I have no trouble following the rules of a given game because that allows the game to proceed smoothly with the least disruption. That is good for the players and it is also good for the casinos.

Not all players follow the rules of roulette. For some reason, some players get so into their betting styles that they can’t wait to put their bets on the layout. (“Sir, I have to pay off all the bets before you can wager again. Please take the bet back.”)

So, let me take this from the top. Here are the rules of playing roulette:

  • Have your money in your hand before you sit down. You don’t want to be fumbling as you enter the game. You won’t win any friends fumbling around.
  • Immediately put the money on the table and tell the dealers how much you want your chips to be worth. (“Make each chip worth one-hundred dollars.”)
  • Now, when the chips come to you then you count them, just as the dealer did before he or she pushed them towards you. Second looks at everything is a good habit to get into. Sometimes dealers make mistakes, especially at crowded and boisterous tables.
  • If you already have chips from some other table game then put those down in front of you and tell the dealers how much you want them to be worth. (“Make these chips into ten-dollar chips please.”)
  • You can also play regular denomination chips at a roulette game. You do not have to cash in your table-game chips for roulette chips. This is especially true for anyone betting black chips or higher at the game. (Most roulette players like to play the colorful roulette chips.)
  • If you are seated, pile your chips neatly in front of you on the table. Do not spill and sprawl your chips all over the table. Sometimes roulette can get crowded. (“Those are my chips here!” “No, they are mine!” “No, no, you are wrong sir.” “No, no, you are wrong madam.”)
  • When the dealer removes the winning bets from the table and picks up the marker from the winning number that previously hit, then you can proceed to wager. And everyone else will be betting too.
  • Be a relaxed bettor. Things can get a little hairy at a crowded table. Some roulette players think they have to make all their bets in a nano-second and they will shovel out their chips faster than the speed of light (186,000 miles per second). Such players will push other players’ chips out of the way on the layout. These players are annoying but, sadly, you will run into them at times.
  • When the dealer says, “No, more bets,” she means “NO MORE BETS.” This is a very simple sentence but some players do not grasp its meaning. It means “no more bets.” 
  • The players who ignore this sentence cause some problems at the table because some of their late bets have to be returned to them. That can cause small arguments between player and dealer. (“Why are you pushing back my bets?” “Because you made them after I said, ‘No more bets.’ That’s why.” “I did not.” “You did too.” “I did not.” “You did too.”) My advice is to be on the dealers’ side. Without them there are no roulette games. Don’t poke your nose into any confrontations at the roulette table. Pretend they don’t exist. Whoever is fighting, let them carry the load.
  • After the “no more bets” call from the dealer, then just watch the ball spin around the wheel and bounce in the pocket and hope you have a winner. 
  • Then repeat.

[Please note: Always be cordial and friendly to the dealers and the other players. You want to have fun, so the first thing is to incorporate that fun into yourself. No sense being miserable at a table. If you find someone who is truly irritating either switch tables or just ignore the antics of that person.]

Follow the Logic of Betting

It is important to know how you want to wager before you make your first bet. The worst thing at a table is to have little or no idea of how you want to proceed. This can be a troublesome situation. 

Thinking is a good thing, no doubt, but thinking at a table game such as roulette can cause you to hesitate and the game now becomes an internal war between “Do I do this?” or “Do I do that?” or “What the heck should I do now?”

I don’t think this internal debate makes the game more enjoyable. I think it detracts from the game. Why be wound up about how you should bet? Just wishing and hoping for a win is the most wound up any roulette player should be. Other considerations are probably a total waste of time and emotion.

Know beforehand how you are going to wager your money. Make it easy on yourself.

Roulette Rules


Straight-Up Betting

Most roulette players do enjoy betting directly on one or (usually) more numbers straight up. The payout for a winning bet is 35-to-one and that is a payoff that opens a player’s eyes quite wide. An inside straight-up bet has a one-in-38 chance of hitting on the American double-zero wheel and a one-in-37 chance of hitting on a European single-zero wheel. 

The benefits of straight-up betting are large doses of adrenaline when your bet(s) hit. That 35-to-one payout is a charge of electricity that flows through your body. Many roulette players thrive on such hits. 

The malefits (I invented this word!) of straight-up betting can be long losing periods. Long losing streaks are obviously downers of the worst kind. Yes, bad streaks are the big sorrows that can go along with the above great happiness of 35-to-one hits.

Big possible wins versus possibly long losing streaks? Your choice of how you want to play this. 

You have to understand the inner emotional workings of your winning and losing mindset. Can you handle those possibly long losing streaks? Does the big hit make up for them? As Polonius said to his son Laertes in William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Hamlet, “Know thyself …” This is great advice for casino players.

