero, the bet loses.
Common outside bets include low (1-18) and high (19-36) bets, betting on red or black, betting on evens or odds or betting on a range of dozens (1-12, 13-24, and 25-36).
Different bets have varying odds, ranging from 35:1 on a single bet to 1:1 on even bets. These odds determine your payout. For instance, 35:1 odds means that if you bet $1 on a one-number bet and you win, you’ll get paid $35 (plus get your $1 back).
The House Advantage
The house advantage is the average amount that a player loses relative to any bet.
In roulette, there are 37 or 38 (depending on the variant) slots, but the player may only place bets on 36 of these numbers. In European roulette, the house advantage is 2.7%, and in American roulette, this becomes 5.26%. In the triple-zero roulette variant, the house advantage shoots up to 7.69%.
Despite being a game of complete chance, some strategies help increase your chances of winning. Most of these strategies rely on patterns and have several advantages and disadvantages—all these systems are trying to overcome the intrinsic house advantage, though.
It may work in the short run, but the net result of any strategy will be a loss. The strategy may not influence the outcome of the game, but it could prolong your gaming experience and protect your bankroll for as long as possible if you’re diligent.
The Martingale strategy requires that players double their bets after every loss and only put bets on even money, such as red/black, even/odd or high/low. Even money bets have a 50/50 chance of winning, so by doubling the bet when they lose, a player can recoup all their losses on a win.
The major drawback of this strategy is how quickly it escalates. It quickly leaves the player in a situation where they’ve run out of money or hit the house limit before achieving the win that will recoup their cumulative losses.
It’s important to remember that in games of pure chance, prior events do not influence future performance. A losing bet on one spin won’t increase the chances of a winning bet on the next one, no matter whether you cross your fingers or wish on a star.
The Labouchère system is similar to the Martingale strategy in that it relies on progressive bets to ensure that any win will recoup the losses that have come before.
It’s a less aggressive system, which means that a string of losses won’t be as devastating. It should allow you to prolong your roulette game.
In this system, the player decides how much they want to win, and writes down a list of numbers that add up to this amount.
During a bet, the player will add up the first and last number on the list, which will be the bet. If the bet wins, the player crosses the two numbers out. If the bet loses, the amount lost is added to the end of the list.
The system works on any even money bets, such as even/odd, red/black or high/low.
It’s a slightly more complicated version of the Martingale, but it also has a wider margin of error. In the Labouchère system, if a player wins more than 1/3 of the games, they will leave the table with a net positive amount.
As with the Martingale system, the Labouchère system can run into limitations when faced with table limits or a long streak of losses (or a poor win-loss ratio).
The D’Alembert system is mainly used by players who want to keep their losses to a minimum.
The system works by following a simple betting progression: every time you lose, add one unit to the next bet. Every time you lose, subtract one unit from the next bet.
The D’Alembert strategy tries to mitigate the losses while ensuring that you recoup your money when you win. It’s such a low-risk strategy that you’ll be able to enjoy your time at the table for much longer. It’s the safest of the three systems we’ve discussed, but it can also feel a bit boring after a while.
Roulette should be a fun pastime that you enjoy playing. Here are some tips to ensure that you play responsibly and have a blast:
Understand different roulette variants and layouts
Online casinos will offer many types of roulette. While the core principle is the same, there are slight differences that have a significant impact on your enjoyment of the game.
We recommend trying out these variants in free play mode to find out which one you like best before investing real money.
Take advantage of outside bets
While it’s exciting to win a massive payout on a single number bet, even money bets are safer. Safer bets mean that you can conserve your cash and play for longer, rather than splurging on a big bet and losing it all in one go.
Understand what the odds mean
Not all bets are equal. It’s a good idea to know what the odds of a particular bet are before committing to the play.
You can make informed decisions about which bets to place when, and not get caught out by risky bets when you should have been playing it safe.
Like most casino games, the odds of roulette are in the house’s favour. No casino will make money by losing, and the presence of a zero or double zero ensures that the house will take a percentage of money on any bet you place.
By choosing the roulette variant with the lowest house advantage, you can ensure that you’re giving away as little money as possible. You’re still giving money away most of the time, though.
Don’t fall for typical gambler’s fallacies
Humans are excellent at coming up with patterns, even when there are none.
If you think that a number ‘has to’ come up because you haven’t seen it in a while, you’re falling victim to a common fallacy.
Each result on a roulette wheel is independent of previous results because it is a game of chance. Each number has a 1/37 or 1/38 chance of coming up, regardless of whether it has appeared recently.
