Roulette is a hugely popular casino game that, apart from one or two variations, has remained largely unchanged since it was first played in France more than 300 years ago. Its elegant simplicity has long been part of its appeal, along with the large number of wagering opportunities it offers, and it’s a game that anyone can play that at the same time requires detailed knowledge of odds and which bets offer the best value.
Our recommended online casinos all offer a variety of different roulette games, including live dealer options, and you can also play the game for free in practice mode.
As is the case with roulette played in land-based casinos, there are three main variations of the game that you’ll find in our listed online sites — European, French and American. There are many similarities between these games, with the major differences being in how many pockets on the wheel and numbers on the table that each has, which in turn affects odds and probabilities.
The version of the game that is most commonly played online is European roulette, which has 37 pockets on the wheel and features the numbers 1-36 on the table, along with a single 0.
French roulette has the same number of pockets on the wheel and numbers of the table and likewise features a single 0. The major difference between the two versions is that in French roulette there are the la partage and en prison rules. With la partage, if the number 0 is hit and you have made a bet on colour, odd/even, 1-18 or 19-36, then you get half of your stake back immediately. If the en prison rule is also in play, your half stake is held over for the next spin; if it wins, you get your half stake back, but if not, the bet is lost entirely. French roulette also allows for a wager known as finales, which means you can bet on all of the numbers on the table that have the same final digit (e.g., 2, 12, 22, 32).
Where American roulette differs from these two versions of the game is in the inclusion of 00; the wheel therefore has 38 pockets and on the table the 00 is placed at the top alongside the single 0 (the numbers 1-36, in three columns of twelve rows remain). As above, the House Edge is significantly increased in American roulette.
One of the advantages of playing online roulette is that it’s a much faster game than when played in a bricks and mortar casino, but apart from the pace of the game, the way it is played is essentially the same and involves predicting where the ball will come to rest in the spinning roulette wheel.
Depending on which version of the game you’re playing, a roulette wheel will have either 37 or 38 pockets, and these are alternately red or black, except for the 0 and 00 pockets which are green.
The roulette table has three columns of numbers, each made up of twelve rows, and features the number 1-36 in sequence down the table. 0 (and 00) are at the top of the table, nearest the wheel. On most online roulette tables, the numbers are alternately red or black, as on the wheel.
Wagers are made by placing chips on the table, and there are many different bets (both single wagers and combination bets) that can be made on each spin, each with its own probability and therefore paying out at different odds. These include betting on a single number coming up, or a red or black number, or an odd or even number, etc., as well as some more complex combinations (see more below). The table also features boxes, other than those with numbers, where bets can be made, known as outside bets.
You win your bet if the ball lands in the pocket on the wheel containing number you selected (as either a single wager or as part of a combination bet). If the ball lands on a number you haven’t selected, then your bet is lost and your chips are removed from the table.
The different odds on offer for the different bets in roulette are a reflection of their probability. The pay out for a successful bet on the number that is hit being red, for instance, is 1-1 (known as even money), because there is an 18 out of 37 chance of the number being red. On the other hand, when you bet on an individual number the payout is 35-1, because there is only a 1 in 37 chance of that specific number coming up. It’s important to understand how the odds reflect probability when you play online roulette, as this should help you to determine which bets offer the best value.
Roulette wagers are divided into two categories — inside bets and outside bets. Inside bets are those placed on numbers (either individually or as part of a combination), while outside bets are those placed on categories of numbers, rather than individual ones.
There are five different types of inside bet in online roulette, and these have longer odds (and therefore higher pay outs) than outside bets because there is a lower probability of their being hit.
In European and French online roulette, the House Edge is created by the inclusion of the number 0, and by the addition of 00 in American roulette. In roulette games where there is a single 0, the House Edge is 2.63%, whereas in American roulette it is 5.26%.
Overall, however, roulette has a relatively low House Edge compared to many other casino games. You will find a lower House Edge with some bets in craps and in some video poker games, as well some baccarat games and three-card poker, but roulette stacks up very well against most other games you’ll find in an online casino in this regard.
Roulette strategies should be more properly defined as wagering strategies — they are not ‘systems’ that enable you to beat the House, nor help you to predict the outcome of any given spin of the wheel. Instead, the term strategy when it’s applied to roulette refers to how you manage your bets and your bankroll.
There are any number of roulette strategies out there, some more grounded in probability than others, but the fact that there are so many indicates that roulette is a game that can be played and enjoyed in a variety of ways.
One of best known is the Martingale System, that essentially involves you doubling your stake after a loss and then reducing it back to the starting amount after a win (this strategy is also used by blackjack players). Similar in approach is the D’Alembert System, where players make only outside bets and adjust the size of their wagers up and down based on the outcome of the previous spin.
Other systems involve setting targets for profits per gaming session, such as the Labouchére System, or the variation of this known as the Parlay System. The Adrenotrends System is a further variation, and involves trying to create profit from sequences when the same colour is hit on several consecutive spins.
If you’ve never played online roulette before, or you simply want to know more about the finer points of the game, here are five tips to improve your gaming experience:
1) Play roulette online for free
All of the online casinos that we recommend make their roulette games available in practice mode, which means you can play for free directly in the browser of your device. This is a great way to get a feel for the pace of the game, learn more about the odds and to put some wagering strategies into practice, all for free.
2) Live dealer roulette
Live dealer roulette involves a game being streamed in real time from a casino floor or studio and dealt by a real dealer. This means you can enjoy the convenience of playing from home with still being able to interact with the dealers (and at some sites, other players as well). Immersive roulette is an exciting new development in how the game is streamed, and offers a host of interesting camera angles and useful information on the game.
3) Don’t expect to make quick profits
You can have big wins on roulette, but if you’re looking for a life-changing jackpot from a single spin, this is not the game for you. Despite their differences, almost all wagering strategies for roulette have one thing in common — the slow and steady accumulation of profits as opposed to going all out for a big win. You therefore need to readjust your expectations accordingly.
4) Know the value of inside and outside bets
If you want to develop a consistent approach to playing and wagering, then it’s always a good idea to decide whether you want to focus on inside or outside bets, and adjust your betting strategy to suit. It will depend on the view you take of risk, and whether you want to try for bigger wins or are more interested in growing your bankroll slowly.
5) Beware of ‘systems’
Despite what anyone tells you, there is no way of predicting what number or colour will land based on what has gone before. Each spin of the wheel is an independent event and the probability of any number being hit remains the same for every spin, regardless of what has happened on the previous spin, or any apparent pattern found in recent spins. Anyone who says they have a ‘system’ for beating the House at roulette is simply wrong.
Roulette is a straightforward game with uncomplicated rules and fast gaming action, which is why it has remained popular for so long. The range of bets available means there is plenty of variety on offer, while those who like to take a logical approach to their gambling can also do so in the way they manage their wagers.