How to Play Roulette: The Complete Step-by-step Guide for Beginners

Beginner
100% 21 min

Roulette is a fun game that’s easy to understand and to play. Still, it is recommended that you learn about the table layout, the wheel, and how to bet before heading to the casino.

I’m sure you’ve seen the roulette games in action, either on a visit to a live casino, or on television.

It looks exciting and so much fun with the wheel spinning so seductively and the ball rolling in the track, and all the bets scattered all over the layout. 

It looks a lot more complicated than it is and it's one of my favorite games to deal and play. 

Here’s what you’ll learn:

Let’s get started!

What is Roulette All About? 

how to play roulette complete layout

Roulette is a table game that is played using a spinning wheel, a special table layout, and chips (either real or virtual). 

Your goal is to guess the winning number where the ball will land on the wheel, by placing a bet on the layout. 

If your bet matches the winning number, you will get a payout according to the bet type that you’ve made - Straight Up, Split, Corner, Street, Six-line, or Basket.

There are various areas and ways of betting in roulette. Each of those come with their own payouts and house advantage. More on that later. 

Fun Fact

Roulette is a French word that means "Little Wheel". It is thought that the modern version of roulette originated in France in the early 1700s. 

The European wheel and the layout both have identical red and black numbers from 1 to 36 plus a single zero, which is usually green. The standard American wheel has a double zero as well. Also note that there are some casinos with a Triple Zero roulette game. Avoid this game at all costs, but more about this later. 

When the dealer (a.k.a. the croupier) calls the number that the ball landed on, they will also name the color; so for example, it would be 11 Black, or 32 Red. 

Interestingly, they never say ‘Zero Green’

The Roulette Table Layout Explained 

This is the layout of an American Roulette wheel. As you can see, it has numbers 1 to 36, plus a 0 and a 00, for a total of 38 numbers. 

outside and insided numbers on the roulette table layout

A standard European roulette wheel will only have the single 0, and therefore only 37 numbers.

4 Key Takeaways about the Layout 

  • The numbers (including the zero/es) are called ‘The Inside Bets’. 
  • There are also multiple bets for sections or groups of numbers, such as all the RED numbers or all the BLACK numbers, all the ODD/EVEN numbers, or all the HIGH(19-36)/LOW(1-18) numbers. 
  • Additionally, you can bet on the first, second or third dozen, and each of the three columns 1 to 34, 2 to 35, and 3 to 36. 
  • These groups of numbers are collectively called ‘The Outside Bets’.

Now, let’s find out more about the Inside and Outside bets in Roulette:

Betting the Inside Numbers 

There are 6 different ways you can bet on the inside numbers. They can all be combined to maximize your odds of landing a winning number.

Here is a breakdown of all of them:

Straight up bet

A Straight Up is a bet directly on one number (any number), and if it hits, it pays 35 to 1.

For example, if you placed a $10 Straight Up bet on 17 and 17 hit, you would get a $350 payout. 

straight up roulette bet

Split bet

A Split is a bet on the line between two adjacent numbers and if either of them hits, it pays 17 to 1.

For example, you can place a $10 Split bet on the line between 11 and 14, and if either of those hit, you win $170. 

split bet roulette

Corner bet

A Corner is a bet on the corner between four numbers, and pays 8 to 1 if any of them hit.

For example, you can place a $10 Corner bet on the table where numbers 14, 15,17, and 18 intersect. If the ball lands on any of them, you will get paid $80. 

corner bet in roulette

Street bet

A Street is a bet on three consecutive numbers on the layout, and pays 11 to 1 if any of them hit.

Instead of placing your chips on each of the numbers, you place your bet at the intersection of column bets and the first number in the sequence. 

For example, if you want to bet $10 on 7,8, and 9, you would simply place your chip on the table as seen in the image below. If any of them hit, you will get paid $110. 

street bet in roulette

6-line bet

A 6-line is a bet on six consecutive numbers, which are actually two adjacent streets, and pays 5 to 1 if any of them hit.

Check out the image below to see how you can set up this bet, which is a bet on 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. 

6 line bet in roulette

The 5-Line Bet – sometimes referred to as ‘the basket bet’ 

This bet is only available on an American wheel, and it consists of 0, 00, 1, 2, and 3. It pays 6 to 1, but the House Advantage is almost 8%, so it’s not a recommended bet.

the 5 line bet with double zero, 1, 2 and 3

‘The basket bet’ can also mean the three-way bet on the 0, 00, and the 2. It’s called the basket bet because the configuration of those numbers looks like a hand basket. 

basket bet in roulette

Betting the Outside Numbers

Simply placing your bet in the designated area will mean you have locked it in.

