Roulette Rules, Odds, Chances and Payouts ... and player tips!

How to play Roulette

Roulette is played on a spinning wheel which has either 37 or 38 numbered pockets. For each turn, the wheel is set spinning in one direction and a ball is launched in the opposite direction. These games can be played at walk-in casinos or at online casino sites.

Before each turn, bets are placed on which number the ball will land on. Bets can be placed on a single number, or a variety of different combinations, all of which offer different chances and payouts.

The roulette game as we know it originated in 1796 in Paris and was designed to have a house edge which would return a percentage profit to the casino. The game was devised by the mathematician Blaise Pascal while he was attempting to invent a perpetual motion machine. It proved to be such fun that there are now many casinos and roulette sites to play it on. So while that little ball bounces about, instead of wondering if your breakfast will be caviar or cornflakes, why not give some thought to ... how large is the house edge?

Let's have a look.

EUROPEAN TABLES (single zero)

The standard European table has 18 black, 18 red and one green pocket (numbered 0) making 37 pockets in all.

Betting on any single number pays out 35/1. If you bet $1 and your number comes up, your payout is your winnings of $35 plus your original stake of $1 making $36 in total.

As there are 37 pockets and only one of them can win, your winning chances are 1/37. Therefore on a fair wheel *, if you play a massive number of games, it will average out that for every $37 you bet, you'll get back $36.

To illustrate this, imagine putting $1 on every number. This will cost you $37, but when the winning number pays you $36 back and the others all lose, you've lost $1.

The house edge on a European wheel averages at $1 from every $37 bet which is 2.7%.

* The "Man Who Broke The Bank At Monte Carlo" was supposedly Charles De Ville Wells, who won a huge amount of money one night in 1891. He didn't actually break the bank, but he did have a good enough run at one of the tables to make the owners fetch more cash in from elsewhere in the casino. Although he claimed to have a system, it is far more likely that he had been watching the wheel over a long period of nights, and had noticed a slight imbalance resulting in the numbers on one side coming up more often than the others.

Another popular bet is Red/Black which pays out 1/1 (or evens), so if you put $1 on red and any red number comes up, you get $1 winnings plus your $1 stake back = $2 in total.

Your winning chances are 18/37 because there are 18 red numbers out of the total 37. If there was no ZERO hole, then the chances would be 18/36 = 1/2. It would be an even bet and you should win exactly as much as you lose. However the ZERO will come up about 1/37 times, so neither red or black win. Once again, this gives a house edge of 2.7%.

Generally UK players prefer roulette, blackjack and table games. However Australian players prefer playing online pokies (which is the Australian name for slots).

Playing online roulette from Canada has the same rules as listed on this page. Make sure to choose a legal casino and check your local laws, read this article for more information about online casinos in Canada.


Players put their bets on a cloth known as the layout.

Here we've put a selection of markers out. The table shows the chances of winning, and the payout.

What's the bet? Win chance Payout
Single bet on number 6 1/37 or 2.7% 35/1
Split bet on 26 and 29 2/37 or 5.4% 17/1
Triple bet on 13,14,15 3/37 or 8.1% 11/1
Triple bet on 0,2,3 3/37 or 8.1% 11/1
Four-way bet on 19,20,22,23 4/37 or 10.8% 8/1
Six-way bet on 28,29,30,31,32,33 6/37 or 16.2% 5/1
Bet on all numbers 1-12 12/37 or 32.4% 2/1
Bet on all numbers in centre column (not zero) 12/37 or 32.4% 2/1
Bet on all numbers 1-18 18/37 or 48.6% 1/1
Bet on all black numbers 18/37 or 48.6% 1/1
Bet on all odd numbers 18/37 or 48.6% 1/1
ZERO is not odd or even, and is not black or red!

AMERICAN TABLES (double zero)

If the European tables didn't have the green zero pocket, then there would be no profit for the Casino. American tables have a second green pocket, the double zero, and of course this doubles the house edge.

