The Basics of Roulette

Roulette, or roullete in French, is a casino game that involves betting on what number, grouping of numbers, or color (red or black) a small ball will land in as it spins around a rotating wheel. Roulette is easy for beginners to pick up and has a surprising depth of strategy that can reap high rewards.

Fanciful stories claim that it was invented by the 17th-century French mathematician Blaise Pascal, or by a Dominican monk. Regardless of its origin, roulette emerged in Europe in the 18th century and gained popularity as casinos and gambling houses spread across the continent. Roulette was eventually brought to the United States, where it gained an even greater reputation for glamour and mystery.

In a roulette wheel, the spinning disk has metal compartments or “pockets,” which are painted alternately red and black and are numbered nonconsecutively from 1 to 36. There is also a green division numbered 0, and on American wheels, two additional green compartments are numbered 0 and 00. The disk is mounted on a base that rotates and has a smooth spindle.

Before the ball is spun, players place bets on what number or type of bet they will make by placing chips on a betting mat, the precise location of the chip indicating the amount wagered. The game is popular worldwide, but it has a particularly strong following in the United States. Some players claim to have developed a system for beating the game, but others argue that it is impossible to beat roulette using any strategy.

It is important for roulette players to set a budget before playing, and choose a table within that limit. Each table carries a placard with information on the minimum and maximum bets allowed. The minimum bet in a roulette game is usually $5, but the maximum depends on whether a player chooses inside or outside bets.

Inside bets, which cover specific groups of numbers, require more money than outside bets. They have a lower probability of winning, but they can pay off big if they do hit. Players should start by making “street” bets, which consist of a grouping of three or more numbers. These bets are less risky than individual digits, but the payout is far lower: A winning bet on the zero costs just 17 chips, while a bet on number 3 pays a whopping 392 chips.