Roulette Strategy Guide
Chapter 2

HOW TO PLAY ROULETTE


Don't Run Away
This could be the most tedious chapter in the history of roulette; not just written by me, but written by all the writers who have ever attempted explaining the fundamentals of the game. Those fundamentals are pretty dull I will readily admit.
 

DON’T RUN AWAY

But wait, don’t run! While I fully agree that going over all the bets can be a coma-inducing exercise, I will thoroughly explain how the house gets its edge over the player on each and every bet, something you really should know. More important, I will have information that you might never have heard about or, at least, thought much about; information that is highly helpful or at least highly informative.

So stick around for this somewhat dull ride because along the way some great things will jump out at you – at least I will try to have them jump out at you – like electricity or a lightning strike from the sky.

You already know that there are two types of roulette wheels, the single-zero wheels known as the French or European wheels, and the double-zero wheels known as the American wheels. As you learned in the Introduction (which I hope you didn’t skip), the European wheel was created in America and the American wheel was created in France. Yes, weird.
 
Chapter 2.1

PLAYING ROULETTE

 
“croupier” meant “horse’s ass”

The croupier (or dealer) is in charge of the game. He or she places some bets on the layout if the player can’t reach the number or proposition, and collects the losing bets and then pays off the winning bets after a decision is made by the little white ball stopping in one of the pockets. A winning bet has a little “buck” or “marker” placed on top and all the losing bets are swept off the table.

THE HORSE’S ASS

Here is something I think you don’t know; the original use of the word “croupier” meant “horse’s ass” since its root was the word “croup.” However, I do not recommend calling the croupier over by saying, “Hey, horse’s ass, please place this bet for me.” In America, while we call folks who sell drugs “dealers,” that definition is not used in polite company, although in some casinos you indeed find those dealers along with casino dealers. The drug dealers are the true horses’ asses.

separator
Types of roulette bets

TYPES OF ROULETTE BETS

Okay, getting on with it: The players buy in for chips (or bring chips to the table), then place their bets on any number or propositions:
  • Inside bets are placed directly on one or more numbers

  • Outside bets are placed on certain propositions such as high-low, odd-even, red-black, first, second and third dozen, etc.

  • There are other combinations of bets that can also be made

separator

BUYING INTO THE GAME

Many American casinos have special roulette chips of various colors for denominations that you don’t usually see in the rest of the casino. The player determines what his colored chips are worth and each player must have a distinct color.

In Europe this is usually not so and the typical casino chips will be the same at the roulette game. This can, at times, cause some confusion for the croupiers which might make players call them “horse’s asses.”

“NO MORE BETS”

Now the croupier will indicate that players can make their bets and the bets are placed on the layout. At a certain point the croupier says, “No more bets” and all players must stop betting – except for the annoying players who just keep on betting.

Should someone place a bet after the dealer says, “No more bets,” the player’s hand is chopped off, leaving a bloody mess on the layout. (Sorry, no, the bet just doesn’t count.) The croupier usually calls “no more bets” after he has started the ball spinning in the groove that goes around and around the top of the wheel.

THE ROULETTE SCOREBOARDS

Roulette scoreboards
Many players love to watch the ball spin around the wheel and then land and bounce from pocket to pocket until it meets its final resting place. It is reminiscent of primitives anticipating that the wheel will tell them their futures, which it certainly will. Some modern tables have a video screen above the wheel so players who are too far away to see the actual wheel can watch it on a monitor.

It is now common to see a scoreboard that highlights which numbers have just been selected, usually the last 16 or 20. This allows trend bettors to figure out what trends they want to bet.

There are now also scoreboards that can tell you which numbers have come up on all the roulette tables being used in the casino!


separator

THE STRUCTURE OF ROULETTE: THE WHEELS

The layout of the roulette wheel has nothing to do with the organization of the numbers on the wheels. Check out the previously pictured roulette wheels and you will see that the numbers are well spread out and not in numerical order. The players are generally interested in placing their bets on the layout (check layout design) without regard to how the numbers appear on the wheel, something of a mistake on their part as you shall see later on.

