Roulette is one of (if not THE) most recognisable and iconic casino games the world has ever seen. From James Bond right back to Casablanca, Roulette is the game that stands out. Simple yet brilliant.
Now you can play all variants or roulette online, either video roulette, live casino roulette and even live streamed roulette from casinos in Monte Carlo, Vegas and more.
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About Online Roulette
The term ‘roulette’ comes from a French word meaning ‘little wheel’, which of course refers to the wheel set into the table. The croupier spins the wheel, with a ball inside, to create a random result. The ball lands in one of 37 (38 in American roulette) coloured and numbered pockets.
The players place bets on this result; a specific number, red or black numbers, a certain grouping of numbers, high or low and so on, each with different probabilities and different pay outs accordingly. This classic game of chance appears confusing at first, because of the nature of the table with ranks of numbers, but it’s easy to learn and requires no particular skill.
How to Play Roulette Like an Expert
Stick to these three simple principles and you will be playing roulette like a pro in no time:
Know the Wheel
A large part of roulette is simply understanding the wheel. Specifically, remembering that the green pocket or 0 is always there, is important to understanding roulette. The constant chance of hitting it does affect the odds. For example, betting red or black should be a 50/50 call, but with a single green space, your 50% chance becomes 48.6%. This is worse still with American roulette.
Roulette terminology can become confusing when the more complicated bets come into play. Many players will move on quickly from playing a simple red or black, to combinations of numbers. The other most obvious bet is a single number (also called a ‘straight’), which is the least likely to succeed but also the best paying. A more comfortable bet is the first, second or third dozen, which is betting on the numbers 1-12, 13-24 or 25-36. There are several unusual types of bet, which are discussed in the glossary below..
Take Your Time
Roulette is typically a game of careful, small betting over a long time, not big bets on high odds. Winning or losing at roulette is down to chance rather than skill, but there are strategies to try out. The Martingale strategy suggest that you double your stake until you win, then start again, with even money outside bets.
Win at Roulette – Our Top Tips
“Remember the green 0. This always reduces your chance to win a bet by a small degree”
“American roulette has two green pockets, so choose European unless some other rules are in play that make American favourable”
“Roulette is so chance based that the only real strategy is to know when to stop”
“Know the types of bets available and their odds”
Roulette is very chance-based, with little input from skill. The only choice input that the player has is which numbers or colours to bet on. For that reason, the simplest way to improve your chances is to place the bet with the best odds, which is red or black, or alternatively odds or evens. This gives an almost 50% chance to win each time, but of course there’s always the house edge. Pay outs are also lower as a result.
Another way to improve the chances of winning is to play European or French roulette over American, thanks to the slightly smaller house edge. However, watch out for house rules that affect the edge further.
The core rules of roulette as played in a casino are simple. First, the croupier takes bets from the players at the table. Players may place chips equivalent to how much they wish to bet, on any number, colour or other box on the table that represents a bet. The wheel is spun in one direction and the ball in the other.
Most croupiers will still accept bets once the ball starts rolling, until announcing that no more are being taken. Once the ball lands on a certain number, the result is checked and a marker or ‘dolly’ is placed on the winning number. Until this is removed, no changes can be made except the croupier resetting the table and placing winnings.
Each table, varying from casino to casino or online game variation, will have its own specific rules. These include the minimum and maximum bet and the exact pay out amounts for certain bets.
Types of Roulette
The two most important types of roulette are European (or French) and American. The wheel itself is different for each type. European roulette has 37 pockets- the numbers 1-36 and a green 0.
American roulette has 38 pockets- the numbers 1-36 again but this time there is a 0 and a 00. A result of 0 is a win for the house, or the ‘house edge’, so American roulette is slightly harder to win. This skews the probability of any particular bet paying off. A single straight bet on a European wheel is a 1 in 37 chance, but it’s a 1 in 38 chance on an American wheel.
American roulette wheels are also notable by the numbers being in sequential order (alternating on opposite sides of the wheel), while European wheels place the numbers at random. This has little bearing on the game, however. French and European roulette are interchangeable terms for the same thing and may also be called ‘single zero’ roulette. French Roulette can also have the slight difference of having a particular board layout.
There are many online casinos offering roulette, thanks to the huge popularity of this game. Different sites offer roulette by different providers, with varying styles, rulesets and special editions.
History of Roulette
Roulette was first devised in 18th century France, though a primitive version is credited to Blaise Pascal in the 17th century, a by-product of his search for a perpetual motion machine.
There are several games which have influenced the use of a wheel in roulette, including an existing French board game of the same name, the English wheel games Roly-Poly and Reiner, the Italian board games Hoca and Biribi and more. The game as it stands today was played as early as 1796 in Paris, described in a novel.
