Introduction: Inside bets, outside bets, combinations, hedges, with all of this choice, how are we expected to know what to do at the roulette table? This quick overview of roulette rules should provide you with a good sense of the game, and a decent understanding of the bets available. We’ll start with a look at the inside bets and the outside bets.
The Table Basics: Roulette has been played since the 17th century. Your simple objective as a player is to predict the ball’s final resting-place when the wheel stops spinning. The roulette wheel consists of 36 numbers plus zero and double zero. Your wager on the roulette table can be placed on a single number, or be used to cover 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 12, or up to 18 different numbers during one spin. Here is a summary of the different roulette bets:
Straight Up: This is a wager on a single number, including zero (0) and double zero (00). If the ball stops at your number, your bet pays 35 to 1.
Split Bet: This is a wager on two adjacent numbers in the roulette table, which is placed on the line dividing the two numbers. If the ball stops at either number, your bet pays 17 to 1.
Street Bet: Street bets cover three numbers. The chip is placed on the outer right boundary line of the roulette table, next to the corresponding row of three numbers. If either number hits, the street bet pays 11 to 1.
Corner Bet: Corner bets cover four numbers. The chip is placed on the cross where the four numbers intersect. If any of the four numbers hit, your corner bet pays 8 to 1.
Five Bet: This bet covers the following numbers: 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3. The chip is placed on the outer right boundary line of the roulette table, between 00 and 3. If either number hits, your five bets pays 6 to 1.
Line Bet: A line bet covers the six different numbers in two rows of three numbers. For example: 4,5,6 plus 7,8,9). The chip is placed on outer right boundary line of the roulette table, where the line dividing the two rows intersects it. If any of the six numbers hit, your line bet pays 5 to 1.
Column Bet: Roulette rules also allow for you to bet on ranges of numbers according to how they are arranged within the Inside betting numbers grid. At one end of the set of 38 numbers there are a set of three boxes, each corresponding to a column of numbers on the grid. You’ll see the words ‘2 to 1’ written in them. If a number from within the column you are betting on comes up, you win, and are paid 2 to 1.
Red/Black, Even/Odd, and Low/High Bets: A bet placed in one of the boxes on the left, long side of the table covers half of the roulette numbers (excluding zero and double zero). Each box covers 18 numbers. These bets pay even money, 1 to 1.
Dozen Bet: Very similar to the Low & High bet, this could be called the Low, Medium & High bet. The 36 available numbers can be easily split into dozens, and you can bet on the resulting number being part of these ranges. The first dozen numbers include 1-12, the second dozen 13-24, and the third dozen numbers 25-36. You may find these bets simply labeled 1st 12, 2nd 12, 3rd 12. The bet pays 2 to 1.
Roulette strategy and system: Contrary to popular belief, there are no sure fired strategies that will give a player an edge over the casino in roulette (European or American). Every new spin of the wheel is a isolated event of chance, and every possible bet associated with each spin carries a casino edge. Bearing this in mind, here are a couple of popular systems which some punters have found useful in the past.
Red/Black System: The red/black system is a form of Martingale (double up on successive bets) system and is one of the better known roulette systems around. Your bets for this system are on either red or black, with your pay out 1 to 1 (ie double your money for a win). It is worth bearing in mind that your chances of winning each bet are just under 50/50 (remember the 0 and 00 that gives the casino its advantage).
You begin by choosing a colour and placing your bet on either red or black. Be sure to make your first bet a small one. If you win, keep your winnings and place your starting bet again. If you lose, double your stake and place a bet on the same colour again. If this bet wins, your net result after two bets is the same as if you had one you initial bet. Keep your winnings and begin with your starting stake again. If your second bet loses, double your stake again, and continue doing this until your colour does come up, at which point your net win from the string of bets will be the same as if you won your starting bet. Now you know why it is important to start with a small bet. It doesn’t take too many losing bets in a row for your bet amount to climb to quite a big number. But keep your nerve, the key is being prepared to continue to double up until you have a win. Also be very aware of the table bet limit – if you reach this before you have a win then you stand to lose a considerable amount.
