How do I play online roulette?

Roulette is one of the most emblematic casino games: the image of a small white ball bouncing inside the wheel goes hand in hand with the pomp and glamour of high-stakes games. If you’re new to online gambling, don’t worry: here we explain the basics and how to play.

Understanding the basics of roulette

A European roulette wheel (also called French roulette) has 37 numbered spaces: 18 red, 18 black and a green zero. The American version has 38 – the extra slot is a double zero.

For each turn, a ball spins around the edge of the wheel and eventually comes to rest in one of the 37 slots. Players can bet on any outcome, and can place multiple bets at the same time.

It is possible to bet on a single number, a colour (red or black), odds or pairs, series of numbers such as 1 to 12, or any combination of these. Once the ball stops rolling and the winning number is known, losing bets are swept off the board and payouts are made.

Payouts are usually presented in a format such as 8:1, reflecting the approximate probability of the bet.

Roulette Betting Types and Odds

In addition to betting on individual numbers, roulette betting can be divided into two main categories: indoor and outdoor betting.

  • Domestic bets

Domestic bets, so called because the chip is placed inside the betting area of the table, have the lowest odds and the highest winnings (up to 35:1).

  • Outside bets

Outside bets, which are placed outside the betting area, have the highest odds of winning, but the payouts are lower (1:1 or 2:1).

Other bets may be offered, depending on the game.

  • House edge

You may have noticed that the odds and payouts don’t quite add up – for example, bets on red have a 1:1 odds ratio, suggesting 50% (or 18/36), but the odds are actually 18/37. This is because the zero of the green offers a slight tilt in favour of the house, known as the « house edge ». (But you can always bet on the zero!).

Differences between online roulette games

Online roulette is a great way to play roulette. For one thing, you will never have to worry about tampered wheels or players cheating.

The « physical » aspect of roulette, where players try to guess the winning machine while the ball is spinning based on a number of factors, doesn’t really apply online either – you just play the odds, which is what many people prefer.

When you play online, you use a number of buttons to control the game and your bets:

  • Spin – Confirm your bets and spin the wheel.
  • Double – Double your bet
  • Clear bets – Withdraw all your bets
  • Undo – Remove the last bet you placed
  • Double and Spin – Double your last bet and spin the wheel
  • Rebet and Spin – Let your last bet stand and spin the wheel
  • Rebet – Change the bet you want to place 

Roulette strategies for beginners

When playing online roulette, don’t let anyone tell you that a number is « due » or that betting on certain number patterns guarantees success. The probability of a number appearing is 1 in 37, on each spin of the roulette wheel, regardless of what has happened before. The ball doesn’t remember its last catch!

However, people adopt certain strategies with the amounts they bet from one spin to the next. Whether they really improve your chances in the long run is debatable, but they can make things more interesting.

One popular strategy is the Martingale system. Usually placed on outside bets with a 1:1 payout (e.g. red or black, odd or even), this system sees you bet the lowest amount you are happy to bet. If you lose, you double your bet and start again until you win, then you return to your lowest initial bet.

The system aims to cancel losses by betting on a possible big win. A variation, called the Paroli system, involves doubling the bet every time you win and going back to the original bet when you lose, with the aim of playing until you win three times in a row.

Using strategies can be a fun way to play online roulette – but no matter how you decide to play, make sure you only bet amounts you can afford to lose.

American and European roulette

European roulette is the most popular, but American-style roulette also has its fans. The payouts are the same in both versions, but because of the extra slot at zero, the house advantage is almost doubled in American roulette. So why do people play it?

For the simple reason that some people prefer it. They may be used to playing in Las Vegas, where double zero roulette is the most popular style of wheel. European roulette is often reserved for high-stakes games in American casinos, whereas some people would have started out playing American roulette and are more familiar with it.

However, if you want to have the best odds, there is no doubt about it: European roulette is the one to play!

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