How to Play Each Roulette Variant
While it pales in comparison to what you might find in the slots library at an online casino, there’s still plenty of choice when it comes to the type of roulette you play. Each variant offers its own twist on the classic game — from different wheel sizes to faster gameplay and everything in between.
Regardless of variant, roulette is easy to pick up thanks to its simplicity. It goes like this:
- Bets are Placed – In a real casino, players lay chips down on the table. But when you’re playing online roulette, you’ll simply choose your stake and place your bet using the game interface. Read our guide to roulette odds and payouts for a comprehensive list of bets you can make;
- Ball is Released – A small white ball is released into the wheel, opposite to the direction the wheel is spinning. It circles around until coming to rest in one of the numbered pockets;
- Bets are Paid – Where the ball lands determines whether your bet is successful. If you landed a winner, congratulations! Bets are paid out accordingly and the wheel is reset for the next spin.
It’s as simple as that. Next, we’ll explore some of the different roulette variants and how to play them.
If you’re new to roulette, European is the place to start. You can think of this as the defining variant of the game — after all, the continent is where its origins lie!
A European roulette wheel has 37 pockets. The numbers 1–36 are split evenly between red and black, and the single ‘0’ pocket is green. This is what gives the house an edge over the player — 0 is excluded from bets like red/black or odd/even, which are paid at 2-to-1. So, the house edge of European roulette is 2.7%.
While they’re most often associated with French roulette, some European games include additional rules:
- La Partage returns half of even-money bet stakes if the ball lands on 0;
- En Prison allows players to leave their even-money bet in place for an extra spin if the ball lands on 0.
If these rules are in play, the house edge sits at a much more favourable 1.35%.
Predominantly found in casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, American roulette is just as popular in the online casino world.
American roulette plays out just like its European counterpart, but with one key difference — the addition of a green ‘00’ (double zero) pocket. This almost doubles the house edge to 5.26%. For that reason, it’s usually avoided by roulette players looking for the best value.
Other than that, American roulette remains more or less the same as European. The extra pocket does allow for an extra bet to be made. The five-number bet or ‘basket bet’ covers 0, 00, 1, 2, and 3. This bet is best avoided due to its steep house edge of 7.89% — the cause for its affectionate nickname, the sucker bet.
Double Ball Roulette
If you’re looking for a bit more of a shake-up, double ball roulette provides just that. The name is pretty self-explanatory — rather than just one, two balls are released into the wheel at the same time.
Payouts are therefore quite different to standard European or American roulette:
- For outside bets (red/black, odd/even, etc.) to win, both balls must be successful. So for a bet on red to win, both balls must land in a red pocket. Payouts are usually higher in double ball roulette, typically around 3-to-1;
- For inside bets (specific numbers or groups of numbers) to win, only one ball must be successful. However, you’re effectively getting two chances to land a winner in double ball roulette, so the payout for straight-up bets is roughly halved to 17-to-1 if one ball lands in your chosen pocket. If both balls are successful, you’ll get a 34-to-1 payout;
- Players can also bet on a double ball jackpot — for both balls to land in the selected pocket. This bet pays out a sizable 1,200-to-1.
The house edge in double ball roulette is a little worse than in standard games, but only marginally so:
- On single zero wheels, the bet with the lowest house edge is on a single-number inside bet, at 2.78%;
- On double zero wheels, single-number inside bets have the lowest house edge again, at 5.33%.
Multi-wheel roulette games feature up to eight wheels spinning simultaneously, essentially compressing multiple rounds of roulette into one. Players can choose how many wheels they’re actively betting on, with stakes placed on all active wheels — you can’t place a different bet on a specific wheel, for example.
Say you bet on red with four wheels active. Three wheels finish on red and one on black. You’ll collect the corresponding payout from each wheel, independent of the others. In this instance, you’d win three times as much as if you were playing on a single wheel.
While the house edge remains the same as standard single-wheel roulette, it’s usually a good idea to only play multi-wheel if you have a larger budget and can afford to bet on several wheels at once.
Live Dealer Roulette
In the world of online roulette, there are two types — RNG roulette and live dealer roulette. The former is an entirely virtual single-player game, where the wheel is spun as soon as you place your bet. Live dealer roulette, on the other hand, is much more akin to what you’d find in a real casino.
Live roulette usually takes place in a purpose-built studio. The game is run by a professional croupier using authentic casino equipment, with each round live streamed to players’ devices using HD cameras. You’ll get a window of time in which to place your bets using the interactive interface — typically a minute or two — at which point the ball is fired into the wheel, with winning bets paid once it comes to a stop.
A large number of live dealer roulette games are available, and the category typically offers more choice than RNG roulette. The house edge corresponds to the type of roulette you’re playing, such as American or European. But there are also more unique variants available, such as Lightning Roulette from Evolution. In this title, up to five numbers are randomly chosen each spin to receive a Lightning payout multiplier from 50x–500x.
It’s worth keeping in mind that table limits for live dealer roulette may be a little higher than RNG roulette, with minimum bets of around £0.50–£1.00. You can’t control the pace either, with a set window for betting — although those seeking faster play can opt for speed roulette titles instead.
Mini roulette is played on a smaller wheel to standard roulette games. Players can usually bet on the red and black numbers 1–12 or the green 0 pocket. While the simplified set-up is often appealing to roulette beginners, there’s a significantly steeper house edge of 7.69% in this variant.
Going in the opposite direction to mini roulette, 101 roulette is played on a custom table resembling a racetrack. Players can bet on the numbers 1–100 split between red and black, and five green pockets (0, hearts, diamonds, clubs, spades) for a total of 105 pockets. Straight-up bets pay out at 100-to-1, and the game has a house edge of around 4.76%.