We could write a whole book about how to play roulette. It’s an easy game, but it has hundreds of tricks, variations, betting options, and a lot of different versions. There’s both a lot of subtle and glaring differences between American, French and European roulette – and since they are available at most brick-and-mortar and online casinos, you should at least know the basics of what they are.
We’ll try to touch on every aspect of how to play roulette – from the different versions of the game to its history and where croupiers go to train around the world. We hope that if you haven’t tried it yet, you will the next time you visit a real-life or an online casino!
The invention of the roulette wheel is credited to the French mathematician Blaise Pascal of the Pascal Triangle fame. Why would a famous scientist of the Enlightenment create such a thing? He was working on a perpetual motion machine and hoped to engineer a wheel that would spin eternally. Of course, we know that according to the first law of thermodynamics, it’s impossible to create something that not only keeps on moving forever but gives off some of its energy to power something else.
The first law of thermodynamics was only being developed in Pascal’s time – he did manage to develop a wheel that spun smoothly for a long time.
The next step in the creation of actual roulette was making this wheel into a numbered game – which was done in 1842, by Francois and Lous Blanc, also in France. Roulette quickly became popular both in Europe and in the New World.
Why is Roulette Perfect for Beginners
Roulette is one of those games that has multiple levels of difficulty. If you’re just starting out, then it’s simple to make easy bets – on colours or even numbers. You simply guess “red or black” and although your payout isn’t huge when you win (depending on how much you bet) it’s a great way to get yourself comfortable with the game and with the speed of gameplay.
You can join, gamble the easy bets and watch what others do. Remember that one of the most famous wins in Roulette history was made on a “red or black” bet. It happened in 2004, in Las Vegas. An English gambler by the name of Ashley Revell bet all of his life savings on one single game. It amounted to about 135,000 USD. He had to get permission from the casino, as they usually don’t allow these kinds of bets.
In this case, they determined that Ashley knew exactly what he was doing, and was, in fact, bringing his life’s dream to fruition. He bet on red in front of a large crowd of people at the Plaza Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, and the ball landed in the red, on number 7. He doubled his money and walked away – having fulfilled his dream. The red 7 remains one of the most famous pockets in Roulette, and probably will be remembered for a long time.
Not so bad for a simple bet!
...And Why is it Perfect for Advanced Players
If you like strategy and getting creative with placing bets, roulette is also the game for you. There are multiple different types of bets you can make, whether you like working in systems or like to spread your bets and going with your gut.
For the advanced players, roulette offers challenging gameplay and a chance to win more money. Let’s face it – any game requires some strategy, even if it’s based on chance and any gambler who is even a little bit experienced will know this.
Read on for more info about the advanced playing systems like the Fibonacci System, D’Alembert System, Labouchere System, and many more. These systems are designed to maximize your winnings and give you a better chance of getting your bet back even after you lose.
Different Versions of Roulette
If you’re been to a few casinos, you’ll know that not all roulette tables are the same. There are a few different variations to the classic game of roulette – the variations may be subtle, but to aficionados of the particular styles of gameplay – they might mean the difference between good luck and bad luck. Or even a good game and a bad game. Let’s face it – we are creatures of comfort and love what we’re most comfortable with.
What type of roulette is most popular in Canada?
Canada might be in the new world, but its roulette tradition goes back to the eighteenth century. We know this because… it was outlawed in 1758. Today, roulette is legal and many casinos have a number of roulette tables available to play.
Of course, at brick-and-mortar casinos, space can quickly become an issue. There might only be a few tables available, and not on the terms that you’d like. For example, in Canada, most casinos offer American Style roulette tables. Canada was part of the “New World” and the New World way of playing roulette clearly stuck around.
This means that most casinos in Canada offer American roulette and European roulette is either only available in the more expensive VIP lounges or for a higher buy-in.