The casinos of the past knew that some wheels through age and use could form a bias, meaning certain pockets would tend to latch onto a ball more than other pockets (these were usually deeper pockets), or that the wheel could become slightly unbalanced allowing a certain section to hit more than other sections.

If players concentrated on the layout as opposed to the wheel’s design then all would be well with the world and the casino would continue to win – except that some players caught on and discovered they could read the wheels. Such players were able to “break the banks” of casinos!

Let’s take a look at the spacing of numbers first on the American double-zero wheels, and then on the European single-zero wheels.

separator
The number sequence On the American wheel

THE NUMBER SEQUENCE ON THE AMERICAN WHEEL

  • There are 38 numbered pockets for the ball to land in, 1-36 and 0, 00.

  • Half the numbers are red; half are black and the 0 and 00 are usually green, although on some wheels these might be blue.

  • You can see that directly (or almost directly) across from each even number is an odd number. Check out 34 and you will see that it is almost directly across from 33. Then look at 36 and it is across from 35.

  • This is not, however, a perfect design since the numbers 18 and 19 are only separated by the number 33.

  • Pairs of odd numbers alternate with pairs of even numbers except in the areas of the 0, which splits 2 and 28, and 00 which splits 27 and 1.

  • The colors of the numbers match the color of the numbers on the layout. The colors only deal with one bet, the black or red.

THE NUMBER SEQUENCE ON THE FRENCH OR EUROPEAN WHEEL

  • There are 37 numbered pockets for the ball to land in, 1-36 and 0.

  • Half the numbers are red; half are black and the 0 is either green or blue.

  • Some of the positions of the numbers are similar to the American wheel with an odd number being directly across from an even number such as 27 across from 28 but this does not prevail throughout the wheel.

  • The colors of the numbers match the colors on the layout; again this is used for one bet, the red and black.
The number sequence On the french or European wheel
separator

THE DREADED ROULETTE HOUSE EDGES

Like craps, roulette has a multitude of bets which I’ll discuss shortly. However the range of the house edges on roulette bets is not as great or as varied as the range in craps. On the American double-zero wheels, the house edge can go from 2.63 percent to 7.89 percent. The usual house edge on the American game is 5.26 percent.

On the European single-zero wheels the house edge can go from 1.35 percent to 2.70 percent. The usual house edge on the European game is 2.70 percent. You can easily see that the European game is quite superior to the American game.

Roulette dealer's chips collector

HOW TO FIGURE THE ROULETTE HOUSE EDGE

The American wheel has 38 numbers and the payment for a winning bet is 35 to 1. In a fair game, one where the casino does not have the edge, the payout for the winning bet should be 37 to 1. In short, you bet 1 and you win 37. So you will lose 37 times but win once and the game is even; there is no edge for either the player or the casino. That is zero percent.

Casinos cannot make a profit on such a game, so they pay back less than the bet is worth, 35 units instead of 37 units. It keeps two units for itself. Just divide 2 into 38 and then multiplay the result by 100 and the house edge is 5.26 percent. (I will discuss the other house edges when I deal with the specific bets that come in with more or less than a 5.26 percent edge.) This 5.26 percent is the house edge on the inside numbers and the outside propositions such as red-black, odd-even and so forth.

The European roulette game as stated is better than the American roulette game, because of that single 0. There are 37 numbers and the casino pays back 35 to 1 for a winning bet. The casino is keeping “1” as opposed to the American casinos keeping “2.” Just divide 1into 37 and the house edge is 2.70 percent. (I will later explain the other bets that come in with a lower house edge than 2.70 percent.)

[Please note: The ball is spun one way around the ball track but the wheel is spinning the opposite way. These directions can be changed intermittently or after every spin.]
separator

KEY ELEMENTS

  • The layout where players make their wagers is not the same as the distribution of the numbers on the actual wheels.

  • The layout is done in numerical order; the wheel is done by splitting up the numerical order.

  • Inside bets are placed directly on one or more numbers.

  • Outside bets are placed on certain propositions such as high-low, odd-even, red-black, first, second and third dozen, etc.

separator
 
Roulette rules by frank scoblete

ROULETTE RULES


Playing roulette looks easy; pick a number or some proposition such as red/black, bet it and then wait to see what happens. That is, of course, the essence of the game. But it is not actually how the game is played.

