Roulette wheel landing on black number 13

What Is Roulette?

Roulette, which literally means “little wheel” in French, is a gambling game that stretches back to 18th century Paris and is believed to be based on a prototype of a so-called perpetual engine machine by renowned philosopher and scientist, Blaise Pascal. The game is now a staple of online casinos and is frequently the setting for high-stakes gambles in many films and TV shows, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a brash, exciting game, with high stakes and huge payouts.

Roulette wheel at night

How It Works  

One of the other big reasons why roulette has made such a huge impact on pop-culture is that unlike the intricate rules of baccarat or Texas hold ‘em poker, it’s pretty easy to understand. 

The way it works is this: the bettor first places a bet on any of the 37 to 39 numbers (depending on the version of the game) on the roulette table that correlate with the numbered, red or black holes on the roulette wheel itself. They may also place their bet on red or black for a much higher chance of winning a much reduced payout.

The croupier (the “dealer” in roulette) then spins the roulette wheel in one direction, then spins the ball in the opposite direction on a track running on the outer edge of the wheel. The ball eventually slows down and falls, through a shoot, onto the wheel and comes to rest, finally, in one of its 37 to 39 holes. Those who placed their money on the number or color that the ball lands on wins a multiple of what they put on – though, again, the winnings are exponentially higher for those who bet on the correct number than on the correct color. 

Roulette wheel

How It Really Works

Though this is a good summation of how roulette basically works, once you dive further into the mechanics of the game when it is played properly, it may well just be the most complicated gambling game of them all. 

For a start, it’s actually nowhere near as simple as just betting on the color or the number and then getting paid according to whether you win or not. There are actually something like 25 separate kinds of bets that you can make, each with its own probability and each with its own different payout. There are, in fact, lengthy, convoluted mathematical formulas behind each bet placed and roulette has actually become a real favorite of statisticians who can work out the optimal bets to make with each spin on the wheel. 

If knowing how it works gives you a distinct advantage, playing roulette without knowing the intricacies of the game is not at all unlike playing a game of Russian roulette with your finances. There’s a reason, after all, why it’s called Russian roulette and not Russian poker or blackjack.


Bets You Must Know

For an extensive list of the different kinds of bets there are to make and the odds that accompany them, check out [insert link to a page on the site that contains this info if there is one], but here are a few of the basics to keep in mind. Along with betting on the actual numbers or colors, you can also bet on whether it lands on an odd or even number. 

Most importantly, you don’t have to bet on it falling on exactly the number you placed your money on. You can bet on a row or column on the roulette table and you win as long as the ball lands on any of those numbers. Similarly, you can bet on a corner square, as well as different combinations of numbers. 

Different bets obviously have different odds and different payouts, but to get the most out of any spin of that roulette wheel, you really need to spend some time familiarizing yourself with the game.

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