Proposition Bets

There are many other bets at roulette, bets that allow the players to have multiple numbers in play without having to increase the amount of their bets as they would with multiple straight-up bets. 

These are called proposition bets. There are many of these but today I’ll focus on just a few of them.

Around the outside of the layout, you have the three columns’ bets. There are 12 numbers in each column and if one of them hits, the payout is two-to-one. 

[Please note: There are 12 ways to win a column bet and 26 ways to lose a column bet on the American double-zero wheel and again 12 ways to win the bet on a single-zero wheel at European roulette also with 25 ways to lose. Obviously, the single-zero wheel has a lower house edge. If you can play that wheel without having to increase your bet then do so. The house edge on the American double-zero wheel is 5.26 percent and the house edge on the European single-zero wheel is 2.7 percent.]

The dozen bets are along the side of the layout. There are three dozens bets: 1-12; 13-24 and 25-36. A hit on one will win the player two-to-one, just as the columns bets will. The house edges on these bets are the same as on any other bet at the roulette game you are playing.

The benefits of the columns and dozens bets are noticeable. You do get to keep your betting amounts low as you go for multiple numbers and your hits will obviously be more frequent. A two-to-one payout is not spectacular but it is nice to get it. 

The malefits concern the desire of many players to make a big score. You won’t do that on these proposition bets. You can have great wins but such wins will be a part of a slow process. There will be no explosions.

Even-Money Bets

The even-money bets pay one-to-one. They are called even-money because of the one-to-one payout, not because they have a 50/50 chance of winning or losing. 

You have 18 chances to win an even-money bet at the double-zero American wheel with 20 chances to lose and 18 chances to win on the single-zero European wheel with 19 chances to lose.

There are three even-money bets:

  • the high/low with the numbers 1-18 being low and the numbers 19-36 being high
  • the red/black bet
  • the odd/even bet

I enjoy playing these propositions because you rarely go into deep losing waters since the back and forth between the propositions usually means you win some and you lose some. Indeed, the house edge on these bets is the exact same as on the other bets at the game but the losing or winning is generally slower and that can give you more playing time.

[Please note: The even-money bets have a happy wrinkle at some casinos in the world. In America it is called surrender and in Europe it is called en prison. If the zero (0) or the (00) hits on the double-zero game, surrender calls for the player to get half his bet back. If the zero (0) hits with en prison on the single-zero game, the bet is not removed but stays up for the next decision. These two elements will reduce the house edges at both games in half! The double-zero game goes down to 2.63 percent from 5.26 percent; while the single-zero game goes down to 1.35 percent from 2.7 percent. The single-zero game becomes one of the best games in the casino because of this. If you are lucky enough to play roulette at a casino allowing surrender or en prison then the even-money bets are the ones to make. Doing otherwise would be foolish in my opinion.]

Money Management Rules

Obviously, the amount of money you give yourself to play the game is totally up to you. How you bet at the game is totally up to you as well. But some guidelines should be adhered to for all of us.

If you are going to play the inside straight-up bets then you must take into consideration that you might hit rather long losing streaks at times. You therefore must have enough money to play through such bad streaks.

You must have enough of a bankroll to weather any storms or (sadly) to get creamed if the bad losing streaks last a long, long time. You can win a lot of money betting straight up if your numbers come in but you can also lose a lot of money if the bad times just hang in there.

You should be aware of this and bet accordingly.

The proposition bets will have losing streaks as well but they will not be as bad as the straight-up variety. You have a better chance of going back-and-forth on the even-money bets than on the columns or dozens.

If you like to have many numbers working then consider those proposition bets as a good way to go. You do not have to bring a huge bankroll to the table when you play the even-money bets.

It is important to realize this point; your losing expectation will be the same for any bet you make at roulette but how you lose and how long it takes you to lose can be drastically different depending on the bets you make.

Straight-up betting tends to see the players betting more money than the players who make those proposition bets. I am guessing a kind of mania sets in as the players spread out on the inside layout. I think you can be more contained on the proposition bets.

Of course, we all have our desires and appetites and my advice might not fit all roulette players.

All the best in and out of the casinos!

Frank Scoblete grew up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. He spent the ‘60s getting an education; the ‘70s in editing, writing and publishing; the ‘80s in theatre, and the ‘90s and the 2000s in casino gambling.

Along the way he taught English for 33 years. He has authored 35 books; his most recent publisher is Triumph Books, a division of Random House. He lives in Long Island. Frank wrote the Ultimate Roulette Strategy Guide and he's a well known casino specialist.