How To Play Roulette

Confused about how exactly to play the wonderful game of roulette? Well, you’re in luck. Of all the dizzying games on the casino floor, roulette is probably the simplest one to master quickly. It’s also one of the most fun!

For starters, let’s talk about the roulette wheel itself. There are two common types: the American roulette wheel and the European roulette wheel. The only differences between the two are the fact that the European wheel has one less “pocket” than the American wheel, and the numbers are arranged in a different order. Click on Poker QQ and experience both these roulette tables yourself online. 

The American Wheel

The American roulette wheel consists of 38 pockets, numbered 1-36 with alternating red and black colors and then a single zero along with a double zero. Both single and double zero are green. These two pockets are incredibly statistically significant, as their presence is what actually gives the casino the edge over the patron. The numbered pockets are not in chronological order, but rather in a seemingly random arrangement. The same is true of the European wheel.

The European Wheel

The European roulette wheel is very similar to the American roulette wheel with the exception that the numbers are not in the same order (they are in a different random arrangement), and it does not feature a double zero pocket.

The fact that the European roulette wheel only has the single zero pocket makes it statistically an easier wheel to win at. However, as this is an American site, from this point forward we’ll be taking a closer look at how to play the game of roulette on an American wheel.


When talking in terms of roulette, “inside bets” refer to all bets placed on any of the colored numbers 1-36 as well as single and double zero, while “outside bets” refer to all other bets on the table. Most beginners tend to be more comfortable with outside bets, as the risk is significantly less than inside bets (although the payout is of course less).

Outside Bets

The following types of outside bets are available, with corresponding payouts in parentheses:

  • Color bets – Red or black (1:1)
  • Odd or Even – Zeros excluded (1:1)
  • 1-18 – Covers all numbers between 1-18 (1:1)
  • 19-36 – Covers all numbers between 19-36 (pays 1:1)
  • Dozens – Bet is placed on 1/3 section of the numbers (2:1)
  • Columns – Bet is placed on one of the three columns (2:1)

You might be wondering why zero and double zero are excluded from even bets, as the number zero is technically even. Well, basically because the casino says so. But we’ll get to that in a bit…

Inside Bets

The payouts may vary slightly from casino to casino, but this is a general guideline:

  • Straight Up – Bet is placed on one single number (35:1)
  • Bet is placed on one single number (35:1) Split – Bet is placed across two numbers (17:1)
  • Street – When a bet is placed over three numbers. This will involve either zero or double zero or both (11:1)
  • Square – Bet placed on a corner covering four numbers (8:1)
  • Line – Bet is placed over the base of two adjacent rows, effectively covering those six numbers (5:1)


All too often, people get the odds confused with the payouts. If the odds were equal to the payout ratio, the casino would probably break even. Obviously, that would be bad for business. In order to make a profit, the odds have to be slightly skewed in their favor.

For instance, a straight-up bet generally pays 35 to 1. This means that if you bet $1 on number 8 and number 8 comes up, you’ll win $35. However, there are actually 38 pockets on an American roulette wheel. This means the odds of your number coming up are not 1:35, but rather 1:38. Over time, this slight house edge makes a big difference. This same skewing of the odds applies no matter where you are making your wager on the roulette table.

Those Blasted Zeros

Single and double zero can be your worst enemy, especially if your strategy is to bet on the outside. Single or double zero coming up means that every single outside bet on the table is automatically a loser. Your only defense against them really is to bet on them.

The existence of single and double zero is also what gives the house their overall advantage. Without them, theoretically, you could continue betting on red or black and half a perfect 50% chance of winning each spin. The same would be true for odd/even bets as well as 1-18 and 19-36 bets. However, this is not so. With the presence of 0 and 00, your odds of winning on any of the aforementioned bets is actually 47.37%. Over time, this is how the casino rakes in the dough and affords that fancy fountain out front. European roulette wheels are a bit more forgiving because they only feature a single zero pocket. For instance, if you bet on red on a European roulette wheel, your probability of winning would be slightly higher at 48.64%.


Kieron Watson has a keen sense when it comes to card games. He also wished to travel around the world and compete with other professional players.