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Guide to Online Roulette

The game of roulette is one of the iconic casino symbols, with its green velvet table, multi-coloured chips, and wooden wheel. Even people who have never played the game have a good idea of how to play it, especially with famous figures like James Bond giving the game a whirl.

While it's true that the concept of roulette is simple, there are some rules that might catch you out, particularly if you're inexperienced. If playing for money, this might prove costly, however, we should mention that you can also have fun by playing roulette games for free.

No matter if you wish to play for real money or not, we've created this guide so that you can learn the basics of roulette if you're a beginner, or fill in gaps in your knowledge if you're more advanced. Read on to find out more about staying safe while playing online roulette.

A brief history of roulette

You may be wondering who came up with this simple yet highly entertaining game, but the truth is that no-one's really sure. Some say it came from French mathematician Blaise Pascal who was searching for a perpetual motion machine, but that's just a theory.

What we do know is that people started to play it regularly in France around 300 years ago. The name roulette translates as 'little wheel', coming from the 18th-century French word rouelle (wheel).

Roulette's growth in popularity is largely down to two innovative French brothers, François and Louis Blanc, who not only devised the single-zero-wheel version that we play today but also introduced it to Germany in the 1860s.

They were even willing to break the law for it, smuggling it back over the border to Monaco when gambling was banned across Germany shortly after.

The rest, as they say, is history. Roulette's popularity soared in the casinos of Monte Carlo, to the point that the game found its way across the pond to New Orleans, and then Las Vegas.

It was in Sin City that the game really attained global status, becoming synonymous with some of the biggest casinos in the world. The game appeared often in big Hollywood movies, and celebrities liked to be photographed playing it. In short, it was glamorous, despite the risks associated with it.

Later, roulette made the digital leap as the internet got into full swing. Online roulette quickly became a common feature in the internet casinos that began to spring up on the web. These games vary little from the traditional versions, although some come in different styles and designs.

Today, online roulette remains one of the most popular casino games, although it does live in the shadow of the all-conquering virtual slot games. Read on to find out more about how the game works.

How online roulette works

The aim of roulette is to correctly guess where in the wheel the little ball will land. You can of course do this by betting on a specific number, but easier bets include colour (red or black), odds or even, or a combination of numbers.

Knowing this, it's very simple to start playing roulette online. We can describe it with a quick step-by-step process.

  1. Choose which number(s) you think the ball will land on
  2. Wait until a pause between spins and place your bet on the appropriate section
  3. Watch the croupier spin the wheel and wait for the ball to land in a square
  4. You either lose your bet or win more depending on whether your choice was correct or not.

Types of online roulette

You'll find that there are small differences between the different types of roulette you come across. American roulette, for example, has an extra '00' section, while European or French roulette have just one '0' space.

Perhaps you've worked out that you'll have less chance of winning on American roulette as a result, in which case you're right. Many players prefer playing European or French roulette for this reason.

While these rules are simple, and will see you through most roulette spins, there are some rule tweaks you should look out for.

1. La Partage/ En Prison

In some versions of French roulette, La Partage (the sharing) rule is active. This simply means that you get half your money back on even-chance bets (I.e., red/black, or odd/even) when the ball lands on zero.

Let's say you put down £10 in chips on even and the ball lands on zero, you'll then get £5 back through La Partage.

En Prison works on the same principle, except your half-stake goes 'to prison', which is a dramatic way of saying it stays on the table for the next spin. Then, if you win the next spin, you get that amount back with your winnings; if you don't, then you lose it.

2. The 'Surrender' rule

Don't worry, this doesn't involve white handkerchiefs. Instead, this is like a turbo version of La Partage.

In some American roulette games, players get half their 50/50 bets back when the ball lands on the '00' slot, as well as '0', doubling the odds of it happening.

Maybe it's because the casino is 'surrendering' money, which is good news for the player.

3. Californian roulette

In the Golden State, ball or dice games have been illegal for many years, which, of course, includes roulette.

However, Californian casinos have found a crafty way around it. They play with cards instead of a ball and wheel. The principle is exactly the: players bet on which card will appear out of an automatic shuffler and win or lose accordingly.

Different roulette bets

There are hundreds of types of roulette bets you can use, but for the purposes of this guide, we can stick to just three important examples.

1. Inside bets

This is when you put your stake on any of the numbers 1-36 'inside' the betting layout. You can put them directly onto a number (x36 bet), split between two (x18), or a variety of other ways that range from x7 to x12 returns.

2. Outside bets

These are additional bets you make outside of the number grid, on black/red, odd/even or any other outside variation. This can also include a combination of numbers, such as low (1-18) or high (19-36), a dozen or a column. What all outside bets have in common is that the returns are lower, working out at two or three times your stake.

3. Announced bets

Ever see a player shout out stuff to the croupier? They're probably making an announced bet that they want the croupier to place due to a lack of time.

Obviously, this doesn't happen in online roulette games, but it's possible in some live-dealer games where internet players can interact with the croupier.

Here are some interesting announced bets:

  • Neighbours of zero – a cluster of chips on the numbers next to the zero square.
  • Final bet – when you bet on three or four numbers that end in a certain digit, like 10/20/30.
  • Complete, or maximum, bet – a complicated bet of 17-40 chips clustered around certain numbers which hold the highest possible return in the game.

FAQs (frequently asked questions)

Am I likely to make a profit from online roulette?

Put it this way: you're more likely to lose money.

Let's start with 'even-chance' bets. You actually have less than a 50% chance of winning thanks to the zero squares, so it's technically not an even chance.

On top of this, the game's in-built house edge (your stake minus the game's Return to Player) guarantees that the casino will make a profit in the long run.

The longer you play, the more likely you are to lose money.

European roulette has an RTP of 97.3%, for example, so you'll lose $2.70 for every $100 you stake, on average. For American roulette, this increases to $5.26.

Can I use my online casino bonus in roulette?

It depends on the bonus in question. It's terms and conditions should tell you which games it qualifies for.

The easiest way to find bonuses eligible for roulette games is to go to our list of online bonuses and choose 'roulette' in the 'Casino Games' filter. You'll then see a list of roulette-friendly bonuses for you to choose from.

Can I use my online casino bonus in roulette?

There are certain roulette strategies that people use to alter the volatility as they play, that is, the risk of each bet. While you are statistically expected to lose money whichever bet you choose, research has shown that higher volatility improves the chances of winning money.

Some roulette strategies, such as the All-In routine, work by increasing the volatility, and players often use it for this reason.

Yet, despite these methods, we must stress that the best strategy is to follow safe gambling principles. Rules like only betting with the money you have, and not betting while drunk, are your best chance of keeping your balance as high as possible.