Roulette Refresher and Quick Introduction


 The third most popular casino game in the world (after slot machines and video poker) is often considered to be Roulette. The game originated in France and the modern version found in casinos today dates all the way back to 1842. Roulette actually means “small wheel” in French. The object of the game is to pick the number on which the ball finally lands when the wheel has stopped spinning. Betting on a single number or a range of numbers based on their position on the table is called an ‘inside bet’. It is also possible to bet on other number groupings and combinations, as well as pocket colors (red, black) or whether the outcome is odd or even. These are considered ‘outside bets’. The payout for each bet is determined by its probability.

Though the game of Roulette seems very straightforward, there are measures that can be taken to improve your chances of winning. You can’t do much once the ball starts spinning, but you can place wise bets that keep the house advantage to a minimum. Here are some things to look out for.

The House Edge

The house edge is the average percent a player is expected to loose relative to his bet, over time. For example, if you bet on a single number and win, the payout is 1/35. If the chances of you making the bet would be 1/36, then the house would have no advantage, and the edge would be 0%. You could, for example, place 36 chips on 36 numbers and always get them back, since one of the numbers you chose is sure to come up. This is why the Roulette has a “zero” slot (or slots). An extra slot makes the chances of you choosing the winning number 1/37, but the payouts are always calculated as if there is no zero slot. In this example you would still get a payout of 1/35 even though your chances are 1/37. All payouts for all bets are calculated as if there were no zero slots, and this is how the house always keeps its edge.

European vs. American wheel

The first and most basic Roulette tip is to choose the right wheel. The European wheel has 37 slots numbered 0-36. The American version has 38 slots – a 00 slot was added to improve the house odds. While the European hose edge is 2.7, the American one is 5.26 percent, so choosing the European roulette as your preferred table is the first and most obvious tip.

Special Rules for Even Money Bets

Another thing to look out for is a wheel that offers one or both of the ‘En Prison’ and ‘surrender’ rules. Before we get into the details, we must explain what an ‘even money bet’ is. Bets that pay even money are bets that pay out the same amount of money that was initially bet (i.e. the payout is 1/1). In other words, you stand to loose the same amount of money that you stand to win.

In Roulette, even money bets are bets on whole groups of 18 numbers, all of which are outside bets. These bets are:

  • black/red - each color group has 18 numbers
  • low/high – 1-18 or 19-36
  • even/odd
En Prison

If zero or double-zero come up in outside bets that pay even money, you do not automatically lose your bet, but rather keep your bet in the same place on the board (so your chips are ‘in prison’ for one round). The next spin of the wheel will determine the fate of your bet.


If zero or double-zero come up in outside bets that pay even money, you only loose half of your bet.

Both ‘en prison’ and ‘surrender’ cut down the house edge considerably. So before you spin that wheel, make sure to find a European Roulette, and look for at least one of these rules to help you lower the house edge.