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Roulette is a game of chance. It’s a game of luck. It doesn’t require any exceptional skill. So why is it so popular? Why do so many people play it and love it? The answer to this question, and many other questions, will be provided in this in-depth guide to roulette. We’ll cover the basic principles of the game, the different types of roulette, how to play, and much more. Once you’re finished reading this guide, there won’t be much left to learn when it comes to one of the most popular casino games the world has ever seen. Let’s get started.
The History of Roulette
You’ll find plenty of debate over the exact origins of roulette, with a variety of different countries trying to claim it as their own. However, despite all these pretenders to the throne, it would seem that the game of chance we all love so much today began its life in 17th century France. Or rather, Paris. At that time and in that place, the game was known as the ‘little wheel’.
Yet just because this roulette game is pretty much exactly the same as we play today, that’s not the full story. It is actually thought that the origins of roulette go back further and that those who created the ‘little wheel’ in Paris may have got the idea from a game that had been played for many centuries in ancient China. This particular game involved 37 animal figurines that had to be put together in a specific order to create a circle or, as you might have guessed, wheel. Monks brought this game to Europe, and it would appear that Parisians evolved it into roulette. Or so the story goes because, as with anything popular that’s been around for many hundreds of years (maybe thousands), it’s never easy to know for sure.
Or perhaps it came from Rome. Roman soldiers would bet on almost anything, and spinning chariot wheels were a firm favorite. They would bet on where the markers placed on the wheels would end up when the wheels stopped turning. Once more, this does sound familiar, and could easily be where roulette first began.
Whatever the reason, whatever the true story, by the time it reached Paris in the 17th century, roulette had become a game for the elite. This was not something offered in a backstreet casino, full of dirt and grime and illegalities; this was for the upper classes and could be why roulette wheels still have an air of class and sophistication about them today.
Roulette remained an elitist game for about one hundred years. It wasn’t until the 18th century when Monaco began to open up casinos that roulette wheels became ubiquitous and everyone was able to play.
Over the years, roulette has stayed the same, with the world changing around it. Perhaps this is why this game of chance is still so popular; it’s one of the few things that everyone can rely on to be exactly as it should be.
The Rules Of Roulette
Roulette is played in casinos around the world, and no matter which version you play (either European roulette or American roulette – more on the differences later), the rules aren’t going to change from place to place. Regarding those rules, just what are they? How do you get started when it comes to roulette and what do you need to know? Let’s look more closely at this aspect of the game so that, when you want to play, you’ll have a much better understanding of what to do and what to expect.
- The Wheel
Depending on the type of roulette you are playing, the wheel itself will have either 37 or 38 pockets, and in each pocket a number will be written. Those pockets will be alternately red and black, apart from the zero pockets which are always green.
Once everyone has placed their bets, the croupier will spin the wheel in one direction and toss the small metal ball in the other. When the wheel stops spinning and the ball has landed in one of the pockets, the round is over. Wherever the ball landed, that’s the winning number or color (depending on what you bet on).
- The Table
Although the roulette wheel is the thing that most people think of when they bring this particular casino game to mind, there is also a roulette table. The table is placed by the side of the wheel, and on it, all the numbers correspond to the same numbers on the wheel. They are lined up in three columns (apart from zero), and elsewhere on the table, you will see the different bets you can make before the wheel starts to spin. Use the table to place your chips so that the croupier or dealer knows what you’re betting on.
- The Bets
So of course, when playing roulette the whole point is to try to guess where the ball is going to land. If you guess right, you’ll win a certain amount of money (how much exactly will depend on how much you bet in the first place). If you guess wrong, you’ll win nothing, but you can have another try if you want to. There are essentially two types of bet available to a player in roulette – inside and outside bets. Each of these has its own subcategories, however, and it pays to understand what they all are and how they can be used so that you can make the most of the opportunities you have, and make your gambling money go as far as possible.
- Straight Bets
A straight bet is a simple thing to master but isn’t something that everyone is going to want to attempt. A straight bet means choosing the exact number you think the ball will land on. To place this bet, lay a chip (or chips) on the number on the roulette table that corresponds to the number you hope will be lucky. For wins on this kind of bet, the payout is 35-1.
- Split Bets
A split bet means that you choose to bet on two numbers. They must be next to one another on the roulette table, and to place this bet you will want to lay a chip (or chips) on the line between the two numbers. If you are lucky with either of the numbers you choose, you’ll win at 17-1.
- Street Bet
A street bet, also known as a three-number bet or trio bet, is similar to a split bet only, as the name suggests, you will be betting on three numbers rather than two. Each row on the roulette table contains three numbers, so you place your chip (or chips) on the outside line of the row you’re aiming for. Win with any of these numbers and you’ll get a payout of 11-1.
- Corner Bet
The corner bet can be called the four number bet or the square bet, and it means you are betting on four adjacent numbers. Place your chip (or chips) in the middle of the square of four numbers you are hoping will win, and if any of them is where the ball lands, you’ll receive winnings at 8-1.
- Other Bets
After the corner bet, it is possible to place five number bets and the six-line bet. These both payout at 6-1.