For example, you can bet on all the black numbers by placing your bet into the area where the black diamond is located. 

Winning the bet pays even money – so, if you place $20 on Black, you get paid $20 if any black number comes up.

black bet in roulette

Similarly, you can bet on:

  • Red

red bet in roulette

  • Even

even bet in roulette

  • Odd

odd bet in roulette

  • Low (1-18)

1 to 18 low bet in roulette

  • High (19-36)

19 to 36 high bet in roulette

All of these bets pay even money.

Then, there are the 2-to-1 bets. 

These include:

  • 1st  dozen 

1st dozen in roulette

  • 2nd dozen

2nd dozen in roulette

  • 3rd dozen 

3rd dozen in roulette

  • the columns 

2 to 1 columns bet

All of those bets pay 2 to 1. 

For example, if you bet $20 and the winning number is in one of those groups, you get back $40.

Fun fact

On an American wheel, if you are seated at the bottom of the layout and wish to place a bet on the Split between 0 and 00, there is what is called ‘The Courtesy Line Bet’. Place your bet on the line directly between the 2nd and 3rd dozen. The dealer will automatically recognize that you want to bet on the Split between the zeroes. 

Understanding the Roulette Wheel - American vs. European 

american roulette vs european roulette

There are 2 main types of roulette wheels that you can find at the casino:

  1. American Roulette
  2. European Roulette

Keep in mind there are many other roulette variations available, such as Mini Roulette, Double Ball, Multi-wheel and so on. 

 However, I recommend that you stick with the traditional ones, as they are the most common and generally have a lower house advantage. 

Let’s explore both of them and the main differences between them:

American Roulette Wheel

 

american roulette wheel

As you can see, the zero and the double zero are on opposite sides of the wheel. 

The order of the numbers is standardized across all American roulette wheels and they are in a different order compared to the numbers on a European (sometimes called French) wheel.

Nowadays, roulette wheels in land-based casinos are extremely well designed to very fine tolerances. In any sophisticated casino, they are routinely checked for balance and to ensure a completely random spin every time.

European Roulette Wheel

european roulette wheel

In some ways, the European wheel looks very similar to the American version. 

But look a little closer and you will notice that there is only one zero on a European wheel, and that the numbers are in a completely different order to the American wheel.

All the numbers on both wheels are set up to ensure that no section of the wheel is significantly higher or lower, or favors the odd or the even numbers, and they alternate between the red and black numbers consistently.

The order of the numbers isn’t hugely significant but having only one zero changes the house advantage (HA) by cutting it almost in half. This is very good for the players.

We’ll get into why the House Advantage is important later.

Fun fact

For those who believe that the devil is in the details, all the numbers together add up to 666. 

How to Play Roulette at an Online Casino (step-by-step)

Roulette is a simple game, but it can take a while to get used to all the bets. 

Here is how you can play the game online in 5 simple steps:

Step 1: Choose a roulette online casino from our platform

Register as a player on the site, and deposit money using a debit or credit card. If the casino offers any roulette bonuses, take advantage of them. 

The cashier will display how much money you have in your bankroll.

Step 2: Open a roulette game and get ready to play

Choose your favorite roulette game and prepare to start your betting session. For this example, we will use the Nucleus Gaming American Roulette. You can try it for free on Chipy.

open a roulette game

Step 3: Place your bet(s)

Decide where you want to place your bets, and then click on that area to place the chips.

Make sure you bet the desired amount exactly where you want it, as there are many options and the program is quite sensitive.

Once you have all your bets in place, click on ‘Spin’.

spin the roulette wheel

Step 4: The online dealer spins the wheel 

Once the ball lands, the winning number is displayed and called by the dealer. 

The computer automatically takes all the losing bets, and pays your winning bets straight into your balance.

won in roulette bet

Step 5: Time for another round!

Once the bets are paid, the online dealer resets the game and you are invited to join a new betting round. 

Be Aware of Quick Spin

In some online roulette games, there are options available to repeat your bets if you like (sometimes a button called ‘Quick Spin’), or to make completely new bets. 

While this feature can be useful, you need to pay attention in case you want to raise or lower your bet or choose different numbers to bet on.

How to play Roulette at a Land-based Casino (Step by Step) 

In land-based casinos, roulette is played similarly to its online counterpart. 

Still, there are a few extra things you need to know before you can immerse yourself in a roulette gambling session.