Roulette has rules about the following:
 
- how to get chips
- how to determine value of the chips
- when to bet
- how to bet that bet or those bets
- when you must stop betting
- how to handle other
players at your table
- what happens if you win
- what happens if you lose
- when to start betting all over again
Roulette Rule Book

separator
Money converted into Roulette chips

ROULETTE RULES: GETTING THOSE ROULETTE CHIPS

In many casinos the roulette chips are not the same as the chips used at the other table games (although those regular chips can be used at roulette). The roulette chips can be quite colorful.

In some European casinos the roulette chips are indeed the same as chips at other games and (boy! oh! boy!) the dealers better be sharp not to mix up the various players’ bets.

So you arrive at the table, take out your money and put it on the table when the game is between decisions. You tell the dealer how much each of your roulette chips will be worth, she indicates that amount on her “wheel” of chips, and then she parcels your chips out to you.
They now have the value you want them to have.

separator
Roulette rules: when to bet

ROULETTE RULES: WHEN TO BET

After you cash in you will notice that there is a “buck” or “puck” or small symbolled object sitting on the table. That object indicates which number was hit on the last decision. When the dealer removes it the betting begins.

Usually players make their own bets but the dealers will help players who can’t reach far enough to place the bet they want.

separator
Roulette rules: how to bet that bet or those bets

ROULETTE RULES: HOW TO BET THAT BET OR THOSE BETS

If you are betting straight up on the number(s) you just put your chip(s) on the number(s). If you are betting any of the proposition bets on the outside of the layout such as the even-money bets of red/black (French: Rouge et Noir), odd/even (French: Impair et Pair), high/low (French: Passe et Manque) you place these right on the proposition. These all pay 1-to-1.

The first, second or third dozen (French: Douzaine); the first, second or third column (French: Colonne), you will again place your wager exactly on the proposition. These bets pay 2-to-1.

Now here are some other bets and where you place them and how much they pay on a win:

Split Bet (French: A Cheval): If you want to bet two numbers next to each other place your chip(s) on the line between the two numbers. The win is 17 units per 1 unit wagered.

The Street Bet, or Three Number Bet or “Side Bet” or The Trio (French: Transversal): If you wish to bet on three numbers, place your wager on the outside border of the three numbers. A win pays off at 11 to1.

The Corner, the Square, the Four Number Bet (French: Carre): After three numbers comes? Yes, of course, four numbers! The numbers much form a square. Place the bet where at the intersection where all four numbers meet. A win pays 8 to 1.

The Five Number Bet: This bet (the worst of all roulette bets because it has the highest house edge of 7.89 percent) is place on the 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3. A win pays 6 to 1. This bet is also known as the “beast” or the “monster” or the “mother-in-law.”

The Line Bet, or Six Number Bet, or Sixline Bet (French: Sixain): Split Bet

(French: A Cheval): This wager is placed on the outside borders of six numbers. A win pays 5 to 1.

separator
Roulette rules: when you must stop betting

ROULETTE RULES: WHEN YOU MUST STOP BETTING

The dealer will spin the wheel, even as bets are being made, but at a certain point he will wave his hand over the layout and say, “No more bets.” From that point on (okay, guess) no more bets are to be placed.

Now some players, known as PITA’s (for pain-in-the as*es) will keep betting. At that point the dealer can disqualify those bets.
separator

ROULETTE RULES: HOW TO HANDLE OTHER PLAYERS AT YOUR TABLE

Most roulette players are nice people, as are no doubt you. But some of them are somewhat (how can I say this gently?) apelike. Since everyone places their own bets, and since multiple bets can be places on the same number or proposition, the apes have a tendency to push and shove other players to get their bets down. They will even knock over piles of chips – other players’ chips.

There is, of course, no need for such aggressive activities as dealers give roulette players plenty of time to make their bets.

You have three choices:
Roulette rules: how to handle other players at your table

1. Ask the ape-man or ape-woman to please place his/her bets somewhat less aggressively because he/she has been knocking over chips and sometimes people. Chances are the ape-thing will just growl and continue on its way.

