Without a doubt, roulette is one of the most popular casino games in the world. The game presents the opportunity to make a tidy profit, and is relatively easy to learn — making it enjoyable for all. This tremendous appeal has translated well over to online casinos, with the traditional table game ranking amongst the most popular games online.

Much like all other casino games, the odds of winning at roulette lean in favour of the casino, because that’s how casinos make their money, right? But it’s not all doom and gloom — while there’s no foolproof system that guarantees big wins, having a better understanding of how the game works can give you a better chance of beating the house. Let’s get the ball rolling.

The Basics

There are four key elements involved when playing online roulette: the betting table, roulette wheel, ball and casino chips.

The main objective for players is to predict which numbered pocket the ball will land in with each spin of the roulette wheel.

Follow these 5 simple steps to play online roulette:

  1. Take Your Pick. Predict which number you think the ball will land on.
  2. Place Your Bets. Place bets using your roulette chips. Each chip has a different value, which is clearly marked. They can be placed on numbered spots, lines, boxes or junctions of the table. It is important to take note of the minimum and maximum stake before placing your bets. The value of your stake will be deducted from your balance.
  3. Spin. Arguably the easiest and most fun part of the game — click the ‘spin’ button to spin the roulette wheel. You don’t have to place chips on the table to spin the wheel, but there are no prizes for a lucky guess if there are no chips on the table! If you’re playing a live version, there won’t be a spin button – the game will keep playing whether you’re ready or not.
  4. Win. Once the ball stops, a marker will be placed on the table, indicating the winning number. Losing chips will be collected and all winning bets will be paid out, adding to your existing balance. This happens automatically.
  5. Repeat. If you’re feeling lucky, you can repeat the process. Most tables offer a ‘re-bet and spin’ button, which allows you to place the same bet and spin again. There is also a ‘double and spin’ button, if you want to raise the stakes.

Roulette Wheel

The wheel is a core part of any roulette table. Roulette wheels come in two different types; European and American. The only notable difference between the two wheels, is that the European version has a single zero, meaning the wheel is divided into 37 pockets, whereas the American version has a single zero and a double zero, meaning the wheel is divided into 38 pockets. With one less pocket, the European variant offers players with the best chance of winning.

What Are The Odds?

While anyone can win big by simply picking a number and hoping for the best, knowing your chances of winning each time you spin the wheel, and the consequent payout you’ll receive from a successful selection, is crucial to strategic play.

European Roulette

Bets Payout Probability
Odd 1:1 48.6%
Even 1:1 48.6%
Black 1:1 48.6%
Red 1:1 48.6%
Low (1-18) 1:1 48.6%
High (19-36) 1:1 48.6%
Dozen (1-12, 13-24 or 25-36) 2:1 32.4%
Column 2:1 32.4%
Line (combination of six numbers) 5:1 16.2%
Corner (combination of four numbers) 8:1 10.8%
Street (combination of three numbers) 11:1 8.1%
Split (combination of two numbers) 17:1 5.4%
Straight Up (single number) 35:1 2.7%

American Roulette

Bets Payout Probability
Odd 1:1 46.37%
Even 1:1 46.37%
Black 1:1 46.37%
Red 1:1 46.37%
Low (1-18) 1:1 46.37%
High (19-36) 1:1 46.37%
Dozen (1-12, 13-24 or 25-36) 2:1 31.58%
Column 2:1 46.37%
Line (combination of six numbers) 5:1 15.79%
Five (combination of 0, 00, 1, 2 & 3) 6:1 13.16%
Corner (combination of four numbers) 8:1 10.53%
Street (combination of three numbers) 11:1 7.89%
Split (combination of two numbers) 17:1 5.26%
Straight Up (single number) 35:1 2.63%

House Edge

As you can see in the table above, the odds that the casino pays out on a wager are always slightly less than the odds of winning. This difference is known as the house edge. It gives casinos a winning edge, ensuring that the house almost always wins eventually.