French roulette is considered to be the mother of all roulettes – and the rules and nuances reflect how the game was played when it was invented. Remember, that the famous green “zero” pocket was only added to the wheel later – and let’s just say it wasn’t for the benefit of the player…
French roulette is nicer, and if you’d like to know how to play it, keep in mind that there are a few differences from European or American roulettes. The “zero” pocket is still there – there’s no version of roulette left where it’s not. But to give you some comfort, there are rules that make the “zero” pocket bearable when you play roulette. Here they are:
Call Bets in French Roulette
These are known as French Bets – don’t worry about these if you’re a beginner. These are usually placed by people who hang around the VIP tables and know a LOT about the game. When you do a call bet, only the croupier is allowed to handle the chips. The reason for this is that call bets usually deal with large sums of money, and call bets involve complicated combinations and bet placements. If you’re still at a “red or black” level, don’t even try this, because it won’t be fun, and it will only cause stress.
There are some awesome advantages you get when playing French roulette:
It’s no secret that French roulette is the most user-friendly. Here are some rules that you’ll be very happy with, that you won’t find in European roulette or American roulette.
The La Partage Rule
Sharing is caring – and if you are unlucky enough that your ball lands on the zero pocket, then all even-money bets are split in half. So cheer up – it’s not the end of the world! C’est ce que c’est…
The En Prison Rule
Yes, this is the “in prison” rule, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. The bad news is that this rule is played mainly in brick-and-mortar casinos. And only if you’re at a brick-and-mortar casino in Monaco! This rule is almost never found in online casinos, even when you play online French roulette. But you never know – so be on the lookout for this:
The dealer will place a special marker when the ball makes a landing in the zero pocket. Again, only if your bet is an even-money bet. Those who bet safely are treated nicely in this version of roulette. Their chips are imprisoned for the next turn, and if you win on the next turn you get your money back. But hold your horses! That’s all you’ll get.
Calling Fixed Bets and Learning French
There is a bit of etiquette when it comes to making call bets too. Imagine having a very crowded table – not with players but with onlookers. Roulette, especially in VIP areas, tends to become a spectator sport. If people shuffle around their bets, the people in the audience will really have to strain in order to see what bets are being placed. For the onlookers, rooting for someone’s bet is all part of the fun. Just look at this scene from Once Upon a Crime – it’s a comedy that shows how a fancy casino’s VIP area can be utterly crowded not by players, but by lookers-on. Here it is, just for laughs:
But back to calling bets! Here is a small “dictionary” of the three main possible call bets. It will help you to understand what’s going on at the pros tables. Call bets are also called neighbour bets or section bets. This is because they encompass whole sections of the roulette wheel. This is a bit different than betting on inside bets.
The roulette wheel is divided into three sections that the player can place call bets on. They look like this:
Tier du Cylindre
Tier du Cylindre is a 6 chip bet that covers 12 numbers, and the bets are placed on the numbers as shown in the schematic. Notice that these are all split bets – they are:
- 5/8 split
- 10/11 split
- 13/16 split
- 24/23 split
- 27/30 split
- 33/36 split
This is the tiniest section of the wheel, and it covers 8 numbers. It’s split between two different sections on the wheel that separate the two other sections.
- 1 straight up
- 6/9 split
- 14/17 split
- 17/20 split
- 31/34 split
Voisins du Zero
This is a 9 chip bet that encompasses 17 different numbers. Just think about the skill it requires to be a croupier – you have to remember these bets and be able to place them with confidence. There is no room for any type of mistake here. This is how the numbers are covered in the Voisins du Zero bet:
- Two chips on 0,2,3 corner
- 2 chips on 25 – 29 corner
- And one chip on the following:
- 4/7 split
- 12/15 split
- 18/21 split
- 19/22 split
- 32/35 split
Jeu Zero (Zero Game)
This call bet is actually German in origin. This bet covers 7 numbers – the closest to the single zero pockets (sorry, Americans and Canadians) This is a great all bet for those who are stingy with their chips because it requires only 4 of them… The bets are placed on
- 0/3 split
- 12/15 split
- 32/35 split
- straight 26
Other Variable Call Bets
The Neighbors – this bet covers 5 numbers. You call it out by wagering on a single number – your wager automatically involves the two numbers to the left and to the right of it. You decide on the central number and voila! Your neighbour bet is made.
