How to Play Roulette – A Guide to the Rules of the Game

Roulette is one of the most famous and popular casino games. It combines simple game play with big potential payouts. If you have never played roulette and fancy giving it a go, then read on for our simple to follow instructions and explanation of the rules.

How it Works and the Aim of the Game

As with all casino games, the aim is to win money! You place a bet on a number, or a combination of numbers. If the ball lands on your selection, you win the payout corresponding to the type of bet you have placed.

Step by Step Guide to Playing a Roulette Game

The game is very simple and straightforward. It starts when the croupier invites players to place their bets. At this point players can place their chips on any individual numbers or combinations. The dealer will then announce that bets are closed and throw the ball into the rotating wheel. Within a few seconds, the ball will fall into one of the pockets, numbered 0 – 36, determining the winning number. The dealer then sweeps away and removes all losing bets from the table and pays out all winnings. Then, a new game round begins.

Similarities and Differences between European and French Roulette

Both variants have a single zero on the wheel. This differs from American Roulette, which has 2. Both French and European Roulette offer the same types of bets, with the same probabilities of winning, and the same pay outs. So they clearly have a lot of similarities. The only differences between the two versions of the game are visual. The names for simple chances are displayed differently across the 2 games. In the European version, you can place bets on red or black by placing your chips on the diamond of the corresponding colour. Whereas the French game often lists these options as Noir and Rouge (the French words for red and black). Bets on Odd/Even are presented as Pair/Impair, and for the high and low number bets 1 – 18/19-36, these are displayed as Passe/Manque.

European Roulette
The European Roulette Layout has Names in English
In European Roulette, the names of the bets on the table are in English. The colours red and black are shown as a diamond. The fields for the dozens are located next to the simple chances.
French Roulette
The French Roulette Tableau with Descriptions Written in French
Here, the names are written in French. Often, instead of the coloured diamonds, you will see the words Rouge and Noir. The dozens can be found at the end of the table, after the columns.

One further difference is the location of the dozen bets. In the European game, these can be found between the numbers and the simple chances. They are listed as 1st 12, 2nd 12 and 3rd 12, corresponding to the first, second and third dozen. In French Roulette, the dozens can be found at the end of the table. These are listed as P12 (première douzain, for 1 – 12), M12 (moyenne douzaine, for 13 – 24) and D12 (dernière douzaine, for 25 – 36).

Other differences can be found in the description of the bets. For example, a bet on a single number is referred to as a straight up bet in European Roulette, and Plein in the French version. Columns are expressed as colonnes in French. The different types of bets and names are explained in more detail in the following table.

Available Betting Options and Payouts

When it comes to placing your bets, there are a lot of different types to choose from. There are also different pay outs for the different types of bets. There are outside bets, which have better odds of winning, but provide a lower payout. There are also inside bets, which provide a much smaller chance of winning, but the payout is much bigger if you win. A straight up bet, that is to say, a bet on just one number, is an example of an inside bet. The payout for a win is 35:1. This means that your bet will be paid x35, plus you also get your stake back. So say for example you bet £1, you would get £36 back. Similarly, simple chances, such as red/black and odd/even have a payout of 1:1, meaning you get a total of twice your bet back. Simple chances are examples of outside bets. The following picture and table show you all the available bets and their different names.

Different Betting Options for Roulette
An Overview of all Roulette Betting Options
Names of Bets and Payouts at a Glance
Chips Coverage French English Inside/Outside Bet Payout
1 1 number Plein Straight up bet Inside 35:1
2 2 numbers Cheval Split bet Inside 17:1
3 3 numbers Transversale pleine Street/Line bet Inside 11:1
4 4 numbers Carre Corner Inside 8:1
5 (EU) 4 numbers Les quatre premiers First four Inside 8:1
5 (AM) 5 numbers Les cinq premiers Top line Inside 6:1
6 6 numbers Transversale simple Six line Inside 5:1
7 12 numbers Douzaines Dozen Outside 2:1
7 12 numbers Colonnes Column Outside 2:1
8 18 numbers Chances simples Simple chances Outside 1:1

What you should know about Table Limits

When considering the table limits, the minimum and maximum figures often tell only half of the story. There may also be further limits on certain types of bets. Sometimes, you will find that the minimum betting limit is reserved for bets on single or double numbers, and the maximum limit restricted to simple chances (e.g. red/black). Casinos may place these restrictions on different betting options, to manage the maximum amount that can be paid out across all bets. In essence, the bigger the payout, the smaller the maximum bet limit. You may also see situations where the minimum betting limit for simple chances is higher than the minimum table limit. Therefore, before you start to play a game of roulette, you should take a closer look at the breakdown of the betting limits, which can be found on the table. Alternatively, you can ask the dealer.

