The Basics of Roulette


Roulette is one of the most popular casino games in Europe, but it has only a small following in the United States. It draws fewer players than blackjack, video poker, and slot machines and is losing ground to newer games. It still attracts a few high-rollers and is a mainstay at Monte Carlo and other European gambling destinations.

Roulette’s popularity is partly due to its elegance and leisurely play. The game’s rules are simple, and a player can choose to bet on a single number or various groupings of numbers, the color red or black, whether the number is odd or even, or if it is high or low.

The roulette wheel consists of a solid wooden disk slightly convex in shape, with metal partitions, called frets, around its edge and the compartments, or pockets, on which bets are placed. Thirty-six of these compartments, painted alternately red and black, are numbered nonconsecutively from 1 to 36; on European wheels there is a green compartment with the sign “0,” while American roulette wheels have two green compartments with the signs “0” and “00.”

A bet placed on a single number is called a straight-up bet. If the ball lands in that number’s pocket, the player wins and is paid out according to the table. Other bets are the split and corner bets. A split bet picks two numbers; a corner bet picks four numbers that form a square on the betting grid.

Before you play, be sure to set a budget for yourself. Each roulette table carries a placard that describes the minimum and maximum bets allowed. Choose a table that is within your range and then choose the bets you’d like to make. You can also bet on a grouping of numbers instead of individual digits; these are cheaper to place and have a higher likelihood of winning.

Many gamblers try to beat the house by using complicated strategies, such as playing only on red or black, or betting against the other players in the hopes that they know something the other gamblers don’t. But mathematically, these bets are a waste of money because they don’t pay what the odds say they should. A straight-up bet on a single number pays 37 to 1, but the odds of hitting that number are actually closer to 35 to 1. So, the best way to beat the house edge in roulette is simply to walk away when you’ve lost enough.