The Basics of Roulette

Roulette has offered glamour, mystery and excitement to casino-goers since the 17th century. It is a relatively simple game to learn, but offers a surprising depth of strategy for serious betters.

In its most basic form, the game is played on a revolving wheel with thirty-six colored compartments (in American roulette, two green compartments for zero) numbered nonconsecutively from one to 36, with a single or double zero. Players make bets by placing chips on a betting mat, the precise location of each chip indicating the type of bet being made. The dealer spins the wheel in one direction, then releases a small ball in the opposite direction and bettors place their chips in the hopes of correctly guessing which compartment the ball will fall into as it comes to rest.

The wheel, slightly convex in shape and with a revolving spoke pattern, is painted in alternate black and red. Its rim contains metal separators, called frets or pockets, each numbered one to 36. In addition to these, a single or double zero appears on European wheels; the two green compartments in American roulette indicate 0 and 00. The table is a raised, square, rectangular or octagonal platform, surrounded by padded railings for the player’s comfort and to protect the dealer’s hands.

Immediately before the wheel is spun, a player gives money to the dealer on the table and asks for “colour.” The dealer will then give the player coloured chips equal in value to the amount given. During the spin, players must not touch their chips or leave the table. Once the wheel stops, the dealer pays the winners and clears off losing bets. Each roulette table carries a placard describing the minimum and maximum bets allowed.

When betting, choose a bet type that is comfortable and familiar to you and understands its odds. You can also look at the layout of each table before you play to get a feel for what bets are common and which ones tend to win. Set a budget before you hit the tables and stick to it, making sure that you never dip into your winnings for future bets. This will prevent you from making ill-advised decisions on the fly. Also, avoid crowded tables as they tend to slow down the game. This will keep the dealers from being overwhelmed and prevent cheating by allowing them to more quickly identify bets and payouts.