These first games used red and black markers for the house pockets, but green was soon introduced to avoid confusion. In fact, two house pockets were normal until in 1843 two Frenchmen, François and Louis Blanc, created the single 0 variant to compete with other casinos. When the game moved to America, an Eagle slot was introduced to represent liberty, but of course this increased the house edge more and was eventually dropped. The single 0 game spread a lot more in Europe after the Blanc family moved their operations to Monte Carlo and established a mecca for the gambling elite.
While Monte Carlo represented the sophisticated French game, American players kept two house pockets and their rules became more streamlined and the betting table became simplified, in efforts to reduce cheating and corruption. This style later spread out and dominated the nature of the game across the world, regardless of number of 0s.
Roulette in the movies
Now over 70 years old, Michael Curtiz’s World War II masterpiece remains one of the most beloved cinematic works ever to come out of Hollywood. It won three Academy Awards (Outstanding Motion Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay) and still ranks highly on any all-time top 100 list worth its salt.
But did you know that Casablanca was also one of the very first major films to feature the game of roulette?
The scene in question sees a young man named Jan attempting to win enough money to buy visas to the United States for him and his new wife, which was an extremely expensive endeavour during wartime.
But he gets a helping hand from Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), the owner of Rick’s Cafe Americain nightclub and gambling den, who urges Jan to bet everything on 22. The croupier takes the hint from his boss and, lo and behold, 22 hits twice in a row.
Although it perpetuates certain myths about how casino operators might rig roulette games, the scene also highlights Casablanca’s immense quotability. When a disgruntled punter questions whether Rick’s games are honest, he gets the reply: “As honest as the day is long.”
Indecent Proposal (1993)
There aren’t many movie lists out there that would mention Casablanca and Indecent Proposal in the same breath.
For while the former won three Oscars, the latter claimed an inglorious treble at the 1994 Razzie Awards – including Worst Picture and a Worst Supporting Actor gong for Woody Harrelson.
With that being said, the early stages of Adrian Lyne’s would-be sexy thriller definitely draw some inspiration from the aforementioned roulette scene in Casablanca.
David Murphy (Harrelson) and Diana Murphy (Demi Moore) head to Las Vegas with the bright idea of hitting the casinos and winning enough cash to finance David’s dream real estate project.
So they put all of their money on red at the roulette table, only to lose the lot.
With their life’s savings gone, the pair wind up accepting billionaire John Gage’s (Robert Redford) offer of $1 million in exchange for one night with Diana.
It hasn’t quite got the same feel-good ring to it as the Casablanca scene, does it?
Run Lola Run (1998)
If you haven’t seen this highly acclaimed German thriller, do yourself a favour and check it out.
It won 26 international prizes following its 1998 release, including the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and some seven titles at the German Film Awards.
The plot is simple enough: Lola (Franka Potente) gets a phone call and is informed that if she doesn’t come up with 100,000 Deutsche Mark within the next 20 minutes, her boyfriend will die.
But instead of settling for a single story arc, director Tom Tykwer offers three separate scenarios (not unlike Sliding Doors, which was released the same year) and mixes live action with cartoon sequences.
In the third and final scenario, Lola enters a casino and heads straight for the roulette table.
She bets 100 marks on number 20 and wins, then presses her stake and wins again for a total windfall of 122,500 DM.
Again, there’s a tilt of the cap to Casablanca here, as Jan did much the same thing (albeit on 22) when playing for his visa money at Rick’s Cafe Americain.
As you might gather from the title, the devil’s wheel features rather prominently in this British neo-noir cult hit.
While perhaps not as well known as some of the other titles on this list, Croupier did gain significant critical attention in the United Kingdom and North America.
It also launched the then-fledging career of a certain Clive Owen, who has since gone on to star in global hits such as Gosford Park, Children of Men, The Bourne Identity and Closer.
The story follows Jack Manfred (Owen), a struggling writer who decides to bite the bullet and start working as a croupier in order to make ends meet.
Not only does Jack find inspiration for his writing, he also becomes intwined in a plot to rob the casino at which he works.
The Deer Hunter (1978)
If you’ve seen this critically acclaimed Vietnam War epic, you might be wondering how you missed the casino scene amongst all the gritty drama.
But we’re talking about a very different kind of roulette in this particular instance.
The Deer Hunter describes the trials and tribulations of a group of American soldiers who are captured and interned in POW camps by the Vietcong.
In one of the movie’s most intense scenes, Sgt. Mike Vronsky (Roberto De Niro) and Cpl. Nick Chebotarevich (Christopher Walken) are forced to play Russian roulette while their captors bet on the outcome.
The film also starred Meryl Streep and the late John Cazale (perhaps better known as Fredo in The Godfather), who died of cancer shortly after filming his parts.
It won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor for Walken’s performance.