Roulette is among the most intriguing yet simple games in the history of gaming and an indissociable part of casino culture. Many historical sources point to the French mathematician Blaise Pascal, the inventor of an early version of the game in the 17th century. Around the same time, the first casino in history opened in Venice in 1638. It has appeared in several movies with casinos; James Bond, when visiting one, always plays blackjack or roulette.
The game’s name is the French word for “small wheel”. It was later mixed with the rules of an Italian game called Biribi, as well as “Even-Odd”, and “Roly Poly”, giving birth to roulette as we know it today. Learn more about this game in this article
One Wheel, Many Ways
Fast-forwarding to our days, a quick search for “roulette” online will return more results than one can count. You’re bound to find everything from mini roulette to multi-wheel and multi-ball roulette. There are even 3D and VR versions available these days.
However, most of these variations derive primarily from three traditional versions of the game: the French, the European, and the American. These versions are typically included in casual casino games since they are standard versions. Nevertheless, it’s essential to understand their rules if you want to adventure yourself in other online versions.
Basic Rules and Vocabulary
There are slightly different rules and kinds of bets for each, but first, let’s understand what they have in common. All versions have a table with numbers from 0 to 36. Numbers from 1 to 36 are arranged in three columns of 12 numbers each. These numbers can be red or black, except for the 0, that’s green income on the top of the three columns.
Based on this display, there are mainly three kinds of bets, as explained below.
Outside bets are organised in largely unspecified groups of numbers. These include betting on all red or black numbers, odd or even, and entire columns. In the “high/low”, players bet the ball will land on a number from 1 to 19 or 20 to 36. It’s also possible to bet on “dozens”, which means numbers from 1 to 12, 13 to 24, and 25 to 36.
As the name suggests, inside bets are those bets placed in the inner part of the grid. The most famous inside bet is the “straight up”, where players choose a specific number to bet on, with odds of 35:1. The “split” allows players to bet on two numbers at once. Players can do so by placing the chips in the middle, with odds of 17:1. A street is a bet on a row of three numbers. Other options may vary depending on the version of the game.
The European Way
The French and the European ways are remarkably similar, apart from the fact that both are European. The 0 is always the house edge, regardless of the version, but the number is treated differently in different versions. In the European way, all bets are lost when the ball lands on 0. The house edge in this version is 2.63%.
In the French version, it’s possible to make two kinds of “insurance bets”, called “En Prison” and “La Partage”. Those bets allow players to retrieve part of the money should the ball land on 0. For this reason, the French roulette has a smaller house edge: 1.35%.
The American Way
The American way is gentler to the house. It has two zeros instead of only one: a single and a double-0. Although the house edge is bigger in this version, it’s also possible to bet on the zeros. There’s a bet called the “five-number bet”, which includes the first five numbers: both zeros, 1, 2, and 3. It’s one of the lowest-paying bets on the table, but at least you don’t lose everything, and the ball lands on a green field.
You’ll see all sorts of crazy roulette games out there, but the most popular ones will probably revolve around the versions mentioned in this article. The gameplay is mostly the same across European and American rules, except for a few options involving zeros.
If you ever play roulette in a European land-based casino, you may be allowed to place a “call-bet”, which is a bet you make out loud instead of with your chips. American rules won’t allow you to do so, and this kind of bet is almost never seen in online casinos.