When it comes to the sheer excitement on the gaming floor of any casinos, there’s very little that’ll have big crowds and generate a bigger reaction than the roulette wheel.
From the highlights on the big screen with the game featured in films such as ‘The Gambler’, ‘Casablanca’, and ‘Fast Five’ to its presence on online casinos across the web. If you look out for it – roulette is a game that you’ll find in some of the most unexpected places.
The game’s popularity can be traced back to its quick gameplay, easy-to-understand rules, and high roller status. It’s also home to the best odds in just about any casino with a near 50:50 chance to double your money when deciding on red or black. It’s a heart-stopping moment that really reminds you that you’re alive.
But for those of us that don’t fancy risking out entire bankroll on a single spin of the wheel, what else can we find? There’s much more to the game that the choice of the alternating colors, but what are the odds and payouts associated with the game?
Here’s absolutely everything that you need to know about the history, the odds and payouts of everyone’s favorite casino game – roulette.
A brief history of roulette
The game of roulette can be traced back as many as 300 years ago, marking the end of the 17th century.
The French inventor, Blaise Pascal, is credited with the invention, but redefining we play in a casino wasn’t his main focus. Pascal was trying to build a perpetual motion machine (we now know it’s not possible, but kudos for trying) and while studying probabilities, the outcome took him by surprise.
The roulette wheel was born and quickly gained traction in Paris, forming a popular game at the end of the century.
But not all were happy with the odds that the game promoted and some claim that another French gamer in Francois Blanc was so determined to gain the secrets and inner workings of the game that he struck a deal with the devil.
Look a little further and you’ll find that the numbers on the wheel actually add up to 666 – a particularly demonic number that suggests foul play might be at hand. We highly doubt it, but it’s something to bring out of the excuse book when things aren’t quite going your way.
European vs French vs American roulette
It may surprise you to know that there’s actually three different traditional types of roulette that land in the form of European, French, and American. They might be similar in concept, but here’s how they differ in the details…
European roulette is arguably the purest form of the game with a total of 36 numbers (0 to 35). It’s the same arrangement that it was when invented all those years ago, only now, we’re building things with a little extra quality.
Sequence of the wheel in European roulette (clockwise): 0, 26, 3, 35, 12, 28, 7, 29, 18, 22, 9, 31, 14, 20, 1, 33, 16, 24, 5, 10, 23, 8, 30, 11, 36, 13, 27, 6, 34, 17, 25, 2, 21, 4, 19, 15, 32.
French roulette is the lesser-known of the bunch and although appears identical to the European wheel at first glance actually contains two extra rules that favor the player.
‘En Prison’ is the name given to the rule allowing players a ‘second chance’ if the ball lands on zero. Instead of having to walk away with nothing, they’ll get another chance to wager a correct prediction,
‘La Partage’ is the name given to the rule that helps those who use the even money bet to recuperate half their investment. If the ball lands on 0, they’ll instantly be refunded 50% of the wager.
Although roulette may have originated in Europe, it didn’t take long for the game to catch on in the States and consequently, American roulette was born.
Of course, the American’s couldn’t just leave the game as it was and so in addition to the 36 numbers found on the European wheel, you’ll find an extra 0 (denoted as 00) located directly opposite the original green marker.
Although it doesn’t change the concept of the game, it does make the odds of winning just a little bit worse for everyone playing. Thanks, America.
As the 0’s are designed to sit at opposite ends of the wheel, the sequence that the numbers run is a little different to its European cousin.
Sequence of the wheel in American roulette (clockwise): 0, 2, 14, 35, 23, 4, 16, 33, 21, 6, 18, 31, 19, 8, 12, 29, 25, 10, 27, 00, 1, 13, 36, 24, 3, 15, 34, 22, 5, 17, 32, 20, 7, 11, 30, 26, 9, 28.
The rules of roulette
The rules of roulette are simple, players guess the numbers that they think the little white ball will land on once the wheel is spun.
There are several different types of bets to choose from, each promoting different odds and payouts (see the odds and payouts of roulette), with the least likely outcomes giving the best chance of winning.
Rules are clear in stating that players should wager bets before the ball is dropped, however, depending on the casino, it may be possible to wager while the wheel is in motion. It’s the dealer’s job to announce ‘no more bets’, pay those that have won and clear the best from those that have lost.