Ignore your feelings on what’s ‘due’ to come up and focus on having fun.
Manage your money
Regardless of whether you’re playing online or in real life, you can only play if you have money available. By betting sensibly, you can ensure that you have a long session at the table, instead of being done within half an hour and craving some more leisure time.
We recommend setting an amount you’re happy to lose before stepping up to the table. The best approach is to assume that you won’t be able to recover the money, and that’s it your fee for having fun.
Once you’ve spent that amount, walk away from the table and enjoy the rest of your day. Never try to ‘recover’ your losses by placing additional bets—it’s the start of a rocky road.
Gambling is supposed to be fun.
If you’re staring at the roulette table with a sinking feeling, you’ve reached the point where you need to take a break. It’s essential only to play roulette when you’re in the right frame of mind and can concentrate on enjoying the game.
Playing when you’re distracted or stressed will only result in mistakes and frustration. Instead, take a step back until you’re in a more positive frame of mind.
Common Roulette Terms
As with most casino games, a game of roulette has many French and American terms that can be intimidating to a novice. Don’t be stressed out by all the strange words flying around.
We’ve compiled a small glossary of some of the more obscure terms in roulette.
- Croupier: the French name for the dealer
- Inside bet: a bet made on the inside section of the table
- Outside bet: a bet made on the outside section of the table
- Dozen bet: a bet on a range of twelve numbers: 1-12, 13-24 or 25-36. A bet on the first 12 is sometimes called a premiere douzaine, the second 12 a Moyenne douzaine, and the final 12 a dernier douzaine.
- Column bet: a bet on one of the three columns of numbers.
- Even bet: a bet on all the even numbers
- Even money bet: all bets that have 1:1 odds, such as even/odd bets, high/low bets and red/black bets
- Straight-up bet: a bet on a single number
- Street bet: a bet which covers a row of three numbers
- Split bet: a bet of two adjacent numbers
- Five-number bet: an American-wheel exclusive bet placed on 00, 0, 1, 2 and 3
While real-life casinos stick to traditional American or European variants of roulette, the online scene has exploded with many other types.
The most popular form of roulette, European roulette has a favourable house advantage of 2.6%. The wheel contains 37 pockets, numbered 0 to 36. Players can bet on any number, though a 0 means an automatic loss on any outside bets.
American roulette adds an extra house pocket in the form of the double zero. It increases the house advantage to 5.26% without any advantage to the player.
French roulette uses the same type of wheel as European roulette, and the only difference is the inclusion of a particular rule. Unlike European roulette, French roulette pays out half of the even-money bets that are lost on a zero result.
The rule brings down the house advantage to 1.32%, which is why French roulette is relatively rare in online casinos.
As the name implies, no-zero roulette is a version of roulette with no zeros, which means that there is no house advantage and players are on an equal footing with the house. Unsurprisingly, this version of roulette is rare in casinos.
Mini roulette is an excellent introduction to the game with a simplified wheel and fewer betting options. It’s a useful way of dipping into online gaming without being overwhelmed with the number of choices available in standard roulette.
Most experienced players will find this mode boring, and you’ll quickly move onto European roulette or even more exciting variants.
Multi-wheel roulette is typically online exclusive as it can be overwhelming for a live croupier.
In this mode, players can place bets on the outcomes of many reels at the same time. Typically, there are between two to eight reels in play, making betting and calculating the odds extremely complex (and fun).
What do I need to play online roulette?
You need to have a mobile device or computer, along with an internet connection. If you want to play with real money, you’ll also need a credit card.
Can I play for real money?
Most online casinos will offer free games and paid games. You can use the free play mode to test which version of the game you’d like best and learn the rules and how the flow of play feels.
You can keep playing the free version for as long as you like without restrictions. You can even go back to free play mode if you’ve signed up for real money roulette.
How do I get started with online roulette?
Most reputable casino sites require that you join the site by registering. Once you’ve registered, you may have to download a piece of software, though some casinos will allow you to play straight from your browser.
Once you’ve signed up, you can choose to play for free or for money—the flow of play is the same regardless of your choice.
You’ll first place your bet, and an automated dealer will spin the virtual wheel. Once the ball settles on the winning number, you’ll either receive your winnings or carry the bet into the next round.
The amount you win will depend on the type of bet you placed with different odds. For instance, a 35/1 bet will pay out $35 for every dollar you bet, plus your $1 bet.