How to Play Roulette

Published: 06/09/2010
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Roulette is the most broadly available casino table game in the world, both online and off. Its roots trace back to 18th century France, where game makers combined the elements of two older games. They took the spinning wheel of a British game called Roly Poly (or Even-Odd) and merged it with an Italian lottery-type game called biribi, involving a board with 36 numbers. The result was “roelete” or the “small wheel.”

The wheel used in the earliest version of roelete had a zero and a double-zero added to it for 38 numbers in all. It was this form of the table game that made its way to the Americas via New Orleans around the turn of the 19th century.

While the game evolved in Monte Carlo, leading to the elimination of the double zero, the American version remained true to the original. That’s why today there are two widely played types of roulette—the 38-number American layout and the 37-number European one.

European and American roulette are essentially the same game. Both wheels contain alternating red and black numbered slots, 18 of each plus the green zeros, randomly distributed and corresponding to the numbered rectangles on the table layout. When a small ball falls into one of the slots, it determines the winner of the spin. Payouts in both games are identical.

However, in the double-zero game, the odds favour the house by an edge of 5.26% compared to a 2.70% margin in the single-zero game. With this in mind, all of the comments that follow are regarding the European version, which gives the player a significantly smaller disadvantage.

The object of Roulette is to predict where the ball will come to rest when it is spun in the direction opposite to the motion of the rotating roulette wheel. Wagers are placed directly on the table layout, either “inside” or “outside” the numbered field.

Outside betting areas are marked Black, Red, Even, Odd, Low (1-18) and High (19-36). Each of these wagers pays 1-to-1, even money, upon a win. Winning bets placed on any of the sequential “dozens” of numbers (1-12, 13-24, or 25-36) are paid at 2-to-1. Likewise, successful wagers on any of the three columns of 12 numbers will pay out at 2-to-1.

Special rules for even-money bets apply at some casinos. A few will refund half of the even-money wager if a zero hits. Others will hold the bet for the next spin, a situation called “en prison.” The outcome of the next spin determines whether these wagers win or lose. However, many land-based casinos and most online gaming sites just claim all of the outside bets as losers if a zero appears.

Inside bets are made within the field of numbers. A “straight up” bet is positioned directly on a single inside numbers or the zero); it pays 35-to-1 when it comes up. A bet made on an adjacent pair of numbers is called a “split.” It pays 17-to-1. Other inside wagers include groups of three numbers known as rows, trios, or streets paying 11-to-1; groups of four numbers called blocks, corners, or quads that return 8-to-1; and the double rows or six-lines yielding 5-to-1.

At some point the ball is spun and the croupier calls out “No more bets.” That is when wagering must end. Once the ball stops, a marker is placed atop the corresponding number on the field. Losing wagers are collected and winning wagers are paid immediately. After winning players pick up their chips, the marker is removed and the table is clear for the next round of wagering.

At roulette tables in land-based casinos, the ball drops about once every two minutes. During that time, the croupier must identify the winning number, scoop up the losing bets, calculate winnings, make payouts, call for new bets, assist players in positioning chips, spin the ball again, and announce “no more bets.” It is also the croupier’s job to welcome new players, answer questions, handle cash, issue chips, and cash out players who want to leave the table.

For the game of roulette online, the player alone determines how quickly or slowly each spin of the wheel goes. After placing your bets, just push the start button, watch for the result, and collect any winnings. As many as 100-200 spins an hour are possible. And thanks to realistic audio, high-resolution graphics, and state-of-the-art animation, the online versions of Roulette can be just as exciting as the spinning wheels of Las Vegas, London, or Monte Carlo.

Published on: 06/09/2010

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