2. Tell the dealer to stop them. “Dealer, dealer, this creature over here is a beast and keeps bumping other players and knocking over chips.” The dealer might say something to them and maybe it will work.

3. Or, get up and go to another table.
separator

ROULETTE RULES: WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU WIN

When a number hits, the dealer will call out the number, (perhaps also the color, and whether it is odd or even, etc.). She will put the “puck” on the number and sweep the board of all the losing bets.

She will then pay the winning bets.

Roulette rules: what happens if you win
 
Roulette rules: when to start betting all over again

ROULETTE RULES: WHEN TO START BETTING ALL OVER AGAIN

While the “puck” is in place on the winning wager, no betting can take place. When the winners are paid, the dealer will remove the puck and he’ll say something such as “You may now place your bets.” At this time you take your next shot at corralling Lady Luck.

If you follow these general rules you should enjoy your roulette experience. it's fun to play roulette and people have played it for centuries. If you have never played roulette before why not give it a try? I think you’ll find it an exciting game. But again, follow the rules!

separator

KEY ELEMENTS

  • The organization of numbers on the American and European wheels is different.

  • There are 37 numbers on the single-zero wheel and 38 numbers on the double-zero wheel.

  • The house edges on the single-zero wheel are smaller than the house edges on the double-zero wheel.

  • On the American double-zero wheels, the house edge can go from 2.63 percent to 7.89 percent. The usual house edge on the American game is 5.26 percent.

  • On the European single-zero wheels the house edge can go from 1.35 percent to 2.70 percent. The usual house edge on the European game is 2.70 percent.

  • You can easily see that the European game is quite superior to the American game.

separator
Chapter 2.3

ROULETTE BETS

Here are the bets at roulette and their edges (Do Not Fall Asleep!):

INSIDE BETS

Roulette Inside bets Straight Up bets

THE STRAIGHT UP

(French: En Plein)
You bet one or more numbers by placing your bet on that or those numbers on the layout. If your number or one of your numbers should hit you win 35 to 1 on that number. The house edges: American double-zero wheel, 5.26 percent; the European single-zero wheel, 2.70 percent.
separator
Roulette Split Bet

SPLIT BET

(French: A Cheval)
This bet is placed on more than one number by placing your chip(s) on the line between two numbers. The payoff if either number hits is 17 to 1. The house edges are 5.26 for the American double-zero wheel and 2.70 for the single-zero European wheel.
separator
The street bet, or three number bet or “side bet” or the trio

THE STREET BET, OR THREE NUMBER BET OR “SIDE BET” OR THE TRIO

(French: Transversal)
You’d think with all these titles for the bet that it would pay off at thousands to one. Nope. It is merely a bet on three numbers. You make the bet by placing your chips on the outside border of the three numbers. A winning bet pays off at 11 to1. The house edge on the American double-zero wheel is 5.26 percent and it is 2.70 percent on the single-zero European wheel.
separator
The corner, the square, the four number bet

THE CORNER, THE SQUARE, THE FOUR NUMBER BET

(French: Carre)
The bet is that one of four selected numbers will win. The bet can only be accepted if the four numbers form a square and, of course, being clever someone named the bet the Square. The bet is placed on the intersection where all four numbers meet. A winning bet pays 8 to 1. The house edge on the American double-zero wheels is 5.26 percent and it is 2.70 percent on the single-zero European wheels.
separator
The five number bet

THE FIVE NUMBER BET

Also known as “The Monster” or “The Beast”
This bet is only found on the American double-zero wheels. It incorporates five numbers: the 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3. A winning wager is paid at 6 to 1. The house edge (hold onto your heart) 7.89 percent! If you want to bet those five numbers you are better off just placing a chip or chips on each number and that will bring the house edge back down to 5.26 percent.
separator
The line bet, or six number bet, or sixline bet

THE LINE BET, OR SIX NUMBER BET, OR SIXLINE BET

(French: Sixain)
You place this bet on the outside borders of the six numbers you wish to bet on. The bet pays off at 5 to 1. The house edge on the American double-zero wheels is 5.26 percent and it is 2.70 percent on the single-zero European wheels.
separator

