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Roulette is the most popular non-playing card casino game, and by some distance. As a game, it was invented in France – indeed if you know your French you’ll understand that ‘Roulette’ is French for ‘little wheel’. This of course refers to the roulette wheel which is spun, and around which a little ball is fired. The ball spirals around the wheel until it finally comes to rest in one of the numbered pockets.
There are basically only two forms of roulette wheel – European and American. The European wheel has thirty-seven pockets, numbered from zero to thirty-six. The American wheel adds an extra pocket, numbered with a double zero. The house edge in European roulette is a mere 2.6 percent. In American roulette this is doubled to 5.2 percent, thanks to that ’00’ pocket.
Roulette came into being in France in the 1700s. There had already been a few ‘spin the wheel’ type games before then, such as ‘Roly-Poly’ in England, but none took off with as much popularity as roulette. Initially, even the French roulette wheel had two zeroes, and every time the ball landed in one of these two spaces, the bank won all bets. Eventually in France the ’00’ was dropped, but roulette had already found its way to the New World by then, and fledging US gaming establishments maintained the ’00’ as it gave them more of an edge. They dropped the ‘all bets lose’ rule so it was possible to bet on ‘0’ or ’00’ either singularly or as part of a group bet. Neither ‘0’ or ’00’ counted in most other bets though, such as ‘red or back’ and other outside bets.
The game of roulette flourished as casinos themselves began to flourish. Before the 1970s, the only casinos of note were the ones that could be found in Monte Carlo and Las Vegas. Casino gambling began to really expand in the 1970s and both casinos and roulette tables could be now found in many major cities, in Europe, North America and Asia. The next boon for roulette play came in the late 1990s with the advent of online casinos. These days there are a few dozen RNG roulette games available to play at hundreds of internet gambling portals.
Inside bets are bets that are placed on the main grid of the table. There are five inside bets in total: Straight up (a single number, pays 35-1), Split (two adjacent numbers on the grid, pays 17-1), Street (any of the twelve rows of three numbers on the grid or any three-number combination containing ‘0’ or ’00’, pays 11-1), Corner (any available group of four numbers, pays 8-1) and Line (any available group of six numbers, pays 5-1).
Outside bets are bets that are placed outside the main number grid. There are five outside bets in total: Red or black (pays 1:1), odd or even (pays 1:1), high or low (high is 19 to 26, low is 1 to 18, pays 1:1), columns (one of the three columns of numbers on the grid, pays 2:1) and dozens (either 1 to 12, 13 to 24 or 25 to 36, pays 2:1).
Only available on American roulette. It covers 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3 and pays 6-1.
Only available on European (sometimes called French) roulette. There are five main call bets: Voisins du zero covers the eight numbers to the right of the 0 on the wheel, 0 itself, and the eight numbers to the right. Jeu zero covers the two numbers to the right and the four numbers to the left of 0 on the wheel plus 0. Tiers du Cylindre covers the twelve numbers opposite to 0 on the wheel. Orphelins covers the eight numbers that are not covered by voisins du zero or tiers du cylindre. Neighbours means you are betting on a specific number on the wheel plus the two numbers to its left and the two numbers to its right.
A final bet is one that covers all the numbers that end in the same digit. For example, a final bet on 2 also covers 12, 22 and 32. A final bet on numbers over 6 only includes three straight up bets – i.e. a final bet on 8 covers 8, 18 and 28.
A term for maintaining a winning bet and staking your winnings from that bet on the same wager. For example, if you stake $1 on 23 and you win, if you ‘let it ride’ you will be staking $36 on 23 on the next spin.
Roulette is purely a game of chance, much like bingo, keno or picking lottery numbers. Give the finger to any systems you might see on the internet saying ‘sure fire winning roulette system’ – no matter how you play, or how you bet, the casino will always maintain the edge.
As long as you understand that the only way you can win at roulette is by being lucky, then you’ll find roulette a thoroughly enjoyable game to play. There’s nothing like having a little ‘lucky streak’ that makes you feel you’ve suddenly become clairvoyant, and there are plenty of roulette games available, including ones at live casinos. Pick your game, place your bets and see if that little ball is thinking kindly about you!