Roulette is simple enough that an 8-year-old can play. Literally. I played Roulette when I was 8 at my friends house because her dad had one of those “at home” versions. Despite my prepubescent state, I was damn good, and I won all of my friends’ Lisa Frank stickers and Teddy Grahams. It was lit.

That being said, I didn’t win quite as much playing real money Roulette when I was on a cruise in college. SO, with that in mind, it’s a simple game, but it’s good to know what you’re getting your ass into and the best ways to bet. Luckily, you have me to teach you how, PLUS a ways you can play with losing virtually no money and bringing in free drinks and comps.

Roulette Basics and Terminology

A Roulette table consists of the betting table and the wheel. There’s also a dealer who spins the ball in the wheel and makes the necessary actions when players lose or win. The dealer is also called a croupier.

There are 3 main types of Roulette that have subtle rule differences. The most common Roulette games are American and European Roulette, with the main difference between the two being the zeroes on the wheel. A standard Roulette wheel has 36 numbers that will alternate between red and black in color. American Roulette adds in a single zero slot and a double zero slot making for a total of 38 slots. European Roulette only has a single zero on the wheel for a total of 37 slots, meaning that European Roulette offers slightly better odds to the player (we’ll get to how you can use European Roulette to your advantage in Vegas).

The Betting Table, Inside and Outside Bets

The table is where all bets are placed. You’ll see what appears to be a grid of numbers on the inside, and on the outside will be additional bets. These are referred to as inside and outside bets. The outside bets consist of the following:

  • Odd/Even
  • Red/Black
  • Dozens

An odd or even bet is betting on whether the ball will fall into an odd or even numbered slot. You can also bet on 1-18 or 19-36.

A red or black bet is a bet on whether the ball will fall into a red or black slot.

A dozens bet is a group of 12 numbers — 1-12, 13-24, 25-36 — and if the ball falls into a slot with a number anywhere in your dozen group, you’ll win. These bets pay 2:1, so if you bet $5, you’ll get $15 ($10 won plus your $5 bet). The column bets are similar, with a group of twelve numbers counting in threes (1, 4, 7, 10, etc.).

Inside bets can be a bit more complex. Its best to stay away from these bets for two reasons — the first is that they can be confusing. But more importantly, the house edge is higher on these bets.

The inside bets will consist of single numbers, groups of numbers and corners. The lines on the grid that separate the numbers act as additional bets. Placing a bet on the line between 4 numbers will place a bet on those 4 numbers together.

You can also place bets on a set of 4 numbers by placing a bet on the intersection of the line that goes between a group of 4 numbers. Let’s stick to the easy stuff.

Game Play

The dealer will begin to spin the wheel before the start of each turn. Players will be able to place as many bets as they wish. If you want to, you can bet on even, a single number and a group of numbers at the same time during one turn.

Once the dealer drops the ball inside the wheel, they will announce “No more bets”. At this time, all bets are final and you wait for the ball to land in a slot. Where the ball lands determines what bets win, and all wins are paid out and losses are collected by the dealer.

Basic Roulette Odds

Bets in roulette have varying payouts. The outside bets have the lowest payoffs since they’re easier to win, with bets such as red/black and even/odd paying out with odds of 1-1 (a winning bet of $5 on a 1-1 bet will pay you $10 — the $5 you bet plus an additional $5 for winning).

A single number bet will pay you 35-1 odds, meaning you’ll win 35 times the amount you bet. It’ll almost never hit, but when it does, you make bank (that’s gambling).

Tips and Tricks

As I stated above, stick to the outside bets since these have the lowest house advantage. Single bets can be fun, but you won’t win very often. Placing outside bets help to keep you in the game longer, too.

Another tip is not to pay attention to the number board at the table, which is a display that shows the last few numbers that have won. Some players like to think they can guess what will win based on this display. The harsh reality is that Roulette is a random game that does not rely on past outcomes. Even if red may have won 5 times in a row, the chances of it winning again are the same each time the wheel is spun.

How to Play without Losing… kind of

If you want to play table games but you don’t really want to gamble lots of money, there’s a way to do it.

First, grab a friend. You’re going to hedge each other’s bets. Every time, one of you will bet black and the other will bet red (or you can do this with even and odd). Unless the ball lands on the zero or double zero, one of you will win every time and the other will lose. You won’t come out a winner (unless you’re slamming the free drinks), but neither of you will lose much if you team up and pool your money.

The house edge on the basic roulette bets is a little over 5% (it’s 1/19 for every even-money outcome like red/black, odd/even). There are usually 30-40 spins per hour. That means at a minimum bet $5 wheel where you’re hedging odd/even with a friend, you’ll together ‘lose’ an average of about $15-20 per hour, so you’d need to drink that much or get comps to offset it. The real benefit is that the odd/even type betting with a friend eliminates variance from the equation, so you can’t have any losing streaks *other* than if you get unlucky and hit 0 or 00 more than you should, in which case you’d both lose all bets. But yeah, the loss rate here is about $7.50 per person per hour if you’re doing $5 bets. Not tragic at all.

… and where’s where European Roulette comes into the picture. European Roulette’s house edge is half as big since there’s only one zero, so if you can, play at a European Roulette table. Most of the ones in Vegas are high limit, but you can find a few with a $25 table minimum at M Resort, Mirage, and Monte Carlo.

If you’re thinking to yourself, ‘Well, this doesn’t sound fun, this isn’t really gambling,’ you can create a competition between you and your friends to see whose bet hits more often — and the loser has to buy the next round of drinks or fulfill an embarrassing dare of the winner’s choosing. It’s fun to be at a table where people are truly winning and losing money, and you can get in on that scene without risking much yourself.

While hedging means you’re still going to lose some money to the house due to the zeros on the board, you’re going to have a great time — and probably make up for it with drinks and comps, all while having fun with you’re besties in Vegas.

And if you straight up play? Scream for your odd or even, Cosmo in hand, and hope to hit a hot streak. Roulette never gets old, and it’s an awesome addition to your arsenal of Blackjack, Craps and Casino War.


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