OUTSIDE PROPOSITION BETS

The column bet

THE COLUMN BET

(French: Colonne)
You are wagering that one of the columns of numbers on the layout will have the winning number. You place this number at the bottom of the column that you think will win. A winning bet is paid 2 to 1. The 0 or 00 are not a part of either column so if these two show the wager is lost. The house edge on the American double-zero wheels is 5.26 percent and 2.70 percent on the single-zero European wheels.
separator
The dozens bet

THE DOZENS BET

(French: Douzaine)
The bet is whether one of a dozen numbers on the layout will hit. These are not a dozen consecutive numbers on the wheel; they are strictly layout numbers. You place this bet on First Dozen, Second Dozen or Third Dozen. You can bet two of the dozens. The payout is 2 to 1. Again the 0 and 00 will cause your bet to lose. The house edge on the American double-zero wheels is 5.26 percent and 2.70 percent on the single-zero European wheels.
separator
The odd or even bet

THE ODD OR EVEN BET

(French: Impair et Pair)
To be placed on either the Odd or Even section of the layout. There are 18 odd numbers and 18 even numbers. Neither the 0 or 00 count for either bet and if one of them hits the house wins. The winning bet is paid even money which means one to one. The house edge on the American double-zero wheels is 5.26 percent and 2.70 percent on the single-zero European wheels.
separator
High or low bet

HIGH OR LOW BET

(French: Passe et Manque)
This bet is placed on either the 1 to 18 or the 19 to 36 section of the layout. Once again if the 0 or 00 shows, the bet loses. Payoff is even money (one to one). The house edge on the American double-zero wheels is 5.26 percent and 2.70 percent on the single-zero European wheels.
separator
Red or black bet

RED OR BLACK BET

(French: Rouge et Noir)
This is another even-money bet that you can pick the color of the number that will hit. The house edge on the American double-zero wheels is 5.26 percent and 2.70 percent on the single-zero European wheel.
separator

KEY ELEMENTS

  • The organization of numbers on the American and European wheels is different.

  • There are 37 numbers on the single-zero wheel and 38 numbers on the double-zero wheel.

  • The house edges on the single-zero wheel are smaller than the house edges on the double-zero wheel.

  • On the American double-zero wheels, the house edge can go from 2.63 percent to 7.89 percent. The usual house edge on the American game is 5.26 percent.

  • On the European single-zero wheels the house edge can go from 1.35 percent to 2.70 percent. The usual house edge on the European game is 2.70 percent.

  • You can easily see that the European game is quite superior to the American game.

separator
Some bad and some very good news Chapter 2.4

CUTTING ROULETTE HOUSE EDGE WITH BETTING OPTIONS

The house edges on roulette, especially the American double-zero wheels, are quite high. Going up against a 5.26 percent edge makes the game difficult to beat for an aggressive bettor even in the short run. That’s bad for the player.

On the other hand, the game is rather leisurely so that there are not hosts of decisions in a given hour. That’s good for the player.

Yes, the edge is high but the opportunity for that edge to wipe you out early is (somewhat) limited – assuming you have some discipline in your betting. If you are a wild gambler roulette can still be a dangerous game for you.

ROULETTE HOUSE EDGE TRANSLATED INTO MONEY

So what does a 5.26 percent house edge mean in terms of money? I realize this web site is international so I am going to use the word unit(s) as the unit of measure for money. For example, if I say this bet has a 2 to 1 chance against winning that means 2 units to 1 unit. You can change such units into your own particular currency.

A 5.26 percent house edge means that out of 100 units, the player’s expectation is to lose 5.26 units. In American dollars that means for every $100 wagered, the player stands to lose on average $5.26.

So here is a handy dandy chart of the units concerning the various bets in roulette:
 
House edge translated into money
Keep in mind that “even-money bets” merely pay even money, meaning one unit for one unit but the actual edge is 20 to 18 on the American wheel and 19-18 on the European wheel. Why? Because those zeros count against you.

Take notice of those two bottom bets in the chart? Consider that the good news and in one case, the very last line, the very good news.
 