Here’s how to play roulette in 4 simple steps:

Step 1: Choose the casino and the type of roulette you would like to play

The first thing you might be thinking is:

Is choosing the right casino and roulette layout really that important? Aren’t all roulette games the same? 

Well, the answer is no. Not all roulette games are the same, and yes - it is more crucial than it seems. 

2 Tips from the Expert:

  • Avoid the Triple Zero Roulette game at all costs. The House Advantage is way too strong against you.
  • En Prison: Some casinos offer ‘En Prison’ on the bets that pay even money. You may see it offered as ‘La Partage’ or ‘Surrender’. This is a good deal if you can find it.

What is ‘En Prison’?

It’s usually on a European wheel in a live casino. If you have placed an even money bet and a zero (or double zero on an American wheel) hits, you only lose half the bet. 

en prison roulette

Some US casinos now offer it in their American roulette games.

The way it’s usually played in the US is the dealer returns half of your bet if zero or double zero hits. This reduces the house edge down to as little as 1.35% on the European wheel - one of the better bets in the casino. 

In a more traditional European-style game, the full bet is left in place and you either get the whole amount back on the next spin or lose it all depending on whether it wins or loses on the next spin. 

This is still the same good deal, so look for a game that offers it.

Step 2: The Buy In 

Place your money on the table after the dealer has paid out the winners and removed the dolly (check the glossary) for the current spin.

The dealer will take the money and ask you if you have a preferred color to play.

S/he will then give you the chips for you to play with.

Step 3: The Dealer Spins the Ball 

Once the players have started placing their bets, the dealer will spin the ball. 

Note that the dealer will continue to allow the players to make their bets even with the ball spinning. 

Step 4: The Dealer Calls ‘No More Bets’

Once the dealer estimates that the ball has about 3 rotations to go, s/he will call ‘No More Bets’ and wave their hand over the layout to indicate that the betting for that spin is now closed. 

Any bets that come in after that will usually not be accepted and will be returned to the player.

Step 5: The Dealer Pays the Winners

The dealer calls the winning number, such a 4 Black, and places the dolly on the winning number. 

The dealer will then sweep away all the losing bets. 

Then he pays the winning outside bets, starting with the column and then moving up the layout from the bottom outside numbers to the top of the layout.

Then he will pay the winning inside bets on 17. Once he has finished paying all the winners, he will remove the dolly from the number. 

Please note

You can start placing your bets for the next spin after the dealer has removed the dolly from the winning number. 

3 Key Facts About Land-based Roulette

  • In the US, the wheel almost always spins counterclockwise, and the dealer spins the ball clockwise. 
  • In Europe, the wheel is often spun alternately counterclockwise and clockwise, with the ball always going in the opposite direction. 
  • All betting areas are ‘self-service’ on roulette, unless the number(s) you want to bet on are out of your reach, in which case tell the dealer what you want to bet on, and s/he will place the bet for you.

Value Chips vs Non-Value Chips

value chip vs non valiue chip in roulette

There are two types of chips in use at a roulette game. 

There are the usual ‘value’ chips that are in use at every table in the casino, and there are the ‘non-value’ chips that are unique to each specific roulette table. 

They are designed to help the dealer differentiate the bets of different players. 

Value Chip 

Note that it has its value written on it, and so it can be used at any table game in the casino, including Roulette.

Non-Value Chip 

Note that it has no value written on it, only a "star" or any other symbol the casino decides upon.  In some cases, the chips have a letter written on it. This is used 

This chip has no value away from its table. 

Each roulette table has up to seven different colors of non-value chips that the players can use. 

You decide which available color you want to play with, and the dealer will mark them up at the value that you request. 

Remember

That color is then exclusively yours until you decide to cash out. (Do not leave the table with those non-value chips as they are part of the equipment for that specific table; you must exchange them for value chips before you leave the table.) 

Land-based vs. Online Roulette: The Main Differences

Online Roulette Land-based Roulette
Faster gameplay Slower gameplay
More convenient – play from home, your hotel room, a bar or club, etc Must go to the casino, so interaction with the other players may be more fun
Can play from your phone, tablet or laptop Have to play at an available table
You can try the game for free You can only play for real money
Can play multiple games Only one game at a time
If you are unsure about a rule, you will have to check it yourself. The dealer will help you if you have a question

Does the House always have an edge in Roulette?

The short answer is yes. The House Advantage (HA) is always working against you. 

Here’s why the HA is important.

The HA determines how much the casino will win over the long run. The lower the HA, the better it is for you as a player.

