Of all the online casino games available to players across the globe, roulette is perhaps the most popular. Alongside other classics like slots and blackjack, roulette offers a simple playing experience with a wide choice of bets and stakes, and the thrill of watching events play out in real time. It’s possible to stake on a simple red or black outcome with 50/50 odds or go all out for a single number to come in at 35 to 1.
If you are ready to try your hand at this super-fun casino game for the first time and you want to maximise your chances of winning, then before you do, take in this Unigamesity how-to guide, including a look at two of the most popular game strategies used by Roulette players for many years – the Martingale and the Labouchere.
The Basics of Roulette
Let’s start with the basics.
The French word Roulette means ‘little wheel’. In real life casinos the game is operated by a casino croupier who is in charge of taking the bets, spinning the wheel and paying out winnings.
The wheel is divided into 36 numbered segments (0 to 35), each alternately coloured red or black except for the zero segment that is colored green. In the US version of the game there are two zero segments rather than one.
Players can bet on a single number from 1 to 35, red or black, or a combination of numbers such as 1 to 4 or all even numbers. Betting on a single number gives you odds of 35 to 1 and in European Roulette that outcome would pay out one in every 37 spins. This is how the casino makes its money. Each time the ball lands on the zero segment, there are no payouts for bets on numbers.
For those who like to understand casino business, this gives the house an edge of 2.7% in Europe. This is important because it means that roulette is a more favourable game to play than slots, in which the house typically retains around 4% to 5% of all money wagered. The roulette house edge is less favourable than blackjack however, which is typically around 1%.
House Edge in French, European and American Roulette
As well as the European and American versions of roulette, there is also a French version which gives players the advantage of paying back half of the stakes laid on any even money bet if the ball lands on a zero. So, if you are playing French Roulette and you decide to bet on red or black, or odds or even, and the outcome is a zero then you will get half your money back.
These are basic house edge numbers for each type of roulette. Note that in some cases the rules may vary slightly from one casino to the next, which may result in small differences in the house edge.
French Roulette – 1.35%
European Roulette – 2.7%
American Roulette – 5.26%
Most online casinos now offer the full range of roulettes so that you can choose for yourself which odds you wish to play at. For beginners we recommend choosing the popular European version of the game. You will also note that different gambling sites have a different overall house edge, so it helps to look for an up to date list of the best payout online casinos where the odds are currently favourable to gamblers. But again, remember that these odds can change from day to day – they are just a guide.
So, now we know the basics, let’s move into the strategies.
When you first load up a game online or walk to a table in a real-life casino, then you will need to buy some chips and place your first bets.
There are many bets available in Roulette. Here are the most common:
Red or Black
Odds or Evens
High (1 to 18) or Low (19 to 36)
Column Bets – bet on the numbers that appear in each of the three columns displayed to the side of the table. (1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31, 34 OR 2, 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29, 32, 35 OR 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, 36). Column bets pay out 2 to 1.
Dozens – bet on a group of 12 numbers in chronological order (1 to 12, 13 to 24, 25 to 36). Once again these bets pay out 2 to 1.
Split – bet on two numbers that are displayed next to each other in the grid (e.g. 1 and 2, 2 and 5)
Street – bet on any number in a row of 3 on the grid (e.g. 1, 2, 3; 4, 5, 6).
Corner – bet on any four numbers that appear in a square on the grid (1, 2, 4, 5; 16, 17, 19, 20).
These are the most common bets in Roulette and as a new player we recommend sticking to them.
Some Basic Roulette Strategies
So those are the basic rules of roulette. Before starting out with some strategies we recommend that you play a few games first and get comfortable with the process of placing bets and watching the outcomes.
Remember, roulette is a fixed odds betting game which means the outcome of each spin operates under the same conditions and no one can influence the outcome one way or the other. So, these strategies will help you to optimise your game but they are not a guarantee that you will win. There is no such thing!
The Martingale Strategy
This is the most commonly used strategy for roulette players because it’s so easy to understand and follow. You must always place even money bets (red or black, odds or even, high or low), and follow any win by repeating the bet, and any loss by doubling up your stake.
The key to this strategy is that it means that when you win you should outscore your losses because you are betting bigger after each losing spin. The downside is that if you get on a bad losing run you will quickly burn through your bankroll. So you potentially need a lot of money to keep funding it when a losing run hits. Of course, when you do win after that losing run you should get all your money back!
For the beginner though, Martingale is a fun and easy way to give your play some structure and hopefully increase your chances of staying on the table for longer and taking home some winnings.
Now for something a little different and more suited to those with higher bankrolls. The Labouchere (more information here) requires you to figure out how much you want to win in total and build a strategy to reach that figure. Once again, you should bet only on even outcomes (odds vs evens, black vs white, high vs low).
As an example, if your goal was to hit a $50 payout, you may want to do so in 7 bets like this:
Now you take the left most and right most numbers ($5 and $5 in this case) and add them together. This is the value of your first bet.
If you win, then you simply cross out the left most and right most numbers and go again, repeating until all the bets have been complete and you have hit your target.
However, if at any point you lose, then you must add the amount you bet on the last spin to the right side of the sequence and start again. This creates the opportunity to win that money back.
So, if you lost on your first bet in the above sequence, your new sequence would look like this:
$5-$5-$10-$10-$10-$10 ($10 added to the right end)
This system is a little more complicated to follow than the Martingale, but it does mean that you can manage your bankroll and bets sensibly because you don’t need to double up on bets each time you lose so the risks inherent in a long losing streak are not so pronounced.
We recommend that if you move onto the Labouchere Strategy then you do so with small bets before you get the hang of it and scale up.
Give it a try – you may enjoy it!
Whichever version of roulette you chose to play – be it French, European or the tighter American format – you’ll find there is a lot of fun to be had. The range of bets and wheel-spin action make this simple casino game a thrill to try. And once you are familiar with the basics, test-drive our recommended strategies to optimise your bets. But above all, remember that this is a game of chance and should be played for enjoyment only. So good luck and have fun!