- Red or Black
The choice between red or black might be one of the most famous in gambling history, and it all stems from the roulette wheel. Rather than opting for a specific number when choosing what to bet on, you can choose instead to pick either red or black. If you look at the roulette table, you can see boxes that indicate these choices, and to place that bet you simply have to pay your chip (or chips) on the right word. The payout here is much lower than it would be if you opted for a specific number at 1-1.
- Odd or Even
As with the choice between red or black, picking either odd or even is a much ‘safer’ bet. Of course, it’s still a 50/50 choice, but there is a much higher chance of getting your guess right. Again, you simply place your chips (or chips) on the corresponding word (odd or even) on the roulette table. The payout is 1-1.
- Low or High
To really make yourself have the best chance of winning something rather than nothing (although, of course, nothing is going to be guaranteed when it comes to a casino game), you can choose between ‘low’ or ‘high’ (again, depicted on the roulette table). If you choose high, you’ll win if the ball lands anywhere between numbers 19 to 36. A low bet means any number between 1 and 18. If the ball lands on zero, you lose. The payout for this is 1-1.
American vs European Roulette
If you thought that roulette was roulette no matter where you played it, think again. There are two variations on the game; European roulette and American roulette. Let’s look more closely at these games and the differences between them. Although the difference might be a small one, it could mean a lot when you’re placing your bets, so it’s wise to know which version you’re playing before you make any decisions.
The main difference between the two versions of roulette is that American roulette has an extra pocket on the wheel, giving 38 segments instead of the standard 37 that European roulette has. The extra pocket is ‘00’ or double zero.
Although you might not think it, this extra pocket changes the odds of the game quite dramatically, which is why European roulette is the more popular of the two types. When you’re playing American roulette, your odds of winning are 1/38. The odds in European roulette are 1/37. Plus, the house edge is much higher in American roulette (the house edge is the casino profit for any game, and it is expressed as a percentage of the player’s original bet). In American roulette, the house edge is 5.26%. Compare this to the 2.70% for European roulette, and you’ll immediately see what a difference that one extra pocket makes.
On top of all this, the payouts are the same in American roulette and European roulette, meaning that although the odds of winning are lower in American roulette – something that usually means a higher payout if you were to win because of the additional risk involved – you’ll win the same amount as if you played the ‘easier’ (in relative terms) European roulette.
Although it’s fun to watch roulette and see what other players are choosing to do, the real fun lies in betting on numbers yourself and getting involved in the gambling. Of course, it’s always recommended that you have a set budget when you’re playing casino games – playing without one can lead to accidental overspending which is easy to do and not so easy to claw back from afterwards.
When you are betting on roulette there are a few different strategies that can be used to make the process easier to remember and to give you a structure to what you are doing. It’s perfectly possible to just bet on random numbers with random amounts of money, and if that’s what you want to do then that’s absolutely fine. But if you want something that has some kind of meaning behind it, read on; here are the three most popular betting systems for roulette. Remember, though; roulette is a game of luck, and there is no way to guarantee a win even if you do opt for one of the betting systems mentioned below.
- The Martingale System
The Martingale system is a betting strategy that many people will have at least heard of, even if they’ve never used it or don’t know what it entails. It’s a simple premise, but don’t let that fool you – it will take some thinking about before you use it in a real game of roulette.
The Martingale system can actually be used on any game that offers a 50/50 chance of success, which is why it’s often used in roulette (assuming you’re picking one of the outside bets, that is). Of course, technically, even the outside bets aren’t purely 50/50 since the green zero (or zeros) skew this a little, but for the purposes of the Martingale system, it’s close enough.
When using the Martingale system, you need to double your bet every time you lose if you’re playing on a 50/50 outside bet (red or black, odd or even, high or low). The idea behind this is that you’ll eventually win even if you lose several times beforehand, and because you’re doubling your bet, you’ll make your money back and then some.
Technically, according to the law of probabilities, you are sure to win when playing roulette – eventually. So technically, the Martingale system is a good idea. You’ll cover everything you previously lost, make some money and top, and then you can stop playing. There are problems, however. If you’re doubling your bet every time you lose, how many times can you afford to lose before you have to walk away before the win you were waiting for came? Remember, there are often betting limits for roulette, so you might not win in time, and you’ll lose a lot of money in this situation without any chance of winning it back.
- The Anti-Martingale System
If you’re not a fan of the Martingale system because, although it gives you a structure, it also gives you a big chance of losing a lot of money, then you might want to consider the anti-Martingale system. As you might have guessed, this system was created because there was a lot of bad feeling about the Martingale system for the reasons outlined above.
The anti-Martingale system isn’t completely against the original though; it does take elements of it and changes them though, and for some, this is a better way of working. You still keep betting every time you lose, but instead of doubling your bet, in the anti-Martingale system, you halve it. If you win, you double your bet. Keep going until you run out of money, reach the money you wanted to win, or otherwise think it’s time to step away.
- Betting On Red
If you’re looking for a simple betting system that can work on a game of roulette, betting on red might be the one to opt for. This is not as complicated as some of the other betting systems, and it’s often regarded as the simplest one to master. The name pretty much tells you everything you need to know about this system; you always bet on red. Or black. Or odds. Or even. You can pick any of the 50/50 bets you like, but the point is, you always choose the same one. That’s it. It really is that simple, and the idea behind it is that, as ever, eventually, your guess will prove to be fruitful.