How to calculate House Advantage Step-by-Step

You don’t need to know how the HA is calculated, but if you’re a numbers nerd like me, then here’s how to calculate it:

  1. There are 37 numbers on a European wheel. 
  2. If you were to bet 1 chip on each number, you would win 35 on that winning number, plus keep your initial bet, for a total of 36 chips. There are 37 numbers (including the zero), so you lose 1 chip every spin. 
  3. Divide the 1 by 37 and express that as a percentage, and you get 2.7%. That’s the HA on a European wheel. 
  4. There are 38 numbers on an American wheel. If you were to bet 1 chip on each number, you would win 35 on that winning number, plus keep your initial bet, for a total of 36 chips. 
  5. There are 38 numbers (including the zero and the double zero), so you lose 2 chips every spin. 
  6. Divide the 2 by 38 and express that as a percentage, and you get 5.26%. That’s the HA on an American wheel – yes, almost double! 

And here’s the ‘Fools Rush in, Where Angels Fear to Tread’ OR ‘Why You Should Never Play a Game With Three Zeroes on the Wheel’ tip:

In a brick-and-mortar casino, you may find a roulette wheel with 3 zeroes on it. Yes, I saw one at the Tropicana in Las Vegas a while ago. 

And if the Tropicana has it, then other casinos almost certainly do, as well. 

The HA on that is a whopping 7.69%. So always make sure you know what kind of game you’re playing and make the best decision for yourself. 

And the math to support the numbers for the nerds:

There are 39 numbers on the Triple Zero wheel. If you were to bet 1 chip on each number, you would win 35 on that winning number, plus keep your initial bet, for a total of 36 chips. 

There are 39 numbers (including the zero, double zero and triple zero), so you lose 3 chips every spin. 

Divide the 3 by 39 and express that as a percentage, and you get 7.69%. That’s the HA on the Triple Zero wheel, almost 3 times as much as a standard European wheel. 

Summary

  • The HA on a single zero (European) wheel is 2.70%
  • The HA on a double zero (American) wheel is 5.26%
  • The HA on a triple zero wheel is 7.69%! Yikes!

Make sure you choose the right game to play! 

9 Tips and Tricks on How to Win at Roulette

tips and tricks for roulette

Here are 9 tips for playing roulette that I’ve learned over the years as a player, and by watching other experienced, successful players.

1. Know the Odds & Payouts

You have 3 Straight Ups and 3 Splits on the winning number, and the dealer gives you 156 chips for your winning bets. Is that payout correct? Are you sure? 

2. Choose the Right Roulette Wheel

The best roulette game to play is the single zero European wheel game that includes the ‘En Prison’ (also called the La Partage) rule. The double zero wheel isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just not as good for you as the single zero one. 

3. Bet Smart 

Have a plan and stick to it. I’ve seen lots of guys who have told themselves ‘it has to turn around, it has to!” Well - no, it doesn’t. 

There is nothing that says the numbers you are betting must come up. It just doesn’t work like that. 

There have been 6 Red numbers in a row, so Black must come up, right? 

Wrong! The ball and the wheel don’t know what hit last spin, or five spins ago. And more importantly, they don’t care. 

4. Say No to Five Number Bets

The 5-number basket bet is not a good bet for you. On a standard American wheel, the HA is 5.26%. 

The HA on this bet is 7.89%. 

Not good for you at all. Don’t do it!

5. Use Bonuses 

Often you will be offered a buy-in bonus on some of our roulette websites. Absolutely use any bonuses you are offered and take the money. 

6. Don't Put it All on Red 

Bet with your head, not over it. This heading refers to a guy who sold everything he had, including his clothes (!) and bet it all on Red at a Las Vegas casino. 

Not a smart decision (even though he did win!). 

 7. Brush up on the Rules 

What happens if the dealer spins the ball and it flies out of the wheel? 

What if you and another player are both betting value chips, and both claim the same winning bet? 

Those are the sort of things that can happen, and you need to know what the casino is supposed to do about them.

8. Read Roulette Guides

Make sure you read the other guides in the Roulette Academy. There’s a lot that you may not know. 

9. Stick to Your Bankroll 

Always have a plan. 

For example, I’m going to play with $100 and I’m going to win $100 or lose $100. And stick to it.

I can’t tell you how many folks I’ve seen winning more than double or triple their buy-in, and keep playing, only to lose all their winnings and their initial buy-in back to the casino.

10. Practice on Free Roulette Games 

Here on Chipy, we offer a wide range of free roulette games. Take advantage of that and use them to practice until you feel comfortable with how roulette works. 

Once you are comfortable, start to play for real money. But always start with the minimum and play the even money outside bets until you really know your way around the layout. 