Finales en Plein – an interesting variation! When you bet on a number like 2, you also bet on any other number that ends with 2. Like 12, 22 and 32. Of course, this will be a three-number bet if your original bet is let’s say – a 9. In this case, your other numbers will be 19 and 29.
Finales a Cheval – this is the same as Finales en Plein bet, except double that – so you bet on x/y and whatever other numbers end in those numbers. for example, a 1/3 bet includes 1,11,21,31,3,13,23, and 33. This can include split numbers which get a little bit more complex.
European roulette is the most widely played type of roulette everywhere but in the Northern American continent – including Canada and the US. We are excluded from the European roulette sphere of influence because it was most likely brought here from adventurers and explorers that filtered in through the frontier of the United States.
European roulette has one zero, and the rules are very much like those of French Roulette. European roulette has one zero, and the odds of winning are famously better than American roulette. The house advantage in European roulette is 2.63%.
How many people per roulette table? In a brick-and-mortar casino, the game can begin with one player and accommodate as many as eight. Not to mention the crowd of people usually gathered on the sidelines. In an online casino – well – we tried to peek – but we couldn’t see! It’s possible that the online casinos have a similar rule – although the croupier isn’t technically as busy as they are in a brick-and-mortar casino.
In online casinos, you have the roulette table in front of you on the screen and the croupier only has the wheel. You place your bets on the screen with your mouse or by touching the screen, if you’re playing on a mobile device. But remember that a live roulette game in an online casino requires some interaction from the dealer – after all, they can’t respond to you personally if there are 100 people talking to them at once, right?
Online casinos will try to make the dealer and gambler relationship as smooth and pleasant as possible – so while there might be more people per game in an online casino, you won’t be a drop in the bucket. In fact, you’ll get great one-on-one contact with your dealer.
American roulette is a bit of a conundrum – it’s still a great and fun game, and it’s wonderful to play. In fact, it’s usually the only version of the game offered at American casinos in places like Vegas, Reno or Atlantic City, but also in Canadian gambling hotspots like Niagara or Montreal. Of course, in larger casinos like in Montreal, they will give you a choice of American and European roulette. In most casinos, the European version of roulette can usually be found in Vip lounges and the high buy-in tables.
The house edge in American roulette is 5.26%, as opposed to the 2.7% house edge in European roulette.
The reason that casinos favour American Roulette is very simple to understand – it gives them more of an edge. It’s as simple as that. People prefer to play American Roulette not because they like to lose but because they are used to it – we don’t mean to knock any type of game here, but math is math. Then again, going with your gut is going with your gut. And according to our poll, most gamblers go with their gut by far.
Think about it – if you’ve been playing one type of game all your life, it feels unnatural to switch to something unfamiliar, even if it’s supposed to give you an edge. We get it.
American roulette doesn’t have the niceties and tips of the hat like French roulette does. No jail time or winning back your bet here. If you lose you lose.
Live Online Casino Offshoots of Roulette
Now that you know the three main types of roulette that you will most likely encounter whether you play online or in a brick-and-mortar casino, get ready for some excitement. If you’re a bit bored with the normal run of the mill roulette whether American, French or European, get ready for these fun offshoots!
This roulette is a hybrid of the famous Book of Ra – the slot game. What does playing slots have to do with playing roulette? Nothing. Until now. There are actually a lot of different takes on this that use different slot games as inspiration, and judging by the popularity of it, things are only about to get more wild in this department.
Ra roulette incorporates one reel from the Book of Ra into the roulette game and uses the symbols to make creative side bets. This is if you need cool graphics and more than one thing to focus on. The gameplay is exciting, and the possibility of playing with a live dealer makes it more social, fun and exciting.
This is another super fun variation of roulette – except here, it’s the marriage of bingo and roulette. Bingo has stolen all of our hearts in elementary school, and if you haven’t had a chance to enjoy the G-rated version of it before, maybe this is your lucky day.