Differences found in American Roulette

The Double Zero in American Roulette Enables Additional Types of BetsThe most obvious difference, which most players are aware of, is the extra double zero on the American Roulette wheel. This also enables additional types of bet, such as 0, 00 and 0, 00, 1, 2,3. Payouts in American Roulette are the same as those found in the French and European versions. However, due to the inclusion of an extra zero, the odds of winning are slightly lower. This is reflected in the lower theoretical payout rate of around 94.7%, compared to 97.3% usually found in French/European Roulette.

The Numbers on the American Roulette Wheel are in a Different Position to the European GameIt is pretty straightforward to derive the payouts for the additional bets that are available, owing to the inclusion of the double zero. A bet on zero and double zero (0, 00) equates to the Cheval/split bet in the French/European version. Therefore, this bet has a payout of 17:1. The combination of 3 numbers with 1 chip (0,1,2/ 00,2,3/ 0,00,2) has the same payout as a street bet, of 11:1. The one exception is the bet on the first 5 numbers. This Top Line bet does not exist in French and European Roulette, and has a payout of 6:1. However, it should be noted that this type of bet has a higher than normal house edge, making it less favourable for players. So as a general rule of thumb, you should probably avoid this type of bet.

Another big difference that players are often unaware of is the placement of the numbers on the wheel. The American wheel still alternates red and black, yet the numbers are located in different positions. You can see these differences at a glance in the illustration to the right.

You will notice that whilst the numbers in FR/EU Roulette are seemingly distributed randomly, there is more of a pattern to the placement on the American Roulette wheel. Many consecutive numbers, such and 1&2, and 3&4 are located directly opposite each other. This is not true of all numbers, nevertheless, this pattern to the number positioning, and the addition of the double zero clearly make the wheel look different compared to other versions of the game.

La Partage and En Prison Improve your Chances of Winning

These rules are not found in all games. What’s more, they are not exclusively found in French Roulette, as you may expect from the names. In order to determine if the rules apply to a particular game, you should check the game description or help section. Alternatively, in a land based casino, you can ask the croupier.

The optional rules only apply to bets on simple chances, that is to say even money bets such as red/black, even/odd, or high/low numbers. When the En Prison rule is not in place, any such bets are lost when the ball lands on zero. Yet when this rule is in play, your bet will be “locked in” for the next game. If you lose again on the next spin, then you lose your bet. However, if you win, your stake is unlocked and will remain on the same field for the next game. If the spin with your now unlocked bet results in a win, you get a payout. The alternative rule to En Prison is La Partage. Here, in the case of even money bets where the ball lands on zero, half of your bet will be returned to you immediately.

An Overview of La Partage and En Prison Rules

Flow Chart Showing how the En Prison and La Partage Rules Work

In the rare case where the ball lands on the zero twice in a row, different casinos operate different rules. At some, your bet could be locked in twice, and will need to be unlocked twice before being returned to you. At other casinos, you simply lose your bet on the second appearance of the zero. As already mentioned, these rules are not included in all games. What’s more, each casino can interpret the rules in their own way. Usually at online casinos, the simpler of the two rules, La Partage is offered, rather than En Prison. So rather than the losing bet being locked in, half is instantly returned to the player.

So you may be wondering what impact these optional rules have on your chances of winning. Well for starters, the house edge in French and European Roulette is around 2.7%. When the additional rules are used, this is reduced by about half. In the case of La Partage, the house edge is 1.35%, exactly half, with En Prison coming in at 1.42%, just slightly higher. Therefore, playing games with these rules is more favourable for players. Of course, you should bear in mind that this change in the house edge only applies to even money bets. The original house edge of 2.7% remains for all other types of bets.

So in conclusion, if you like to play with simple chances, like with the Martingale Strategy, it is worthwhile looking for tables that feature the En Prison or La Partage rule. On the other hand, if you prefer to place higher risk bets, like betting on single numbers, then this rule will add no benefits for you.