Roulette Glossary 

Here are the most important roulette terms that you will often hear people using at the casino table:

Term Definition

Canoes

roulette canoes

 

The diamond shaped obstacles that are inside the wheel to intercept the ball, to make the spin more random.

Chips

The tokens that are used to make bets in a casino. There are the value chips(worth their face value), and there are the non-value chips, that belong to a specific roulette table.

Dolly

roulette dolly

The implement used to mark the winning number in Roulette.

Floater

roulette floater

Sometimes the ball will get hung up on the wheel, and appear to float. It’s actually spinning backwards at the same speed as the wheel, and just hangs there, unable to drop.

Frets

roulette frets

The metal dividers which form the pockets and separate the numbers on a Roulette wheel.

House Advantage(HA)

roulette house advantage

The amount the game is set up to win for the casino is expressed as a percentage of the initial bet. 

Inside Bets

inside bets roulette

The numbers on the layout from 1 - 36, including the zero(es)

Layout

roulette layout

The felt covering on a gaming table.

Outside Bets

outside bets in roulette

The Columns, the Dozens and the Red, Black, Even, Odd, High and Low betting areas on the layout.

Picture Bets

picture bets roulette

A faster way for the dealer to calculate the amount the player has won by using pre-determined picture keys.

Salad

salad roulette

The losing chips that cover the layout before the dealer clears them away.

Track

roulette track

The part of the wheel where the dealer spins the ball.

Closing Thoughts 

There you have it - the complete guide on how to play roulette for beginners.

Roulette is a fun game to play, and now that you know the ins and outs of the game, you will be much more confident in your ability to play. My recommendation is to pick a roulette bonus from our collection and start your journey off on the right foot.

Hopefully, Lady Luck will have her head on your shoulder, but she won’t have her hand in your pocket. Of course, you can always learn roulette strategies and maximize your winning chances.

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Play Roulette

What does ‘En Prison’ mean, and is it a good thing for the players?

En Prison is a rule that is usually available on a European wheel in a live casino.

It is a good deal for you as a player, since you can save half of your losing bets and get more roulette spins. Here's how it works:

If you have placed an even money bet (so Red, Black, Odd, Even, High, or Low) and a zero (or double zero on an American wheel) hits, you only lose half the bet.

It may also be called ‘La Partage’, or simply ‘Surrender’.

Is there a trick to playing roulette?

There isn’t a trick to playing roulette, but you can certainly improve your odds of winning by making good choices about the game you’re going to play.

Always look for a single zero (European or French) wheel, and preferably one that includes En Prison for the even money outside bets. 

What is the best thing to bet on in roulette?

Start with the table minimum on the outside bets. They are the easiest to understand, and you will quickly become familiar with how the game works.

If you’re playing at a land-based casino, watch the other players to see how they place their bets. Once you are comfortable with how to bet, then you can start getting into the more complex bets that are available.

How do the odds work in roulette?

The odds of the game are all based on the same numbers. If you look at the payouts, you will see that they are all based on getting 36 units back for (almost) every bet: 

  • A Straight Up pays 35 units for your initial bet of 1 unit on the number, so gives you 35 plus your initial bet back, for 36 total.
  • A Split pays 17 units for each of your initial bet of 2 units (one on each number), so gives you 34, plus your initial bet back for 36 total.
  • A Street pays 11 units for your initial bet of 3 units (one on each number), so gives you 33, plus your initial bet back for 36 total.
  • A Corner pays 8 units for your initial bet of 4 units (one on each number), so gives you 32, plus your initial bet back for 36 total.
  • And a 6-Line pays 5 units for your initial bet of 6 units (one on each number), so gives you 30, plus your initial bet back for 36 total. 
How much do you win on green?

If you’re betting The Zero and Double Zero as an Inside number, they are paid just like any other single number. 

If the ball lands in a Zero or Double Zero and you have bet one of the Outside bets, such as Red or Even etc, you will lose your bet unless the game you have chosen includes the En Prison option.

There is no separate ‘Outside’ area to bet on ‘Green’ on a standard European or American game. Having said that, on the Triple Zero wheel, there is a ‘Green bet’ on the layout.

It pays 11 to 1, just like a Street on the regular game. It is highly recommended that you don’t play this game though. The HA is simply too strong for you to overcome. 

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Peter Nairn
Peter Nairn Casino Operations Specialist
Peter Nairn has been in casino operations management since 1994. He has 35 years of casino experience and has held senior executive positions in both Native American and traditional casino markets.
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