The roulette wheel has no numbers on it but it has three colours. You place your bet by picking a number, 1 – 9 and picking a corresponding colour. When the wheel is spun, a ball with a number on it is puffed out of the center and has to land on a specific colour. The rules are simple, and the bets are easy to make! What an awesome alternative to good old regular roulette!
Is Picking a Betting Strategy Worth it?
We thought this question was worthwhile to ask some recreational roulette players about what they think. And to our surprise, a large majority of them said they actually do play with a ready strategy. A third of them had a favourite one, and two-thirds of them would switch between strategies depending on how they felt. You see, most players do not go with their gut alone.
But is it really worth it? They certainly seem to think so.
There are the classic betting strategies that can be used for most other betting games:
If you have ever heard of the golden mean or the Fibonacci sequence, you might already be starting to guess at what this system is all about. The Fibonacci Sequence goes something like this: 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34. It’s basically the last number plus the following number, and so on until infinity. Visually, it creates a sort of an unwinding shell pattern. When betting, you pick a unit, and have that unit be the “1” – you continue betting according to this sequence whether you win or lose, and hope that your winnings will either even out or let you win big and walk away. Is it risky? Yes – but people love this one.
This is our favourite of the non-intuitive betting systems. Why is it non-intuitive? Because it requires you to raise your bet every time you lose. Our instinct is mostly to recoil and lick our wounds – so maybe if you adopt this strategy you might find some surprising wins going your way? Unless you have a long losing streak, it’s worth a try – if you have a good reservoir of cash, that is.
The Cancellation Betting System requires a lot of writing – you have to write down 10 units in a row. A unit is a specific one amount of money – it can be a dollar, 25 cents, or ten dollars – whatever you want. For each time you bet, you have to wager sums – the sum of the number all the way to the left and all the way to the right of your column. If you win – you get to cross off both numbers, but if you lose, place that sum at the end of the line. You can repeat this process until you have won all that you want to win, or your bankroll ends. This is another risky strategy, but it definitely makes you feel like you’re setting goals for yourself.
Betting on specific numbers only
This strategy has worked for many people before – but the problem with it is that we only hear about it when it goes very well. For example, Sir Sean Connery won quite a sum playing roulette in 1961. And no, he didn’t do it as James Bond but as himself, and he won real money – he did it by betting on 17 five times. He won 3 of those 5 times!
Betting on Red and Black
This is a great option for beginners, as your odds of winning are half and half. It’s also a great way to ease your way into the game if roulette intimidates you. Don’t worry – it’s common for beginners to be a bit intimidated because the betting table seems a bit complicated and we all have those glamourous movies with Monte Carlo and the VIP tables with tuxedoed men and bejewelled women in our heads. Remember, roulette is a friendly casino game like any other.
Roulette School - Where do the Croupiers Learn?
Did you know that high-roller casinos, as well as your regular Vegas or Niagara casinos, will look for the best-trained croupiers in the business? Some casinos train their own, but they also look for dealers that have learned a thing or two at any of these professional schools:
- Belgium – 1st. Class Casino School, Brussels
- Cyprus – London Academy of Gaming
- France – Casino College in Normandy
- Czechia – Casino Gaming School Praha
- Italy – Centro Formazione Croupier
- Malta – Online Live Casino Academy
- Casino Training Australia
- Open Universities Australia
- Anne Arundel Community College
- Crescent School Gaming and Bartending
- CEG Casino Dealer School Las Vegas
- Royal Dealer School Las Vegas
- Canada Gaming Casino College
- Niagara Gaming Academy
Remember that in countries like Canada, you’ll also need a license to work as a professional dealer, and the estimated time for getting issued one can be as long as two weeks if you want to be a games manager or a dealer.
Short But Comprehensive Guide to Roulette
Now that your head is full of useful knowledge, let’s end with a simple step by step guide.
- Choose a table
- Know the odds at your table – is it French, European or American roulette?
- Wait for the right moment to place your bet – which is when the croupier announces “place your bets”
- Put your chips on the desired inside or outside bet area.