Some places do play special rules regarding these zero pockets, e.g. if you bet on all the odd numbers and zero or double zero comes up, they only take half your money.

How nice of them!

Let's see what the chances are on a double zero wheel:

What's the bet? Win chance Payout
Single bet on double zero 1/38 or 2.6% 35/1
Single bet on number 13 1/38 or 2.6% 35/1
Split bet on 34,35 2/38 or 5.3% 17/1
Triple bet on 4,5,6 3/38 or 7.9% 11/1
Four-way bet on 26,27,29,30 4/38 or 10.5% 8/1
Six-way bet on 10,11,12,13,14,15 6/38 or 15.8% 5/1
Bet on all numbers 13-24 12/38 or 31.6% 2/1
Bet on all numbers in right column (not zero) 12/38 or 31.6% 2/1
Bet on all numbers 19-36 18/38 or 47.4% 1/1
Bet on all red numbers 18/38 or 47.4% 1/1
Bet on all even numbers 18/38 or 47.4% 1/1
ZERO and DOUBLE ZERO are not odd or even, and are not black or red!


Answer: You don't - well not for certain!

Over the years, many people have won at Roulette but for all the winners, there are many more people who lose! However there is a lot of fun to be had in trying your own "system" on sites like online roulette Canada , so even if you take a small loss, you've been well entertained.

The main rule about winning or losing is that you must set yourself a limit of how much you're happy to lose, and if it all goes then STOP.

Beware of the Martingale!

One system that many people try and usually regret is the Martingale.
This can be adapted to use in any betting series, but it usually applies to even bets, so let's see what happens when you bet on red on a roulette table.

  • START! You bet the smallest possible amount on red (e.g. $1).
  • If you WIN, you'll be $1 richer. Next time you go back to the start and bet $1 on red again.
  • If you LOSE next time you double your bet.
  • SECOND TURN You bet $2 on red.
  • If you WIN, you'll get back $2 (winnings) + $2 (stake) = $4.
    So far you've spent $1 + $2 = $3, so you are now $1 in profit. Go back to the start again.
  • If you LOSE next time you double your bet again.
  • THIRD TURN You bet $4 on red.
  • If you WIN, you'll get back $4(winnings) + $4 (stake) = $8.
    So far you've spent $1 + $2 + $4 = $7, so you are now $1 in profit. Go back to the start again.
  • If you LOSE next time you double your bet ... and so on!

It sounds good, because you should make $1 every time you win, and if you lose then you should eventually recover your stake next time you win. Gradually your winnings of $1 will mount up and you'll end up with a fortune!

So what could possibly go wrong?

To start with, let's ignore the fact that a roulette table has a green zero. This slightly reduces your chances of winning, but that's not the main problem. The real danger is having a long losing streak. Suppose you lose nine times in a row? This table shows your situation on the tenth bet:

The Martingale Losing Streak...
Bet Number
How much you've already lost
How much you need to bet

On your 10th bet you have already lost $511, so can you afford to bet a further $512, just to win one dollar? And even if you can, there might be a table limit saying the maximum bet is e.g. $500. Therefore if you hit the table limit or you run out of money, you stand to lose far more than what a series of $1 wins might have earned you.

Don't do it!

What is your best strategy for playing roulette?

Imagine you're going in to play with $100. You have two choices...

  • EITHER: you bet $1 every time, putting it on red/black or odd/even.
  • OR: you put all your $100 on one number for just one turn of the wheel.
Which is better?

If you keep playing $1 a time, gradually your money will all dwindle away. That's ok. If it's a nice place and you want to spend the maximum time in there, then you may well think it's worth it! The casino won't worry about you because even if you do make a small profit and then stop, it won't cost them much.

However if you put all your $100 on one number, you will probably have a very short visit... but the Casino will worry! That's because if you DO win it'll cost them $3,500. They won't like that!

So if it makes the Casino worry, then it has to be the best winning strategy for you!

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