Roulette is one of the simplest casino games to comprehend, and to play. The roulette wheel contains either 37 or 38 slots, with the numbers 1-36 assigned to each slot, plus a slot for zero (and in most American casinos, a slot for double-zero as well). Players bet on which slot the ball will fall into, and there are also other “outside” combination bets possible as well. Players make their bets by placing color-coded chips on the number or numbers they choose. Then the dealer spins the wheel. As its spinning the dealer throws out the ball, and everyone waits to see into which slot, or pocket, it will land. Unlike with other casino games, the chips used for betting do not have a value; the color-coding is simply used to differentiate between the various players, so that bets won’t be confused. (Chips that DO have their value stamped on them are actually called “checks”). In any event, with up to eight players playing at the roulette table, there are eight sets of different-colored chips, and each set has 300 chips in it. The value of the chips is determined like this: buy-in price divided by number of chips received. To indicate the value of the chip, the dealer will place a token on top of his chip stack of that color.
While the arrangement of the numbers on the roulette wheel appears to be a random arrangement, the truth is that there is indeed a method to this madness. What is obvious to the eye is that red and black alternate, and odd and even alternate. What is less obvious is the fact that the sums of the numbers in each section of the wheel are about the same as the sums in every other section. What you’ll see is a pair of numbers in each section, separated by one number in between the two, but the sum of that PAIR is almost always either 37 or 39. For instance you’ll find 10 paired with 29, 25 with 12, 29 with 8, 8 with 31, 19 with 18, 31 with 6, 18 with 21, 6 with 33, 21 with 16, 33 with 4, 16 with 23, 4 with 35, etc etc. There are some numbers that don’t fall within the pattern, such as 12 27, 14, 2, 28, 11, 13 and 1.
Payouts for bets, according to United States rules, are as follows:
A bet on red pays 1 to 1 (probability: 47.37%).
A bet on an odd number coming up pays 1 to 1, a bet on an even number coming up pays 1 to 1, a bet on the numbers 1-18 coming up pays 1 to 1, a bet on the numbers 19-36 coming up pays 1 to 1 (probability: 47.3%).
A bet on numbers 1-12 coming up pays 2 to 1, a bet on numbers 13-24 coming up pays 2 to 1, a bet on numbers 25-36 coming up pays 2 to 1, a bet placed on any column coming up pays 2 to 1 (probability: 31.58%).
A bet on any one number coming up pays 35 to 1 (2.63% probability).
A bet on a 2-number combination coming up pays 17 to 1 (5.26% probability).
A bet on a 3-number combination coming up pays 11 to 1 (7.89% probability).
A bet on a 4-number combination coming up pays 8 to 1 (10.53% probability).
A bet on a 6-number combination coming up pays 5 to 1 (15.79% probability).
A bet on a 0, 00, 1, 2, 3 coming up pays 6 to 1 (13.16% probability).
The rules for playing roulette vary.
In the United States (excluding Atlantic City), roulette wheels have a 0 slot and a 00 slot. The house edge, or advantage, for a 00 game is 1/19 (5.26%) on each bet. Nevertheless, an exception to this is the 0-00-1-2-3 combination bet. This particular bet gives the house an advantage of 7.89%.
If you’re looking for a place that has the single-0 table (house edge of 1/37, or 2.70%), you might want to try: the Tropicana, Monte Carlo, Stratosphere or Mandalay Bay – all in Las Vegas – or the Grand Casino in Tunica. You should know, however, that playing at these single-0 tables demands a price: in this case, a fairly hefty minimum bet.
The casinos in Atlantic City that use 00 wheels generally allow the “En Prison” rule – also called the “European Imprisonment” rule – for even-money bets. This lowers the house edge by half (i.e., on red, black, odd, even, 1-18, and 19-36 bets, the house edge is now 1/38, or 2.63%). This means that if you make an even-money bet and either a 0 or 00 comes up, you�ll lose only half your bet.
In Europe, only one 0 is used on the roulette wheel. Also, the “En Prison” rule applies, meaning that if the ball lands on 0, all even-money bets are left there until the next spin. If on the next spin the bet wins, the bet is returned. If it’s another 0, then half the bet is returned. If the bet loses, the house collects the whole thing. The house therefore has an edge of 1/74 (1.35%) on even-money bets. It has an edge of 1/37 (2.70%) on all the other bets.