Five Number System: This strategy calls for straight-up inside bets where you get paid 35 to 1 if you win. You will place your bets on five individual numbers. Don’t forget 0 and 00 are part of the inside numbers you can wager on. Pick any five numbers, they all have the exact same chance of winning. Find a game where the minimum bet is no more than $5 and buy forty $1 chips ($40). If you limit yourself to relatively small stakes you can’t get badly hurt. With this system you hope to get lucky two consecutive times. Start by placing one chip on each of your five chosen numbers. Repeat this same wager until you win – you have enough chips for eight tries. When the ball comes to rest on one of your numbers, you win 35 chips. Divide the 35 chips over your five number fields, seven on each. If you hit again the pay off will be 7 x 35 = $245. No matter what the outcome, this was your last spin. Smart gamblers know when to quit.
Your best choices for online Roulette are casinos using Cryptologic software, as these casinos follow the Atlantic City rule of giving half back on even money bets if the ball lands in zero. This is slightly better than a single zero wheel, which can be found with Microgaming casinos.
European Roulette Rules
European roulette played on a single wheel and also features a favorable “en prison” rule. Under this rule if the player makes any even money bet (red, black, odd, even, 1-18, 19-36) and the ball lands in zero the player either gets half the bet back or it becomes inprisoned. If an imprisoned bet wins on the next spin it is released and the player gets it back, without winnings. What is subject to debate, or rule variation, is what happens to an imprisoned bet if the ball lands in zero on the next spin. I have heard of four different rule variations and each are explained below.
At a casino I visited in Hamburg half of even money bets are returned if the ball lands in zero. This house edge is 1.3514%.
At a casino I visited in Berlin even money bets became imprisoned if the ball landed in zero. The bet was returned if it won on the next spin. If a zero occured on the second spin the bet lost. The rule card in Berlin said the player may request the croupier to move the imprisoned bet from one even money bet to another. This house edge is 1.3879%.
According to the American Mensa Guide to Casino Gambling an imprisoned bet remains imprisoned until a non-zero occurs. This house edge is 1.3514%.
According to a dealer from Holland who wrote me if two zeros occurs in a row the bet becomes double imprisoned. In this case two winning bets in a row must occur to release it. If a anything else occurs, including more zeros, the bet is lost. This house edge is 1.3706%. The dealer said that the player also has the option to get half back immediately, which is the better option.
En Prison: En Prison is a rule that you may find at some European roulette tables, but most likely only in Europe itself. There are supposedly a couple of online casinos which offer single zero roulette and the En Prison rule, but I’m not sure if they truly cut their odds in accordance with the rules, or end up compensating for the difference somehow. En prison is basically a rule that only applies to your outside even money bets, and only comes into effect when a zero is hit. Say you played ten bucks on black, and zero was hit. If En Prison is in effect, your bet will not be swept away as it would at a regular roulette game. The bet is said to remain ‘in prison’ (yes, that’s what En Prison means) and is left on the table for it’s outcome to be determined on the next spin. If on the next spin the bet looses, it is swept away. If the bet wins it is returned to you with no extra winnings. Different tables have different rules for if a second zero is spun, so you’ll have to check with the house on that one. If the bet remains in prison on a second 0 pocket, we can calculate the house edge to be somewhere around 1.35% – far superior to any roulette strategies you could come up with to help you out at an American roulette table.
Surrender: Surrender is a rare rule that is not unlike En Prison. Again it only applies to outside even money bets, and it has to do with a zero hitting. If a zero hits and surrender is in effect, half of your even money bets will be returned to you. Surrender is most often found in Atlantic city casinos, and usually only on American roulette tables. If you can find it, the rule cuts the house edge down significantly to somewhere in the region of 2.63%.