How to play Roulette
Ever since my recent trip to Las Vegas where I dabbled at the Blackjack tables, I’ve been inspired to learn to play the other table games: Roulette, Craps, and Baccarat. In this article, I’m going to explain everything I learned about Roulette by reading two books; ‘The Basics of Winning Roulette’ by J. Edward Allen, and ‘The Winner’s Guide to Casino Gambling’ by Edwin Silberstang. In this casino game a ball is rolled onto a spinning numbered wheel and players wager money on the number they predict the ball will land on.
American vs. European Games
The biggest difference between the American and European games is that the American wheel has a 0 and a 00, while the European wheel has one 0. This is an important distinction, because it drastically changes the house advantage. In the European game the house generally has an advantage of 2.70%, while two zeros on the American wheel gives the house an advantage of 5.26%. On both wheels, the numbers will alternate between red and black while the zeros are coloured green.
In American casinos you will usually find one dealer per Roulette wheel, and that dealer is in charge of changing money into Roulette chips, spinning the wheel and ball, and collecting losing bets and paying the winners by hand. In European casinos each game may be staffed by several croupiers who perform the same duties as the single American dealer; they usually move chips around with rakes instead of using their hands and will usually speak French.
In order to keep track of each player’s bets, American casinos give different colour Roulette chips to each player. These chips are special to the Roulette table and can only be played at the table; when a player wants to leave the table they must exchange their Roulette chips for regular casino chips or cash. The Roulette chips have no value away from the table. In European casinos regular casino chips are used, so players must be very careful to keep track of their own chips.
As previously mentioned the American Roulette wheel has two zeros and there is a house advantage of 5.26%; if the ball lands in the 0 or 00 pocket, all the other wagers will automatically lose. A very few casinos in Nevada and some in Atlantic City offer tables with one zero, where the house advantage is only 2.70%. These tables usually have higher minimum wagers.
In Atlantic City if the ball lands in the 0 or 00 pocket, only half the bet is lost or surrendered if it was on one of the even money wagers (I will describe these wagers later). Alternatively the bet may be held back while the wheel is spun again; if the number comes up on this second spin the wager is returned to the player. This is known as the en prison rule in European games. In European Roulette the house advantage is usually 2.70%, but when the en prison rule is in effect the house advantage drops to 1.352% ‘ not bad odds.
Layout and Bets
At this point you might be wondering what choices you have when placing your bets. The diagram shows the standard American Roulette table layout. A player can make combinations of wagers as described below.
- A straight-up bet is paid at 35-1. You place your chip on any single number from 1-36, and you may also choose the 0 or 00.
- A column bet is paid at 2-1. You place your chip on any of the three 2-1 cells on the right side of the Roulette table. If you choose the middle column you would have the numbers 2, 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29, 32, and 35 covered by your wager. The 0 and 00 are not included in column bets.
- A dozen bet is paid at 2-1. You place your chip on any of the three cells just below the numbers on the Roulette table (labelled 1st 12, 2nd 12, and 3rd 12). Each bet covers the 12 numbers directly above it on the table.
- The even money bets are paid off at 1-1. You can wager on red or black, high or low, and odd or even at the bottom of the Roulette table. The house advantage may be different here if a 0 or 00 comes up and you’re playing at a table with surrendering or en prison rules.
- A split bet is paid at 17-1. You place your chip on the line separating two numbers, and both numbers are covered by your wager. You may also place your chip on the line separating the 0 and 00.
- A trio bet is paid at 11-1. You place your chip on the line directly above or below a group of three. For example, you could place your chip on the line directly below the number ten or directly above the number 12 to cover the numbers 10, 11, and 12 with your wager.
- A corner bet is paid at 8-1. You place your chip at the point where four numbers converge to cover all of them with your wager.
- A five number bet is paid at 6-1. There is only one way to make this bet: by placing your chip at the corner where the 0, 1, and 1st 12 cells converge. This bet covers the numbers 0, 00, 1, 2, and 3. But beware, as the house advantage rises to 7.89% on this wager, making it the worst wager possible in the game of Roulette!
- A six number bet is paid at 5-1. You place your chip at the point where two groups of three numbers converge, covering all six numbers with your wager.
Roulette chips aren’t labelled with a specific value or denomination, so each player at the table will be using chips of the same minimum monetary value (there should be a sign informing you of the value, often set at $1 ‘ if not, ask the Dealer). If you want your chips to have a higher value than the preset standard, you may ask the Dealer to do this for you and they will place a chip with your colour on the rim of the wheel with a marker.
Each table will also have a betting minimum; for example, you may be required to bet 2 or 3 $1 chips each spin of the wheel. You should ask the Dealer about any minimum and maximum betting limits at your table. When you purchase Roulette chips from the Dealer, they come in stacks of 20 chips. You usually have to buy a minimum of one complete stack of chips to get in to a game.
Things to Know
You are allowed to bring a pencil and paper to keep track of the numbers that have come up, or study the numbers on the electronic display supplied by the Casino. Some people believe they can discover patterns or a bias in this manner; however this is ultimately a random numbers game. You may place your bets while the ball is spinning around the rim of the Roulette wheel, but once the ball descends into the area with the numbered pockets you should stop. If you hit a 35-1 wager, it is usually customary though not required to tip the Dealer. You may also tip the dealer when you leave a game.
It is difficult to outline a strategy for winning big at Roulette, because the house advantage is so strong. Also, there are many other casino games such as Blackjack that have smaller house advantages. In the end it is luck and not strategy that governs this game. If you want to try your hand, buy a few stacks of chips at the minimum price and try to make it last as long as you can.
- How to play Roulette
- by Beauty
- Published on March 30th, 2006
(Good Luck Winning Any Money)
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