Roulette - Professor








Here’s why:

Some casinos give players who bet the outside even-money bets of red-black, odd-even, and high-low an added benefit: if the 0 or 00 hit, the bet only loses half its money. You will see in a moment what an amazing bargain that is.

This return is done in two ways: Surrender or En Prison.

separator

YES, SURRENDER!

Roulette Surrender option
For decades now, casinos in some parts of the United States have offered surrender on the even-money bets. If the 0 or 00 hits, the dealer takes half your bet and returns the other half.

Instead of facing a house edge of 5.26 percent, the even-money wagers now come in with a 2.63 percent edge. That reduces in half the casino’s hit on your bankroll. That’s good thing as it cuts your losing expectation in half as well.

You will find that some casinos outside the United States offer surrender. Now a word of warning: You don’t usually see a sign signifying this fact and it is best to ask the croupier, “Do you return half the even-money bets if the 0 (or 00) hits?” 

On the European wheel a casino that offers surrender reduces the house edge to 1.35 percent – one of the best wagers in the casino!

separator

YOU BELONG EN PRISON

When the 0 hits on European single-zero wheels, the even-money bet is locked up, neither won nor lost. It is, in a sense, put in prison.

Here’s an example: You bet black and the 0 hits. The black bet stays on the table for the next round. If black hits, you get your bet back; if red hits you lose your bet; if the 0 hits again, your bet continues to remain in prison.

En prison reduces the house edge to 1.35 percent on the European game, again making this wager one of the very best in the casino.

separator
Hints: Better for the bettor

HINT: SMART IS WHAT’S BETTER FOR THE BETTOR

If you are an outside even-money bettor you will not find a better roulette game than one that utilizes either surrender or en prison. I recommend for straight-up players (pure punters) to seriously consider forgoing betting on individual numbers and move their bets to odd-even, red-black or high-low.

Why not take advantage of a good rule that reduces the house edge in half? If the casinos are giving you something good why be ungrateful for it? That makes sense to me. So there’s my not-too-subtle hint: bet the lowest house edge bets.

separator
Chapter 2

Quiz


1. How do the casinos get their edge on roulette?
2. What is the difference between the arrangement of numbers on the wheel and on the betting layout?
3. Why is the five number bet also called “the beast”?
4. What happens when a casino allows surrender?
5. What happens when the casino allows en prison?
6. Translated into money what does a 2.70 percent and a 5.26 percent house edge actually mean?
7. What is an “inside” bet?
8. What is an “outside proposition” bet?
9. On even-money bets what is the likelihood of your proposition hitting on the American wheel?
10. On even-money bets what is the likelihood of your proposition hitting on the European wheel?

ANSWERS

1. Casinos get their edge at roulette because they do not pay back the true odds of the bet. They short-change the payout. So on a 37 to 1 wager the payback for a winning bet will not be 37 units for 1 unit wagered but 35 units to 1 unit. The house edge on that is 5.26 percent. On the European wheel the payout will be 35 units to 1 unit instead of 36 units to 1 unit for a house edge of 2.70 percent.

2. The numbers on the layout are done in numerical order, 1 through 36 with the zero or double zero being at the top of the layout. The numbers are not laid out that way on the wheel. Instead they are staggered, usually on opposite or near opposite sides.

3. The five number bet is called “the beast” on the American wheel because the house edge is 7.89 percent – the highest edge at the game.

4. If a 0 or 00 hits, half of the even-money bets of red/black, high/low and odd/even are returned to the player. This reduces the house edge in half at the game.

5. En prison also reduces the house edge in half. If the 0 hits, the even-money bet is locked up for the next round. If it hits on the next spin the bet is returned to the player; if the opposite proposition happens, the bet is lost. Another 0 and this procedure occurs again.

6. The house edge of 2.70 percent means a player is expected to lose on average 2.7 units of every 100 units he bets.A 5.26 percent means the player will lose 5.26 units of every 100 units he bets.

7. An “inside bet” is any bet directly on the numbers.

8. An “outside proposition bet” is any bet on the various propositions that ring the layout including the even-money bets.

9. An even-money bet on the American wheel will win 18 times and lose 20 times.

10. An even-money bet on the European wheel will win 18 times and lose 19 times.

separator