The odds and payouts of roulette
When it comes to placing your bets in a game of roulette, you’re a little spoiled for choice with countless options and combinations of bets ranging from minimal to high payouts.
|Roulette Bet||Payout||European Roulette Odds||American Roulette Odds|
|Single Number||35 to 1||2.70%||2.60%|
|2 Number Combination||17 to 1||5.4%||5.3%|
|3 Number Combination||11 to 1||8.1%||7.9%|
|4 Number Combination||8 to 1||10.8%||10.5%|
|5 Number Combination||6 to 1||13.5%||13.2%|
|6 Number Combination||5 to 1||16.2%||15.8%|
|Column||2 to 1||32.40%||31.6%|
|Dozen||2 to 1||32.40%||31.6%|
|Even/Odd||1 to 1||48.60%||47.4%|
|Red/Black||1 to 1||48.60%||47.4%|
|Low/High||1 to 1||48.60%||47.4%|
Odds and payouts of European and American roulette
Once arriving at a table, players have a limited time to place their bets and make decisions on where they fancy wagering the most money.
Online, this isn’t a problem and you’ll be able to quickly and easily select where you’d like your bets and easily wager, but in the brick-and-mortar casinos, tables can become a little crowded once betting’s underway.
Wagering will fall under one of two categories of bet classification at any table, these are outside and inside bets. The former will give you the chance at a more likely win, but the latter gives you the chance to go big with odds up to 35/1.
So which will it be?
Roulette outside bets
Outside bets are those located on the outside of the numbers found on the table.
It’s these that are known for having the best odds and as a result, are among the most popular when it comes to betting on the wheel. You’ll be able to pick between any of the following when choosing an outside bet:
- Red or black – in which players wager on the color of the number that the ball lands. There are no winners if the ball lands on ‘0’ or ‘00’.
- Odd or even – in which players wager on whether the number landed on is odd or even, containing the same payout ratio as red or black.
- High or low – in which players bet on numbers between 1 to 18 or 19 to 36, again containing the same odds as the previously mentioned bets.
In each of the outside bets, the house edge comes from the ‘0’ and ‘00’ segments on the wheel, slightly tilting the odds in the favor of the casino.
A slightly different bet that lands under the umbrella term of outside bets are those that pay 2-1, therefore with the odds of winning of 33%.
The most common of these is Dozens in which players bet on the numbers in thirds i.e. 1-12, 13-24, 25-36. The same is true for the Columns bet in which players bet on the distribution found on the betting grid rather than the sequential 1-12. So 1, 4, 7, 10, etc.
All outside bets are clearly defined and labeled with specific locations for each aforementioned bet on the table.
Roulette inside bets
Inside bets are the riskiest bets that can be placed during a game of roulette with the decreased odds of winning, but increased profits if correctly predicted.
- Single number bet – A single number bet stands as the riskiest bet that can be made during a game of roulette with a 35/1 payout. It is possible to bet on the ‘0’ or ‘00’, unlike many of the outside bets, although the odds still stand the same with 35/1 despite the 37/1 risk that comes with a single number bet.
- The split – The second riskiest bet comes in the form of the split, wagered by placing chips between two numbers on the table. The bet receives 17/1 odds so there’s reward with the risk, but it’s definitely not the favorite.
- The street – The wager that returns 11/1 odds is called the street and simply covers three numbers, noted horizontally across the table. To place the bet, simply place your chips on the line separating outside bets from inside ones on your chosen line (or street).
- Corner – A corner bet is one that pays out 8/1 and is made by placing chips on the crossroads of four numbers. You’ll see your winnings come home if the wheel dictates one of the four adjacent numbers as the outcome.
- Five number wager – As a general rule, the five number wager should be avoided due to the huge house edge of 7.9%. Although the return on investment is 6/1, the odds are much more in your favor if you’re opting for a double street wager, letting you bet on six numbers with a 5/1 payout.
The very worst bet
In a typical game of European roulette, there is a total of 17 main types of bet that you’re free to use in any combination that you can dream up.
However, in the American equivalent, there’s an 18th bet called the Basket bet and is by far the very worst bet that you can make in the game of roulette.
The bet lets you wager on 5 numbers, 0, 00, 1, 2, 3 and comes with the winning odds of 5:38, yet only pays 6:1.
I’ll let you do the maths (or at least check mine), but if we break it down that means a player disadvantage and house edge of 7.9%.
Compare this to the standard house edge of 5.3% on all other bets in the American game and all of sudden you’ll be feeling robbed for even considering it.
The best way to learn
The best way to learn the game is plainly and simply to practice, getting a feel for the wheel and learning the types of bets, odds, and payouts from a front-row seat.
If you’re not feeling real money games off the bat, there’s nothing to worry about. There’s plenty of free roulette games available that you can try out to find your feet before heading to an online (or traditional land-based) casino and trying your luck.
You can even shop around for new player bonuses and free roulette spins if you’ve got the time…
Either way, there’s no better way than being thrown in at the deep end.