To demonstrate how house edge is calculated, let’s look at a ‘red/black’ bet on a European table, one of the most frequently placed bets in roulette. A common misconception is that you have a 50% chance of winning this bet, as there are two outcomes. The zero on the table means that there are actually three: red, black or neither. The presence of this extra pocket reduces the odds by increasing the number of possible outcomes. So only 18 of 37 numbers result in a win. This means that your chances are calculated as:

18/37 = 0.486

As the house also wins if the ball lands on 0, the odds for the casino are:

19/37 = 0.513

The house edge is the difference between these two figures:

0.513 – 0.486 = 0.027

So the house edge is 2.7% for European roulette. European roulette provides players with the best chance of winning. There is only one zero, and so a smaller number of possible outcomes.

As American Roulette has two zeros on the table, there are a greater number of outcomes, and consequently a lower probability of winning. The house edge for American Roulette is 5.26%.

Several players attempt to get around this house edge by using gambling systems, with many claiming to enjoy success. In the short run, many may be convinced that these systems work, however, in the long run, the house always wins, as every spin is independent of past events. Check out our guide to Roulette Strategy for in-depth coverage of some of the most popular roulette strategies and their downfalls.

Random Number Generator

As there is no physical wheel involved in non-live versions of online roulette, you might be wondering how exactly the numbers are selected, and whether or not the games are built to cheat you. You’ll be glad to know that most online casinos use Random Number Generators (RNG). The RNG uses mathematical algorithms to generate a random sequence of numbers. This ensures that the results of their games are fair and random.

If you’re still not convinced, all legal casinos have frequent, rigorous tests performed on their RNG, to ensure it complies with regulation. So if your casino is licensed by a legitimate governing body, you can be sure that your game of roulette will be completely fair.

Live Casino

There is an alternate option for the most sceptical players, or those who simply enjoy the atmosphere of a land-based casino. Many online casinos offer live roulette games, which is the closest you can get to playing in an actual casino. You are given access to a live stream of a roulette table with a dealer and in some cases, other players. Some casinos even allow you to interact with your dealer and other players using a chat room, which can make the game more fun and sociable.

Top 5 Tips To Spin and Win Big:

  1. Practice makes perfect. Many casinos offer free versions of their roulette games allowing you to get familiar with the game, without risking your hard-earned money.
  2. Winning is extremely dependent on luck, and whether your luck is in or out, it is important to set limits to help manage your bankroll and avoid losing more than you can afford to.
  3. We recommend that you play European roulette, as it provides you with a greater chance of winning than American Roulette does. The larger number of potential outcomes on the American table increases the casino’s house edge.
  4. Choose wisely when selecting an online casino to play with. Always play with reputed casinos that use random number generators. Take your pick from our list of trustworthy, UK regulated casinos and play with confidence.
  5. Wins are never guaranteed. While several strategies may seem convincing, none are ever foolproof. It is important to remember that you are playing a game of chance. Try your luck and remember to have fun!

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the difference between American roulette and European roulette? The only difference between the two, is that American Roulette has two zero pockets, while the European version has one. While this may seem like a minor difference, it has a significant effect on your playing experience, as the European version has less possible outcomes and consequently gives you the best chance to win.

What is the house edge? The difference between the odds that the casino pays out on a bet and the odds of actually winning is known as the house edge. This edge always leans in favour of the casino, ensuring that they almost always win, eventually.

Do roulette betting systems work? Many players have claimed to enjoy success using various strategies or systems. While they might make roulette more interesting, they are not foolproof. Roulette is a game of chance, and any outcome is independent of past events.

Are online roulette games fair? This is dependent on where you choose to play. Playing at legitimate, trustworthy casinos, such as those on our list of UK regulated casinos, will ensure that games are fair and random. These casinos use random number generators to determine what numbered pocket the ball lands in. These random number generators are frequently put through rigorous tests to ensure they comply with regulation.

Can I play roulette online for free? Yes. Many casinos offer you the chance to play their games for free. In some instances, you will be required to create an account first. Playing for free is a great way of getting familiar with the game, without risking your money.