- Wait for the ball to land
- See if you won!
This is short, in-a-nutshell progress of the game – we hope you get more involved and see if you can learn the many strategies and betting methods we mentioned here! Good luck!
Etiquette: How to Behave Like a Seasoned Gambler
When it comes to etiquette, roulette is one of those games that perhaps has more requirements than let’s say – sitting down at slots. (Although slots have their own list of do’s and don’ts.) We have some guidelines for you, especially if you’re about to head out to a real-life casino.
Some of us that have been playing live online roulette forget that they’re not always going to be prompted to do things, and might feel a bit lost at first in a real life setting!
Betting Procedure Rules
Patience – be patient for the result of the spin. Don’t grab your chips, and wait until the dealer has paid out. This will happen sooner or later, and the time is best used to plan your next move. Don’t try to shuffle chips around the table.
Place your bets when it’s time to place your bets. Remember to stay within the allowed time frame.
Ask for help – the dealer will be more than happy to help you place your chips in your desired field if you find it hard to reach. Don’t just throw your chips and hope for the best.
It's the Croupier's Table
…And remember that. During any roulette game, the croupier is the king or queen of this space, and they should be listened to. Don’t try to dispute them, be rude or disrespectful. It just won’t work, and it might just get you blacklisted.
- Tipping is always welcome. In fact, croupiers who are only beginning often get paid the minimum wage. The truth is, even the more experienced dealers might be getting most of their income from tips, so let some luck run their way as well!
- If you think there has been a mistake, the last thing you want to do is get into an emotional fight on the casino floor. Remember – every move is recorded, and there are probably more cameras there than you realize. Be polite, quiet, and point out any mistakes or ask questions at the next opportune time, not in the middle of a spin. There are always floor managers or pit managers that will help you if you really think that a mistake has been made.
- This is true for live online casinos as well. Don’t bombard the chatbox with outraged messages – there are procedures in place in order to handle everything in a civilized manner.
Play Nice With Others
Remember that roulette is a social sport. Of course,it is – if you didn’t feel like a little interaction you wouldn’t be playing the live version – when it comes to online casinos and to brick-and-mortar places as well. Notice that if you don’t feel like interacting, there are people-free roulette options as well!
Even at a “real world” casino, there might be a variety of computerized 3D roulette games that you can sit at all by yourself. But for now, let’s remember to:
- Keep your personal space personal and don’t encroach on other’s space
- Be mindful of others’ drinks, ashtrays and personal belongings like purses or bags
- Friendly conversation is great, but don’t hog all the dealer’s time. This is true for online casinos as well – the dealers are there to do their job and make everyone feel pleasant – not to be your new best friend.
- Keep your hands on your chips
- Show respect to everyone at the table
The Future of Online Gambling
Because of the constant flow of new technologies and innovations, the future of online gambling never looked brighter. Established as a mainstream source of entertainment and excitement, there are hundreds of new games and live gambling options being released every month by some of the industry’s best gaming developers.
It’s also safer than ever, with a variety of game testing authorities and online casino licencing authorities that manage the online gambling industry. Like Las Vegas, it’s not shady anymore. In fact, it’s becoming quite mainstream. Countries like Canada have relaxed their gambling laws for people over 21, and it’s considered a great and entertaining pastime.
The future of online roulette holds amazing innovations – just think of more 3D options, virtual reality, combinations of gaming styles (like Ra Roulette that we discussed earlier). When it comes to roulette innovation, the sky is the limit!
VIP Lounges, Packages, and Bonuses
We saved the best for last – remember that when you make an account you get a sign-on bonus. This can be in the form of free spins on slot machines and also a money match – they will either match your money or give you twice or even three times as much as your initial deposit!
But what is your reward for playing for large sums and staying loyal to a casino? Once you cross a certain threshold, you will be contacted personally by a VIP manager. They will let you know about the different special deals that you can get as a member of a casino’s VIP club. And we assure you – they’re amazing. You get personalized treatment and a lot of perks, like exclusive bonuses, gifts, high bet limits and even access to VIP-only games!