The Basics of Roulette


A game in which a small ball is dropped onto a rotating wheel with numbered holes and players wager on which hole the ball will land. Players can bet on a single number, various groupings of numbers, red or black, odd or even, and high (19-36) or low (1-18). The first written mention of the game was in 17th century France where it was probably developed from older games such as Roly Poly and Even Odd. It was later included in a gambling regulations document in New France.

The roulette wheel consists of a solid, slightly convex, wooden disk with thirty-six metal compartments (called separators or frets by roulette croupiers) on its circumference that are painted alternately red and black. There is also a green division with the number 0 on European-style wheels, and a second, extra, green division numbered 00 on American tables.

Prior to the spin of the wheel, a player places chips on a betting mat, the precise location of the chips indicating the bet being made. Bets on six numbers or less are called “Inside bets” and those on more than 12 are called “Outside bets”. The payouts for winning bets depend on the type of bet.

The popularity of this simple game is due to its relatively low house edge (2.63 percent on European wheels, 4.76% on American). However, the range of bets available is much larger than in craps and, depending on which bet is chosen, the odds can vary from favorable to very unfavorable. A quick search of the Internet will return many, possibly millions, of systems for playing (and supposedly winning) roulette; some are easy to understand, others not so much.